February 17, 2000

LIB

Lynn Myers

Liberal

Mr. Lynn Myers (Waterloo—Wellington, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is indeed an important debate, one in which Canadians take a great deal of interest, and rightfully so. We are talking about the very country in which we exist. I believe it is important that all members of the House have the opportunity to debate a matter such as this. I am very pleased to be a part of this great and historic debate.

The member for Rimouski—Mitis talked about the Prime Minister having to go back to school to do his homework. I also heard somewhat of a lecture from the hon. member for Lotbinière, who seemed to indicate to the hon. member for Ottawa Centre that he too should go back to school.

That kind of arrogance and condescension really is inappropriate in the House. The hon. member opposite claims to be a communications expert. It seems to me that he should listen to his constituents, to the people of Quebec, and indeed to all Canadians. People do not want to go down this path, no matter where they live in this great country of ours. They want to talk about jobs. They want to talk about taxation levels. They want to talk about health. They want to talk about education. They do not want to talk about another referendum. They do not want to talk about the breakup of this great country. Quite frankly, we have better things to talk about.

The motion before us today is really quite frivolous. I certainly oppose it, and I would urge all members of the House to do likewise.

The Bloc has moved that the House legislative committee considering Bill C-20 hold hearings in all regions across the country. I ask, to what purpose? Why would we do that?

My colleagues and I understand the importance of this bill. I think everyone in Canada does. We understand the importance of consulting Canadians. However, I and others draw the line at insisting that the House committee cross this land to obtain input.

The committee can and will hear ample witnesses without having to travel. It is open to the public and we will hear a number of witnesses, all of whom will be invited, without any holdback, to attend. It is televised to Quebecers and to all Canadians. Through the television they can watch the deliberations of the committee.

The committee has decided in its own right to remain in Ottawa. This type of decision is its prerogative and I certainly respect that, as do other members of the House. I am confident that the committee will be able to fulfill its mandate and satisfy Canadians that it is an accessible and democratic process, one that is in place and one that will serve Canada well.

I can say, for example, as chairman of the health committee, that we deal with issues all the time of grave and great importance to Canadians, no matter where they live. We do not travel. We have other ways of doing it, in the sense of, through other mechanisms, allowing witnesses to come here and still have their say and input without having to go to that expense.

I remind the House that the committee examining the province of Quebec's Bill 99 is not travelling through Quebec. When the Quebec national assembly examined the Calgary declaration, Mr. Jacques Brassard, the Quebec Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Deputy Leader, said the issue was of primary concern for all Quebecers, but that committee did not travel either.

We hear one thing from the Bloc, but we hear quite another thing from the Government of Quebec. It is not always clear in terms of what the Bloc wants and how it wants to go about things.

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Beauce.

Let me be clear that under Quebec's referendum law, when the national assembly examines a referendum question, it does not even have to refer the question to committee, let alone a travelling committee. Imagine that. It does not even have to refer the question to a committee. It does not even have to hear technical witnesses. It can debate the question and after 35 hours—a measly 35 hours—adopt it without listening to any public input whatsoever.

Why has the Bloc put forward this motion to have our committee travel? It does not strike me as being vital to the functioning of the committee examining Bill C-20. It is simply another example of the Bloc twisting and turning for its own purposes. Those purposes, I say, are twisted.

The committee has been tasked with studying the clarity act which the government holds as important and urgent. I believe that all Canadians do as well.

Bill C-20 follows the opinion of the supreme court. As political actors, the House of Commons and the Government of Canada have a duty to make their views known on how they should assess the circumstances of clarity that would trigger an obligation for the Government of Canada to negotiate secession.

In a recent press release from the Prime Minister's office it is important to note that the government indicated:

Insisting on clarity is about respecting the rights of Quebecers to make an informed choice. It is about respecting democracy. Those who choose to obstruct the democratic system with cynical delaying tactics to prevent a real debate should be held accountable for their own anti-democratic actions.

This is what the Bloc has been doing all along. It is not on this side of the House that it is undemocratic, it is on that side of the House. They are the anti-democrats. What we are seeing today is the proof and the proof justly shown. We on the government side will have no part of it and neither will Canadians. Bloc members are the ones accusing us of undermining the principles of democracy by tabling the bill in the House. Imagine. What nonsense.

On the contrary, the bill is about democracy. It reflects our democratic heritage by ensuring that Canadians would be asked a difficult yet clear question and that they would fully understand the consequences.

One of the criticisms directed against us in the House relates to the 50% plus one rule to define a majority which the Bloc members consider ironclad. We all know that it is an internationally recognized principle of democracy that 50% plus one does not always suffice. It is not difficult to understand that under some circumstances a majority of this amplitude is simply not enough. Would it justify so grave an action as breaking up a country such as ours? I do not think so.

A Reform member opposite caterwauls while this huge and historic debate is going on, asking what is the number. I would point out that in my view those Reformers opposite are every bit as much separatists as those other people opposite. It is unbelievable how they flip-flop on such an important issue. They have flip-flopped repeatedly when it comes to Canada.

I would ask the Reform member opposite and all his colleagues sitting in the House, why is it that the Reform Party does not stand up for Canada? Why is it that the Reform Party always wants to break things apart, pit society against society, people against people, region against region, province against province? Why is it that they are always intent on doing that? I do not know. What I do know is that Canadians reject that kind of nonsense and rightfully so.

The simple majority touted by the Bloc is not by any means absolute. How can we be criticized for opposing a simplistic vision of democracy which holds that a simple majority is sufficient to take such a serious and irreversible step? The rule of 50% plus one cannot apply when it comes to amending a province's political and legal status. This is only common sense and Canadians understand that. Canadians understand common sense.

We have tabled the bill because we believe that democracy is more than mere arithmetic, unlike the Reform Party and unlike the Bloc. They have always been close allies. Even at their own convention Reformers had Monsieur Biron, a separatist, as the lead speaker. Imagine, a separatist speaking at the convention for the Reform Party. Does that not tell Canadians a great deal about who those Reformers are and what they stand for?

We have tabled the bill because we believe in democracy. We believe it is important. It is a protection of rights. It is one of the four principles the Supreme Court of Canada said we must consider if ever we have to tackle the important issue of secession.

I want to be crystal clear. The Bloc's objective is not to have the committee travel but to destroy Bill C-20 by unreasonable delays. That is unacceptable. We on this side of the House will simply not allow it.

Let us defeat this motion. Let us expose it for what it is. Let us get on with the business of the House. That is what all Canadians want us to do.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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REF

Rick Casson

Reform

Mr. Rick Casson (Lethbridge, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, we have listened to a lot of things in the House. What we just listened to was at the bottom of the list as far as intelligence or having any meaning or relevance in Canada.

I could not sit here and let the gentleman across the way call me a separatist because I am not. I will do whatever I can to work hard to keep this country together.

The motion we are debating today is about opening up the debate and allowing Canadians to have input. I would like the member to explain why he feels that Canadians from coast to coast to coast should not have input into this clarity bill, a bill that has a potential to divide the country. All Canadians have an interest in this. All Canadians have a right to come forward and to speak. I would like him to clarify the government's position on not doing that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Lynn Myers

Liberal

Mr. Lynn Myers

Mr. Speaker, it is always interesting to hear what the Reform Party has to say and how it says it. Canadians see through its kind of tone and extremism.

I think back to before Christmas. All members know that the Nisga'a treaty was a huge and very important treaty. When the clarity bill which we are talking about today and that historic Nisga'a treaty came before the House, where was the Leader of the Opposition? He was in Mexico. We are dealing with these all important issues and where is the Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition? He is not in the House. I assume he is still getting taxpayers' money to be here.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Benoît Sauvageau

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Benoît Sauvageau (Repentigny, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I believe you forgot to tell him he is not allowed to mention who is not in the House. It must be an honest oversight. I mentioned who was present, not who was absent since that is not allowed.

My hon. colleague, who is a stalwart and, I must say, very convincing Liberal, must recall the time when, in 1980, at the Paul Sauvé Centre, Pierre Elliott Trudeau very eloquently stated “Trust me, ladies and gentlemen, the question is clear. If you vote yes, you will leave Canada”.

Fifteen years later, in the riding of Verdun, Jean Chrétien said “Ladies and gentlemen, the choice before you is gut wrenching. The question is clear. If you vote yes, you will leave Canada”. By the way, they both made promises they did not keep. I am anticipating the answer. They both promised renewal, and neither delivered.

My point is that both said the question was clear. In 1995, 94% of Quebecers voted on a question the Prime Minister had determined to be clear. Why is the hon. member suggesting today that it was not, contrary—incidentally—to what his leader, his Prime Minister and his own party said?

Second, as my Conservative colleague from Richmond—Arthabaska mentioned earlier, is it going to take a majority of 50% plus one in the House to determine if the question is clear? This is another question.

Third, who can tell us what the numbers will be? Earlier he told the Reform member that, if you inquire about the numbers, it means you are a separatist. But if one inquires about the numbers when dealing with a clarity bill, it might be that one wants to be perfectly clear. What are the numbers according to him?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Lynn Myers

Liberal

Mr. Lynn Myers

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talks about my historic memory. I would appeal to his historic memory. I would appeal to him to reread the questions of 1980 and 1995. I will not bore the House by doing it here but I can say that they went on and on and on. They were not clear; they twisted and turned with all kinds of nuances. That will not happen again.

We as the government on this side of the House will ensure that we will keep whatever promises we made in terms of including all Canadians. We will also continue to provide the peace, order and good government required by all Canadians. That is not to twist into this kind of nonsensical equation. Rather we will make sure that we provide jobs for Canadians. We will make sure that we have our fiscal house in order. We will make sure that we provide the kind of government, health care and all the things that Canadians want.

As far as the numbers are concerned, the supreme court was very clear. Even Mr. Bouchard said that the supreme court's judgment had merit. The supreme court said it will be a clear question and a clear majority. That is good enough for me. It is democratic and it is what Canadians want.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Claude Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Claude Drouin (Beauce, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, first, I want to say that I am opposed to the motion introduced by the leader of the Bloc Quebecois because it is not designed to broaden or advance the debate on the clarity bill. On the contrary, it is part of the Bloc Quebecois' strategy on this bill, which is more or less respectful of democracy.

The Bloc's motion before us today would have the House “instruct”, and I stress the word “instruct”, the legislative committee on Bill C-20 to hold public hearings in all regions of the country.

All of us in the House who sit on various committees are well aware of the standing orders of the House governing committees. We all know that the committees of the House can establish their own rules and restrictions, as long as they do not exceed the basic powers granted to them by the House.

We, on the legislative committee on Bill C-20, have availed ourselves of that prerogative and decided, by ballot, that the committee would sit only in Ottawa. We have also taken steps to ensure that a wide range of witnesses are heard and that committee hearings are broadcast so that the people interested in the clarity bill can watch the debate.

So far, the legislative committee on Bill C-20 has acted in accordance with the standing orders, but our colleagues from the Bloc would now have the House give orders to this committee.

Now, do I have to remind this House that our colleagues from the Bloc, after having tried everything they could to prevent the introduction of this bill, after having delayed and disrupted the second reading debate, tabled, on February 10, a motion that this House decline to give second reading to this bill.

So much for the respect our colleagues have for the legislative process which aims, as we all know, to allow open debates on bills.

All members of this House know that the Bloc resorts to these tactics and strategies because its members are opposed to this bill which they consider antidemocratic. I would like to use the time I have to go over a few basic notions of democracy and say a few words about how democracy is perceived by the members of the Bloc and their independentist mentors.

There is nothing like a definition to put things in their true perspective. Here are some simple definitions found in dictionaries. A democracy is “a country where the people choose their government by voting for it.” Also “a government in which the people hold the ruling power either directly or through elected representatives; rule by the ruled.”

As our colleague, the Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs, said in a speech before students of the University of Montreal law school, and I quote:

The history of Canadian democracy, despite its failures and dark chapters, can be put up against democracy in any other countries.

He also quoted what an historian of the University of Edinburg said on the 150th anniversary of the responsible government in Canada:

With regards to the crucial combination of grassroots participation, human rights and self-government, the history of Canada is unequalled in the world.

Democracy does not boil down to simple mathematics or to a simple majority in a vote.

In the introduction of its opinion on the reference concerning the secession of Quebec, the Supreme Court of Canada warns against that danger:

Democracy is a fundamental value in our constitutional law and political culture. While it has both an institutional and an individual aspect, the democratic principle was also argued before us in the sense of the supremacy of the sovereign will of a people...Democracy is commonly understood as being a political system of majority rule. It is essential to be clear what this means. It would be a grave mistake to equate legitimacy with the “sovereign will” or majority rule alone, to the exclusion of other constitutional values.

In the January 29 issue of the prestigious magazine The Economist there was an editorial describing what could constitute secession rules and dealing namely with the majority issue in light of the underlying challenges posed by the secession project. After defining one of the problems at the very heart of any secession project, the author asked about those who are left behind and those who are dragged along against their will. He declared that any secession should be made only if a clear majority—of a lot more than 50% plus one—opted for it freely.

After reading that article, will the proponents of separation speak out against the editorial staff of The Economist ? Probably not. They know all too well that this 50% plus one rule, which they say is sacred, is arbitrary, as evidenced by the fact that, on November 24, 1996, the day after a vote of confidence in the leader of the Parti Quebecois and current Premier of Quebec, a headline in La Presse read “Bouchard shaken up after finding out he does not have the confidence of one delegate out of four”. The article said this:

Behind the scenes, it was mentioned that Mr. Bouchard, who was expecting a lot more support, was stunned when he heard the results in the presence of his closest advisers. Strategists had set the psychological threshold at 80%, assuming Mr. Bouchard would clearly get more.

The vice premier and finance minister of Quebec said, and again I quote from La Presse “Like him, we are stunned; we would have liked to get a lot more support”. Nobody said that Mr. Bouchard's attitude was undemocratic. Nobody said that. Everybody understood he wanted a clear mandate.

If, for our opponents, wanting to clarify something through legislation within the rules of our democratically established institutions is a breach of democracy, members will agree that we ourselves could easily question their good faith as democrats. Our opponents are pulling their holier-than-thou routine. Are they really above reproach as far as behaving as true democrats?

Philippe Séguin, the former president of the French national assembly, found it appropriate recently to point out that one must accept the result of a referendum even though it is different from what one expected.

On February 1, during an interview he gave on Radio-Canada's Téléjournal , he said:

—I was an opponent...of the Maastricht treaty...I know one cannot hold referendums on the same issues within a relatively short timeframe. I am an expert on lost referendums and I know that if today, eight years after Maastricht, I was to ask for another vote on Maastricht, my fellow countrymen would find it odd.

This person, who until very recently was a friend and ally of Jacques Parizeau, simply recognizes that, in democracy, once the people has expressed its will, one must accept the result.

Once voters have expressed their will, a political party must not try again and again to obtain a result that would be favourable to its position, hoping to wear voters down.

As far as the infamous rules governing referendums on secession to which the secessionist leaders are constantly referring to are concerned, we are being accused of doing a flip-flop and of suddenly refusing to abide by these rules for the wording of the question and the majority. However, it takes two to tango. We were never consulted when these rules were established and, moreover, contrary to some reports, we never accepted them complacently, as if they were untouchable principles which absolutely could not be questioned.

I wish to remind the House that before the 1980 referendum, the Prime Minister of Canada had very clearly said that if somebody knocked on the door of sovereignty association, there would be no answer.

What can be said of the leaders' refusal to recognise a role for the members representing the people they would leave behind and the others that they would drag along with them against their will? Refusing the right to speak in their name to the members of this House is, members will agree, a serious breach of democracy.

Accordingly, members will understand my refusal to support this motion which basically is only another example of the great liberties that our colleagues from the Bloc are taking with democracy. My refusal is even more categorical due to the fact that these same colleagues are trying to us how democracy should operate.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Ghislain Lebel

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the speech by the hon. member for Beauce, who paid a lot of attention to the opinion of the supreme court. He said “The supreme court said this, the supreme court said that, the supreme court thought that—”

The supreme court is their court. The court whose judges they appoint. My colleague who just spoke probably does not know this, but before 1949, when there was a dispute, particularly a constitutional dispute, things were referred to the privy council in London. It was a neutral arbitrator that could rule on disputes of this nature.

I also say so for the benefit of the member sitting to the right of the member for Beauce, because I am sure that she does not know it either. These references to the privy council in London were prohibited in 1949. Does my honorable colleague know that out of the nine judges sitting on the supreme court, three come from Quebec? These are usually not the type of people who would have sovereignist leanings or who would even be able to understand what the sovereignists are asking for.

It is a bit like a divorce case, where the wife would say “In our dispute, the arbitrator will be my mother”. The verdict is easy to predict.

Does the member who keeps talking about the supreme court not recognize that it is acting a bit in this way? I would like to say something, but I will not say it here because it would not be polite. I also have a mother and she would be offended. I would rather let him answer on the subject of his beloved supreme court.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Claude Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Claude Drouin

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this question, because it gives me the opportunity to quote a certain statement to the House “I have practiced law for 20 years and I can testify that justice in Canada is in good hands, that we have judges who are responsible and at all times aware of their obligations”.

This was said in the House on September 1, 1988 by Quebec's premier himself, Lucien Bouchard, who was then the leader of the opposition.

He added “I am for the rule of law, and it should always be respected”. Put that in your pipe.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Jean-Guy Chrétien

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien (Frontenac—Mégantic, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the riding of Beauce is next to mine, and I know the people from Beauce very well.

I think that, today, all the people in that riding must be quite disappointed with their member.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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?

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Jean-Guy Chrétien

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien

Speaking about democracy, in the last election in Quebec, in 1995, the riding of Beauce-Sud elected Mr. Quirion with a majority of 68 votes. In the riding of Beauce-Nord, Normand Poulin was elected with a majority of about 100 votes.

These are not overwhelming majorities, but it was democratic. We had judicial recounts and all citizens in Beauce accepted the verdict, even with such narrow victories.

I have two questions for the hon. member for Beauce. If Bill C-20 is so clear, why is he refusing to travel with the committee to his riding? That is what all his constituents want. Why is he refusing?

In Bill C-20, the majority is not indicated anywhere. From his seat in the House, can he tell us whether the majority will be 79%, 59% or 50% plus one? If he has any idea, let him tell us. If not, he should not say a word. But he should tell his constituents that he has no idea.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Claude Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Claude Drouin

Mr. Speaker, in my opinon, it is deplorable that the president of Frontenac—Mégantic should try to think for the people of Beauce. They are quite capable of expressing themselves. Moreover, they did so in the last election, in 1997, by electing me.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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BQ

Jean-Guy Chrétien

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Jean-Guy Chrétien

Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member was elected in 1997, like most of us. He should know that we are here as members of parliament, not as association presidents.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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?

The Speaker

I will give the member 30 seconds to answer.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Claude Drouin

Liberal

Mr. Claude Drouin

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry if I have been disrespectful to you.

The hon. member for Frontenac—Mégantic mentioned there was an election where the member for Beauce-Sud won with a majority of 68% and the other with a majority of 61%.

I think he has a selective memory, because he forgot to mention that the member for Beauce-Sud who replaced the late Paul-Eugène Quirion, the member for Beauce-Sud, was elected in the next to last election with a majority of 5,000 votes and was elected in the last one with a majority of 3,500 votes, that the member for Beauce-Nord was elected with a majority of 2,000 votes, whereas I myself was elected with a majority of 10,000 votes, something I am very proud of.

The people of Beauce are very proud to be Canadians, Quebecers and inhabitants of Beauce.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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LIB

Ovid Jackson

Liberal

Mr. Ovid L. Jackson (Bruce—Grey, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, our system of public health was created by Canadians who believed that all citizens deserve equal access to high quality medical care regardless of where they live in this great country. Canadians I have spoken to are proud of this accomplishment.

Today our health care system is under stress. Both service demand and costs are rising while hospitals and medical personnel are attempting to stretch their budgets to new limits. Clearly the realities of health care have changed over the last 30 years. While we know more about illness prevention, we continue to depend on technology and drugs to cure ailments that might be addressed at a lower cost with equal success.

It is time to engage in open, inclusive debate to address the challenges of our health care system. I believe we can continue to provide Canadians with the care they deserve by renewing our health care system and addressing today's realities.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Health
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REF

Myron Thompson

Reform

Mr. Myron Thompson (Wild Rose, Ref.)

Mr. Speaker, during the year 2000 it will be my personal mandate to educate the solicitor general on the nefarious activities of the Commissioner of Correctional Service Canada.

The first lesson is an easy one. Guards need weapons and inmates should not be served filet mignon. They are there to be punished. The more serious lesson today involves the commissioner's 50:50 plan. This policy is to reduce the inmate population by 50% regardless of the risk.

Both the commissioner and the solicitor general will deny this policy exists. However, in my possession I have a letter from the warden of the Grande Cache institute congratulating his staff for releasing 2,004 convicted offenders back into our community and therefore exceeding the commissioner's goal of 2,000.

Tonight's homework for the solicitor general will be to read this memo I have forwarded to his office and educate himself on what this bungling bureaucrat is really up to. My only hope is that the solicitor general will terminate the commissioner before my next lesson.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Correctional Service Canada
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LIB

Hec Clouthier

Liberal

Mr. Hec Clouthier (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this week I was pleased and privileged to be with over 300 students at our Lady of Fatima School in Renfrew to celebrate a defining moment in the history of our great country, the 35th anniversary of the unveiling of our Canadian flag.

Organized by teacher Earl Bennett, the outdoor rally on a bright, beautiful winter morning was symbolic of all that Canadians hold near and dear to their hearts. We paid tribute to a shining, scintillating symbol that is recognized throughout the world as an icon for peace, prosperity, hope and tolerance.

The theme for Flag Day 2000 was “Take pride in Canada. The place to be in the 21st Century”.

When I looked out at these eager young students, I saw the future of our country Canada. Rest assured, Mr. Speaker and colleagues, that the next generation of Canadians will dare to dream. They will reach for the stars and they will build an even better country for each and every one of us as we march into the next millennium.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Flag Day 2000
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LIB

Raymond Lavigne

Liberal

Mr. Raymond Lavigne (Verdun—Saint-Henri, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is the time of year when students across Canada are thinking about finding summer employment.

The Canadian government is there to give them a hand with this, thanks to its Student Summer Job Action program.

The program offers the opportunity for secondary school, college and university students to acquire valuable experience during their holidays. The program has two objectives: to encourage employers to hire a student and to help students launch their own projects.

We wish all students who are seeking summer employment the best of luck. I would invite all individuals, companies and students in my beautiful riding of Verdun—Saint-Henri to take advantage of this project. Is our Canada not a fine country?

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Student Summer Employment
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LIB

Irwin Cotler

Liberal

Mr. Irwin Cotler (Mount Royal, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I wish to share with my colleagues the concerns and aspirations that were expressed at the recent international conference on the Holocaust, held in Stockholm.

First, the dangers of racist hate speech, which in Bosnia and Rwanda took us down the road to ethnic cleansing and genocide. As the Supreme Court of Canada put it in upholding the constitutionality of anti-hate legislation, “The Holocaust did not begin in the gas chambers, it began with words”.

Second, the danger of remaining silent, of indifference to evil, be it the killing fields of Sierra Leone, Chechnya or Burundi, “Dans ce temps-ci, qui s'excuse, s'accuse”.

Third, the importance, as Sweden has demonstrated, of Holocaust and human rights education as an antidote to racism, xenophobia and hate.

Fourth, the struggle against impunity; of fidelity to the Nuremberg legacy of bringing war criminals to justice.

Finally, the inspiration of a Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish non-Jew who saved 100,000 Jews in the Holocaust, who showed that one person can make a difference, that each one of us in our daily lives can make the world a better place.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Stockholm International Conference
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February 17, 2000