June 2, 2000


The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-11, an act to authorize the divestiture of the assets of, and to dissolve, the Cape Breton Development Corporation, to amend the Cape Breton Development Corporation Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.


?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

There are 16 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-11.

The motions will be grouped for debate as follows:

Group No. 1: Motions Nos. 1 to 5 and 12.

Group No. 2: Motions Nos. 6 to 11 and 16.

Group No. 3: Motions Nos. 13 to 15.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

I shall now propose motions Nos. 1 to 5 and 12 to the House.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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NDP

Michelle Dockrill

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or—Cape Breton, NDP)

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-11, in Clause 2, be amended by adding after line 17 on page 1 the following:

“(3) It is a condition of every agreement to transfer an asset of the Corporation that is used as part of a coal-mining operation that the coal-mining operation shall continue in a manner satisfactory to the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia.

(4) It is a condition of every agreement to transfer an asset of the Corporation that could be used as part of a coal-mining operation that the asset shall be developed and a coal-mining operation shall be undertaken in a manner satisfactory to the Government of Canada and the Government of Nova Scotia.”

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-11, in Clause 2, be amended by adding after line 17 on page 1 the following:

“(3) Prior to the sale or disposal of all or substantially all of the Corporation's assets, the Government of Canada or the Government of Nova Scotia shall hold or cause to be held a public inquiry in order to: a ) determine the effects that the sale or disposal of all or substantially all of the Corporation's assets may have or may have had on the economy of the Island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, with particular attention being given to the issue of the unemployment and economic hardship to the residents that may result or have resulted; and b ) assess the measures taken by the Government of Canada, the Government of Nova Scotia or any agency of either of those governments to reduce those effects.”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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NDP

Peter Mancini

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Mancini (Sydney—Victoria, NDP)

moved:

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-11, in Clause 2, be amended by adding after line 17 on page 1 the following:

“(3) The Auditor General shall review the disposal of the Corporation's assets and all other activities related to the closing out of its affairs, and shall report to the House of Commons within six months of the disposal of the last of the Corporation's assets.”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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BQ

Serge Cardin

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Serge Cardin (Sherbrooke, BQ)

moved:

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-11 be amended by deleting Clause 5.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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NDP

Michelle Dockrill

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Michelle Dockrill (Bras d'Or—Cape Breton, NDP)

moved:

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-11 be amended by adding after line 13 on page 2 the following new clause:

“5.1 If a work or undertaking of the Corporation or any part thereof is transferred, by sale, lease, merger or otherwise, to another employer, the work or undertaking or the part thereof, as the case may be, shall continue to be a work or undertaking for the general advantage of Canada.”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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NDP

Peter Mancini

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Mancini (Sydney—Victoria, NDP)

moved:

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-11, in Clause 11, be amended by adding after line 27 on page 4 the following:

“(3) The by-law of the Corporation shall provide that if a person contracts any illness as a result of the person's employment by the Corporation, the person shall be entitled, for the remainder of the person's life, to the health insurance benefits that were provided as part of the terms and conditions of the person's employment.”

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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NDP

Michelle Dockrill

New Democratic Party

Mrs. Michelle Dockrill

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that it is a pleasure to stand in the House today to talk about Bill C-11, but unfortunately I do not feel that way.

I think it is important at this time to point out to Canadians the difference between fact and fiction as it relates to the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

In 1995 the Prime Minister asked the Minister of Natural Resources at the time to return to cabinet with a privatization plan for Devco. When we talked to the government and asked it about its plan with respect to the privatization of Devco in 1998, it denied a plan existed. It said that there was no plan and that it had not made a decision about privatizing Devco.

Mr. Speaker, as you have said, we are today commissioned with the task of privatizing Devco.

As a resident of Cape Breton Island all my life, I was always brought up to believe that I lived in a wonderful country called Canada. One of the reasons we lived in such a wonderful country was because it was a democratic society. We had governments which were responsible for ensuring that all citizens were treated fairly and equitably and that it was the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that its policies did not have undue or harsh ramifications for the citizens.

I question whether we live in a democratic society when we see what the federal government has done with respect to the Cape Breton Development Corporation, the miners, their families and the communities which will be affected drastically by this legislation.

All members of the House have seen over the course of the last number of years delegation after delegation coming to Ottawa, miners' wives coming to Ottawa, pleading with officials of the government to recognize what this bill would do to them, their families, the future of their children and, more important, the future of their island.

Did the government listen? Of course not. The government has refused to listen to every delegation which has come to Parliament Hill to voice their concerns about what the government was doing as it related to the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

In 1995, when Cape Bretoners were being represented by what some on the government side would tout as being one of the most powerful government members in the country, the government executed the plan to destroy Devco and in essence destroy the island.

If the government had decided to get out of the industry why was it not willing to sit down with the stakeholders, with the union, with the mayor and with the community and try to work out a solution that would guarantee that nobody would be adversely affected? It did not do that. It decided to continue meeting closed doors and making decisions based on only the facts it had.

Day after day government members get up and talk about their responsibility and what they have done in terms of assisting the people in Cape Breton as it relates to Devco. Their own study in 1995 told them what would happen economically and socially if they continued on with the plan to privatize Devco. Did they recognize those adverse effects? Did the government want to sit down with the stakeholders to find a way to work out a solution? No. It decided to do what it has done for a number of years which is to continue on its course of selling off Canada's assets to foreign investors. Devco is no different.

Because I come from Cape Breton and having lived there all my life, it angers me to no end when I hear government members say that they are committed to Cape Breton, that they have sent money there for economic development and recovery.

Given the amount of money that the federal government has sent to Cape Breton, why is Cape Breton's economy where it is right now? Why have we ended up having the highest rate of unemployment in the country if the government is so committed to economic recovery?

The answer to those questions is that this government has never been committed to any kind of economic recovery as it relates to Cape Breton, and Cape Bretoners know that. We in the House saw the drastic steps that the miners took in January of this year when they took over over one of the mines and went on a hunger strike. It was because of what the government was doing and because it was not listening.

The parliamentary secretary or the minister will stand up later and tell us that the government consulted Cape Bretoners, that a panel went around Cape Breton Island and gave everybody the opportunity to voice their concerns and their issues. Interestingly enough, everybody on that panel had an affiliation to the Liberal Party. Surprise, surprise. There was a former senator on the panel. One of those people on the panel was successful in obtaining over $300,000 through the millennium fund. Another member was able to open a new FM radio station.

Government members will say “There goes the member for Bras d'Or with her paranoia”. No, that is reality and a fact on Cape Breton Island. The government members know it and certainly Cape Bretoners know it.

The issue here is that there has been absolutely no consultation as it relates to what will happen to Cape Breton Island. Economically in Cape Breton right now our research shows that even to bring Cape Breton up to the mainland standards we will need approximately 14,000 jobs. That is before Devco closes. That is before the steel plant closes. What do we hear from the government members? They say that they have given us $68 million. By the way, they have already spent $7 million on a call centre that we all saw the Prime Minister come and announce to Cape Bretoners. This is patronage at its best. One thing we do know about in Cape Breton is patronage. We have seen it for an awful long time from the Liberal government.

Given the fact that the government arbitrarily made the decision in 1995 to get out of the industry, why did it not consult with Cape Bretoners? Why did it not consult with the unions? Why did it not listen to the $500,000 study it commissioned from John T. Boyd, which told the government how to make it work? The reality was that the government did not want it to work. It did not want Devco to be viable. It set in motion decisions, since 1995, that would ensure that it would not be viable.

What will Cape Bretoners be left with? Today we await the arbitration to decide the fate of the miners and their families.

It is a sad day in this country when we have a government that is commissioned by the people to look after its citizens and we see the manipulation and games that have been played with the citizens of Cape Breton Island by the Liberal government. What is it? It is just proof that once again the Liberal government is phenomenal for its promises, but as Cape Bretoners have known for a very long time, it is also phenomenal at breaking them.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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NDP

Peter Mancini

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Mancini (Sydney—Victoria, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, like the previous speaker, I want to say that it is a pleasure to rise today to speak to these motions.

I am proud of the motions that have come forward but I think we need a bit of history on some of them and on Bill C-11. My colleague has given some of the history going back to 1995. However, it is important for members of the House to understand what these motions mean and what has happened to them.

Those members of the Liberal Party who do not know the history of the committee that reported on this bill should listen. They should know the history and they should be ashamed.

After the government brought in time allocation the bill was sent to committee but not through the normal course of events. It was rammed through the committee to the point where the witnesses were given 24 hours notice to fly from Cape Breton to Ottawa during extended hours that the committee held, where the chairman ordered supper for the witnesses and the committee members, over a two day period, so they could say that they consulted. It was a farce. Yet, in good faith, the people of Cape Breton came forward to the committee. The major of the regional municipality came. Women from the Northside Futures Group came. The unions came. Every one of those witnesses made recommendations to the committee. Those recommendations from the witnesses formed the substance of the motions before the House today.

Some of those motions were brought to committee in another form. Despite the fact that these motions came from witnesses who will be directly affected in the communities where they live, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources exercised his duty as whip, and up and down the line, when the motions were brought forward, most of them were defeated.

I see some members in the House today who I think have a social conscience. I urge them to read those motions. Not all of them are up for debate in this grouping, but they are as innocuous as ensuring that Cape Bretoners sit on the board of directors. They were defeated by the government. We have to wonder why.

We believe there is a move afoot to ram this through before the next election so that the next Liberal standard bearer in Cape Breton does not have to answer or defend the actions of the government.

What is worse is that those witnesses were given a little bit of hope. Cathy Baker, whose husband is a miner and who has been affected by this, gave up her 12-hour shift on short notice to come to Ottawa to plead with the government to keep certain sections in the act. One of the Liberal members on the committee said to her that her comments made him think differently about the bill. The next day or the day after he voted against the very recommendations that she had put forward. He was whipped into shape.

There is a certain irony here today. This bill will undo the work of previous Liberal administrations: the Lester Pearson administration and the Pierre Trudeau administration involving Allan MacEachen, Romeo Leblanc and other Liberals who were considered left wing thinkers. I know the Liberal members are tired of hearing me say that because it perhaps creates a twinge of conscience.

The irony is that as the Prime Minister travels off to Berlin to deliver what many think is the left wing election platform of the Liberal Party, while he issues that statement in Berlin, here at home his government is undoing the very kind of Liberal policies for which this party was once so proud. While he echoes a remnant of what might have been in Berlin, the actions of his Minister of Natural Resources and of his government speak far louder than those words. When we compare that speech in Berlin with the legislation before the House today, it speaks of hypocrisy.

The minister has a choice. He can give credence to his leader's comments in Berlin by withdrawing this bill or, at the very least, by accepting amendments that were put forward by the people of Cape Breton, or he can make his leader look like a hypocrite and pass the bill in this Chamber. It will be an interesting contrast between that speech and this legislation.

I will now go directly to the motions that have been moved today. I will speak directly to Motion No. 2 which says that prior to the sale or disposal of all government assets, there should be a public inquiry into what this will mean for the economy on the island of Cape Breton. That is not happening.

The interesting reason that Motion No. 2 is an important motion is because the act that we are replacing mandated the government to assess what the economic impact would be as a result of the transition from a resource based economy to another one. That was what the foresight was of the government of Lester Pearson. To give it teeth a section was put in the act that mandated the government to look at that.

What could possibly be wrong? How could it be against public policy for a government to say that it understands the implications of this, that it is aware it will be selling off the assets of a crown corporation that is the major employer in a particular community, that it is aware that will mean massive layoffs and will have economic impacts, and that it will have a public inquiry and study it in order to find the best way to deal with it?

God knows in this House over 130 years we have had public inquiries into every possible subject. When it comes to the lives and the economic consequences of a bill that will affect the lives of 100,000 people, which is the population of the regional municipality of Cape Breton, when it comes to examining what effects this bill will have on those people, there is no interest, no time and no money. Perhaps the government can explain why it has no interest.

The government members will say that they have given $68 million to Cape Breton for economic development to replace the Cape Breton Development Corporation. The Minister of Heritage announced in the House the expenditure of $48 million toward the construction of a war museum. I suppose we have been given the price of a new building in Ottawa as the impetus for future economic growth for an island.

A contract was made between the Government of Canada and the people of Cape Breton. That contract said that the government would assist the people of Cape Breton through a transition period. Cape Bretoners understood that they would not be coal miners forever and ever. They understood that times were changing.

The people of Cape Breton looked to the Government of Canada to help them, not to baby them, not to make them dependent, but to help them. Is it wrong that they would turn to the government and ask for help as they made the transition? The Government of Canada in 1967 said it recognized its role and responsibility. It made a covenant, but today the covenant has been broken. Today there is a breach of faith and a breach of trust.

The people of Cape Breton have always given to Canada when asked. We have always honoured our side of the confederation agreement. I do not know that we can continue to make the same pledge because the covenant has been broken by the other partner and we have been left wanting.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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BQ

Serge Cardin

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Serge Cardin (Sherbrooke, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, before I speak on Bill C-11, I must set the stage.

I would point out quickly that, on January 28, 1999, the federal Minister of Natural Resources announced the closure of the Phalen coal mine and the privatization of the Prince mine, both of which are on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and managed by the crown corporation Devco. Some 1,700 miners worked for the corporation, and approximately 1,000 will end up unemployed in a region with an unemployment rate of 25% on occasion and even permanently.

At the same time, the minister announced aid of $110 million to provide the miners with severance pay and early retirement packages and an additional investment of $68 million to boost the region's economy. The Government of Nova Scotia also announced, last fall, that it would invest $12 million in the long term economic development of Cape Breton.

Obviously, some people are dissatisfied with the conditions of separation and the proposed severance pay totalling $110 million. Since February 1999, Devco employees have been putting pressure on the federal government to change its decisions.

A committee of the Nova Scotia legislature comprising representatives of all parties called on the federal government on December 23 to improve the offers and increase the amount of money paid to the workers. According to this committee, approximately 230 miners with 25 years of service or more are excluded from Devco's early retirement programs as they are currently defined.

On January 2, 2000, exasperated miners declared a strike to protest the closing of the mine and to obtain better lump sum payments. A few days later, they set up barricades in order to block delivery of coal to Nova Scotia's two generating stations. Some of them even went on a hunger strike.

After long deliberations between workers and representatives of the federal government and the mine, an agreement in principle was reached in mid January, and the barricades came down. Nevertheless, negotiations in camera appear not to be concluded yet.

Devco was established in 1967 by the Cape Breton Development Corporation Act. Its assets include the Prince and Phalen mines, the Donkin mine site, the corporation wharf and rail line, its coal processing plant and the related infrastructures.

Devco being a crown corporation, the Financial Administration Act provides that it cannot dispose of all or substantially all of its assets, unless authorized by legislationaw. Therefore, the main objective of Bill C-11 is to allow Devco to dispose of its assets. It amends the Cape Breton Development Corporation Act to allow the private sector to acquire the corporation's assets, so that the government can exit the coal mining business.

The purpose of clauses 2 to 4 is to allow Devco to sell its assets, before being dissolved on a day to be fixed by order in council. Clause 5 provides that the works and undertakings operated or carried on by Devco are for the general advantage of Canada. That clause is included in the act so that the Canada Labour Code can continue to apply. It should be noted that since Devco is a crown corporation, all the jurisdictional systems that apply to labour relations, occupational health and safety and labour standards have, since 1967, been governed by the Canada Labour Code.

The bill thus also provides for the continuation of the existing federal jurisdiction in these areas. It is primarily the provisions of clause 5 which bother us, because they represent federal interference in provincial affairs. There is nothing out of the ordinary about the rest of the bill.

Clause 5 is contentious because the federal government indicates that the works and undertakings operated by the corporation, whether or not it is dissolved, will be works for the general advantage of Canada, thus allowing for the continuation of the federal legislation.

By means of this clause, the federal government intends to continue the jurisdiction it had at the time, through Devco's status as a crown corporation. The federal government thus retains the right to legislate in the areas of labour relations, occupational safety and health, and labour standards, even after the corporation is dissolved.

But it is the provincial legislation and labour code which should apply once the federal government pulls out of this industry and privatizes its assets. The federal government is continuing its jurisdiction in these areas by invoking the declaratory power conferred on parliament by various sections of the Constitution Act, which allow it to extend its exclusive jurisdiction to works by declaring them to be for the advantage of Canada or of more than one province.

In fact, section 91 provides that it shall be lawful for the Queen, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and the House of Commons, to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada—that is what I said, the good government of Canada; and this was not written by the Bloc—in relation to all matters not coming within the classes of subjects by this act assigned exclusively to the legislatures of the provinces.

This section also sets out the matters under the exclusive legislative authority of the Parliament of Canada. And subsection 91(29) gives the federal government exclusive jurisdiction when the classes, in this case the works, have been expressly excepted in the enumeration of the classes of subjects assigned exclusively to the provinces.

Section 92 identifies the matters for which the provincial legislatures may exclusively make laws. Subsection 92(10) says that local works and undertakings are a provincial matter, with the exception of what is set out in paragraphs ( a ), ( b ) and ( c ). Paragraph ( c ) provides that the works, although wholly situate within the province, are before or after their execution declared by the Parliament of Canada to be for the general advantage of Canada or for the advantage of two or more of the provinces.

In other words, the Parliament of Canada may amend, indeed expand, the limits of its legislative jurisdiction with respect to works of a local nature declared to be of general interest to Canada. Provincial approval is not required.

The works so unilaterally declared are therefore removed from the application of provincial jurisdiction. The federal government has apparently used this type of power already close to 500 times. The use of this declaratory power by the federal government in the case of the Cape Breton Development Corporation strikes us as abusive. Why is the federal government pre-empting this jurisdiction? Does it not believe that provincial legislation will be sufficient, once agreements have been signed between it and the workers?

Looking quickly at the coal industry, it is of course very much on the way out. It also has a considerable impact on the environment. Those two arguments lead me to a degree of acceptance that the government should divest itself of this mine, mainly the fact that coal mining is not cost-effective.

There is one important element I must focus on: the matter of regional development. I believe that the federal government has not done its job in this area. It is obvious that the government has invested huge sums of money since 1967.

I have made a rapid calculation. Since 1967, the budgetary estimates for the coal division of Devco, as well as for the industrial development and economic activities division in the past two years, i.e. 1998 and 1999, total $2,568,000.

If we take an average of 1,700 employees over 33 years, this represents an average of $45,775 per worker. This is, of course, assuming that there were 1,700 workers for the 33 year period. Imagine what the federal government could have done with that money in developing Cape Breton? Now there would be full employment there.

The federal government has therefore failed to meet its responsibilities. The federal government was incapable of getting the mine to make a profit and today it wants to privatize it. Even the chairman of the corporation admits it is running up a deficit and will probably continue to do so. What are the advantages for the government in selling the mine and in continuing to interfere in provincial responsibilities?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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PC

Gerald Keddy

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gerald Keddy (South Shore, PC)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to speak to these amendments. But as the member for Bras D'Or—Cape Breton said earlier, it is also a disappointment to speak to a number of these amendments because of the lack of co-operation from the government benches on this bill. It is also a disappointment that the government is not here to defend its actions and its Bill C-11 on the privatization of Devco.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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LIB

Marlene Catterall

Liberal

Ms. Marlene Catterall

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Some members are back in their ridings, but as the Speaker knows very well, it is against the rules of the House to refer to the presence or absence of members in the House and there are government members here to defend the bill.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The deputy government whip is absolutely correct and I should have picked up on that myself. As everyone knows, we do not refer to the presence or absence of other members. As everyone knows, while members may or may not be in the House, there are many other obligations that take members out of the House on official business.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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PC

Gerald Keddy

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Gerald Keddy

Mr. Speaker, it was not my intent to point that out. It was my intent to involve the government in debate on this very important bill for the people of Cape Breton Island and Nova Scotia.

A number of amendments have been put forward. We have debated this in committee and we have gone through clause by clause. There are more amendments here. Our party will be supporting some of them and some of them we will not be supporting. What is important is that the debate occurs.

Sadly there has been a lack of debate on this issue. There has been a lack of responsibility on behalf of the government. The government has refused to go to Cape Breton Island and hold public inquiries. The committee has not travelled to Cape Breton Island to actually assess the situation on the ground in Cape Breton. Many committee members have not been to the coal field, they have not seen the rail cars and they have not been to the mines. The government has refused travel there.

It is a mistake for the government when it is liquidating the assets and privatizing the company, a crown corporation, to try to do it in an aloof and hands off manner. The government is going to put the bill through. It wants all parliamentarians to support it without looking at it too closely because it is just a matter of bookkeeping and let us move it through. That type of attitude is what the government has been about for far too long, that type of irresponsible government and its refusal to deal with the issues. A number of issues need to be dealt with.

Of the amendments put forward in Group No. 1 by the member for Bras D'Or—Cape Breton and the member for Sydney—Victoria, there are couple that deserve to be looked at in a much closer manner and taken seriously.

Motion No. 12 states:

The by-law of the Corporation shall provide that if a person contracts any illness as a result of the person's employment by the Corporation, the person shall be entitled, for the remainder of the person's life, to the health insurance benefits that were provided as part of the terms and conditions of the person's employment.

I would like to hear members on the government benches at least explain to me, but explain to the entire House and to the miners in Cape Breton who have contracted serious illnesses working underground why that particular motion would not be supported by any responsible government in the country. I would like to hear the explanation of that.

I put forth a very similar motion at committee stage and it was voted down. All the opposition parties supported it, and I suspect that all the opposition parties will support this one. Yet the government in its wisdom decided it does not have to deal with this issue. If people contract an illness through work, a work related injury, they will be laid off and the medical insurance will not cover them or their families.

Cape Breton Island is a area of economic hardship with 17% unemployment and higher. Yet the government is satisfied that it does not have any further responsibility once it goes through with its privatization plan. I point out Motion No. 3 which says:

The Auditor General shall review the disposal of the Corporation's assets and all other activities related to the closing out of its affairs, and shall report to the House of Commons within six months of the disposal of the last of the Corporation's assets.

Surely that is a good amendment. When we are liquidating assets and privatizing government or federal assets, to have the auditor general look at it and give a full accounting to the Parliament of Canada is responsible government.

I want want to hear what the Government of Canada has to say on this issue. I want it to explain to me, because I do not understand its rationale or its line of thinking, why this should not occur. Even more serious, I want it to explain to Canadians why this should not occur.

We have a government that is not responsible. It does not have to have a full accounting of the business it is about to perform. Do Canadian taxpayers not need to know whether this is a good or bad thing? Whatever anyone's position is on this issue, surely we have to be responsible and, more important, we have to be accountable.

The member for Sherbrooke just spoke about overlapping jurisdiction. The federal government wants to continue to keep its hands in the works through the Canada Labour Code. He made a very good point, a clear point. He explained his position well. It is a point on which I want to hear the government's response. I have not heard it. It has not articulated its vision for the future of Cape Breton Island. It has not explained why federal jurisdiction should continue to apply in a provincial area.

It cannot continue to govern from afar. It is like trying to write a will that somehow tries to control everything from the grave. It is a mistake for anyone to do that. One should make a decision and move on. The Government of Canada has to do exactly the same. I go back to Motion No. 5 which says:

If a work or undertaking of the Corporation or any part thereof is transferred, by sale, lease, merger or otherwise, to another employer, the work or undertaking or the part thereof, as the case may be, shall continue to be a work or undertaking for the general advantage of Canada.

That is a pretty sensible amendment. The problem here is not with the amendments. The problem has been with the government and its total refusal to take this issue and the Parliament of Canada seriously and to listen to amendments put forth by opposition members of parliament. Surely we are not just here to waste our time. Surely we are here to have reasonable, rationale and accountable debate.

Everyone needs to understand that the government is insisting on pushing this legislation through parliament like it pushes every other piece of legislation through parliament. It delays debate. It shortens debate. It refuses to speak to the issues. It refuses to present its own position on this very important issue. Opposition members are forced to bring motions from committee to parliament to have them debated. We debate them at committee, and that debate is rushed by any stretch of the imagination.

The member for Sydney—Victoria had unlimited time to speak the other day. He took that opportunity to speak in what I thought was a very rational manner for a limited period of time and discussed the issues fairly thoroughly. Instead of that gaining some co-operation from the government, all it gained was to shut it down, move it on, not debate it and not discuss it. That type of government is wrong. That is why we are debating this issue today and that is why we have a couple of other sets of amendments to debate. I look forward to continuing that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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NDP

Wendy Lill

New Democratic Party

Ms. Wendy Lill (Dartmouth, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the amendments as well as to the essence of Bill C-11, an act to authorize the divestiture of the assets of the Cape Breton Development Corporation. I am honoured to follow the two Cape Breton members of parliament who spoke so passionately to the issue. I would like to try to follow in their footsteps.

With this bill the government will be carrying out its intention to privatize Devco. As we know, the government has a passion for privatization. It has an obsession for cutting loose some of the jewels in our crown, the actual treasures that we hold dear in this country. It believes that Devco should be cut loose and in fact that Atlantic Canada should be cut loose.

We have seen this over and over from the government. We have seen our health care system cut loose. We have seen the government's commitment move from a 50% commitment to national medicare down to a 13% commitment. We have seen our railways cut loose. Now we have seen the CBC cut loose. We have seen over $400 million removed from the CBC, our national broadcasting corporation. We have seen 3,800 jobs disappear. It is all with the assumption that somehow the private sector will take up the slack, and we know it will not.

With Devco the argument is the same, that the private sector will somehow do a better job. This is a sort of ubiquitous mantra of the government. I almost think government members repeat it on their treadmills when they are exercising or when they are going to sleep at night. They may mutter cuts are the best policy; private sector good, public sector bad; corporations are always right. Of course there is the continuing mantra that Cape Breton is a financial money pit.

It is interesting that not only is this last mantra a false one. It is also one that has been taken up by the official opposition, the Reform Party. I guess the Reform Party has finally become an Ottawa insider, adopting the bureaucratic mantras in the same way as the frontbench opposite. I want to bring some of those fallacies to the attention of the House.

It is important for everyone to note that Cape Breton has been producing coal for 300 years, long before Ottawa bureaucrats existed to criticize the enterprise. The coal produced in Cape Breton fired the steamers which helped build the British Empire. They were critical components of industrial expansion in the early days of Canada.

The contribution which Cape Breton coal made to our war efforts in both wars cannot be underestimated. At the end of the second world war 17,000 Cape Breton workers kept the coal moving. Like many other industries after the war, there were to be big changes in coal production, and there were.

The mines declined substantially and by 1965 they were ready for closure, which would have thrown 6,500 miners out of work. However the more progressive government of the day than the one that introduced Bill C-11 understood that allowing the collapse of the coal industry was against the public interest for two reasons.

The Pearson government understood that there was a viable economic need for coal production in Cape Breton to continue. It is almost eerie how the setting up of Devco seemed to have foretold the oil crisis of the seventies. Until Devco, power in Nova Scotia was produced by oil generating stations. If these stations had not changed to coal fired stations in the late sixties, the impact of the OPEC crisis would have decimated the Nova Scotia economy.

I heard both Liberals and Reformers whine about the money pit of Cape Breton requiring this drastic legislation. However I never hear them talk about the billions saved by businesses and residents of Atlantic Canada because of cheap Cape Breton coal being used to create electricity.

The mantra continues: Cape Breton's Devco should be cut loose; the private sector will do a better job; and the government will continue to offer call centre jobs to this beautiful island. I say shame on the government's minimum wage commitments to Cape Breton and its people.

Today I learned that the reprieve of local news shows at the CBC, which is another sock from the Liberals to maritimers and which I have already called a sham to get the government through the next election, is not what the government had taken credit for. The national programs will get millions to produce a slick commercial free 30 minutes of national news. They will get time to develop the ideas and will get the resources to do it right, an approach which local shows have always done well. Due to the Liberal broken promises, the local shows have scant days to come up with the millions in cuts.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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?

The Speaker

With the hon. member's agreement, it might be a good time to break your speech. You still have five minutes and ten seconds left and will have the floor when we return to debate.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Cape Breton Development Corporation Divestiture Authorization And Dissolution Act
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LIB

David Pratt

Liberal

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to invite all Canadians to share in a grand military celebration Saturday morning, June 3, at 9.30 on Parliament Hill. Two hundred and fifty Canadian soldiers will participate in the Century of Service Parade to commemorate 100 years of proud military service to our country. This is a unique opportunity for Canadians to pay tribute to four regiments that served in South Africa at the turn of the 20th century.

The Royal Canadian Regiment valiantly fought its way to victory through searing heat, thirst and sickness at the battle of Paardeberg in February 1900. In November 1900 the Royal Canadian Dragoons and the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery held fast at the battle of Leliefontain despite many casualties.

It is also an opportunity to commemorate the raising of Lord Strathcona's Horse, the Royal Canadians, in the year of 1900 just prior to their service in South Africa. In fact the Musical Ride will be performed by horses and riders from the Strathcona Mounted Troop, an event rarely seen in eastern Canada.

I encourage all Canadians to share in this momentous tribute to these four proud Canadian regiments that continue to serve our home and native land.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Century Of Service Parade
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REF

John Duncan

Reform

Mr. John Duncan (Vancouver Island North, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals just do not get it. The federal government is spending over $48 million of the $68 million in federal sponsorship money in Quebec to respond to messaging from the Parti Quebecois.

Canadians are tired of Liberal big spending to promote Liberal status quo federalism. The government finds sponsorship spending easier than making real, necessary and overdue changes to the federation.

All Canadians want is fairness in government spending. However western Liberals, like the Winnipeg MP who chaired the Liberal task force into western alienation, want the money the Liberals use in Quebec to try to buy votes in the west. I have news for the government. Big spending will not buy Canadians in Quebec or in the west.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Government Expenditures
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LIB

Lynn Myers

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, June 4, we celebrate National Cancer Survivors Day. Cancer touches all of us either directly or indirectly. Approximately one in three Canadians will be diagnosed with cancer during his or her lifetime. However, thanks to improved detection methods and enhanced methods of treatment, more than half of all people diagnosed with cancer today recover fully, and thankfully go on to live happy and productive lives.

Each cancer survivor has his or her own story to tell. Each has experienced pain and unease in their courageous battles against cancer. However, if asked, I am sure that each would say that we must continue to develop new and improved methods of detection and treatment and to encourage research in this all important area.

I am proud to say that on Sunday, June 4, the people of my riding of Waterloo—Wellington will be joining over 700 communities in celebrating National Cancer Survivors Day, a day which has come to symbolize hope, perseverance and the strength of those survivors and their families.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   National Cancer Survivors Day
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LIB

Andy Scott

Liberal

Hon. Andy Scott (Fredericton, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to offer congratulations to a friend and former constituent. Renowned children's author Sheree Fitch has been recognized as one of the first two winners of the Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award, a literary program for young readers in Atlantic Canada.

Sheree won in the children's choice non-fiction category for her book If You Could Wear My Sneakers . The unique thing about the Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award is that the winners are judged by the children.

I am pleased also to say that this project was supported by the Canada Millennium Partnership Program. Its objectives are to enhance literacy and promote reading of Canadian books by children in the Atlantic provinces.

Again, congratulations to Sheree Fitch on her continuing excellence in children's literature.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Sheree Fitch
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June 2, 2000