September 24, 2001


The House resumed from June 7, 2001 consideration of the motion that Bill S-14, an act respecting Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day, be read the second time and referred to a committee.


BQ

Christiane Gagnon

Bloc Québécois

Ms. Christiane Gagnon (Québec, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak to the bill respecting Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day. I find it somewhat curious that a Liberal member tabled this bill in the House, yet their Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is unable to provide his support to the Bloc Quebecois to recognize the importance of the deportation of the Acadians.

We, in the Bloc Quebecois, are not afraid of calling attention to this great historic mistake because we are not afraid of learning from the past. Indeed, there are a host of reasons why it would be inappropriate for us to support the bill tabled before us this morning. The wording alone indicates that one of the reasons to celebrate the birth of Wilfrid Laurier is because of the fact that he was an ardent supporter of national unity. To which national unity does this refer?

For us, Canadian unity, and all that has been done in its name, represents the main obstacle to Quebec's development. In Quebec, national unity, in the sense of preserving the current federal system, is not the political objective that transcends all others. Rather, it is more of a problem for Quebecers. For sovereignists like us, the answers are to be found elsewhere.

Over and above our constitutional opinion, however, there are numerous reasons the federal parliament ought not to get involved in historical commemoration. First of all, we must be forearmed against the temptation of having an official and politically oriented history, by not giving the Canadian government the opportunity to use history to political ends. Who would be in charge of the celebrations, if not Canadian Heritage, a department that ensures that everything it lays hands on sends out a message of Canadian unity?

There are two nations in Canada; there are two national histories. We should also add the aboriginal perspective of history. Each of these versions places the emphasis on different aspects of historical events and figures. For example, one side of the Ottawa River celebrates Victoria Day while the other celebrates Dollard des Ormeaux.

Let us take the example of Confederation, which the bill describes as “the major accomplishment of J.A. Macdonald”. Everyone knows that Macdonald would have preferred a legislative union that would have made Canada a unitary state, and that he made sure that Canadian federation would be highly centralized.

In fact Macdonald championed the federal idea, and not the confederal idea as people wanted to have it believed, in order to attract the maritime provinces and to overcome the strong reservations expressed by Quebec. Moreover, despite promises to the contrary, the British North America Act was never voted on in a referendum. Even if the Quebecers supported Macdonald's party in the November 1867 election, this must not lead us to conclude that they backed his vision of Canada. Bending the truth, the newspaper La Minerve , a propaganda tool—yes, propaganda is nothing new—presented the partners of Confederation as sovereign states delegating part of their rights and powers to a so-called “central” government. What an appealing notion, a partnership between sovereign states. That is what the people of Quebec thought they were embarking on.

Not everyone was taken in, however. Let us keep in mind that there was the “Parti des rouges”—yes, the party to which Wilfrid Laurier belonged—which opposed confederation. In May 1867, Laurier wrote as follows in his newspaper Le Défricheur :

We must return completely and directly to the politics of Mr. Papineau, protest with all our might against the new order that has been imposed on us and use whatever influence we have left to demand and obtain a free and separate government.

Of course, after 1867, Wilfrid Laurier ended up playing the game and became a supporter of the Canadian system. He was Prime Minister for 15 consecutive years and continued the work of Macdonald. Yet, is the legacy of these two men unsullied? Talk to those Franco-Manitobans still left. Manitoba might have become the model of a Canada where the two peoples, anglophone and francophone, could live together side by side.

There was also the hanging of Louis Riel that Prime Minister Macdonald could have prevented, and the elimination of educational rights of the francophones that another Prime Minister, Wilfrid Laurier, did not have the courage to stop. “It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister is a French Canadian”, he said to his friend and former colleague, Henri Bourassa, “because as a French Canadian I do things I would never do were I English”.

This is why in today's Canada 19 francophones out of 20 live in Quebec. This was what fate had in store for these two peoples.

Why should the Government of Canada stop at honouring just these two Prime Ministers with a special day? However, the legacy of the greatest Prime Ministers is just as controversial.

Let us take Robert Borden and Mackenzie King, who imposed conscription during the two world wars in the 20th century. There is Louis Saint-Laurent, who oversaw the construction of the St. Lawrence seaway, the first of a series of federal decisions that drained Montreal's prosperity away toward Ontario. I refer to the auto pact and the Borden line, which put Ontario at the heart of Canada's automobile and petrochemical industries.

When we think about it, it is a good idea to recall history. It reminds us more clearly why there is a sovereignist opposition in Ottawa.

In Quebec, we would have a lot of other great individuals to commemorate. They include Samuel de Champlain, Garagonthié, Marie Gérin-Lajoie, Henri Bourassa, Norman Bethune, Thérèse Casgrain, Gaston Miron and many others. There would not be enough dates on the calendar to celebrate all our great men and women. This is certainly true for the rest of Canada, and we respect that. But it is not our history.

For all these reasons and despite the respect Quebecers feel for past heroes of the Dominion of Canada, the Bloc Quebecois has decided to oppose this bill.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
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LIB

Marcel Proulx

Liberal

Mr. Marcel Proulx (Hull--Aylmer, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, a few days ago, we witnessed the tragic and horrible events that took place in the United States, and we were all profoundly shocked. It was a painful nightmare for each one of us.

It is not my intention to speak about the terrorists' attacks and their repercussions. However, this recent terrible tragedy brought home to us only too vividly that which we hold most dear: our country, our freedoms, and our values as Canadians, our way of life.

In moments of tragedy, the values we cherish shine the brightest, and our desire to preserve those values and see them grow takes on a new urgency.

It is our pride in being Canadians that underlies the bill before us today.

Bill S-14 pays tribute to two of our great prime ministers: Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. This bill will enable us to remain proud of our past and mindful of our heritage.

Some will perhaps wonder what we have to gain by setting aside the birthdays of these two men as special days. The answer is a simple one.

If there is one thing that we have learned from the tragic events of recent days, it is that as Canadians we cannot and must not take for granted everything that we have.

If we pass Bill S-14, we will send a message to all, to current and future generations of Canadians, that we keep in our collective mind the memory of Canada's first Prime Minister and first French speaking Prime Minister.

We will thus show our commitment to celebrate their contributions to Canada, as well as the values and principles on which these contributions are based. We will also show that we are not prepared to take our heritage for granted.

In a world that is increasingly based on global trade, technology and communications, we are constantly at risk of losing sight of our Canadian identity. And this risk will be even greater as we face the challenges of the 21st century. In trying to meet these challenges, we can build on the examples of Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who were men of great value.

At times we may think that our problems are insurmountable and we may also be tempted to lose faith in our ability as a nation to overcome the obstacles before us.

But we could certainly put things in perspective by pointing out the innumerable difficulties faced by John A. Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier and the other Fathers of Confederation when they were trying to turn a beautiful dream into reality, that is to build a country, to build Canada.

It is also important to remember some of the other great achievements of John A. Macdonald, this great Canadian, including the building of Canada's first national railway, the Intercolonial Railway.This monumental project helped build the infrastructure required to settle the western Canada, develop our economy and strengthen our national identity.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier's contributions were different, but just as important. His immigration policy helped create and define our current society.

A staunch protector of national unity, he believed that both founding cultures could not only coexist, but also forge together a stronger and more prosperous nation, a nation that would serve as a model to the whole world.

Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier had long term vision and their leadership helped Canada grow, evolve and prosper.

Over the past 134 years, we have been put to the test many times. We have experienced wars and the great depression, and we have witnessed major social and technological changes. In fact, we are being put to the test now.

One of the most potent forces that equips us to meet the challenges of our time is the memory of what those who came before us have contributed and accomplished. That is what lies behind this bill's creation.

I join with other hon. members in congratulating the hon. colleague who introduced this bill. It was a most laudable initiative on his part. In addition, he has given us an opportunity to perpetuate in memory the accomplishments of these two great Canadians. We must seize that opportunity. Let us not miss out on it.

Our role as parliamentarians has a number of different dimensions. We pay attention to the interests of those whom we represent, and we do our utmost to represent them well. We take part in this fundamental activity of legislating, of fine tuning as it were, the rules that govern our society.

Our responsibility as parliamentarians includes another dimension as well. We set an example for other Canadians each time we rise to speak in this House, each time that we vote, each time we take a position on matters of importance that influence the daily lives of each and every Canadian.

Today we have the opportunity to speak out on an important issue. By voting in support of Bill S-14 , we will be reminding Canadians of part of their heritage and of the strength we can derive from it as we trace our path through this new century and this new millennium we are just entering.

I would therefore invite all hon. members to reflect seriously on the substance of this bill and to give it their support, for it means not only paying tribute to two great man—Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier—a noble goal in itself, but also forging more solid ties between our past and our future.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
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CA

Keith Martin

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Keith Martin (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Canadian Alliance it is an honour for me to speak to this issue about two great Canadians, a French Canadian and an English Canadian. What better time than right now to talk about this in the difficult times we are all faced with today.

These two men, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, were unifiers and builders. They were individuals who saw Canada as a whole, Canada as a nation, Canada as one nation indivisible, a country for all people, embracing the diversity we have; they were individuals who embraced this diversity not as a weakness but as a strength. That is what Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier would have done then and that is what they would have said today.

These two gentlemen would be rolling over in their graves if they could see what has happened to the unification of our country, if they could see how our federal-provincial relations have been weakened, if they could see how the threads, actually steel, that bind us together have been chopped up and put down in order to support smaller and more parochial interests. These men would not tolerate this. They would say how, in this big country, do we embrace what is strong in our country and how do we actually try to improve and build bridges among all Canadians?

They would abhor the fact that in our country language has been used as a political tool rather than as a unifier. Language, an agent of communication and unification, has been used as a political tool to turn one Canadian against another. What a tragedy it is in a country like ours that is fortunate enough to embrace two great languages, English and French, that these languages have been used as a political tool to turn Canadian against Canadian. Both these gentlemen would find this utterly abhorrent.

They would also find it sad to see that federal-provincial relations have come to a stage when provinces are looking to the federal government as to what they can take and individual responsibilities have been blurred and marred so that Canadians are not getting the best bang for their buck, so that political institutions cannot work as effectively as they should.

What Macdonald and Laurier would want to do, perhaps, is ensure that the federal and provincial governments each do what they are able to do best, that responsibilities are well delineated and that we are able to ensure that Canadians are able to get the services they need when they need them in the most effective way possible and that national standards are adhered to. A Canadian who lives in British Columbia or a Canadian who lives in Quebec or one who lives in Newfoundland should be able to receive pretty much the same types of services.

Unfortunately, with the balkanization of critical services in health care and education we do not see that any more. We see dramatic differences across the country. Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier would both want to change that. They would both want to find ways to get some equivalency across Canada today.

They would also see in the country we have today that sometimes we focus on what Michael Ignatieff calls “the narcissism of the minor differences”, where we tend to focus on the small things that divide us rather than the great things that unify us. If the tragedy of September 11 has told us one thing it is that we as a country are one nation regardless of where we live, and that the problems we have within our own borders pale in comparison to the international challenges we have. September 11 has shown us that we live in a global environment with global challenges, where our economy is intimately entwined with the economies of countries around the world, where our individual security is intimately entwined with the security of our neighbours and our allies.

This makes it even more important that as a country we broaden our horizons to see that we have to participate in the global economy perhaps better than we have. Canada has to look to ways to improve our economic competitiveness, not by looking within our own borders but by saying that we will compete internationally. We need to break down the barriers to trade that exist within our country and abroad. We need to lower our tax structure to make us more competitive. We need to improve our education system because we know that a child being educated in Canada today, perhaps in Ottawa, is competing not only with the child in Toronto but with children who live in Tokyo, Beijing, Delhi and Cape Town.

As individuals here, we are competing on a global playing field. The tragedy of September 11 also indicated that our individual security was entwined with our allies.

Unfortunately, over the last eight years our defence forces have been gutted. Our ground and troop component is less than 55,000 people, when it was 90,000. From a navy perspective, we only have one frigate that is functional.

Again, from the army perspective the minimum requirement for an international endeavour, such as what we will be asked, is a brigade. A brigade is made up of 5,000 men and women. We have not functioned with 5,000 personnel in over nine years. How are we expected to function? Furthermore, our defence department said that for us to transfer 5,000 people it would take more than three months, and we could not sustain that number for more than six months in the field.

Our airlift capabilities are almost non-existent. As a colonel in the military recently said, it is “a near catastrophe”. Therefore, we cannot transport them without our voting to rent planes from our allies.

Our CF-18 fighters, one of the most potent weapons we have, is in dire straits right now because we have less than 24 of our 120 that could put into the field. There are questions about whether or not those fighters could actually integrate with the Americans fighters because some of the systems on board are obsolete.

We have superb men and women in our military, men and women who are willing to work hard to ensure that our security will be protected. Yet they have not been given the tools to do the job. They will again be asked to go perhaps to a foreign land to lay their lives down to protect our citizens as well as the citizens of our allies.

The war on terrorism will be an international war to root out those individuals who would rather blow up the negotiating table than sit at it. Unfortunately, negotiations for those individuals are over.

Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier would have ensured that our military had the tools to do the job and that we would be able to meet our commitments, commitments our country made in 1994. Our white paper in 1994 made a whole series of commitments, almost none of which we can meet at this point in time.

Unfortunately, it took a catastrophe to draw our focus toward this, but I am hopeful. We will offer the government constructive suggestions to improve the security of our country, both domestically and internationally.

In closing, the bill is a good bill. These two gentlemen, our former prime ministers, French and English, are true Canadian heroes. We do not do enough to uphold these individuals who were outstanding individuals and Canadians, individuals who tried to build our country.

As legislators today, as we sit here with this great responsibility, we can look back to the past and learn a number of things that will allow us to do our jobs better and more effectively for all Canadians.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
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PC

Joe Clark

Progressive Conservative

Right Hon. Joe Clark (Calgary Centre, PC/DR)

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure on behalf of the most recent coalition in the House of Commons to pay tribute to two distinguished Canadians whose career constituted the establishment of coalitions in the House and in the country.

Bill S-14 is an act respecting Sir John A. Macdonald day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier day. The bill, introduced by the leader of the opposition in the other place, Senator John Lynch-Staunton, so far has received in both Houses unqualified support.

At a time when Canadians are thinking so seriously about our future, our future as a comprehensive, cohesive and identifiable national community in a world transformed by technology and our future as individuals in a world where terrorists kill people simply for going to work, it is useful for us to reflect on our past and on the extraordinary individuals who faced down risk, faced down fear and faced down disappointment to define a Canadian nation and identity.

Let me speak for a few moments about the origins of this bill and what it seeks to do and what it does not do. It blends into one two private members bills which died on the order paper with the call of the last general election—one bill celebrating the birthday of Macdonald, the other celebrating the birthday of Laurier.

The bill does not ask for the declaration of a national holiday. This is not about a day off. The bill celebrates work. It calls on us to remember two men whose extraordinarily hard work on behalf of Canada shaped and sustained this nation.

By happenstance, the celebration of their lives and their contributions to Canada will occur at opposite ends of the year: in February for Sir John; in November for Sir Wilfrid. This will given Canadians, especially those in our school history classes, at least two occasions to reflect on the building of this great country and on those who contributed so much.

Anyone who has had the honour of serving as prime minister knows that the two standards against whom everyone else will always be judged were Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. They embodied the young country as well as leading it. Each in his way symbolized how essential it is in a large and diverse society to reach out to others, to embrace them and to respect the differences which make them distinct.

Professor Desmond Morton, then director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, testified in the other place. He stated:

They were political opponents with all the differences that our adversarial system creates. Canada made them surprisingly similar, too, when faced with the responsibilities of power because the realities of this country do not change very easily even when governments change...along with their steadfast vision of Canada and its potential came a skill in compromise that history has shown to be indispensable for any common future

These two men were able to lead and lead successfully during challenging times. It was for Macdonald to link and draw the country together and it was for Laurier to hold it together, linguistically and culturally.

Through the passage of the bill, we will give Canadians an opportunity to reflect on how this country came to be, the values it reflects and on how individuals citizens can shape and fashion the values and the nature of this country.

We Canadians do not spend enough time celebrating our origins. Not enough Canadian history is taught in our schools. We do not know enough of our past. The designation of these days will give all Canadians an opportunity to pause and consider our beginnings as a country and the difficulties faced in the early days of keeping it together.

As Professor Morton has said, the careers of Macdonald and Laurier overlapped. They engaged with each other. They were practical politicians, both with overarching commitments to Canada.

Their time together is perhaps best symbolized by Sir Wilfrid's comments made in the House of Commons on June 8, 1891. In the death of Sir John A. Macdonald he stated:

The place of Sir John A Macdonald in this country was so large and so absorbing that it is almost impossible to conceive that the politics of this country--the fate of this country--will continue without him. His loss overwhelms us. For my part, I say, with all truth, his loss overwhelms me, and that it also overwhelms this parliament, as if indeed one of the institutions of the land had given way.

Sir John A. Macdonald now belongs to the ages, and it can be said with certainty that the career which has just been closed is one of the most remarkable careers of this century...

He went on to say:

As to his statesmanship, it is written in the history of Canada. It may be said without any exaggeration whatever, that the life of Sir John Macdonald, from the time he entered parliament, is the history of Canada.

Laurier himself had his own indelible contribution to the future of Canada dealing with the challenges of francophones outside Quebec, of the Catholic Church in Quebec and of the threat to national unity posed by World War I.

However, it is in his commitment to a united Canada that we remember him best, as he stated at the Club National in Montreal:

We, people of French origin, have a sense of our own individuality. We want to pass on to our children the language we inherited from our ancestors. But while we cherish this feeling in our hearts, we refuse to admit that it is incompatible with our being Canadians. We are citizens of Canada and we intend to fulfill all the duties that this title implies.

This being said, whenever we invite men from another race to our table, we affirm that they are our fellow citizens, just as they affirm that we are their fellow citizens. Our country is their country: their political opinions are our political opinions; our aspirations are their aspirations.

What they want, and what we want, is that the rights of minorities be respected; that our constitutional guarantees be safeguarded; that the provinces remain sovereign and that Canada be united in its diversity.

It is to remember these two leaders that we should set aside the days of their birth in our calendars and celebrate their contributions to the Canada we enjoy today.

On behalf of my colleague the leader of the opposition in the other place, the sponsor of this bill, I would like to publicly thank the member for Don Valley West for sponsoring the bill in this House and I would like to thank all of those in this parliament who have spoken in support of Bill S-14.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
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LIB

Peter Adams

Liberal

Mr. Peter Adams (Peterborough, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a great privilege for me to join in support of this debate. It is particularly a privilege for me to follow the last speaker. I greatly appreciated his eloquence and his particular place in the evolution of this wonderful country.

Recognizing and celebrating a nation's outstanding persons, places and events are integral to the foundation of the land's historical memory and for contributing to the sense of identity of its peoples. Yet commemoration does not deal solely with the past. Who and what we choose to commemorate as a country speaks volumes, not only about who we have been, but also about who we are as a people and who we aspire to be in the future. Only by understanding our history and learning about the lives and accomplishments of the women and men who have built Canada can we fully appreciate what it means to be Canadian.

We are here today to review Bill S-14 which seeks to honour two of our greatest prime ministers, Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier. It would designate the birthdays of these outstanding Canadians as special days, helping to commemorate their remarkable contributions to the building of our nation.

The intent of the bill is clear. It represents an act of respect and acknowledgement for these two towering figures of Canadian history, one a Father of Confederation and the first prime minister of Canada, the other, Canada's seventh prime minister and one of our nation's most powerful and articulate advocates of national unity.

Most Canadians know that Sir John A. Macdonald led the effort to make Confederation a reality. They know the fact that he drafted the British North America Act defining the federal system by which the original four provinces were united as one country on July 1, 1867. They know the fact that he became Canada's first prime minister and went on to help forge a strong and vibrant new nation. However, perhaps fewer know that it was he who launched the intercolonial railway which would eventually provide a key physical link for Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast, linking the vast largely unsettled land in between.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier is recognized by many Canadians as having been an eloquent and staunch promoter of national unity and as the first Canadian of French origin to become prime minister. Fewer Canadians know that he held the longest unbroken term of office as prime minister, from 1896 to 1911. This was a period during which his unshakable confidence in Canada fostered unprecedented growth and prosperity for a still young country.

If we care about preserving and celebrating the achievements of these great Canadians, we must take the initiative to ensure that their contributions to Canada are recognized.

It is time to take appropriate measures to honour these exceptional men. Setting aside special days celebrating the achievement of great Canadians is a well established and time honoured tradition in this country.

As the bill recognizes, both Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier were forward looking men who saw nation building and unity as the road to Canada's future. Each made profound and lasting contributions to the achievements of a strong and united Canada. The proposed legislation represents one very tangible means of paying tribute to their legacies, and for this reason alone, I believe the bill is worthy of support.

It seems to me that in very difficult times like the ones we are facing, like the House is facing and like the free world is facing, it is particularly important to give some thought to our roots and to our history because that will give us the confidence we need to face the future knowing that Canada was well founded and that she is still a very strong country.

It is a privilege for me to support this bill.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
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NDP

Peter Stoffer

New Democratic Party

Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the New Democratic Party, to thank the hon. member for Don Valley West for bringing this very relative bill, which originated in the Senate, before the House of Commons.

There is no question that we should set aside a day to honour and support the builders of our country. This bill would put forward the particular enactment.

I recommend that the member for Don Valley West convey to the finance minister that one of the problems we have in Canada is the history lessons taught in our classrooms. It is very important that the House pass the bill as an enactment for the particular day, but it does absolutely nothing if it does not reach down to our classrooms.

As a kid growing up and going through the school system in Canada I learned more about American history than I did about Canadian history. I always thought that was a flaw in the process. One of the problems is that the provinces are responsible for the delivery of education.

However I will give credit where credit is due. We have an education minister in Nova Scotia by the name of Jane Purves who is pushing that history be made a mandatory subject in our schools. I could not agree with her more. I say this because she is a minister of education in our province who has gone through some very rough times, most of it brought on by herself. However in this circumstance I support her recommendation.

What better time than now to teach students about the first prime minister of the country and one of the longest serving prime ministers of our country, two people from different political parties who even today have a very strong influence on the way that the House runs, especially in terms of bilingualism.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was stressing that need being our first prime minister of French origin. It is imperative that the House be able to communicate in both official languages throughout the entire country. That is the vision of those two men and it should be honoured by the particular day.

Perhaps the hon. member for Don Valley West would accept a friendly amendment, not that I am proposing one. However if he nods his head I will let him propose the amendment that we not only make it Sir John A. Macdonald Day and Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day, but also include J. S. Woodsworth who was one of the finest democrats this country has ever seen. Maybe he would like to include that name as part of the bill.

This is not to speak critically in any way of Mr. Macdonald or Mr. Laurier, but at the time they were building the country an awful lot of people were left behind in the vision of the future of Canada. This is where J. S. Woodsworth was effective, along with M. J. Caldwell and the late great Tommy Douglas. These were three democrats who helped build the country.

If the member for Don Valley West wants to throw in the name of J. S. Woodsworth he would have no argument from the New Democrats in that regard.

It is imperative that we recognize the contribution these two gentlemen made to Canadian history, but I impress upon the member to advise the finance minister to ensure that the provinces have adequate funding through the transfer programs to put money back into the classrooms so that teachers have the resources by which to teach Canadian history.

That would do more than just honour the commitment of these two men. It would ensure the memory of these two men in terms of educating our children, which I believe is imperative. If we do not know our history we cannot know where we are going.

I thank the hon. member on behalf of the New Democratic Party for bringing forward the bill.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
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LIB

Wayne Easter

Liberal

Hon. Wayne Easter (Malpeque, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to speak to Bill S-14. The bill would recognize Sir John A. Macdonald, who was born on January 11, 1815, and Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who was born on November 20, 1841. They should be recognized; one English, our first prime minister, and one French, our first French prime minister.

These leaders built far better than they knew. They took a country of regions where there was a natural north-south pole and forged it together into a very strong east-west unity. That was felt impossible at the time. There are many today who still think it is very difficult to do. However they forged together what has been recognized many times as the best country in the world and the best place in which to live.

They built the railways against great financial odds and tremendous geographic natural difficulties. Last spring I had the opportunity to travel by rail through the mountains from Vancouver to Edmonton along with many of my colleagues who were on the Canada-U.S. parliamentary association. My American and Canadian colleagues talked a lot about the history of the railroad. We could see by looking at the rails that were placed through the mountains some hundred years ago the tremendous amount of difficulty that must have been faced by the people to link the country from coast to coast.

As leaders of the country they rose above the financial and geographic obstacles which must have been both challenging and risky. These leaders had a lot of inspiration and dedication to stick with it to get the job done. These two prime ministers were very instrumental in the expansion of the west as a result of the building of the railroad and much more .

I was not surprised that the hon. member from the Canadian Alliance who spoke earlier was trying to be a naysayer. We have an opportunity to take a look at our history and build on it. This is not the time to bring in current events.

One of our failings as Canadians is that we often look at the negative. We are very fortunate to live in Canada. It has been recognized as the best country in the world in which to live, but it is much more than that. We live in a very tolerant multicultural society where we have brought two great languages and many other cultures together to build this great country. We have such a great foundation as a result of these leaders.

We should be using the debate today when talking about Macdonald and Laurier to build on our past and to talk about how wonderful it was. The hon. member for Sackville--Musquodoboit Valley--Eastern Shore talked about there not being enough history taught in our schools. That is absolutely true. There is not enough history taught in our schools. If we do not know our history, we will not know where we come from and we will not know where we should be going.

I also comment on the points raised by the Bloc that we were naming two but that the rest of the heroes were not being mentioned.

There were many heroes in the country. It is important to recognize these two men because they consolidated the inspiration to put the country together, to tie it from coast to coast to coast, and to build on that foundation, giving the opportunity to past leaders and current leaders to build the kind of country that we have today.

I understand the Bloc's point of view in terms of the tactics it uses of confusing history because it makes the cause for separatism that much easier. However it is important to name these two leaders because it allows us to build on our history, to recognize the great leaders of our past, and to give high school and university students the opportunity to use these days when they are named to further study these and other leaders from our past and what they did to build the country.

People often look at the calendar, including myself and I expect others in the House as well, and ask why that day is there. A study was done to determine why the day should be recognized. As a result we have a better knowledge and understanding of our history and of these two leaders in Canada's past.

It is very important for all members of the House to support Bill S-14. As Canadians we have not given enough recognition to the leaders of our past and we have not studied enough of our history. We have not recognized the difficulty of building a nation, the inspiration of these two leaders and the difficulties they experienced in forging the ties to build the kind of country we have today.

With the passage of Bill S-14 these two days would be catalysts that Canadians could use to study our history, learn more and as a result become better Canadians because of it.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
Permalink
CA

Brian Fitzpatrick

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, Prince Albert is somewhat relevant to the debate today as it has been home to three prime ministers: John Diefenbaker, Mackenzie King and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

If I understand correctly, John Diefenbaker was inspired as a young boy to become prime minister upon meeting Sir Wilfrid Laurier on the streets of Saskatoon at which time the prime minister actually took the time to talk to him. In fact, if I am not wrong, Mr. Diefenbaker always considered Sir Wilfrid Laurier to be our best prime minister. I have often wondered why, if that was the case, he chose to pursue the Progressive Conservative path rather than the Liberal path but that is another story.

I have a great regard for Sir Wilfrid Laurier. He was truly one of the real builders and visionaries in this country's past. Being from Saskatchewan, when he became the prime minister of Canada, he was aware that Saskatchewan and Alberta were largely unsettled. He appointed Clifford Sifton as the minister of the interior and gave him a mandate to settle western Canada based on its economic needs and so on. There was a very active recruitment program in Europe, particularly in eastern Europe, to help bring people through the prairies with its cold, long winters to cultivate and farm the land. He was largely successful. It created a mosaic in western Canada of many different cultures of people from many different ethnic backgrounds. Saskatchewan and Alberta truly had a broad representation of many ethnic groups as opposed to what central Canada was at that time, which was largely remnants of the loyalist elements and our French heritage. It was the beginning of true multiculturalism in the west.

I also see Sir Wilfrid Laurier as a great visionary. Sir John A. Macdonald built Canada based on the national plan, which was really a nationalistic type of plan, and a very protectionist concept in many respects. Sir Wilfrid Laurier saw that Canada's future needed to be much larger than that. It needed to be very much tied to North America and our U.S. neighbours to the south. In 1911 he ran an election campaign on something called reciprocity with the United States. He lost that election in 1911. That was probably his most ambitious plan during his time.

Historically, we have seen some strange things. In 1988, some 80 or so years later, it was a Conservative government that abandoned Macdonald's national policy and moved toward Laurier's vision of Canada, a Canada closely integrated and tied to our American neighbours to the south. An interesting paradox is that it was the party across the way, the party of Laurier, that fiercely opposed the free trade agreement of 1988. I think it would be a fair comment to say that today it now agrees with Laurier's vision some 90 years after the fact.

I would reiterate that I see Sir Wilfrid Laurier as a great builder of the foundation and the make-up of the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta. I also see him as a great visionary leader.

I at times wish the party opposite could find that type of leadership again, a leader with great vision and commitment who would not be so concerned about just holding his finger up to see which way the wind was blowing. It needs to recommit itself to building and creating a real vision in the country.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
Permalink
LIB

Pat O'Brien

Liberal

Mr. Pat O'Brien (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join the debate on Bill S-14. I congratulate my colleague, the hon. member for Don Valley West, for what I think is a very good idea. There are no more important political leaders in our history than Sir John A. Macdonald and Sir Wilfrid Laurier.

Although we talk about the first English speaking prime minister, I know Sir John would have wanted it pointed out that he was a Scotsman as was his successor, Sir Alexander Mackenzie, the first Liberal prime minister. We could see the ethnic nature of Canada right from the start.

Sir John was of course the leading Father of Confederation and did a masterful job of cobbling together the kind of compromises that made the country necessary, and that was no mean feat trying to get together peoples of different nationalities and religions, many of whom had bitterly opposed each other on many fundamental points. As the ultimate pragmatist in Canadian history, he was able to lead, along with many other important Fathers of Confederation, and cobble together the compromise that made Confederation a reality.

Canada became a bilingual nation in 1867, not a bicultural nation, as many people have said. That would be to sell short the very culture from which our first prime ministers sprang, the Scottish culture. If were to look at the coat of arms of Canada we would see the cultural symbols of four nations: France, England, Ireland and Scotland. This country began in 1867 as a bilingual and multicultural nation. That is not some new fact or new policy that some would have us believe. I have heard opponents of mine in election campaigns castigating the Liberals for being the party that created multiculturalism. This has been a multicultural nation from day one, even more so now as nations from all around the world have come to join the original four European nations.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was the first French Canadian prime minister of Canada and one of the best intellects to ever occupy that office. It is very interesting that we have just commemorated the death of former Prime Minister Trudeau who was also one of the most brilliant men to ever be prime minister of Canada.

One of Wilfrid Laurier's famous phrases was “the sunny ways of compromise”. He would apply that approach to Canadian politics because he understood that we could not have a nation made up of as many diverse peoples as does Canada unless we were willing to have give and take.

The flag beside the Speaker's chair is very appropriate because it is a compromise flag. It probably was nobody's first choice or choice of a very few people.

If Macdonald was the ultimate pragmatist, then surely Laurier was the ultimate compromiser in the best sense of the word. He sought to build bridges and not fences. He employed the sunny ways of compromise. If Macdonald was the original Father of Confederation and master crafter of the nation, which he was, then Laurier oversaw its first major expansion. Laurier oversaw the bringing in of the provinces of the west. He oversaw the so-called people in sheepskin coats, the peoples from eastern Europe, many of whom helped to populate western Canada. Canada also had a major influx of people from the United States at that time.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a major player in our history and took the country into the 20th century from the 19th century. It is no secret that the current Prime Minister of Canada is very enamored of Sir Wilfrid Laurier. I would think that it would be fair to say that Sir Wilfrid Laurier is probably his political hero.

It gave us on this side of the House great pleasure to see our colleague and current Prime Minister take this nation from the 20th century into the 21st century as Sir Wilfrid originally took the nation from the 19th century into the 20th century.

Probably more than most prime ministers, Sir Wilfrid Laurier understood the importance of minority rights, that democracy is about majority rules but not a tyranny of the majority which ignores the rights of the minority. Canada cannot work on that basis. Whenever we descend to that level we run into national problems, which Macdonald and Laurier both experienced.

Laurier dealt with some very difficult issues in his time such as the Boer War, the first international war in which Canada participated. Although we were not fully independent at the time in world events, it was the first international action in which we participated. Sir Wilfrid oversaw that.

A number of my colleagues have spoken about the importance of Canadian history. As a teacher of Canadian history for some 21 years, I could not agree with that more. The ignorance of our own history is absolutely appalling, dangerous and has to be addressed. I and my colleagues who share that view call upon the federal government to do what we can. I know the provinces protect education but we need a national education vision even if it is a jurisdiction jealously guarded by the provinces. As Santayana put it so well, those who do not learn the lessons of history are condemned to repeat them.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
Permalink
?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It being 12.04 p.m., the hour provided for the consideration of private members' business has now expired, and the order is dropped to the bottom of the order of precedence on the order paper.

Topic:   Private Members' Business
Subtopic:   Sir John A. Macdonald and the Sir Wilfrid Laurier Day Act
Permalink

The House resumed from September 21 consideration of the motion that Bill S-23, an act to amend the Customs Act and to make related amendments to other acts, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.


LIB

Don Boudria

Liberal

Hon. Don Boudria (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The House will again consider the reasoned amendment put by the hon. member for Edmonton--Strathcona. Before the House resumes consideration of the amendment I would submit that it is out of order. The motion as it has been referred to says:

this House declines to give second reading to Bill S-23, an act to amend the Customs Act and to make related amendments to other acts--

So far, so good. However here is the problem. The amendment adds:

--since the principle of the bill fails to specifically and adequately address national security at Canada's borders with respect to terrorist activities.

Pages 639 and 640 of Marleau and Montpetit, our procedural manual, deal with reasoned amendments. The manual makes it clear that a reasoned amendment:

--must be relevant and relate strictly to the bill being considered.

It must relate not to what is not in the bill but to the bill being considered. A reasoned amendment is not relevant, and I quote directly from M and M:

--if it relates to another bill; is intended to divide the bill; proposes that the bill be withdrawn and replaced by another bill; relates to the parent Act rather than to the amending bill; goes beyond the scope of the bill.

The last proposition is important in this case. Marleau and Montpetit goes on to state that:

It must not relate to particulars of the bill, if what is sought may be accomplished by amendments in committee.

The amendment before us opposes the bill because it asserts that the bill:

--fails to specifically and adequately address national security at Canada's borders with respect to terrorist activities.

That is clearly beyond the scope of the bill. If it were an issue for customs it would also be wrong because it would relate to the parent act, as I have just stated. I am glad the hon. member raised that as justification.

The wording of the amendment renders it out of order. It asserts that the bill specifically omits the matter, a matter which indicates the amendment is beyond the scope of the bill. The amendment defines itself as being out of order.

On the other hand, and in contradiction to the first assertion, the amendment claims the bill fails to address the matter adequately. If that were true the amendment would still be out of order on the grounds that the question of adequacy would be dealt with by a specific clause at a later stage, a case which I totally reject. In other words, if it were a matter of adequacy it could be dealt with in committee later and would therefore render the reasoned amendment out of order.

If security is specifically omitted from the bill, as the amendment asserts, an amendment is irrelevant because it is beyond the scope of the bill. If the amendment's second assertion is true, namely that security in the bill is dealt with but not adequately, the amendment is still out of order because it deals with details of the bill that may be corrected later.

This is not a matter of being fish or fowl. It is neither fish nor fowl. On both these grounds I respectfully submit to the Chair that the reasoned amendment is out of order and does not qualify.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
CA

John Reynolds

Canadian Alliance

Mr. John Reynolds (House Leader for the Official Opposition in the House of Commons, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I would add to comments of the government House leader that the motion was put to the House a number of days ago. Not only has the mover of the amendment spoken to it but three members from our side have spoken to it as well.

The Speaker moved at the time that the motion was in order. Otherwise we would not be debating it now. The government House leader may perhaps be asleep at the switch but the motion has been debated and approved by the Speaker. Why would the hon. government House leader challenge the Speaker at this late date?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
?

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

I thank both hon. members for their representations.

The Chair will consider the remarks by the government House leader and return to the House with a decision in an hour.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
CA

Philip Mayfield

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Philip Mayfield (Cariboo—Chilcotin, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the people of my constituency of Cariboo--Chilcotin to participate in the debate. The debate deals with issues we cannot consider outside the scope of what happened on September 11.

On behalf of all the people of Cariboo--Chilcotin I offer our sincere and deep regret at the loss of so many people in the United States. Our ties are so intermingled that it was true when the Prime Minister spoke in terms of friends and family. Many of us have not only friends but family in the United States. Many more of us have friends as a result of commercial relationships that have grown deep and strong. However it is those who have family in the U.S., family who are in jeopardy or who have suffered, to whom I offer our deepest regrets.

Bill S-23 seeks to amend the Customs Act and other acts to allow for the preapproval of people, goods and low risk cross-border travellers. It contains an amendment that points out the inadequacy of the bill to which I am speaking now. I have been assured there has been much consultation with industry stakeholders concerning the contents of the bill. We are told the bill is a result of such consultation.

The bill comes none too soon and perhaps much too late. Bill S-23 focuses on risk management. It would implement automated electronic reporting mechanisms such as Canpass Nexus and EPPS for preapproved, low risk commercial and personal travellers so that greater resources could be applied to so-called higher and unknown risk traffic.

Landings under the new programs proposed in Bill S-23 would be subject to random stop checks and a regime of monetary sanctions that match the frequency and severity of the infractions.

Why do we need the bill? There is a consensus among our business community, consumers and tourists that as a free trading nation we must maximize the efficiencies of moving people, products and capital across our border.

Canada and the United States have enjoyed the benefits of sharing the largest and longest peaceful border in the world. We share a border with the largest economy in the world. We need to ensure we take advantage of the opportunities of being in close proximity to such a wealthy neighbour. We must prevent any disruptions that would harm those advantages.

In 1995 we signed the Canada-United States accord on our shared border. Its goal was to promote international trade, streamline processes for legitimate travellers and commercial goods, provide enhanced protection against drug smuggling and the illegal entrance of people, and reduce costs for both governments.

Everyone agrees we must do these things to ensure our prosperity. In the past we have managed to increase Canada's trade under the free trade agreement and NAFTA. Let us look at some of the facts and figures.

The Canada Customs and Revenue Agency handles over $500 billion in cross-border trade and processes more than 108 million travellers each year. Over 87% of our trade is with the United States. The emergence of so-called just in time manufacturing and e-commerce has shortened delivery deadlines from a matter of days to a matter of hours.

All these advancements have created an exponential increase in cross-border volume. However, have we agreed with the United States on reciprocal arrangements that would prevent the bill from becoming a detriment to trade and thereby slowing the process by which our products go into the United States? We should ask for assurances that the United States will take the same measures to ensure a level playing field so that Canadian goods can flow into the United States as easily as American goods and people come into Canada.

Earlier this summer I drafted a short questionnaire for our international visitors. It came out of a number of complaints I have received from our tourism operators that some of their clients and guests have been harassed at the border.

I think of a 70 some year old lady who was detained and given a great deal of difficulty because she intended to come to Canada for more than just a few weeks to care for a sick daughter. She understood the laws and intended to obey them. However the problems she encountered were such that other people who saw them turned back to the United States rather than continue their holiday in Canada. This is only one of many instances of which I have been advised.

In Cariboo--Chilcotin we have many visitors travelling from outside Canada to our beautiful part of the world. Because of the economic situation of today these visitors are absolutely essential to our economy.

On the questionnaire I prepared I asked visitors to tell me about their experiences at our border. I will use their responses to advise the minister responsible for Canada customs about shortfalls and the lack of good service at our borders.

This is an important exercise because we want tourists to return with their vacation dollars. We want them to feel at ease and not have a problem vacationing in Canada. I am happy to report to the House that the results of the survey were mostly positive, though certainly not all.

At the same time Canadians want assurances from the government that from a national security perspective we can ensure that people, products and capital entering Canada are not an economic, medical or criminal risk.

As a result of the vicious attack on the United States on September 11, our border security has become one of the chief concerns of all Canadians. Apparently the protection of our borders, freedoms and way of life is not the chief concern of the government.

Today's debate on Bill S-23 is late and it is a weak effort under today's circumstances. The bill attempts to streamline border procedures but it is only a start. It does not take into account difficulties that we discussed in the House four, five and six years ago, difficulties that our customs and immigration people are having with their computers in communicating with the computers of other departments and other agencies, where customs and police are not on the same page and where the lack of essential information is not communicated and is not available.

It was only last spring that we were talking about adapting CPIC, the police computer system, to monitor sex offenders and to create a registry. The government turned that down. This in my view is an essential component of the protection of our citizens. The government's refusal to consider this is only another example of its lack of concern for the basic security and welfare of our own citizens.

We are all trying to engage the government in a greater debate on national security, in particular the integrity of our borders, ports, coastlines and airlines. The government continues to turn a deaf ear and to speak to us in the most rude manner. The Prime Minister is hesitating. There is no apparent willingness to move from the comfortable past to meet the urgent, threatening and dangerous challenges not of the future but of today.

Canadians want to see more effective screening and security at our borders and more effective tracking of refugee claimants and permanent residents within Canada. We want the ability to deport suspected terrorists to their countries of origin or the countries where the crimes were committed. Let me say that again: We want immediate action to detain and deport anyone in Canada illegally or failed refugee claimants linked to terrorist organizations. We want an improved ability to detect these dangerous people. We believe that our first priority should be the protection of Canadian people and the safety of all our citizens.

We all agree that the threat to our safety is real. Why will the government not take it seriously? This legislation is late and half baked. It does not meet the needs of today and that is why we cannot support it.

Before last week's terrorist assault on the United States, Canadians faced the threat of long waits at the border because the United States was threatening to implement changes. It has drawn up section 110 of the U.S. illegal immigration reform and immigrant responsibility act. These changes would require more indepth interviews and examination of documents at the border. This would cause considerable hardship to Canadians trying to do business in the United States. That is the threat the United States has been holding over the government's head. The government has dragged its feet when it comes to protecting our borders so the United States is prepared to do something about it. The U.S. has talked about doing the job for the Liberal government by using section 110 of its immigration act.

The Canadian Alliance has supported a move toward more use of technology in terms of how we handle border crossings. We support that. The idea of using the technology of retina scanners and handprint readers, the so-called biometric pass system, is necessary in today's world. We have tried to show the Liberals the work that must be done to protect our citizens and the United States from the long reach of terrorists.

I want to be clear: Canada's porous border is not a reflection on hard working men and women who serve as our customs officers. It is a result of policy decisions that shifted customs from a security mandate to the Department of National Revenue with the prime mandate of recovering tax and duty for the crown.

Our customs and immigration officers should be more than tax collectors, but that is what they have been relegated to.

That is what the Liberals are most concerned about, it seems: collecting taxes as well as collecting votes. When it comes to Canada's immigration and refugee policies, the Liberals seem most concerned about collecting these votes.

Canada has no definition of refugee. The government simply takes those who present themselves at the border and declare themselves to be refugees. Then it is our responsibility to determine the validity of these claims. Why can Canada not use a UN convention definition of refugee and predetermine which legitimate refugees should come to our country to be useful, productive and happy citizens? We need a definition of refugee. Let us make use of the UN definition and know who we are welcoming, know who is coming to our borders and know that we can trust them. There are ways of avoiding those who would come here to harm us.

David Harris, former CSIS chief of strategic planning, declared it is guaranteed that the terrorists are coming. He also referred to Canada as a big jihad aircraft carrier for launching strikes against the United States. In January 1999 a special Senate committee on security and intelligence stated very clearly that Canada is a venue of opportunity for terrorist groups.

Other former senior government staff members have expressed concern. The government has not listened. It is still not listening. The government must improve our border entry and our exit security. By not responding to the pleas from the United States concerning the openness we have enjoyed along the Canada-U.S. border, the government is jeopardizing billions of trade dollars and tens of thousands of Canadian jobs.

The government should be pursuing policies and laws that protect the lives and livelihoods of all Canadians. We must weigh the concerns about the safety of our citizens and the preservation of an open trade relationship with the United States with our humanitarian responsibility to receive genuine refugees. We can no longer have a policy of admit first, ask questions later.

If the Liberal government is not willing to increase our standard of national security, the United States will not be willing to jeopardize the safety and security of the American people by continuing open access across our long undefended border. If we do not respect and defend that border from abuse by unscrupulous people, dangerous people, it will not remain an undefended border. That would be a great shame. We must do everything for the economic well-being of our citizens, the safety of our citizens and the harmony of this precious relationship we have with the people of the United States of America.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
CA

Brian Fitzpatrick

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick (Prince Albert, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I have one comment and one question. During this debate there has been some implication that the United States of America is anti-immigrant and anti-refugee. Let us just examine that implication.

Some 400 years ago that country was settled. As far as I know the people who made that country grow and become a country that today has 5% of the world's population and 35% of the world's GDP were immigrants from all four corners of the world. There is no country in the world that is more multicultural, built on immigration and refugees, than the United States of America.

Again, I see a hint of anti-Americanism behind the reaction of some government members: that we cannot really work together with the Americans with a common immigration and refugee policy because somehow they are not in favour of immigration and refugee policies like we are. I just want to set the record straight on that matter. The U.S. has probably been more pro-immigrant and pro-refugee during its history than Canada has.

I have another concern. I would like to draw this question to the attention of my learned colleague for his comments. There has been a suggestion on the government side that in the face of this terrorist threat what the government will do is take a moderate, balanced approach in dealing with this threat with bin Laden and the international terrorist groups and the 40,000 people in Canada who have deportation orders and have not been deported. We will take a liberal, moderate, balanced middle of the road approach.

As a student of history, I have a lot of problems with that. If Roosevelt and Churchill in the face of Hitler had said that they would take a moderate, middle of the road approach in dealing with Adolf Hitler and nazis, where we would be? I do not think we are talking about domestic social programs here or some other type of program in regard to which they like to use this terminology and I would like my colleague to respond to whether he could envision the Government of Canada fighting terrorism with a moderate, balanced, middle of the road approach.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
CA

Philip Mayfield

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Philip Mayfield

Mr. Speaker, is that not an interesting comment that my colleague makes concerning a moderate, balanced approach?

For so long we have prided ourselves on being moderate and balanced, even in immoderate and unbalanced times. We have this little mantra that has been a bit spoiled lately because the United Nations did not declare us to be the best nation in the world this year, but we are the best country in the world, a little mantra with which the government has tried to soothe our people.

When we look at the history of Canada, it has not been those moments of crisis we dealt with in a moderate, balanced way that have made Canada the nation we can be proud of. I was in Quebec City some months ago reviewing my history. It is interesting to note that there were times when we could not even have a balanced and moderate approach with the citizens of the United States. Fortunately since the war of 1812 that has not been something we have been concerned about. However, I think of Canada and the effort it made in World War I, the second world war and the Korean war and those citizens who volunteered, as members of my family did, to defend the principles of democracy and freedom from fascism, from naziism and from tyranny.

Today we are faced with some of those same immoderate forces. We have been told, not by foreign experts but by our own people who care about these matters, that there is a serious threat, yet we are still talking about moderation and balance.

I spent many years in the ministry, years in which I was proud to care for many people. It is something from which I get the most satisfaction. However, there were instances where one would be with someone diagnosed with a terminal illness. One would sit and listen to the moderate, balanced approach of someone who perhaps had a week or a month to live as he talked about what he would do in the next 10 years.

These are times when we must look seriously at the situation we are in and when we must act decisively. When I hear our foreign affairs minister speak in those aggressive tones, I applaud him. I hope his government is listening to him and I hope the Prime Minister is remembering what he said as he sits with President Bush today. I truly hope that our Prime Minister will not have the experience of visiting the woodshed at the White House when he goes there today. He is in danger of that and he deserves it for his moderate and balanced approach to so many issues and so many policies, which has left our country lagging.

I think of our emergency response resources in British Columbia that have been almost totally depleted as far as the government is concerned. The military has been taken away. Unused ships sit tied up. The military airports are practically vacant. The army is gone. We talk about bringing the resources we might need in British Columbia in the event of a civil emergency over the highways. What do we do when those mountainous highways are closed and there is no way through them? We are talking through our hats in moderate, balanced tones when we need decisive action.

British Columbians are extremely concerned about this. They are talking about it a lot. We need decisions that move us with decisive actions, that will protect and care for our citizens, that will look after the future of our children and see that they are safe.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
CA

Darrel Stinson

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Darrel Stinson (Okanagan—Shuswap, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech with great interest. I have been to the border numerous times. One of the things I find very troubling when I am there is that it is almost like our people are not equipped to handle any type of emergency there. I would like the member to comment on that if he could, please.

Also, there is some talk basically from the American side of the border with regard to creating a perimeter. I look at that very favourably. I would like to know the member 's views on that.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink
CA

Philip Mayfield

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Philip Mayfield

Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasize once again to my colleague that the lack of resources at our border is the result of policy decisions that are made here in Ottawa.

The men and women on the front line know what they need. They have been asking for them. If responsive and good people engage them in conversation, they would tell them what they need. The problem is that we have different priorities in Ottawa, priorities that do not necessarily include the welfare and well-being of our citizens, the security of our borders.

With regard to an open border with the United States and a tighter border at our ports and airports where people from other continents come into Canada, that is something we have to look at very seriously and adopt. The United States at this time is determining where it is going to be putting its stops at its borders. We do not want them at Blaine, Windsor and Niagara. We want the stops to be secure at Vancouver, Halifax and Toronto where the airports are.

My colleague has raised a most important question. I beg the government to seriously consider it.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Customs Act
Permalink

September 24, 2001