November 27, 2006

NDP

Olivia Chow

New Democratic Party

Ms. Olivia Chow

With regard to the government's $55 million cut to the Summer Career Placement Program, as announced on September 25, 2006: (a) how many jobs will be lost in the not-for-profit sector; and (b) how many jobs will be lost among small businesses due to the loss of such funds?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 101
Permalink
CPC

Diane Finley

Conservative

Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, when it comes to our unemployment rate, Canada is truly in an enviable position. We are in the midst of our best labour market in decades. Our overall participation rate for workers is one of the highest in the G-8 and our unemployment rate is at a 30-year low. Students are benefiting from the strong economy. Statistics Canada reported that in 2006, students had their best August of employment in three years.

Canada’s new government is refocusing the summer youth employment strategy where jobs are harder to find, by spending $45 million per year to help students who are having difficulty finding summer jobs.

We are also 100% committed to funding for the youth employment strategy, which is specifically targeted at youth at risk, aboriginal youth, and high youth unemployment areas.

This government has also led the way in encouraging Canadians to become apprentices, and we have invested $500 million in these programs. Many young people will greatly benefit from this new initiative.

The facts are clear. When this government examined the spending in the summer career placement programs, we found that many employers would have provided these jobs even if they did not receive one cent in funding.

Canada’s new government will instead focus funding where students need help, whether it is in rural communities, for new Canadians, or targeted at other barriers to employment. We will help students where they actually need it. The effect of our new program will be known when we evaluate the 2007 summer career placements applications.

I assure the member that the department will honour its ongoing commitment to help youth in need make the transition to the labour market.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 101
Permalink
NDP

Olivia Chow

New Democratic Party

Ms. Olivia Chow

With regard to the Toronto Port Authority: (a) what safety standards are being violated should the Q400 operated by Porter Airlines land at the Toronto City Centre Airport without the installation of an Instrument Landing System (ILS); (b) what directives have been given to NAV Canada to speed up the installation of an ILS system at the Toronto City Centre Airport; and (c) were any government funds used to support the purchase and installation of such a system at the Toronto City Centre Airport?

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 102
Permalink
CPC

Lawrence Cannon

Conservative

Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, there is no regulatory requirement to have an installed and functioning instrument landing system, ILS, at Toronto City Centre Airport, or at any other airport in Canada, to operate the Bombardier DHC-8, Q400, aircraft.

The decision to install an ILS at Toronto City Centre Airport was undertaken by NAV Canada, Porter Airlines Inc. and the Toronto Port Authority. Transport Canada did not direct NAV Canada to install the system.

Federal government funds were not used to purchase or install an ILS system at Toronto City Centre Airport.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Sub-subtopic:   Question No. 102
Permalink
CPC

Tom Lukiwski

Conservative

Mr. Tom Lukiwski

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink
LIB
?

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Routine Proceedings
Subtopic:   Questions on the Order Paper
Permalink

The House resumed consideration of the motion, and of the motion that this question be now put.


LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

Before question period, the hon. member for Outremont had the floor, with four minutes remaining.

The hon. member now has the floor.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Jean Lapierre

Liberal

Hon. Jean Lapierre (Outremont, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, four minutes is not very long, but I will use what time I have.

Before question period, I was saying how flexible Canadian federalism had been. In addition—and I am dating myself a little here—for those who have followed the constitutional issue and remember what we went through with the Meech Lake accords, each of the concepts has gradually resurfaced in the past 20 to 25 years. In recent years, we have witnessed another expression of this flexibility with the development of the concept of asymmetrical federalism.

During the term of the government led by the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, we witnessed the signing of an agreement on health that the current government is forever boasting about. This Conservative government constantly wants to take credit for this wonderful agreement on health, which provided for a major transfer of $41 billion over 10 years. When the agreement was signed, we saw that the government was able to play a national role, with what I would call jealous respect for the provinces' jurisdictions.

I want to pay tribute to my colleague from Westmount—Ville-Marie, who presided over the signing of many agreements with Quebec.

I will never forget the day we signed the agreement on parental leave, a long-awaited agreement that, once again, enabled Quebec to provide more generous parental leave for our fellow citizens, within the Canadian model, Canadian federalism, and at the same time respected Quebec's jurisdictions.

There was also an agreement on child care, which recognized the major progress Quebec had made and its leadership on that issue. Quebec was the inspiration for many other jurisdictions.

Again, this was a model of the flexibility of Canadian federalism, and here again, provincial jurisdictions were respected. Unfortunately, given the ideology of the party opposite, that party did not see fit to continue the program. This is now going to cost the province of Quebec $800 million, and that is regrettable. It is regrettable because for a party that supposedly wants to restore the fiscal balance, it has dug an $800 million hole. If we add another $328 million hole, to bring us up to date in terms of the Kyoto protocol, that makes a hole of over $1 billion. For a party that has made major commitments regarding the fiscal imbalance, its record cannot be said to be especially glorious. But with this we must recognize that federalism has evolved somewhat. We have managed to sign infrastructure agreements, once again amounting to over $1 billion, while respecting provincial priorities.

So it is evolving, although too slowly for some. I too have had my impatient moments, but ultimately, I have to say that, today, this is the end result of a lot of discussion. It is the end result of a broad political will that has been expressed in various terms. Sometimes we have talked about distinct society; other times, we have talked about the Quebec people; and now we have come to the concept of nation.

At some point, when we may one day be ready to consider constitutional talks, who knows what terminology we will want to use to recognize Quebec’s difference? Because basically, we can play semantics all day, but ultimately, the intention is to recognize Quebec’s difference, a difference that can be reconciled with Canada’s differences. Basically, it is the sum of our differences that makes this country a country respected throughout the world and a country where each one of us can be comfortable with our own personality, with our own history.

That is why I said at the beginning of my speech that this is not a debate we would have wanted, because basically, asking someone else to define one’s identity is not necessarily the best thing to do. And it is surprising that it should be the Bloc Québécois asking for that identity to be defined. The most disappointing thing has been to see that the Bloc Québécois, which thinks that it has a different definition of Québécois identity from ours, would decide to come to the rest of Canada seeking that identity. It has been hoist on its own petard, and today, the three federalist parties find themselves offering their hand and saying that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Peter Milliken

Liberal

The Speaker

I am sorry that the hon. member's time is up, but there are now five minutes for questions and comments.

The hon. member for West Nova.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Robert Thibault

Liberal

Hon. Robert Thibault (West Nova, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his very enlightened speech. This is the second time we have heard him on this matter.

The hon. member has a lot of experience, which he acquired under several governments, including the last government. He had already sat in this House before that. The members of this House know that often these issues are difficult within a government. This calls for discussion within caucus, the government itself, and between ministers. Rumour has it that some hon. members—and even some ministers—were just as surprised to hear the Prime Minister's statement a few days ago, last week, as we were and as Canadians and journalists were.

Can the hon. member imagine a prime minister making such a decision without consulting his ministers, namely his government's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Jean Lapierre

Liberal

Hon. Jean Lapierre

Mr. Speaker, I know that this debate does not lend itself to partisanship. However, when examining the Prime Minister's leadership style, this is not the first of his ministers who was totally ignored. I am told that in this government there are one and a half ministers, that is the Prime Minister who occasionally will deign to consult one of his ministers.

In the case of this motion, I am told that even his Quebec lieutenant was taken by surprise, as was the Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec. I am told that, on that morning, the latter was wondering if he would still be a minister at the end of the day. I was even told that the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Quebec lieutenant, was writing an article for La Presse to explain why he was voting against the Quebec nation when all of a sudden he arrived in Parliament and the Prime Minister told him he was in favour of the Quebec nation. Thus, it was a surprise all around. I am under the impression that the federal-provincial relations minister was just as surprised.

In these circumstances, I can understand that a minister wonders what he is doing there. If he is not consulted in the least, if he is not in the loop, it is not worth being a minister. There are rumours circulating in the House that the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs may tender his resignation. If he was completely ignored on such a fundamental issue, I can understand his sense of isolation. However, that does not mean that this motion does not have merit and, for my part, I hope that the majority of members in this House will vote for the motion without it bothering their conscience. We must also bear in mind the symbolic value of this motion, the message sent of openness and of reaching out, and that is all. For that reason, one day the country will want to reform its institutions and at that point we will draw inspiration from the discussions we have had these past days.

For the time being, I am not surprised to see that some ministers and some Conservative members are somewhat frustrated. This is not the first time. I am told that since this government was elected, they have been kept in the dark. The government is led by one minister, that is the Prime Minister. The others follow behind somewhat sheepishly, but they do not have a choice unless they wish to lose their jobs.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Peter MacKay

Conservative

Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the member opposite. In particular, it was of great interest that he would suggest that this is a non-partisan debate and then launch into castigation of this government and speculate as to what may or may not have happened in certain caucus meetings. Of course, he would understand full well what it is like to have been in different caucuses. He is essentially saying, “Wash me, but don't make me wet”, but this is nothing new for the slippery member opposite when it comes to his changing positions on federalism.

As a founding member of the Bloc Québécois, he left a federalist party to join the separatist movement and then returned when it was convenient. When he speaks of flexible federalism, is he referring to his own political career of having had affiliations of convenience?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Jean Lapierre

Liberal

Hon. Jean Lapierre

Mr. Speaker, the difference between the member and me is that my word means something and when I make commitments, I honour them. As for him, everyone knows that his word has no value and that no one can have confidence in him.

I believe that in the development of federalism and the development of my own beliefs, I have remained consistent. I remember the period when the Bloc Quebecois was established—the minister was here, I believe—it was a rainbow coalition. I remind him that throughout all that period, I had my membership card in the Quebec Liberal party and every week I spoke with Robert Bourassa. It was at his request, a request from the federalist premier of Quebec that I stayed here for two years. Personally, I had decided to abandon politics in 1990 after the collapse of the Meech Lake Accord.

I believe that this week I am the member who has been the most consistent in my position on the Québécois nation. Several of my colleagues have had to go through all kinds of contortions in trying to revise their positions. For my part, my position has always been consistent.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Ken Dryden

Liberal

Hon. Ken Dryden (York Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this feels wrong to me. It felt wrong when the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party passed its resolution and it felt wrong when passionate worried debate rose up across the country.

It felt even worse last week when the Bloc tabled its motion.

It did not feel less wrong but it felt more hopeful, as if the worst might pass, when the government then presented its counter motion.

However, the disease reached its incurable, treacherous peak when the Bloc announced that it would support the government motion—

--saying that Canada will become the first country to officially recognize the Quebec nation and that there will be many other countries that will recognize the nation of Quebec and the country of Quebec.

My country is more than this. Canada is centuries and centuries of aboriginal peoples, their respectful relationship to the land, their culture and history.

Canada is the French and the English struggling to survive in a new world filled with difficulties in order to build new lives for themselves. They were different in their languages, their cultures, their religions and their legal systems, but they were committed to the same struggle, to live together; and they succeeded in doing that.

Canada has people from almost everywhere coming here, changing us and themselves in ways exciting and unknown. Canada has immense resources and unimaginable possibilities. Our future is still in the making and still in the becoming.

Canada is a great global experiment, a true global society that works in the only way our global world of the future can work. Canada matters. It matters to me. It matters to us. It matters to the world. Therefore, when we deal with constitutional change, with things that lay out what we are and shape our future, it matters and it matters a lot.

Meech Lake and Charlottetown, agree with them or not, we examined, we debated and we took time. Meech Lake and Charlottetown felt serious.

This feels wrong because it does not feel as serious as it must be. It feels like games, bad, manipulative, opportunistic games, political games. Box somebody into a corner so they say or do something they do not want to say or do just to get out of the corner, just to save face, for them to box the other guy into say and doing just the same. We all save face and all get into a bigger box, a bigger box called the future, except that box belongs to someone else.

All these games and manipulations are not for us. They only create a slippery slope for later on.

The public has learned to accept most things political but not this. The stakes are too high. The public is saying that this is their country. The government got itself into this but why should they join it. Canadians want to know why they should let the government do this to them when this is their country.

This is pure politics. All this started with the ludicrous concept of having a debate fundamental to the country based on understanding different understandings of the word “nation”. In the last few days it has deteriorated into the ludicrous reality of such a debate in practice.

For those who want to engage in the debate honestly, seeking definitional clarity, they can forget it. Other parties to the debate want none of it. They want to say “nation” means whatever they want it to mean now and to change definitions whenever they decide they want it to mean something different. They can then go to the public and argue, spin and try to achieve by misunderstanding what they cannot by understanding.

When I first arrived in Montreal, what impressed me most was the pride of Quebeckers. The English language and American culture had invaded the whole world. The Quebeckers had no chance of survival. However, they said “No; not us, not here”. They know who they are and who they will be, forever.

Quebeckers know who they are. They have had to. They could not have made it if they had not. They do not need any official definers to tell them who they are. Some day all Canadians will get down on paper what Canada really is, what Quebec really is and what together we have made ourselves to be. However, it will not happen this way. It cannot happen this way.

Does the Bloc really want to convince Canadians outside Quebec to accept Quebec as a nation.? Not at all.

The Bloc wants the process to be so inappropriate that all such Canadians will reject the question. It wants to grease that slippery slope so that Canadians inside Quebec will reject those outside Quebec and the Bloc's cause of independence will be advanced.

The pawn in this game is the public. As Canadians, we feel deeply about our country. Politicians and political advocates for decades have been playing games with our emotions, manipulating them for their/our own purposes. They/we have completely poisoned the well of discussion and debate on this question. No side trusts the other and no citizen trusts any politician.

Though it does not seem this way, the problem is not really the languages of French and English. It is the language of spin, manipulation and bigger agendas. Neither the government's motion nor the resolution of the Quebec wing of the Liberal Party will do anything except create greater division and distrust.

My country Canada is more than this. For me, the motion has no precise language, no precise depth of understanding, no time and mechanism to work this through, no clarity and no support. The government motion should be defeated.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Joy Smith

Conservative

Mrs. Joy Smith (Kildonan—St. Paul, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I found my hon. colleague's speech rather baffling.

Having seen what has transpired over the past few days, with our Prime Minister, in a very respectful and honourable way, putting forth a motion that addresses and respects the Québécois and recognizes Canada as a united nation with all provinces together within Canada, does the member not agree that this kind of motion shows a deep respect and acknowledgement of the Québécois and the fact that as parliamentarians we are recognizing that Quebec is a nation but a nation within a united Canada?

Instead of playing the games that the member opposite is talking about, which I on this side of the House see as a big political game, with all due respect to the member, does the member not agree that acknowledging it in this way is a very Canadian and very respectful way of doing this?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Ken Dryden

Liberal

Hon. Ken Dryden

Mr. Speaker, the problem with this whole debate has to do with the many different understandings of the word “nation”. All we needed to do, after the motion was introduced last Wednesday, was to clarify the statements by the Premier of Quebec in terms of what the motion would represent, in terms of the laws, the reinterpretation of laws and of the different understandings of Quebec internationally. The day after that was the Bloc's statement in terms of what all of this represented. The problem in all of this debate is that we cannot have a debate if we do not have a common understanding of what it is we are debating.

The word “nation” has many different meanings outside of Quebec. Among most English-speaking Canadians the word “nation” is the same as the word country. My nation, my country. Canada is a nation and it is a country. For most francophones inside Quebec the word ”nation” has a different meaning whereby we can have many nations within one country and there is no predetermined destiny of where a nation will become a country.

However, we cannot have the kind of national debate on a subject that is so important and so fundamental when there is no common understanding on what one is debating.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
CPC

Randy Kamp

Conservative

Mr. Randy Kamp (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, I would be interested in knowing from the member what it is about the term “united Canada” that he does not understand. Is it not very clear?

If the word “nation” is so difficult to define, why does the member keep using it? I know he uses the word in terms of first nations. Who then are the first nations within this united Canada?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink
LIB

Ken Dryden

Liberal

Hon. Ken Dryden

Mr. Speaker, I usually use the phrase “aboriginal peoples” as opposed to “first nations”.

With the motion of last week that added the words “within a united Canada”, I had hoped that would represent a context that would help to more clearly define for average Canadians what nation meant and what we were really doing on this. In the subsequent days that followed that did not happen. In terms of the commentators, they would be using the word in whatever way it was most useful to them.

This question is important to all Canadians, as we have seen in the debate in the last three or four weeks. This is our country and this matters a lot to us. The way in which we get to debate it and resolve it is critical to what we end up resolving. The key to the whole thing is how we end up living with it out the other end.

The story the Bloc members will tell in terms of Quebec has nothing to do with the desire of creating a common understanding about nation. It is nation as a way of creating country.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   The Québécois
Permalink

November 27, 2006