Mr. Jean Lapierre (Shefford):
It is with pleasure that I repeat tonight the question I asked on November 19 and for which I could not obtain an answer for several reasons, including the noted and notable absence of the minister responsible for Cl DA. As we know, it is very difficult for members of this House to obtain answers on Cl DA since the minister responsible does not sit among us. This is a situation that 1 deplore and that is to the disadvantage of all members of the House.
The Secretary of State for External Affairs (Miss MacDonald) told me that she would take my question as notice and give me an answer later. Indeed, she sent me a letter on
November 22, but in fact my question of November 19 was only one of two questions I wanted to ask. What I wanted most of all was to obtain details about the Joal project. Mr. Speaker, the Secretary of State for External Affairs has said that this project has been in existence for only one year. However, I know from reliable sources that this project has been going on for much longer than one year. It began several years ago when the Canadian government provided motors for the canoes of the Senegalese fishermen. Since then, there has been a surplus of fish in Senegal and there have been many losses because of a lack of facilities to process this surplus.
Since 1976, at the request of President Senghor, a group within a non-governmental organization called Granby and its twin cities, whose headquarters are located in my constituency, has been closely interested in this project and has made many representations in favour of its implementation. The figure of $12 million has been mentioned. President Senghor gave his approval, and in September, 1978, the assurance was given that the city of Joal would be considered as the site of a future fish processing plant.
Unfortunately, the Secretary of State for External Affairs makes no reference to Joal, answering in a most evasive way, that five other fish processing plants will be built under those projects. Mr. Speaker, this does not answer in any way my question. What 1 want to know in particular is whether the Joal and Fadiouth plants will be built.
As I said earlier, the Minister of State for CIDA (Mr. Asselin) was not available in this House. I do not think he is outside the House either, because since June 16 the people from that Granby association and its twinned cities have been trying in vain to meet with that famous minister. They have been seeking an appointment for more than five months. Among others they have representations from the government of Senegal to bring to the minister. They must be content with a mere acknowledgement stating the letter will be brought to the minister's attention as soon as he comes back to Ottawa. The letter is dated June 16 and I hope that the minister's new obligations have not been keeping him outside the country since that date. This is why I am asking for answers. On November 19, the day I put my question, I had a complete delegation from the Granby groups and its twinned cities who had come to Ottawa in the hope of meeting with the minister. They still have not been able to meet him, and they were disappointed with the answer given by the Secretary of State for External Affairs.
In their names and on my own behalf, I would like to know what CIDA's real intentions are? A lot of hope was created among those people from Joal and Fadiouth. There was a commitment to build that famous fish treatment plant, but then no answer is forthcoming. 1 think a clear answer would help.
I am informed that the Minister of State for CIDA will travel to Senegal in a few days. I would have rather liked he
November 27, 1979
met the delegation from Granby and its twin cities which is well informed about the Senegal files. He has chosen to ignore them and it is too bad for him. However, I would like to know if the city of Joal is still under consideration as it was at the outset. I would also like to know if the minister intends to make concrete proposals regarding the five other fish processing plants to be built. We would like to know that. 1 have been asking that question since last June 16 but he does not answer his mail. Ever since he became a minister he does not answer questions from hon. members and I think it is the role of the Secretary of State for External Affairs to keep herself informed about these projects. I know that she is absent tonight but she must certainly have someone to speak in her name and I hope the answers will be more encouraging and, above all, much more direct and pertinent.
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS-AID IN CONSTRUCTION OF FROZEN FISH PLANTS IN SENEGAL-GOVERNMENT POSITION