HNATYSHYN, The Right Hon. Ramon John, P.C., C.C., C.M.M.., C.D., Q.C., B.A., LL.B., LL.D., D.U.

Personal Data

Progressive Conservative
Saskatoon West (Saskatchewan)
Birth Date
March 16, 1934
Deceased Date
December 18, 2002
lawyer, lecturer, military, reservist

Parliamentary Career

July 8, 1974 - March 26, 1979
  Saskatoon--Biggar (Saskatchewan)
  • Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition (February 1, 1976 - April 1, 1979)
  • Progressive Conservative Party Deputy House Leader (February 1, 1976 - April 1, 1979)
May 22, 1979 - December 14, 1979
  Saskatoon West (Saskatchewan)
  • Minister of State for Science and Technology (June 4, 1979 - October 7, 1979)
  • Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980)
February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Saskatoon West (Saskatchewan)
  • Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources (June 4, 1979 - March 2, 1980)
  • Progressive Conservative Party House Leader (April 6, 1984 - July 9, 1984)
  • Official Opposition House Leader (April 6, 1984 - July 9, 1984)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
  Saskatoon West (Saskatchewan)
  • Minister of State (Government House Leader) (September 17, 1984 - August 19, 1985)
  • Leader of the Government in the House of Commons (November 5, 1984 - June 29, 1986)
  • Progressive Conservative Party House Leader (November 5, 1984 - June 29, 1986)
  • President of the Privy Council (February 27, 1985 - June 29, 1986)
  • Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (June 30, 1986 - December 7, 1988)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 1283 of 1283)

October 10, 1974

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

I listened with great interest to the remarks of the hon. member for Ottawa West (Mr. Francis) and, in particular, to his remarks about Senate reform. Speaking from some experience I think the matter raised by the reference in the Speech from the Throne will get a lot of attention in due course.

At the outset I would like to extend to you, Mr. Speaker, congratulations on your election to your very onerous responsibility, that of presiding over the affairs of the House of Commons. Your initial days in this position have demonstrated your desire to exercise this responsibility with fairness.

It seems to me the position of Speaker may in fact be more difficult when one presides over a House in which there is a majority government in the sense that, after all is said and done, the rights of the minority opposition must be guarded and preserved in order that a valid and constructive scrutiny of government legislation, expenditures and actions can be undertaken in the interests of the people of Canada and of democracy. In this pursuit I know you will be constant and dispense even handed justice.

I extend my congratulations as well to the Deputy Speaker, the Deputy Chairman of the committee of the whole, and also to the Assistant Deputy Chairman of the committee of the whole.

I would like at this point to pay a special tribute as well to the right hon. member for Prince Albert (Mr. Diefen-baker) who has, as far as I personally am concerned, been a very great influence in my political life, a gentleman who has exercised great influence over the affairs of this country to the benefit of all Canada.

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October 10, 1974

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

I seem to have the honour of speaking today at a time when I propose to give some food for thought, although food for the stomach is on everyone's minds, and at a time when I think we are also waiting for a visitor. I will therefore commence my remarks and continue after the dinner hour. I should also like to follow the tradition of congratulating the mover of the Speech from the Throne, the hon. member for Montmorency (Mr. Duclos), and the seconder, the hon. member for Vancouver East (Mr. Lee). I follow this tradition of congratulations, but I must be quick to add that these congratulations are in fact sincere, since their speeches were most worthy endeavours in support of the Speech from the Throne, though I must take fundamental issue with what was not said as opposed to what was said in the speech itself.

I have the very great honour to represent the constituency of Saskatoon-Biggar in this thirtieth parliament. It is a constituency encompassing half of the city of Saskatoon and a substantial area west of the South Saskatchewan River which bisects the city of Saskatoon. This constituency is one that encompasses within its boundaries urban and rural areas. The urban area includes the downtown core of the city of Saskatoon, the warehouse and manufacturing areas of the city, and a substantial, growing residential area. In the rural areas there is an important agricultural industry in grain and livestock production, and a potash mining industry.

The population of my constituency is, in a sense, a microcosm of Canada as a whole inasmuch as it includes the city dweller, the farmer, the small town resident, the various ethnic groups represented in our country, and the various vocations, professions and other interest groups of Canada. It is with this background that I approach my duties as member of parliament for the constituency of Saskatoon-Biggar and as I consider the contents of the Speech from the Throne.

The election campaign which took place prior to this session of parliament was not only an opportunity for me to discuss with the electorate my concepts of the issues facing our country today, but, equally important, it was an opportunity for me to receive the benefit of the viewpoints of many of my constituents during my extensive travels throughout the riding.

Both before the election, and since, there has been no question in my mind that the issue preoccupying the average citizen is that of the ever-rising cost of living and spiralling inflation. In hearing and reviewing the Speech from the Throne I was therefore naturally chagrined that the matter most concerning the citizens of our country was given only perfunctory attention. One does not have to be reminded by Statistics Canada of the scope and extent of the rise in the cost of living, as most people in our country face this increase on a day to day basis in the purchase of groceries, clothing, household supplies, agricultural equipment and materials, building supplies, and in the cost of business expenses and other necessities.

Following the election, and in view of the fact that a majority government had been elected to office, it was my hope that the government would take measures to deal with this most pressing problem. The Speech from the Throne can only be described in this context as a document which is measured in volume rather than in context.

Royal Assent

I waited in vain for some indication from the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) that his government was in fact prepared to deal with the spiralling inflation which threatens the very fabric of our society in Canada today. Unfortunately, in my view, the Prime Minister avoided any discussion of this area and dealt rather with matters which are of secondary importance in our time of national crisis.

I would urge upon the Prime Minister and the government that they come forward immediately with constructive programs of a priority nature to deal with what I consider to be a crisis. I suggest to the government that there is a general feeling of foreboding among the people of Canada in respect of our economic future; that the average citizen is looking toward this newly elected government to take steps within its constitutional ability to deal realistically with the inflationary threat, and further to take the initiative on the international front and obtain co-operation to overcome the western world's problems of stagflation and international monetary instability.

I was encouraged to learn that the Minister of Finance (Mr. Turner) is engaged in international discussion of the inflation question. I think it is incumbent upon the government of this country to take the initiative, in the interest of its own population, in encouraging international co-operation for the purpose of combatting the plague of inflation. It is of the greatest importance that the national economy provide a correct mix of economic policies that will curb inefficient government spending while protecting the real incomes of those hardest hit by inflation.

During the remarks of the Prime Minister I detected a slip of the tongue when he referred to the creation of a new department involved in interdepartmental relations, which he later corrected to intergovernmental or interprovincial relations.

I hear a knock at the door, Mr. Speaker. I presume I will be able to resume my remarks later.

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October 10, 1974

Mr. Ray Hnatyshyn (Saskatoon-Biggar):

Mr. Speaker, I rise at this time to take part in the debate on the Speech from the Throne for the purpose of making my first remarks to this House as Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Biggar. I should like to express, with great sincerity my appreciation to my wife and my family for the wonderful assistance they rendered in my election bid to

win a seat in the House of Commons. On rising on this occasion I am reminded of the fact that my father had the great honour of serving in the other place.

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October 10, 1974

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

Madam Speaker, in my first address to this House I was interrupted by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod. We have since supped, and now welcome your presence. I am sure it means something not only to the chamber but to myself to have you preside during my speech.

When I was interrupted by the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod I was referring to a speech delivered by the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) in the debate on the Address in Reply when his turn came on leaders' day. I referred to the fact that I detected a slip of the tongue when the Prime Minister, referring to things the government proposed to do during the course of this parliament, mentioned the establishment of an interdepartmental agency under the direction of his office. Later, however, in correcting himself he immediately said that he was referring to an interprovincial agency within his own office. I suggest this may have been a Freudian slip on his part.

It is hoped the government will as a high priority in fact set up an office to deal with and review all government departmental spending in order to place some sort of significant restraint on government expenditures generally. On the basis of my own observation, after an absence of some years from Ottawa and parliament, I could not avoid being amazed at some of the considerable changes which have taken place with regard to the proliferation of government in the sense that there is a very high increase, for example, in the number of public servants.

The complexity is most baffling to a novice member of parliament. It is baffling to me even though I had an opportunity to observe parliament for some three years. On my return I found that there were so many new departments, agencies of departments, and Crown corporations that it was rather difficult to sort out the particular facets of government. Members of Parliament now have increased assistance but this, in my estimation, is absolutely necessary simply in order to aid them when looking into the complexities of government as it now

stands, a government which, of course, is the largest business in our country.

I suggest to the government it is absolutely essential that it bring forward some plans to make an exhaustive assessment of government spending and, at the same time, bring forward some sort of legislation to ameliorate the social consequences of inflation. The position has now become more than an economic or fiscal problem. Inflation has risen and continues to increase, and must be dealt with as a political problem on political terms, that is to say, in the form of legislation.

Government action must be taken to deal with the effects of inflation on those people unable to protect themselves against the ravages caused by the increased cost of living. I ask the Prime Minister, what of the plight of the elderly, the disabled and the unemployed? These people on fixed incomes, on pensions, in effect are receiving an economic and social scorching, and it is the responsibility of the government to take immediate steps to put out the fire.

When one considers the incredible increase in government budgets, over the past ten years, and the very considerable increase in tax moneys being received by our federal government, one cannot but be astounded at the failure of the government to place the interests of the disadvantaged at the very top of the list of priorities, especially in view of the inflationary problem. The government has been in receipt of considerably increased income through taxation, including the relatively new source of tax on capital gains. In fact it can be said that the government has, in terms of tax income, benefitted from inflation.

The Prime Minister and the government must set an example for the country. Economic and other observers suggest that there is an inflationary psychology which affects the rate of inflation in a national economy. If the government will undertake immediately a realistic appraisal of government expenditures combined with the equally important assessment of assistance to the disadvantaged in our society, the people of Canada will receive this course of action with approbation and will, in fact, join with the government, voluntarily and co-operatively, to meet our most pressing problem head on.

I would like to deal with other aspects of the Speech from the Throne of interest to my constituents but, if I may be permitted to say, also of interest to people generally in Canada. The constituency of Saskatoon-Biggar is primarily reliant on the agricultural industry. I note the general references made in the Speech from the Throne to incentives to farmers and fishermen, including the stabilization of incomes and markets geared to the increase in food production.

The constituents of Saskatoon-Biggar understand the moral responsibility which we have in Canada to maximize agricultural production and to maintain a strong and vibrant industry. This responsibility will weigh heavily upon us as long as we are surrounded by a starving world.

I look forward to the introduction of specific legislation to be brought in by the government in the area of stabilization of farm incomes and markets.

October 10, 1974

Indeed, Madam Speaker, I remind the minister responsible for the Canadian Wheat Board (Mr. Lang) that he was quoted in the Biggar Independent of June 12, 1974, and the Rosthern Saskatchewan Valley News of June 13, 1974, as pledging that a western grain stabilization plan bill would be introduced in parliament within seven days after the new parliament opened. I quote from the Saskatchewan Valley News of June 13, 1974, as follows:

If the Liberal party is elected to form the next federal government, Wheat Board minister Otto Lang will introduce a Western Grain Stabilization Plan within seven days after the new parliament opens.

Mr. Lang made that pledge at a meeting here June 11. He promised Saskatchewan producers if he and the Liberals are re-elected, he will personally introduce such a bill for first reading within the first week of parliament.

The plan, said Mr. Lang, will protect the incomes of prairie grain farmers from being squeezed between rising production costs and low grain prices, should grain prices drop from their current high levels. The farmer's income will be protected whether the squeeze develops from lower revenues or higher costs. This is the only effective and fair way to protect grain producers against inflation.

Knowing the minister represents the other Saskatoon constituency in this House, and knowing that in Saskatoon and surrounding area a man's word is his bond, I call on him now to bring forward the legislation in question for the scrutiny of the western farmers and members of parliament.

We are all aware of the pressures being experienced today by municipalities in connection with their costs, which are escalating at a phenomenal rate and which are being passed on to the taxpayer. Heretofore, many municipalities were granted exemption from sales tax on materials purchased for their own use in a number of areas, such as materials for storm and sanitary sewers and water pollution control plants, equipment with a unit value in excess of $500 used in fire-fighting and road making,-and the material element in buildings to be used as libraries, hospitals and the like.

The budget of last May indicated that the federal sales tax would be removed from articles and materials purchased by local governments for use in the construction of water distribution systems, and from buses and other public transportation equipment purchased by local governments.

I am aware of representations made by the mayor of the City of Saskatoon to the government that, in the forthcoming budget, the list of items used by the municipalities which would be exempt from sales tax should be extended and that it should include materials used in the construction of all municipal buildings, especially buildings housing or fire fighting and police facilities. I urge the government to endorse this suggestion which, if implemented, would in the final analysis lessen the burden on the municipal taxpayer.

The pressure on municipalities due to economic conditions today has resulted in rising prices and costs preventing the construction of much needed hospitals and related facilities, such as senior citizens' homes. At present the ceiling on allowances set by Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation is $10,000 per bed. Having regard to the escalation in the cost of materials and labour, the allowance ceiling on nursing homes should now be raised to a more realistic level. Municipalities simply are not able to

The Address-Mr. Hnatyshyn

finance the construction of these facilities in view of this limitation on the amount of loans available through the CMHC as the burden falls, with a direct and an immediate thrust, on the municipal taxpayer and he is unable to meet it.

I hope and trust that the government will give immediate attention to increasing the ceiling on loans for such worthwhile projects. In my opinion such an increase would not involve, government expenditures to any significant degree, but would have the effect of softening the burden of expenditures placed on municipalities in the creation of much needed social and medical facilities.

Within and immediately adjacent to the boundaries of my constituency lie the historically important areas of Batoche, Duck Lake, Fort Carlton and Fish Creek. These areas are rich in historic sites, dating back to the Northwest Rebellion of 1885 and beyond that time. An initiative has been taken, Madam Speaker, by residents of this area to develop and maintain the sites for posterity, and they are to be commended for their unceasing endeavours in this connection. There is in the area, at the present time, federal, provincial and local involvement, and representations have been made by the residents of the area for increased federal participation in the development of this complex.

In this regard the assistance of the federal government through its national museums program would be of great assistance and value in preserving artifacts to ensure that they are not lost but are retained for the benefit of the general public. I would urge the government to give favourable consideration to the representations being made by the citizens of these areas, and I hope that the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (Mr. Buchanan) will take a personal interest in the development of national historic parks relating to this area which has been the scene of developments which have significantly affected our history.

The increasing influx of tourists from all parts of our country, notwithstanding the many deficiencies in facilities and access roads to these sites should, I trust, be a significant inducement to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to give his immediate consideration to the representations I have mentioned.

I have another suggestion with respect to our senior citizens, that group of people who, in my estimation at least, have not received the attention and priority that they so richly deserve. It seems to me that there are a number of ways in which governments, aside from the giving of moneys and raising of pensions, can recognize the contribution made by our senior citizens.

Sometimes we can learn an occasional lesson from our neighbour to the south, the U.S.A. I have been impressed with a policy which has been adopted in the United States with respect to senior citizens, and I should like to bring it to the attention of our government, and of the minister responsible for our national parks, with a view to seeing whether something in a similar vein could not be carried out in Canada. I refer to what is termed in the United States "a golden age passport."

Such a passport is issued without charge to any person 62 years of age or over, and entitles the bearer, and any


October 10,1974

The Address-Mr. McRae

person accompanying him or her in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle, to enter any designated entrance fee area of the national parks system administered by the responsible department.

The bearer is also entitled to use any designated special recreation facility provided at any federal outdoor recreation area, excluding those provided by a concessionaire, at 50 per cent of the established daily special recreation use fee.

It seems to me that if the government has its priorities in the right order it should be looking at the introduction of some change in the regulations which would be of benefit to this group. It would not involve a very substantial outlay of funds to allow our senior citizens the same right of access as is enjoyed by United States citizens in their country to those parts of our country under federal jurisdiction. I urge this suggestion on the government and hope it will do something about it very soon.

I think I have come close to using all my time or even a little more, Madam Speaker. I appreciate your indulgence, and I look forward to making some contribution in this parliament.

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October 10, 1974

Mr. Hnatyshyn:

We in western Canada are particularly proud of the right hon. member, who continues to serve a record number of terms, and to serve them with diligence and excellence. It is my privilege to serve with him in the House of Commons as he continues his magnificence in debate, just as in the past.

I would be remiss at this point, Mr. Speaker, if I did not also recognize my friend, the Clerk of the House of Commons, Alistair Fraser, Esq., with whom I was previously associated in the other place. I am a newcomer to the House of Commons, as you will appreciate, Mr. Speaker, and, contrary to the normal sequence of events, I had my previous experience in parliament in the Senate. I came from there to the House of Commons and am now a member here, but I spent three years as an executive assistant to the government leader in the Senate, at which time I had the privilege of meeting the Clerk for the first time. I am glad to say that our friendship has subsisted since those days, and he has been most helpful to me as I have assumed my duties as a member of parliament.

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