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17380

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[English]

DAIRY INDUSTRY

Mr. John Finlay (Oxford, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, two weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting a dairy farm in Oxford County as the guest of Jim Donaldson of Donaldson International Livestock Ltd., Lubor Dobrovic of the Slovak State Breeding Institute, and George Heyder of the Slovak Holstein Association. Also present was a member of the board of directors of Ridgetown College and the communications adviser of CIDA.

Donaldson International has arranged for training to be provided for key people in the Slovakian dairy industry over the next three years. This $800,000 development project will help to develop a modern sustainable dairy industry in Slovakia.

It is encouraging in the extreme to know that small Canadian businesses, Canadian educational institutions and CIDA can co-operate in such important endeavours.

This three-year project will prove beneficial to the dairy industry in both countries and will build closer ties between Canada and the new Republic of Slovakia.

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[Translation]

EAST TIMOR

Mr. Nic Leblanc (Longueuil, BQ): Mr. Speaker, today is a sad day in that it marks the 20th anniversary of the invasion of East Timor by the Indonesian army. As you know, this invasion resulted in one of the worst holocausts since 1945, with the genocide of more than one third of the population.

Unfortunately, East Timorians are still the victims of one of the harshest political repressions known.

Year after year, reputable organizations such as Amnesty International, denounce violations of human rights in that country. On this sad day, which reminds us that too many human beings die in the name of freedom, the Bloc Quebecois wants to denounce the very timid attitude of the Canadian government regarding the promotion of human rights.

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[English]

VIA RAIL

Mr. Jim Gouk (Kootenay West-Revelstoke, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, on December 6 the ``Stop the Great Train Robbery'' bus came to Parliament Hill. This bus was covered with thousands of signatures protesting gross over subsidization of VIA Rail at a time when Canadian are facing crippling government debt.

The bus carried supporters of the protest and a petition containing almost 10,000 signatures. The Minister of Transport had been requested to accept the petition from these concerned citizens but did not even bother to respond to the request.

I accepted the petition, but because it is not in a form deemed presentable in the House for the government I cannot present it here. As an alternative I invite the Minister of Transport to accept it from me outside the doors of the House immediately after question period.

I also ask the minister again to take action to stop VIA Rail from reducing already heavily subsidized fares so it can take Canadian taxpayers' money and use it to compete against customers unsubsidized in the private sector.

The minister can choose to send out a message of goodwill to Canadian taxpayers or he can continue to squander their money. Thousands of people who signed this petition are waiting for his response.


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THE ECONOMY

Mr. Vic Althouse (Mackenzie, NDP): Mr. Speaker, for more than 20 years successive federal governments have claimed to be fighting inflation and the deficit by cutting corporate taxes, raising interest rates and cutting programs. What have investors done with the interest earned and the taxes saved? They have used their surplus funds to bid up existing stocks to the point at which general stock values in Canada are reported to be up 35 per cent over last year.

To continue generating existing levels of profit, their prices for goods and services provided will have to be pushed up, as will inflation.

If the government is serious about fighting inflation and the deficit, a tax on transactions can both cool inflationary pressures and reduce the deficit. Such a multiple approach to fighting the deficit and inflation might actually work, unlike current policy fixation with high interest rates, low corporate taxes and deep program cuts.

Surely after 20 years of failure to meet even one deficit target it is time to try some things that might actually work.

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BANKS

Mr. Andrew Telegdi (Waterloo, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the big banks would like to sell insurance directly to their customers.

Many Canadians are worried about concentrating economic power in the hands of a few large banks, putting the safety of the financial system at risk.

In changing the Bank Act, the government should be careful not to reduce competition. Consumers would suffer from reduced choice in the financial industry. Banks selling insurance would have an unfair advantage over insurance companies. Insurance companies are not entitled to have the same government guarantees the banks have, including Canada deposit insurance. Banks will also have an unfair advantage if they are allowed to use confidential client information to help sell insurance.

Any changes to the Bank Act must be fair to the insurance companies and must protect the consumer. Banks should stick to their mandate and start lending money to small businesses, the engine of the country's economy.

Rather than letting the banks expand into insurance, we should tax their record profits and force them to lend more money to small businesses.

MALVERN REMEDIAL PROJECT

Mr. Derek Lee (Scarborough-Rouge River, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, this week in my riding of Scarborough-Rouge River we are completing the last of the work on the Malvern Remedial Project.

This is an initiative to restore a residential area where soil had been contaminated by low level radioactive material dumped during the second world war. Although the problem was discovered in 1980, it has taken 15 years for all levels of government and the community to achieve their goal of removing the contaminants and restoring this neighbourhood of family homes.

We want to recognize and thank the Minister of Natural Resources and the leadership of her officials, the province of Ontario for sharing the cost and purchasing the real estate required, AECL for its expertise, the city of Scarborough, the local advisory committee chaired by Mr. John Brickenden, elected representatives at the municipal, regional and provincial assemblies and, last but not least, the Ontario and Canadian taxpayers who underwrote the costs.

The Malvern/McLure neighbourhood says thank you for this successful initiative. We hope the Malvern Remedial Project can be a successful example of community and government working together to correct environmental mistakes of the past.

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MINISTERS OF FINANCE

Mrs. Georgette Sheridan (Saskatoon-Humboldt, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, it may come as a surprise to our beloved finance minister to learn that last Friday in my riding of Saskatoon-Humboldt there were no less than four individuals passing themselves off as the Minister of Finance of Canada.

(1405 )

The culprits are students from the University of Saskatchewan participating in an annual term project, the brainchild of Professor Marv Painter of the college of commerce, whereby undergraduate commerce and MBA students produce a federal budget.

This year 138 students made up the four teams which presented their government initiatives regarding economic and social policy, taxation, government spending, deficits and debt.

In support of their budget proposals, each group determined the source of revenues, allocation of expenditures and future estimates of GDP growth, interest rates, inflation and so on.


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As one of a group of 50 invited to hear the budget speeches, I was very impressed with the effort put into this project and the vigour with which the students attacked this thorny fiscal challenge.

My congratulations to Professor Marv Painter and finance ministers Michelle Cocks, Roger Miller, Curtis McKenzie and Judy Karwacki, and the other students on a job well done.

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[Translation]

QUEBEC CULTURE

Mr. Gilbert Fillion (Chicoutimi, BQ): Mr. Speaker, yesterday, Quebecers from all political affiliations were stunned to hear the Prime Minister, a Quebecer himself, say that there is no such thing as a Quebec culture. Rather, there is a French and an English culture which he calls the Canadian culture.

The Prime Minister's simplistic vision, which denies the very basis of his motion recognizing Quebec as a distinct society, shows that his roots in the Quebec society and culture do not run very deep. Given the comments made by her leader, it is surprising to see that the current labour minister, a former cultural affairs minister in the Liberal government of Robert Bourassa, has nothing to say on the matter.

Her silence must be a heavy burden on her conscience since, as the proverb says: ``Silence is a form of consent''.

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[English]

QUEBEC

Mrs. Daphne Jennings (Mission-Coquitlam, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, I have no problem agreeing that Quebec and Quebecers are or constitute a distinct society. My problem is with entrenching it in the Constitution. That for me and for many Canadians creates a problem. Why should Parliament resurrect an idea that Canadians voted down in the Meech and Charlottetown accords?

I believe in the equality of all Canadians, that each province, each region and the aboriginal peoples are all distinctive in their own way. But the question of what it means to be distinct has no concrete answer at this time.

Some say it does not mean anything but simply recognizes an historical fact. Some say it means the courts when they are looking at Quebec's laws will interpret them in light of the distinctiveness of Quebec. Therefore it is an interpretative part of the Constitution.

This would be something no other province would have. If we believe in equality, then we do not believe in special powers.

Please, let us not go through this again. Let us get on with rebuilding Confederation with new ideas. Let us look at what the Reform Party has to propose for the future of our country.

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MARITIME UNION

Mr. Joe McGuire (Egmont, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, recently we have had some strange echoes from the past in regard to maritime union. Let us hear what the past of maritime union has been.

In his thesis on maritime union, John M. Wilkinson posed the question:

Was there ever in any one, or all three, of the maritime provinces any general or popular movement in favour of their union, as distinct from those inaugurated by official classes, such as politicians or those actuated by profit?
The answer is that, unless the situation has changed, popular support for maritime union has been virtually non-existent. Even the legislators who in the 1860s agreed to a conference to consider such a union did it without enthusiasm and certainly not in response to the express wishes of their constituents.
Because of its lack of interest in maritime union, Prince Edward Island has been called the reluctant province. History indicates, however, that it has been different only in degree. It has been somewhat more reluctant than reluctant Nova Scotia and reluctant New Brunswick.

Let me assure the House this situation has not changed. A recent poll on Prince Edward Island put opposition to maritime union at 70 per cent-

The Speaker: The hon. member for Bramalea-Gore-Malton.

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SEYMOUR SCHULICH

Mr. Gurbax Singh Malhi (Bramalea-Gore-Malton, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, earlier this week a North York investor, Mr. Seymour Schulich, donated $15 million to York University's school of business. His gift will pay for a series of undergraduate and graduate scholarships and up to five endowed chairs to study specific areas of business.

He said he believes every affluent Canadian has an obligation to give something back to the country.

He also suggested the federal government encourage more private donations by providing the same kind of tax breaks offered to American philanthropists, who get tax breaks four times larger than Canadians.

(1410)

I take this opportunity to commend Mr. Schulich for his generosity and to suggest the government consider his advice very carefully.


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Hospitals, schools, libraries and other public institutions can use all the donations they can get.

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[Translation]

NATIONAL UNITY

Mr. Denis Paradis (Brome-Missisquoi, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, in every province, Canadians are wondering what they can do to help keep Canada united.

All residents of Brome-Missisquoi, the Carons in Frelighsburg, the Gaudets, the Barabés in Farnham, the Bergerons and the Landrevilles in Magog want to see proposals for change on the table very shortly.

The demand for change is strong in Quebec. And in this connection, Mr. Speaker, allow me to congratulate the hon. member for Fredericton-York-Sunbury who, last Sunday, organized a forum for Canadian unity in Fredericton. This kind of forum which brings together people from all political parties is a way to promote discussion on the changes that are necessary.

I urge all members of this House, whatever their political affiliation, all those who believe in the Canada of the future, to work hard to keep Canada together. As for our differences regarding the administration of this country, we will have plenty of time to express them during the next election campaign. Canada counts.

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OLD AGE SECURITY

Mr. Maurice Dumas (Argenteuil-Papineau, BQ): Mr. Speaker, after doing a hatchet job on the unemployment insurance system and offloading most of the government's spending cuts on the provinces by reducing their transfer payments, the Minister of Finance is now zeroing on his third target: old age security pensions.

Yesterday the minister announced that he would soon be meeting with his provincial counterparts to consider the future of OAS in Canada. These discussions were to be preceded by the tabling of a federal policy paper. The tabling of this document, originally scheduled for 1994, was later postponed until this fall. However, nothing has been tabled so far, and federal cutbacks are to take effect in 1997.

The minister should at least have the courage to be open about his policies and table without delay a document which senior citizens have been waiting for all this time.

[English]

INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION

Mr. John Williams (St. Albert, Ref.): Mr. Speaker, yesterday my nomination for a place on the executive of the Interparliamentary Union, commonly known as the junketeer travel club, was denied even though it was acknowledged by the Chair as being in order.

At the same meeting prior to the election procedure and in order to deny my nomination, the constitution of the IPU was changed to allow executive positions only for those who ``undertake to promote the aims and objectives of the said interparliamentary organization''. This will be a difficult task given that the IPU has no aims or objectives.

The IPU is funded by the House and yet it has muzzled free speech, ignored its own constitution and trashed democracy.

My rights as a parliamentarian have been compromised. The reputation of the House has been sullied and I request that all parliamentarians condemn the actions of the IPU and direct the procedure and House affairs committee to investigate this abuse of process.

Even the communists played with more finesse than the IPU.

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PIERRE BOURGAULT

Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, I was appalled the other day to read in Le journal de Montréal how Pierre Bourgault, a staunch separatist and confidant of Mr. Parizeau, branded a group of Canadians as racists.

It seems after a Canadian victory on October 30 the separatist had to blame somebody. Therefore Mr. Bourgault stated: ``The Jews, Italians and Greeks are racists''. Mr. Bourgault further states: ``We are not asking them to be sovereignists, we are asking them to be Quebecers''. They are proud Quebecers and they are also proud Canadians.

The separatists have now been completely unmasked and their hidden agenda is secret no longer.

He further made reference to the member for Bourassa. When the Bloc member and all other immigrants, myself included, arrived on these friendly shores, who welcomed us? It was Canada. Who gave us citizenship? It was Canada. It was Canada that gave us the opportunity to share in the Canadian dream.

The vote on October 30 was not an ethnic vote. It was a Canadian vote, a vote for unity, a vote for home, a vote for Canada.

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[Translation]

EDMUNSTON DIOCESE

Mrs. Pierrette Ringuette-Maltais (Madawaska-Victoria, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, Sunday, December 10, will mark the end of a


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series of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Edmunston.

(1415)

During the past year, a group of volunteers in the diocese, under the able leadership of Jean Pilot, organized a variety of activities for the young and not so young. Thanks to these activities, this event was celebrated with enthusiasm and style.

The final day of the 50th anniversary celebrations will be marked by a solemn high mass at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Edmunston, followed by a Christmas concert.

The motto of the Diocese of Edmunston, ``Son amour s'étend d'âge en âge'', illustrates the optimism and sense of sharing that prevails over any differences that exist in our community.

I want to take this opportunity to wish my constituents a day filled with joy and happiness.

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