LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY OF
Thursday, February 20, 1992
The House met at 1:30 p.m.
Ms. Becky Barrett (
Mr. Dave Chomiak (Kildonan): Mr. Speaker, I beg to present the petition of Ronald Santos, Karen Jensen, Sharon Provak and others, requesting the government to show its strong commitment to dealing with child abuse by considering restoring the Fight Back Against Child Abuse campaign.
TABLING OF REPORTS
Hon. James Downey (Minister responsible for and charged with the administration of The Communities Economic Development Fund Act, and responsible for A. E. McKenzie Co. Ltd.): Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table the Communities Economic Development Fund Annual Report for the year 1990‑91, and also the A. E. McKenzie Co. Ltd. for the year ended October 31, 1991.
Clayton Manness (Minister of Finance):
Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the Third Quarterly Report, nine
months ending December 31, 1991, The
Hon. Darren Praznik (Minister of Labour): I would like to table the 1990‑91 Annual Report of the Department of Labour.
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS
Bill 46‑The Jury Amendment Act
Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): Mr. Speaker, with the leave of the House, I would move, seconded by the honourable Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), that Bill 46, The Jury Amendment Act (Loi modifiant la Loi sur les jures), be introduced and the same be now received and read a first time.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable Minister of Justice (Mr. McCrae) have leave? No. Leave is denied.
Mr. McCrae: Perhaps if I try again, Mr. Speaker, honourable members of the New Democratic Party will come to their senses.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Bill 47‑The Petty Trespasses Act
Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): With the leave of the House, I would move, seconded by the honourable Minister of Finance (Mr. Manness), that Bill 47, The Petty Trespasses Amendment Act (Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'intrusion), be introduced and the same be now received and read a first time.
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable Minister of Justice (Mr. McCrae) have leave? Leave is denied.
Introduction of Guests
Mr. Speaker: Prior to Oral Questions, may I direct the
attention of all honourable members to the gallery, where we have with us this
afternoon, from the
On behalf of all honourable members, I welcome you here this afternoon.
ORAL QUESTION PERIOD
Aboriginal Justice Inquiry
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of
the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, this Chamber and all parties have
discussed the creation, the workings and the action of the Aboriginal Justice
Inquiry in the
This inquiry was, by all accounts, one of
the most thorough investigations and consultations with aboriginal people
The report was really a condemnation of
governments past, whether they be federal, provincial, in the administration of
our justice system when it concluded, and it started its report that justice
system has failed
Mr. Speaker, this is not an issue that over 125 years of history is the responsibility, accountability of government opposite, nor is it the responsibility of this side. It is our collective responsibility in terms of the aboriginal justice system, the aboriginal economic and social conditions that are within our province.
I would ask the government then, why did the government take such a weak‑kneed approach to the aboriginal justice system? Why did it not endorse many of the principal recommendations in that report? Why did it in fact just give us four technical committees and three subcommittees rather than a principled stand on fundamentally changing the justice system in our province as recommended in the report?
James McCrae (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): The honourable
Leader of the Opposition has asked an extremely lengthy question but suggests
in his question that the government of
If the honourable Leader of the Opposition had been paying attention on the day that the government responded to the report, late in January, he would have seen that we indeed are endorsing many meaningful recommendations made by the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry. We propose to move on those recommendations, which we have accepted.
We want to do that with the help and co‑operation of the aboriginal organizations that we have referred to. We have put forward that invitation, and we propose to move forward. We propose not to get bogged down with the eternal rhetoric that seems to form the aboriginal justice policy of the honourable Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues. For example, the honourable member for Point Douglas (Mr. Hickes) suggests that each and every single recommendation in the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry report ought to be followed just as it is laid out. We do not accept that approach. That is the approach of the New Democratic Party, which is quite inconsistent with their position taken with respect to the task force on the Constitution.
Aboriginal Justice Inquiry
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, when he released the report in August of last year, said, and I quote, after explaining that we have done too many things for aboriginal people he now intends to work with aboriginal people. Those were the comments of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General in August.
Yet at the press conference in January, the
committee chaired by the Deputy Premier, the government rejected a joint
partnership strategy to implement the recommendations of the Aboriginal Justice
Inquiry, the recommendations for an aboriginal justice committee that would
work in joint partnership with the
I would ask the Deputy Premier, why did you
reject the opportunity and the recommendation to have a partnership with
aboriginal people, as recommended by commissioners Sinclair and
Hon. James Downey (Minister of Northern Affairs, responsible for Native Affairs): Mr. Speaker, let me first of all say to the Leader of the Opposition that we have enjoyed over the past three to four years a good working relationship with the aboriginal community as it relates to not only the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry, which was mandated to do two specific things, and that was to look into the J.J. Harper and the Helen Betty Osborne incidents, which were both very unfortunate situations.
What we have offered is in principle not unlike a justice commission. The working groups are an invitation for the different representatives from the aboriginal community to join with our departments and move forward on those recommendations that are in fact accomplishable. That is the path and the process which we have established. We are waiting for the aboriginal people to bring forward the names of the individuals whom they want to sit on those working committees.
It is time for action, not further study, as my colleague the Minister of Justice has said many times.
Aboriginal Justice Inquiry
Mr. Gary Doer (Leader of the Opposition): Mr. Speaker, the government totally misses the partnership recommendation of the commission's report from Sinclair and Hamilton, totally misses the idea of a difference between a partnership in our justice system and advisory groups that the government will establish and disestablish as they so choose when they so choose.
I have a final supplementary question to
the Deputy Premier. The report fairly thoroughly criticized the police
investigation dealing with the J.J. Harper shooting and came out with some very
strong recommendations to have an independent‑‑an independent‑‑process
dealing with shootings of citizens and any of the police forces of
Again, and I ask this to the Deputy Premier: Why did the government, in light of the statements that they wanted to proceed with action, not proceed with an independent decision and an independent process for police shootings? They have had the report for eight months. The report is very thorough on this issue. Why are we again just consulting on this issue? Why is the government not taking decisive action in this very, very crucial area?
James McCrae (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): We have taken decisive action and, in fact,
the intent of that particular recommendation has been in effect since the
shooting incident in
Aboriginal Justice System
Mr. Oscar Lathlin (The
Pas): Mr. Speaker, the Law Reform Commission of
There are already other systems in
operation, such as the Quebec Civil Code, the American tribal court systems,
the Canadian military systems operating in
Will this minister tell this House: After he endorsed the
Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): The honourable member again surprises me as a member of the task force, an all‑party task force which came out with‑‑
Mr. Lathlin: You endorsed the inherent right to self‑government.
Mr. McCrae: Well, I cannot quite hear myself when the honourable member for The Pas wants to continue asking his question from his seat, but I think he is finished now, and maybe I can proceed.
I have trouble with the NDP policy of advocating separate societies and separate systems when we have taken an all‑party unanimous task force position that the inherent right to the self‑government of aboriginal people ought to be exercised within the Canadian Constitution and that all Canadians are subject to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
When the honourable member for Point Douglas
(Mr. Hickes) suggests that aboriginal people ought to have their own charters,
that means 61 charters in the
Point of Order
Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas): On a point of order, if the minister is referring to my comments to the aboriginal appointed Members of Parliament, no wonder he does not know how to deal with‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member does not have a point of order. It is clearly a dispute over the facts.
Child Abuse Allegations
Justice Department Investigation
Mr. Oscar Lathlin (The Pas): Mr. Speaker, on Monday night, during debate, I very clearly overheard the Minister of Justice‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member, kindly put your question now, please.
Mr. Lathlin: I ask the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, because he has accused band chiefs of a coverup, will he now agree to conduct an inquiry into allegations of a coverup of child abuse and spousal abuse on the reserves, as has been repeated in a request by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs?
Hon. James McCrae (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): The honourable member is totally wrong. I have never accused him or anyone else of a coverup. If the honourable member is referring to an exchange across the floor, then maybe we could discuss that exchange. I would be pleased to do that. I certainly did not accuse anybody of a coverup.
There were recently serious allegations,
though, involving potential obstruction in the case of some child abuse cases
Mr. Oscar Lathlin (The
Pas): My final supplementary, Mr. Speaker is: Will the Attorney General, the Minister of
Justice, order the court to start having hearings in
I ask the minister today: Will he order the courts to be held in
James McCrae (Minister of Justice and Attorney General): The honourable
member raises a matter that has been raised with me by the leadership of the
Conawapa Dam Project
Mr. Paul Edwards (St. James): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister of mines and energy.
Evidence continues to mount that the
Ontario Hydro sale on Conawapa is not in the best interest of
Earlier this month Ontario Hydro cancelled
or deferred 53 new power stations that were going to be built in conjunction with
the private sector. Mr. Speaker, the
$260,000‑a‑year chairperson, Marc Eliesen, indicated at that time
My question for the minister of mines and
energy is: Can he tell the House whether
Hon. James Downey (Minister of Energy and Mines): A couple of things, Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member to refer to the ministry as the ministry as it is, that is the ministry of Energy and Mines.
As far as the business community is
concerned, I would like to refer to a letter which I received yesterday from
the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce. I will
just quote one brief paragraph: I would
like to apologize for the impression left that the Winnipeg Chamber does not
support Conawapa. We have never taken
that position, signed by the president of the
I would as well like to say, Mr. Speaker,
that I have not received any direct contact from Ontario Hydro since I have
been in the ministry of Energy and Mines. I have not been in direct contact. However, I will check with Hydro as to
whether or not there has been a meeting requested with Manitoba Hydro. To this date, I have no knowledge of them
wanting to back out of the deal that was signed between the Premier of Manitoba
and the Premier of
My question for the Minister of Energy and
Mines is: Has he or officials of
Manitoba Hydro considered the possibility that Ontario Hydro's failure, to his
knowledge, to contact himself or Manitoba Hydro about renegotiating this deal,
in view of the fact that they are cancelling 53 new power stations, is a clear
signal that Ontario Hydro knows full well the extent of the good deal, the
sweetheart deal it got from
Downey: Mr. Speaker, first of all,
as far as Ontario Hydro workings are concerned and the decisions they make, it
is not the business of the
As we have said, it has to go through the
strictest of environmental process, and it will. The Public Utilities Board has said that it
is a good deal for the people of
Mr. Edwards: Mr. Speaker, will the minister now use the legal opinion which we placed on his table yesterday as leverage, the only leverage he has at this point, to renegotiate this deal? Let me just quote again the former minister's statement: Given‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The question has been put.
Downey: Mr. Speaker, I am not a
lawyer, and I do not pretend to be a lawyer, like some individuals in this
Assembly who have just asked the question.
What I do want to say is that I have referred the letter, the so‑called
legal opinion, from the Liberal Party that was tabled yesterday, I have
forwarded that to
Point of Order
Mr. Edwards: Mr. Speaker, so‑called legal opinion? Is the minister questioning that it was a legal opinion? Is that what he is saying‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable member for St. James does not have a point of order.
* * *
Mr. Downey: I have referred the document that was tabled by the Leader of the Liberal Party (Mrs. Carstairs) yesterday to Manitoba Hydro for their response, as she and all members of this House know that it is governed by a board of directors which is appointed by government and managed by a competent group of managers. I am waiting for the response from those individuals.
Department of Environment
Work Order Enforcement
Ms. Marianne Cerilli (Radisson): Mr. Speaker, recently we have learned of a number of incidents where the Department of Environment seems to have trouble enforcing work orders to deal with hazardous waste.
First, we have a family in Stonewall with PCBs in their back yard that used to be part of a municipal golf course, and the minister has reversed and retracted a work order ordering the municipality to clean up the contamination.
I want to ask the Minister of Environment: What is this family supposed to do? Will his department take responsibility for cleaning up the PCBs and protecting this family?
Hon. Glen Cummings (Minister of Environment): Mr. Speaker, the approach of the department has always been to make sure that the responsible parties look after the cleanup, and we have been working with the community, the municipality and with Manitoba Hydro. We have obtained a considerable amount of storage for some of the contaminated soil, and I believe that we will get that problem corrected.
Ms. Cerilli: Can the minister clarify, what were the specific reasons for retracting this work order?
Mr. Cummings: Mr. Speaker, speaking to the specifics of that order, I will have to get further information from the department.
Prime Oil Company
Environmental Work Order Extension
Ms. Marianne Cerilli (Radisson): For my final supplementary, I would like to ask the minister similarly how the Prime Oil company in St. Boniface has been stalling for two years on its work order. Can the minister give some commitment that there will not be an extension for this work order?
Hon. Glen Cummings (Minister of Environment): The Prime Oil facility has been putting a number of proposals before the Department of Environment. Obviously, the reason they received an order recently is because we are starting to run out of patience. There is a meeting coming up very shortly and I will not preclude what discussions will flow from that meeting.
Home Care Program
Ms. Rosann Wowchuk (
A man in Winnipegosis had his three hours a week cut completely. Other people had their workload, their hours cut in half. Home Care support workers and health care attendants have had much reduction.
How can the Minister of Health say there
are no reductions to the Home Care in light of these serious cutbacks in hours
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, I would very much appreciate receiving some further detail of these issues from my honourable friend. As I pointed out to I think the official Health critic for the official opposition, Tuesday of last week, I have to say that I erred in some of the information I provided to my honourable friend. It is not just a $6‑million increase in spending on Home Care this year over last. In fact, it is $8 million more spending.
Ms. Rosann Wowchuk (
Will the Minister of Health tell this House, if there are no cutbacks to Home Care, why the public health nurses and Home Care co‑ordinators are providing clients with lists of people whom they can hire after their Home Care hours have been cut?
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): You know, I would be very much pleased if my honourable friend would provide a little bit of detail. She might even consider contacting my office and providing me‑‑if she does not want to, or have the authority to share individual names. I can understand that in Question Period.
In the past, my honourable friend the Leader of the New Democratic Party (Mr. Doer) used to send names of people into my office with concerns about Home Care. In investigating those individuals' circumstances, we found out that the individual had no idea the New Democrats were going to be bringing their name to any particular complaint, because they had none.
I am not saying that is the case today, because I am not dealing with the Leader of the New Democratic Party, I am dealing with the member for Swan River. Mr. Speaker, let me tell my honourable friend the member for Swan River that the support services for seniors in Swan River, in Dauphin and in many communities has been put in place to provide services to seniors to aid in their independent living. We put in support from this government to assure that is happening, and when those services are available in the community, naturally we wish to have it known to potential clients that those services are available.
Ms. Wowchuk: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to provide the names of many workers and clients who have had their workload reduced and their hours of service reduced.
Can the minister tell us what provisions are being put in place to ensure that these people who are having their home care reduced or taken away from them, who are living alone and cannot afford to hire someone from the private sector, what assurances are put in place that these people are going to be looked after, and they are not going to be at risk?
Mr. Orchard: The same kinds of assurances that have existed in the policy of the Home Care program since its inception circa 1973. An assessment is made by professionals who are employed by the Department of Health in terms of determining the needs of the individual to remain living independently. Those services are provided by the department. It may be nursing services, or it may be a range of services. They are provided, will continue to be provided and are being provided all across the province, including in my honourable friend's constituency.
Urban Hospital Council Report
Mr. Gulzar Cheema (The Maples): My question is for the Minister of Health.
The Urban Hospital Council has for months been conducting a far‑reaching study of possible health care reforms. Some of the proposals on the table are deeply controversial, and some are quite dangerous. The proposals have been in the form of public debate for some months now, yet the Minister of Health has refused many times to support his own views and positions on that table.
Can he table the final seven reports of the Urban Hospital Council so that at least we and the public can make a judgment?
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): When I receive the final recommendations from the Urban Hospital Council, as I have consistently said to my honourable friend, I will make those available.
My honourable friend wants to know what the policy is that I have as Minister of Health. That policy is one of involving as much consultation, as much input by the experts in the health care system, the professionals who administer, manage and deliver services in our health care system in being partners and having the opportunity for input of their knowledge and expertise in changing the way we approach health care delivery in the province of Manitoba.
Mr. Speaker, as my honourable friend has
agreed with the Centre for Health Policy and Evaluation, that circumstance is
indeed unique in this province compared to all other provinces.
Health Care System Reform
Mr. Gulzar Cheema (The Maples): Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Health tell this House what this government's policy is on one of the very dangerous recommendations by the Urban Hospital Council, which is chaired by his deputy minister, as regards to Manitobans selling their tax paid health care system to Americans for fee services so that our patients will not be getting services? It is a very dangerous proposal and must be rejected.
Hon. Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend, if he was listening to Mr. Jack Litvack, who is chairing that particular issue study group, will know that the Urban Hospital Council itself has not received any recommendations from the study group which is investigating that issue. Lest my honourable friend sort of fall off his normal, reasonable approach to being critic of Health and join the official opposition Health critic in sort of wild and woolly rhetoric, let me reiterate for my honourable friend what I have said all along, that no Manitoban will be compromised by any sale of health care if recommended by the Urban Hospital Council. That is the assurance the Urban Hospital Council is operating under and that is the assurance that I am giving my honourable friend, because I would not accept any recommendation which would do otherwise.
Mr. Cheema: Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell this House whether his refusal today to say yes or no to this very dangerous proposal is not in agreement with his Premier (Mr. Filmon) who said, on November 19 on CJOB radio, no to selling health care to Americans? Can he tell whether he is in charge of this proposal or his Premier?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Speaker, I suppose I could rhetorically ask the question of my honourable friend, did he develop the policy articulated by his Leader in Minnedosa where they were going to kick 40 percent of the people out of the personal care homes or was that his Leader off on her own?
Mr. Speaker, this government, when it
accepts a policy in health care and enunciates it, it is a policy of the
Selkirk Mental Health Centre
Mr. Gregory Dewar (Selkirk): Mr. Speaker, last year when I asked the Minister of Health what his government's long‑term plans were for the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, he indicated that: the discussions are proceeding, I think, reasonably well with the federal government and do involve the Selkirk Mental Health Centre as a potential site for high‑security forensic beds. Mr. Speaker, I have received correspondence that clearly indicates that the project is now in jeopardy, that the federal government is reducing their involvement in the planning process and they are not proceeding with a cost‑shared facility.
Will the Minister of Health now come clean to this House and to the people of Selkirk about the status of this promised forensic facility?
Donald Orchard (Minister of Health): Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend has at least
a partial knowledge of the issue. Indeed, this is a project which the
That is why I say, the federal government
must be partner of any solution. As I
stand today, I do not have a commitment from the federal government. I did not have that six months ago when my
honourable friend was informed that was the direction we were taking. We are still pursuing that with the federal
government. I cannot answer to my honourable friend today whether I will be
successful in persuading the federal government to commit resources to an
obligation they have in partnership with the
Mr. Dewar: Mr. Speaker, since it is clear from the correspondence that the minister was aware that the federal government was pulling out of negotiations for the forensic unit at Selkirk, will he tell this House why he misrepresented the status of those negotiations when I raised this issue last December?
Point of Order
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, I would ask you to call the member to order in his question. He makes the fact or he tries to make the point that, indeed, a member of this government has misrepresented other members of this House. That is a very serious allegation and charge, and I would ask the member to either prove it or to withdraw it categorically and very quickly. Indeed all members of this House are to treat the actions and the words of other members in a very courteous fashion.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. The honourable government House leader does not have a point of order. The word quite clearly is ruled in Beauchesne as parliamentary. The honourable member did not say deliberate.
* * *
Orchard: Mr. Speaker, I simply want
to say to my honourable friend the member for Selkirk that he ought to be a
little more careful in his accusations in this House. It does not do his constituents very proud
when their member is not being exactly honest.
I would not say deliberately dishonest, because that would contravene
the rules. I simply want to tell my
honourable friend that this government is pursuing the federal government for a
commitment to high‑security forensic facilities in the
I will repeat my answer for my honourable friend so he has it perfectly clear, Mr. Speaker, that we have not received a commitment from the federal government to participate, nor have we had the federal government say to us, no, we will not participate.
I am not willing to give up, as my honourable friend would appear to be, in pursuing the federal government, because I think they will understand their obligation. I believe we might have some success persuading them to be an investor in this program that is in part mandated because of federal statute.
Mr. Dewar: I would like to table a letter, Mr. Speaker, from M.J. Duggan which clearly states, and I quote‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mr. Dewar: Will the minister tell us why it took him over three months to respond to the federal government's letter, which indicates that they will not participate in the cost‑shared agreement?
Mr. Orchard: Mr. Speaker, I cannot apologize for federal government tardiness in decision making, but we are going right to the federal minister, because this may ultimately end up being a federal cabinet decision.
That is why I say to my honourable friend, I have not given up, as the New Democrats have, in achieving some participation by the federal government. When I get a definitive answer, not from a bureaucrat but from the minister responsible, I will then come to this House and say, the federal government will not be a partner. I am not able to say that, because I believe that the federal cabinet may wish to be partners in this arrangement.
Student Appeal Process
Mrs. Sharon Carstairs (Leader of the Second Opposition): Mr. Speaker, due process is a cherished part of our freedoms, due process in our courts. It would seem that it would be equally appropriate that there should be due process in our community colleges.
Will the Minister of Education tell this House why students who appeal before the student and faculty appeal board are not allowed to be present when evidence presented against them is being given?
Hon. Rosemary Vodrey (Minister of Education and Training): Mr. Speaker, I take the question of the member very seriously. I will look into the process at the community colleges, the process of appeal. I will bring the information back to the House.
Mrs. Carstairs: Mr. Speaker, I do recognize that this is a very new and inexperienced minister. However, this case has been before her for 48 hours.
I want to know why, when at the
Some Honourable Members: Oh, oh.
Mr. Speaker: Order, please.
Mrs. Carstairs: Mr. Speaker, we are speaking about a young woman who has been denied access to the continuation of her academic program. The minister has known about this for 48 hours.
I want to know why this young woman cannot hear the tapes of evidence presented against her in her appeals process.
Mrs. Vodrey: Mr. Speaker, it is a very serious matter. As I said to the member, I will look into it and I will look into the time frame also. Anxieties of young people are of great concern to me also.
Mrs. Carstairs: Mr. Speaker, at the University of
Will I now get an agreement from the minister that she will insist that the community colleges bring their appeal processes into line with due process granted at our universities?
Mrs. Vodrey: Mr. Speaker, I will look into the process
currently used at
Mr. Leonard Evans (Brandon East): Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard).
Because of insufficient funding by this government,
Will the minister review the budget of the
Donald Orchard (Minister of Health):
I am intrigued by my honourable friend's 180‑degree difference
from government to opposition on the issue of
Let me deal with the issue that my
honourable friend is now trying to allege is caused by cutbacks in the
government. There has been increased
funding in health care every single budget. In
An 18‑month survey in
Now, Mr. Speaker, my honourable friend cannot say one thing while his critic suggests another.
Mr. Speaker: The time for Oral Questions has expired.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Hon. Clayton Manness (Government House Leader): Mr. Speaker, will you call debate on second readings, the bills as listed on the Order Paper.
DEBATE ON SECOND
Mr. Speaker: On the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Culture, Heritage, and Citizenship (Mrs. Mitchelson) Bill 5, The Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur le Conseil consultatif manitobain de la situation de la femme, standing in the name of the honourable member for Thompson.
Mr. Steve Ashton (Thompson): Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak on this particular bill because I feel it is important. A bill such as this, particularly as we begin the discussion bills in this session to ensure that we have a good debate on matters such as this that impact on the women of this province, I think it important in doing so to recognize that essentially the basic principle that is being addressed here in this particular bill goes beyond simply the change of a name, but deals with the status of women in this province, and how we deal with so‑called women's issues, and indeed what direction we should be proceeding with, whether it be in terms of what is currently known as the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women, and indeed what direction we should all be looking at as a Legislature in terms of the status of women in this province.
I would begin by indicating that you may have noticed, Mr. Speaker, that I was somewhat hesitant to talk about strictly women's issues, because I think in many ways it is a misnomer to refer to issues with regard to the quality, whether it be in terms of economic equality, social equality, or quality in terms of health care in this province. To talk about them as being women's issues without referring them to what I think is probably a better term that indeed is currently reflected in the current title of the advisory council, and that is they are status of women's issues. They are issues that affect all of us, that we should all be concerned with.
They are issues that should have no gender in terms of concern or discussion or debate. Indeed, they are issues that affect the status of women. I think there is a major distinction that has to be made. In fact, I find it ironic that the minister herself in her opening comments just yesterday essentially reflected that sort of sense when she said that many so‑called women's issues are of concern to us all, and I think by implication indicated that they are status of women's issues.
Indeed, I think it is ironic because essentially what this bill does in changing the name is twofold. One is to deal with the fact that there are two organizations in this province that have an identical acronym, MACSW. There is the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, and the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women. Indeed, I think most members of this Legislature are aware of the differences between those two organizations, very major differences.
The Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, Mr. Speaker, is an independent organization that has its own membership base, that has chapters throughout this province. I know they are very active in every part of this, and indeed the minister says that the MACSW has recognized the fact that we have similar acronyms and indeed there should be a change in terms of the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women, to avoid that confusion in terms of acronyms. Indeed, that may be a legitimate argument that the minister is putting forward, in terms of that confusion, and the need to look for another way of expressing that.
I must indicate that there are many in our caucus who have a concern about the particular, not acronym, but the name that is being adopted as a replacement because we feel that the important thing is not so much the acronyms per se, but what the name of this particular advisory council, established in legislation in this province, what it reflects, what it represents, and what it communicates, particularly to the women of this province, but also to the general population, about its role.
Indeed, the mandate is not changed by this bill, but the name is changed quite significantly‑‑quite significantly. I think it is important for the minister to recognize the kind of debate I think we should have over the particular name that is being suggested as being appropriate: The Manitoba Women's Advisory Council. The concern that I have‑‑as I said before, recognizing the specific focus that needs to be attached by using, I think, the term, status of women issues‑‑is the fact that the new name that is being proposed by the minister is: The Manitoba Women's Advisory Council.
"Manitoba Women's Advisory Council," that is the change that takes place in this particular bill. I believe that the concern that will be expressed, indeed by a number of speakers in this House, is the fact that it does not adequately reflect the particular focus on status of women's issues. Not that they are women's issues in the general sense. They are obviously of concern to all of us, but they affect the role, the status, of women, the degree of equality women have achieved in this province. That is very specific to the focus of The Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women as it is currently constructed and would still be constructed under this bill.
That is indeed why a number of our speakers today will be expressing concern about that, and will be looking forward to the committee hearings, to hear from, indeed, women in particular, but from the population of Manitoba in general, about this particular bill. I think it is important to reference as well, because I think if one looks at the comments made by the minister, her intention, it appears, is obviously not to affect the current mandate of the advisory council. She talked about issues, in fact referenced that, as I mentioned earlier, that all issues are women's issues are everybody's issues.
Indeed, but if one looks at even what she herself has said, she then immediately reflects in her comments yesterday the fact that we are dealing in particular with status of women issues, status of society, whether it be in terms of the Constitution, for example, the constitutional debates, indeed the advice of the advisory council would be provided and, whether it be in other areas, and she referenced these specifically.
(Madam Deputy Speaker in the Chair)
I want to reference her comments in terms of substance abuse, public information for social allowance recipients, gun control, the economy, single‑parent families, these indeed also being issues being addressed by the advisory council, indeed issues that the government should be receiving advice on. She referenced the important role of the advisory council in dealing with issues of concern to rural, northern and Native women, obviously fairly important.
We also had comments from the Liberal Leader (Mrs. Carstairs) following the minister's comments, also reflecting many of the same sorts of concerns. In fact the Liberal Leader followed on from the comments of the minister and referenced some of the current discussions involving the Charter of Rights, the Canadian Constitution.
All areas once again, the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women has been involved with and should be involved with in providing advice not only to this government, but to all members of this House.
I want to stress that we are in a very crucial time. That is why, perhaps, we on this side will be taking some time in the second reading stage of this, when we are dealing with the principle of this bill, to address this bill and the general situation and the kind of advice that we are looking for from the Advisory Council on the Status of Women, because we live in critical times.
The Constitution, as was referenced by the minister, is obviously going to be a major matter of public debate. It is currently going before the House of Commons, a special committee on the Constitution. We are anticipating, I believe, anybody who is following the debate, some significant changes to the proposals the federal government has put forward.
We have had a process in this province of an all‑party committee that has dealt with the more general approach in terms of constitutional matters, that has referenced many of the concerns that have been expressed by Manitobans and were outlined in the various public hearings that took place across this province.
In fact, we are in the unique position of having an all‑party agreement on the basic principles involving the Constitution, but there is a particular role in terms of women's issues, status of women issues.
There is a particular role for the advisory council in this particular area because, if one only looks back on the Meech Lake debate, I think one will have to recognize what happened in that particular case. In that case, there was no opportunity for the kind of input we have seen in this round of constitutional discussions.
There was a package that was developed by ten Premiers and the Prime Minister with the best of intentions, no doubt, for what they thought was in the best interest of the country and indeed in some ways may have had some beneficial features and some obvious weaknesses.
It was not a process that was open. It was a process that had no role for involvement of aboriginal people. It had no role for the involvement of women in the process, and it was a process that said, take it or leave it, there is no opportunity for change until, lo and behold, a few days before, a few weeks before, we saw there was the possibility for change.
Once again, it was not because of the input of women, or aboriginal people, or the many Manitobans, the many people who had expressed concern about the Constitution up to that point. It was because of the political pressures, the political pressures from a number of provinces that those changes were made.
Madam Deputy Speaker, the rest was history‑‑the
role that Elijah Harper and aboriginal people played in saying that they would
no longer be left out of the process, but it is important to reflect what
happened as well, because there was a unique coalition on the Constitution at
that time that indeed involved aboriginal people, but also involved many
concerned women. I believe if one was to
Indeed, Madam Deputy Speaker, we see this
time around there is a different process, but some of the same types of
concerns are being expressed. A
different process, indeed, because I believe the constitutional package put
forward by the federal government has so many weaknesses, has had so many
unwanted and unnecessary items that there is recognition and has been from the
very day that it was released that there has to be change. There is room for change, and indeed there
has to be major change to the package if it is to have any opportunity of
receiving any type of support from separate provincial governments or, indeed,
from the people, most importantly, in this province. That is why I would note the activity of
women, again, in this particular area, particularly in
If one looked at the constitutional
conferences that took place, I think you will find there were a number of
Indeed, if it was not for the combined action of lobby groups, if you want to use that word, of action groups such as the Manitoba action group on the Status of Women, or indeed many of the advisory councils that also in 1982 said that women could not be left out, that equality rights could not be sacrificed, Madam Deputy Speaker, we would not have seen those changes.
I would suggest to you as well, in this round of constitutional changes and of discussions, that if we do not have the same type of input from the Action Committee on the Status of Women, from the advisory councils‑‑indeed we are not unique, there are other advisory councils; there was a federal advisory council‑‑that we would not see those types of opportunities in this round for absolute protection. No package of constitutional reform can be appropriate unless there is absolute protection of the fundamental equality rights of women. There can be no ifs, no ands, no buts.
In fact, I would suggest in this round of discussions the consensus seems to be moving far more towards that being the case. That is why‑‑and I mentioned before the fact that these are uniquely status of women issues. That is exactly why I believe the Liberal Leader (Mrs. Carstairs) yesterday referenced the fact that perhaps many men‑‑she used the example of the white Anglo‑Saxon Protestant male‑‑and I am not looking to the former Minister of Energy and Mines here.
I am not continuing with that discussion in terms of multicultural funding, but the Liberal Leader (Mrs. Carstairs) referenced the fact that‑‑[interjection] I am talking about the Liberal Leader's comments here, but many people who might fall into that category and who for many years have had greater access to power in this country and, to the exclusion of many groups, including women, have not had those same concerns, obviously, because the fundamental role of the equality rights provisions of the Constitution is to ensure equality for all whether they have access now to the levers of power, to the corridors of power and Legislatures and Parliaments or the access to the board rooms where the decisions are made that affect the population.
I say that for now, Madam Deputy Speaker, because I look forward to the day when there will be greater equality in those areas as well in our Parliaments, and in our Legislatures, in the board rooms, in our communities, because that is when the true status of equality can be achieved when it is not simply a matter of legislation, when it is not simply something that is expressed in a constitution, but when it is the reality.
In fact, I remarked the other day that the ironic thing in this Legislature is the only place we find gender parity is in the many murals, the many paintings we have on the wall. In fact, there are far more women represented in those panels, Madam Deputy Speaker, than there are men. In fact, it is almost the complete reverse of the Chamber. While the member opposite, the member for Rossmere (Mr. Neufeld) suggests changing the pictures, well, I would suggest changing the composition of the Legislature and we can worry about the pictures afterwards and I think that is what women are more and more expressing, is a need for equality in this Chamber.
I want to suggest to the minister that that is why it is so important to maintain the integrity of the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women‑‑and maintain its clear position in Manitoba political process‑‑because it is not, I would suggest, accurate to call the current Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women, it would not be accurate to describe it as a Manitoba women's advisory council. An advisory council on what? On milk prices? On which highways we should build? Madam Deputy Speaker, it is not an advisory council on a general range of issues; it is a particular advisory council on the status of women and that involves issues throughout our society.
I am not saying that it should be a restricted role. In many ways it is a role for the advisory council itself, with its mandate from the Legislature to reflect. The bottom line is that there is greater recognition of the role of women in society generally to the point where many issues, perhaps, might not have been considered status of women issues a number of years ago are currently considered to be of that case.
It is not a general advisory council. It is not just an advisory council that is there and is composed of women, so therefore it is a women's advisory council. That is not the point. It is a specific body that is there to advise this government on the status of women's issues. Why would we, in the New Democratic Party, at the risk of being seen as quibbling over names, express a concern?
It is because this government needs advice on the status of women's issues. This government needs serious advice on the status of women's issues, because in this province, since this government has taken office, in terms of many key areas, we have seen this government slow to a halt, to the point of actually stopping any progress, and in some cases of regressing in terms of the status of women's issues, the same types of issues that the minister said this government needs the advice of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women now.
Need I refer to pay equity?
An Honourable Member: No.
Mr. Ashton: Well, indeed, I know for the minister responsible for Natural Resources (Mr. Enns), I need not refer to pay equity for that minister. I assume he is aware of just how this government has come to the point where it is not living up to the spirit of the current act.
Not only has it not moved into the private sector, but it has not lived up to its responsibility, I believe, its moral, ethical responsibility to reflect the true intentions of The Pay Equity Act. I need only look to the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard), and the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) need only look to the actions of the Minister of Health to see exactly what has happened in the province.
That is an area, a key area where this advisory council provides advice; a key area that the minister herself referred to in her comments as being areas that the government should be looking at. Pay equity: pay equity in the private sector and pay equity in the public sector. There are serious questions I think that can be raised about affirmative action as it affects women in this province.
In fact there are some specific personnel decisions that we will be referring to when we have the opportunity, which would not be in order, I realize, in this particular debate, but where we question that and some of the changes that have been made by this government. Where we question, indeed, whether it is turning a deaf ear to the concerns that have been expressed by women and even, yes, by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
We are seeing in other areas, as well, I think, that the government is unwilling or unable to make the major changes necessary. We have seen many justice‑related issues. Indeed, while, there has been some change, I believe that this government usually, unfortunately, has to be dragged kicking and screaming into these particular things, the kind of actions they have been taking. Once again, that is why you need an advisory council, to be able to drag governments, to be able to influence governments, to be able to push them and to have that legitimacy of being a body established by a legislation, one with a clear mandate that cannot be ignored in this House, that cannot be ignored by this government. There are many, many other areas as well that I think this government has failed in terms of dealing with the status of women's concerns.
Poverty issues, which are fundamentally issues that affect the status of women in this province, because as the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer) I believe knows, the vast majority of people living under the poverty line are women, many of them elderly women, the many single‑parent families indeed, and there is the desperate need in this country to deal with that kind of poverty. The kind of poverty that is only being exacerbated now by the recession and by governments that, instead of acting, are now mouthing the words, but are also cutting back on programs, are making it more and more difficult for women in particular to break out of the cycle of poverty.
I look at some of the cuts that have taken place in education and training. In my own area, as an example, I look at some of the major gaps that are developing in terms of social allowances. I look with despair at the number of women, the single‑parent women, that I have had contact me on a constituency basis who are basically, because of the way the social allowance system has been structured, now dropping out of school because they can receive no assistance if they do so and actually are better off if they are on welfare. In fact, the only way they can guarantee support for their families, for their children, is to be on welfare rather than to be improving their education and hopefully‑‑and that is what they are expressing to me‑‑being able to break out of the cycle of poverty.
There are so many areas where governments increasingly, in this particular field, are learning the terminology, but are not learning the lesson, that are saying the right words, Madam Deputy Speaker, but are not responding with the right actions.
The member for Brandon West (Mr. McCrae)
asked if there were going to be pay equity police in this province. Who can forget that? I am sure the member for
They quietly allowed it to pass through, so they could claim in later years they actually supported the bill, but we remember the comments that were made. They reflected a complete ignorance of the bill itself, the concept of pay equity, and what it was intended to achieve within this province, not a system of pay equity police, but indeed a system of pay equity that will develop and indeed will develop to the point where the kind of system that is put in place will be second nature.
I am once again not referring to the member for Rossmere (Mr. Neufeld), although I know he has his views on pay equity.
An Honourable Member: Define it.
Mr. Ashton: The member says to define it. It is defined in the act. There are many schemes, and I see that the minister is hopefully advising the member for Rossmere (Mr. Neufeld), perhaps educating him on pay equity, and I appreciate the task ahead of him.
My apologies, Madam Deputy Speaker, I was referring to the minister's comments in terms of pay equity which were made specifically in her speech. I wanted to reflect again on the fact that simply passing something, simply giving something a name, simply even putting a mechanism in place does not achieve the goal if the fundamental spirit is not recognized.
Indeed, in terms of pay equity, I believe this government has failed to implement the true spirit of pay equity in this province and indeed wherever possible has tried to use arguments, legalistic arguments, that in many cases are even flawed in and of themselves to hinder the expansion of pay equity in this province as indeed has been indicated by the minister involved.
That is why we need the advisory council
with a clear mandate and a clear identity with the public of
My concern is that people hearing "the Manitoba Women's Advisory Council" will assume it is a new body, first of all, not the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. They will be confused as to its very deliberate and focused mandate, and they will not take into account the type of advice on status of women's issues that have been made in the past years and have been very useful in the public debate.
The minister should not‑‑[interjection] Well, the minister, I think, should understand that we are expressing a concern about the second step. The first step the minister is proposing is to get rid of the current name. That is what this bill has achieved. It is important to note, Madam Deputy Speaker, the minister attempted to do it previously under a bill last year, Statute of Law Amendments, which brings together a whole series of matters that are considered of a technical nature. That is what we are saying. That is only the first step.
The second concern that has to be addressed is the specific title of the new organization, the new advisory council as it is established. We are not disputing the fact that many women's organizations have said, yes, change the name. What we want is for the government to look very seriously at the name that has been adopted. That is why we will be asking‑‑and there have been discussions between House leaders in terms of the committee hearings.
We want this bill to be able to go to committee prior to the normal situation where we finish probably 90 percent of the committee hearings on bills in the last week or two of the Manitoba Legislature sitting. We want to see this go. We have suggested, and the House leader has indicated, that there will be no difficulty if this bill is passed through and having it go to committee not the following week, but perhaps the week after, to give enough notice so that women in particular and other members of the public are aware of when it is going to be sitting, and at the same time not to drag this matter, not to have too great a gap between the time in which we consider it in debate and these ideas are proposed and the time we actually deal with it in committee.
I think that is important, because what we will be looking for from the committee hearings is response, not just to the idea of changing the name, but also indeed to what particular name it should reflect and if this government is either‑‑and I do not believe they are deliberately trying to shift the mandate. I take the minister at her word. I believe that there is no intent on the part of this government to shift the mandate. There may be some disagreement amongst some on that.
Indeed, Madam Deputy Speaker, perhaps the minister in her heart of hearts knows, as in my heart I know, that this government needs all the advice it can get on status of women's issues. I think what we will be looking for is some advice, particularly from women who have been involved in the struggle for equality for women, have been involved with other organizations as to whether this change of name is appropriate, as to whether in fact there may be some changes to the mandate that might strengthen the advisory council, something the minister has not really considered in this particular bill. That is something that we may wish to look at. I would suggest that it would perhaps be appropriate, given the critical nature of equality issues and the fact that many cases, despite the fact we all now adopt the terminology.
We no longer use sexist terms the same way that we did previously, but we see the status of women in terms of any indication, whether it be in terms of poverty or the wages women receive, have essentially remained fairly static the last number of years. I believe that is very much because of recession, cutbacks and the kind of economic environment that we are seeing words not action.
I am hoping the minister will be open to advice from groups as well as to the mandate of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women that may indeed be open for expansion. I am sure, Madam Deputy Speaker, that if this bill does go to committee in the next number of weeks, the minister will be receiving feedback from women about some of her comments about some of the issues that have been raised and indeed some of her comments about the government's response on those issues. I indeed would fully expect women to use the opportunity of the committee hearings to not just talk about the mandate, but also the agenda that should be followed by the Advisory Council on the Status of Women and indeed this government, recognizing the more limited focus that we have available to us in this committee.
I have responded only to some of the
comments that were raised and expressed those general concerns. I want to indicate that we do have a number
of other speakers, and indeed we are looking at passing it through to
committee. That is on the undertaking,
and I accept the word of the government House leader that the committee
hearings will be structured in consultation with opposition parties in such a
way as to allow for the fullest possible participation of the
The key thing I want to stress in
conclusion is, this is not simply a question of semantics. This is not just a question of a name. When one is dealing with an area of
fundamental importance, such as status of women's issues, one has to be very,
very careful, Madam Deputy Speaker, about any change to a body such as the
advisory council, which I feel is an excellent, excellent asset for the
Mr. Jack Reimer (Niakwa): Madam Deputy Speaker, I am very pleased this afternoon to speak in support of Bill 5, which is The Manitoba Advisory Council on The Status of Women Amendment Act. I would like to point out that, as was alluded to initially when the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) first got up, what it is in essence is a name change, a name change only in the fact that the Manitoba Women's Advisory Council is looking for change because of the fact that it shares the same acronym, MACSW, which is the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women and also the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women.
What has happened in the last while is there has been quite a bit of confusion as to who and what does what. When people are phoning or people are questioning the two organizations, it is just a matter of confusion. What the minister has brought forth is strictly a name change. The mandate remains the same. The confusion that has come about is because of the fact that women's issues, as have been pointed out, are playing more and more of a central role in focus because of the fact that there has been a significant increase not only in the amount of problems or unfortunate attacks or violence that have come forth with women. There needs to be a recognition that women are in a position that they have to come to various organizations for strength, for support, for the initiative that has to come forth back to government.
Government acts on advice and consultation with various groups. One of the groups is the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women. It is playing more and more of an important role and, as has been pointed out by the member, the fact is that here in this Legislature women are becoming more involved, more active, more in a position to make changes, and these are very, very positive and very strong initiatives, not only for this government, but for all parties.
As each party welcomes women into their
ranks, if you want to call it, they each bring in a different perspective which
is valuable not only for the party, not only for the government, but also for
There are a number of other groups that have come out in strong support for this name change because, if anything, if there is a clear definition of purpose, it makes all groups work in more harmony, and they can complement and contribute to each other and try to bring forth suggestions, bring forth legislation, bring forth change and bring forth a perspective that is needed for all parties to address the very serious concerns.
Women's problems are not isolated in the sense that they are gender related. Problems that affect women are problems that also affect all mankind, if you want to call it. They are economic problems, and they are problems that should be addressed in different venues.
The responsibilities of addressing the problems are becoming more and more evident. It is very, very unfortunate that from time to time here at the Legislature and on the Legislative Grounds we see a circle of women out in front, and I have participated in some of these vigils for the women who have been slain because of their partners or because of violent situations.
The comments that are made in the circles from the people who participate are becoming unfortunately very, very common. I do not say that in any type of derogatory manner. It is just that the circles are becoming more common out in front.
We are becoming a violent society in a sense that there is violence that is being perpetrated towards women, and the fact is that the vigils bring forth the recognition of it; the fact is that the people who participate on it and with it, you become familiar, you become close to them in a sense that they are sharing a common despair. It is unfortunate that we have to do these circles. It is unfortunate that they, like I say, are becoming common because they should not happen at all.
The efforts that are mentioned in the circle, the women that I talk to and the men‑‑there are men there, too. It is something that is attended by both women and men. I think the understanding that comes out of it from time to time is that there has to be an awareness, there has to be a conscious effort put forth that any type of violence, whether it be against women, children or against their fellow person, has to stop.
The vigils are bringing forth a lot of public awareness, public presence. Hopefully, when it comes back up the steps from the Legislature into this Chamber, we can address these problems.
One of the things that does happen is, because the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women is here for us to listen to, there is a vehicle, there is a funnel, there is a voice that can come forth to this Chamber, through all parties, and that the programs or concerns can be met or can be addressed in a sense.
It is an ongoing problem. The status of women is something that is not there for just today. It is a concern that will grow. It will grow with this government. It will grow with the involvement. It will grow with the members. It is something that is not static in a sense that what is done today is necessarily going to be the cure‑all and end‑all for all times. We must be constantly aware of how we can change and how we can become better to our fellow persons and our fellow mates, if you would like to call it, and our interaction with all people. It is a vehicle that is of strong support for information.
The minister is bringing forth the legislation for a name change only. It is not a change of direction. It is a positive change in a sense that it brings a clear vision not only for the minister, but for all legislators, that the group is indeed concerned about the concerns of women. It is not something that is brought forth in any way to redirect or to bring changes.
All areas of government and the attitude of government has to change. We look, from time to time, back as to what has come to the House before and who was sitting in the House before, and we look not only back at the present government, but we look at the government before and how attitudes have changed and the fact that people must be aware of what has been before us in other legislation. We are reminded of attitude change when we look back to some of the previous ministers in the NDP government and some of the positions or some of the comments that were made by the previous NDP.
I am reminded of a very explosive issue with the NDP back in 1983 when the then minister of the government, Andy Anstett, who was the municipal affairs minister, at the convention of the Manitoba Association of Urban Municipalities told a joke, a very sexist joke, which created a lot of animosity and a lot of furor in the NDP where he told this sexist joke. The NDP government at the time was very embarrassed about it. In fact, the then deputy, Muriel Smith, even mentioned that it‑‑and I quote: It takes a long time to sensitize all our male friends to women's issues.
She was referring to her own male colleagues in her cabinet. It just goes to show that though there was the‑‑[interjection] that is right‑‑fact that the previous speaker was talking that for some reason it is falling back on this government that we are trying to change attitude. The attitude at that time in the previous government was noted in the fact that even the deputy minister, as I mentioned, Muriel Smith, had to chastise her own male colleagues in cabinet as to their attitude and the direction that they were taking.
So it is something that all parties must work for. I think that the member for Burrows in fact at that time, back in 1983, and I will quote, and this is from 1983, as I mentioned: Honour is like a woman's virginity. Once you have lost it once, you cannot regain it anymore.
This is the member for Burrows in Hansard. I mean, that type of attitude is something that is still in the caucus, it is still in the minds of the New Democrats where it is some sort of common occurrence with this type of attitude, and I think that we have to‑‑we cannot allow that type of attitude. It is an attitude of just bringing forth very little concern. Women are very important. We have their contribution in our caucus, which is a very strong contribution, and we believe that the female members of cabinet and the female members of our caucus come forth as very strong representatives. They are equal in our caucus. I believe that they are equal in our cabinet, and this is the type of attitude that prevails to make good legislation and bring forth the right type of attitude.
I think that, as was mentioned by the member for Burrows‑‑there are other quotes there too. I do not know whether the members would like to hear them, but some of them are, you know, quite sexist, and‑‑
An Honourable Member: I want to hear them.
Mr. Reimer: Would you? Well, I mean, after that he continued to say, when I talk about virginity, I also talk about the man, because a man can also lose his virginity at the instigation of an older woman. You know, so, I mean, that type‑‑the attitude of what women do and how they can‑‑this is not something that should be taken lightly.
An Honourable Member: And the NDP has never denied that is their official position?
Mr. Reimer: Well, I believe that‑‑but at this time, he is the‑‑did I say the member for Burrows? I believe it is the member for Broadway. Pardon me, the member for Broadway. I certainly would not want to besmirch the minister of the cloth from Broadway, you see‑‑the member for Burrows, I mean the member for Broadway. I have just got to just bring that back into Hansard and make sure that is correct. I have not heard any type of denial from the New Democratic Party as to their various positions on it.
Talking again back on the bill, we have to bring it back into the context of why it was introduced and the fact that it is a name change, a name change only. The perception that because of a name change that there is some sort of ulterior motive that the minister is trying to bring forth just seems to be really stretching a fine point because of the fact that there are other groups that are totally in agreement with it.
Some of the groups that have come forth and said that they would like to see the name change, and I will just quote them: the Manitoba Women's Institute; The Provincial Council of Women; the North End Women's Centre; Fort Garry Women's Resource Centre; the original Women's Network; the Aboriginal Women's Unity Coalition; and The Canadian Congress of Learning Opportunities for Women. These groups here are recognizing the fact that the name change is proper and it should be there, because it creates a simplicity of who is there to speak for them.
I have had the opportunity to be at the North End Women's Centre, and I have got to say that that is a very innovative and very progressive and aggressive organization. I had the opportunity to tour that with the minister on an invitation, and the dedication, the hard work, and the involvement of the women of that organization shows a very strong pride, a very strong involvement with the community, and the fact that they have come forth with very positive results. They have come forth with a feeling of sharing and contribution to the community and it is an ongoing program.
I believe that one of the people involved with that centre with whom I have had the opportunity to have a conversation is Winnie Giesbrecht. She is a very astute and a very strong proponent in the North End Women's Centre and we have had some very interesting conversations as to the directions and some of the programs and events that she is involved with. So there are more and more of the avenues available for the women to come forth and to bring their issues.
I think that this government and this minister in bringing forth The Status of Women Amendment Act to change the name is going to make it even more available for all groups, not only the groups that I have mentioned, but other groups that will be aware of the fact that their voices are heard. There is a vehicle for them to come and bring their concerns. The name change, as mentioned, would create the difference because of the acronym.
As I pointed out, the two groups that are having the problem is the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women and the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women. In fact, if you do not actually look at the words closely, they automatically confuse themselves in the way you pronounce them. I can see where there is a lot of mail that is misdirected, a lot of phone calls that are misdirected, and every one of those misdirections takes time.
A phone call that is possibly of a very urgent matter and a very pressing matter because of an unfortunate situation becomes caught up in the milieu, if you want to call it, of whom you are trying call and whom you are working with or whom you were talking to before. The whole program becomes very confusing. Mail delivery when mail is opened or mail is sent to the wrong group can cause problems because of the fact that the letter may get opened. One may feel that there is someone in that organization that was to address the problem and they may not be totally aware of it, whereas actually it was supposed to go to the other group.
These are some of the things that you have to correct in dealing with the avenues of communication. Anything that delays time or adds time can be very vital in trying to bring forth the solution to the problem. Unfortunately, a lot of the problems that come forth through the Status of Women and various organizations are on a crisis basis or on a very need‑to‑do time frame.
The longer the time range is, the more the problem will compound itself and possibly even lead to, unfortunately, sometimes to violent situations or very unpleasant circumstances. It is mainly because of, or possibly because of, lack of direction or confusion because of the direction of who and what is to be addressed.
Madame Deputy Speaker, I just would like to get those views on the record as to why this was brought forth. It was brought forth not only by the minister, but by groups that were wanting the change. It is not a change for the sake of change, to incorporate new direction or new mandate. It is a change that was brought forth‑‑I believe it was supported by the Liberal members in the Law Amendments when it was brought forth. At that time it was defeated by the NDP.
The committee that was formed to study it
during the last session agreed that it should be changed. The Liberal members at that time agreed it
should be changed. The government
decided it should be changed. However,
it was not given agreement because of the New Democratic members on that
committee at that time. I believe that
the member for
Madam Deputy Speaker, I will close with those remarks. Thank you very much.
Not only is this a bill of some significance, it is also another bill where one can clearly see the divisions in this Chamber and clearly see where the Liberals in this House fall on critical issues dealing with women and women's equality.
Once again the Liberals in this Chamber have lined up with the Conservative government to go hand in hand, support them every step of the way in bringing forward a change that does matter, that does have repercussions, that does make a difference in our struggle for true equality between women and men in our society today.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I would like to just go over a bit of the history of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women with members in this Chamber, some history that may help both members of the government and members of the Liberal Party understand the significance of the name of this organization and how it is linked to its mandate and purpose and role.
I take some interest in this matter, because it was in fact under my ministry as Minister responsible for the Status of Women in 1987 that this legislation to establish the Manitoba Council on the Status of Women was introduced and became law. It has been part of the tradition, history and philosophy of the New Democratic Party, unlike the other two parties, to clearly identify the need for a body within government that has the mandate, the teeth and the power to work toward greater equality within government and outside government.
Our battles over the years, our efforts to address equality for women have gone hand in hand with such organizations as the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women. It is that determination to be forever steadfast in the struggle to obtain true equality between women and men that this legislation first came into being, was first introduced in this Chamber. It clearly spells out a very specific mandate that goes hand in hand with the title of the organization. A mandate that says women and men should have equal rights, opportunities and responsibilities to enable them to develop their talents and capabilities for their personal fulfillment and the benefit of society.
Further, Madam Deputy Speaker, the mandate as established by law and entrenched in legislation further says that this Legislative Assembly believes that changes in social, legal and economic structures that would make possible full equality and promote free access without discrimination of any kind to women, to all types of social and economic development, and to all types of education, should be promoted by the government of Manitoba.
That is a very specific mandate, and it is a very radical mandate. It calls on all of us to work to change structural barriers, systemic obstacles to women's inequality. Part of that struggle and part of that obligation is tied up in the name. The name, the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women signifies clearly that we are talking about an organization appointed by government to work with government to redress inequalities in our society, to work on status of women issues. Not a council of women per se, not a council on any matter whatsoever that government chooses should be dealt with by such a body, but a council on the status of women. That, Madam Deputy Speaker, is very important. It was important back in 1987 when this legislation first was introduced, and it is as important today.
It may not be important to the government of the day, that clearly has a different agenda when it comes to women's equality, and it may not matter to the Liberal Party in this Chamber that clearly has another agenda when it comes to women's equality, but it matters to women in this province; it matters to the New Democratic Party in this province; it matters to women everywhere who are concerned deeply about redressing inequalities in a meaningful, real, substantial way.
We have heard some different messages from the government today and over the past number of months. The member for Niakwa (Mr. Reimer) has said this is an important change, but it does help in terms of the minister clarifying her vision and where this government intends to go.
We have heard from others who have said, this is not important, this is just a small little change to deal with a matter of confusion. I go back to the debate that we had, albeit brief, in July of 1991, when this matter was brought by the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) to the Statute Law Amendments Committee, she said at that time, I do not think a name really makes a difference. I do not think a name really makes a difference.
Let me also indicate while I have this
document in front of me, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the Liberal Party
represented by the member for
Well, I am here today, Madam Deputy Speaker,
speaking on this Bill 5 to say a name makes a difference, and I hope that the
Madam Deputy Speaker, when an individual in this House, as I have seen happen before, makes his fingers into the form of a gun and shoots at a person, that is considered offensive and not permissible in this Chamber. When a member in this House, in any House, refers to another member in a most derogatory manner, that is considered unparliamentary and called to order. I think if anything brings that home and tells members in this House the importance of a name, let us stop and think about the public uproar when Sheila Copps in the federal House of Commons was called a slut.
I do not think there is a member in this House that would have condoned that kind of behaviour and said let us leave it alone. What is in a name? So what, it does not mean anything. We all know that we are all treated equally, so let us not get too excited about it. I know that members opposite get a bit like that when we on this side of the House suggest that there is importance attached to phraseology and terminology and symbolism. Madam Deputy Speaker, words matter. Symbolism is important, and they do signal something far beyond the particular word or that particular gesture. They indicate and reflect upon one's philosophy and one's agenda.
In that debate back in July of 1991 when
the minister first brought this matter to the committee of this Chamber, there
was also a reaction from the Minister of Justice (Mr. McCrae). He suggested, like the member for
Well, is it not interesting, Madam Deputy Speaker, that that Minister of Justice feels that symbolism and words are so important that he is pursuing as far as he can the comments made by Judge Allen, the sexist comments which suggested that sometimes all a woman needs is a slap. I think if the Minister of Justice feels strongly about those words and that individual and is prepared to pursue it, then he should open his eyes and understand the importance of a name pertaining to a body set up to pursue status of women issues, not to be a council of women, not to be a council of government open for pursuing any matter that government chooses, but to be a council dedicated to pursuing equality between women and men, a very specific mandate.
I would think that the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) would have, when she started going down this path of changing legislation, considered the dilemma she found herself in at the start of her term in office back in 1988 when she made a pronouncement about changing the word chairperson to chairman. She will recall a very specific correspondence from the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women, one of the groups she says has supported her change in Bill 5.
The Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women very clearly delineated for this minister that words matter, that symbolism is important. I quote from a letter dated June 28, 1988, signed by Susan Smiel, a member of the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women. She says: While this may seem like a very insignificant detail, those of us who are aware of the importance of language and word usage recognize the significance of this move. Women have fought long and hard in demanding the use of inclusive language. As the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women tell us in their Guidelines for Nonsexist Writing: People in general are not all of the male gender and the usage of generic man, and the vocabulary emanating from it tends to perpetuate the invisibility of women in the social system.
Speaking of the document outlined in this letter, Guidelines for Nonsexist Writing, I want to refer the attention of members opposite, members of the Conservative government, to a document circulated by a former Conservative Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Gerrie Hammond, who circulated to all members in this House a document entitled Guidelines for Nonsexist Writing. She commended that document to all of our caucuses and suggested we apply the guidelines in all of our dealings in and outside of this Chamber.
For very good reason, that document in its introduction says it best: Dear God, wrote a little girl named Sylvia, are boys better than girls? I know you are one, but try to be fair. What would you say to that? Language and concepts go together with the former providing the framework for the latter, thus the process of socialization continues as thoughts and actions are reflected in language which turn conditions how people think and act. It is important to change the pattern to introduce concepts of equality and fairness in our language through the use of nonsexist words.
I could go on, Madam Deputy Speaker, with quotations from that document that was circulated by the Conservative Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Gerrie Hammond. Regrettably that advice was not taken seriously by her own colleagues or by the Liberal Party for that matter and sexist language continues in this Chamber. Women are still faced with the fact that they are not included and cannot feel included in our political institutions of the day.
Madam Deputy Speaker, we all face cultural conditioning in our ranks, and we all must be vigilant in dealing with them. We in the New Democratic Party have devoted years and years to addressing such cultural conditioning, and have never, never professed that we have solved the problem, have achieved the goal and have reached all of our objectives. Our work must continue.
That is why, for example, we continue to
have a special and separate committee within the New Democratic Party dealing
with status of women issues. Let me tie
this all back to the debate we are facing and the agenda of the Conservative government
of the day. Let us note that it is the
Conservative Party of Manitoba and
At best, it would appear that this name change reflects the true agenda of this government when it comes to women's equality. It is tied very much to their absolute refusal to move further on the implementation of pay equity, tied directly to the cutback of their affirmative action co‑ordinator, tied directly to the negative and regressive changes to the daycare system of this province, tied directly to the changes with respect to social assistance provisions, education arrangements, which have benefited women and ensured that there are processes and programs in place to help women deal with structural barriers and systemic obstacles to their true and full and meaningful equality.
What is in a name? If I have not yet made my case perfectly clear, let me then try to make my case by comparing this government's action to every other provincial government in this country, provincial and territorial government. In fact, members in this Conservative government would like to leave the impression that this is a small, insignificant change, means nothing, and is not out of step with other jurisdictions in this country.
Let me go through the names of advisory
Let us compare that proposed change with the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Newfoundland and Labrador; Prince Edward Island Advisory Council on the Status of Women; Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women; New Brunswick Advisory Council on the Status of Women; Conseil du Statut de la Femme pour Quebec; Ontario Advisory Council on Women's Issues; Saskatchewan Advisory Council on the Status of Women; Alberta Advisory Council on Women's Issues; Status of Women Advisory Council of the Northwest Territories; Yukon Advisory Council on Women's Issues. [interjection]
The Minister responsible for the Status of
Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) has asked what B.C. is, and
As members opposite should now realize there were many choices to make, many names to choose from without changing the fundamental concept and philosophy and mandate underpinning the council itself‑‑[interjection] The Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) would like to know what that possibly could be. I would suggest perhaps we could have gone to the Status of Women Advisory Council of Manitoba. I think that would have ended some confusion. It, in fact, would have ended up with an acronym of some meaning and some similarity between the mandate of the council. It would be SWACM‑‑
An Honourable Member: What?
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: SWACM. S‑W‑A‑C‑M. I think that certainly is quite different from MACWI. It should deal with the similarity between the two organizations' names and would not have destroyed the meaning and mandate of this organization and this important advisory council to government.
Madam Deputy Speaker, there are other options. We could have gone the route of a couple of other provinces, the Manitoba Advisory Council on Women's Issues. That certainly would have not lost the meaning of this council.
The Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) is suggesting that we should go with what the women want. She claimed in her remarks yesterday to have consulted widely and won support for this name change to Manitoba Women's Advisory Council.
I wonder if all of those groups that she
referred to in her remarks yesterday and all of those individuals she contacted
really knew the change that she was proposing, the change from an advisory
council on the status of women to one, a council of women for
I wonder, Madam Deputy Speaker, because in fact there is a major shift of emphasis by going in that direction. I would hardly believe that if women in this province knew what this government was proposing and knew what options they had before it in order to deal with the dilemma in terms of similarity of two women's organizations, that they would have been less willing, if they were at all willing, to commit themselves to this proposed change in Bill 5. We shall see. We shall see if there are concerns from women and women's organizations in this province.
I have said that there is much in a name,
that symbolism means a great deal and signals a lot when it comes to the
government of the day's agenda. We have
seen every step of this way under the Conservative government of
I have touched on this in terms of the substantive side of this issue on the regressive moves with respect to pay equity, affirmative action, child care, employment, health, education. In every area, Madam Deputy Speaker, there have been serious, regressive measures taken by this government. On the symbolic side, we have seen many examples of how this government really feels about women's equality. This bill, Bill 5, is the most recent indication of that symbolic backsliding, of that regressive move in terms of women's issues and women's equality.
It follows after a number of other symbolic gestures made by members of the Conservative government. I have referred already to the attempt by this government and members of this government to move from gender‑neutral language to sexist language and to once again bring us back to the days of referring only to chairman instead of chairperson. We have seen the debate when it comes to how women are addressed and choose to be addressed with the clear demarcation made between Liberals and Conservatives and New Democratic Party women in this Chamber.
An Honourable Member: What do you mean?
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Madam Deputy Speaker, let me elaborate for the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs (Mrs. McIntosh). It has been a clear decision on the part of women in the Conservative and Liberal Parties to choose the terminology Mrs. when being addressed in this Chamber or outside this Chamber. It has been a clear and deliberate choice on the part of women on this side of the House to choose the terminology Ms.
I refer the two women in the Chamber who are making so much noise right now to their own document by a former Conservative Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Gerrie Hammond, who clearly indicated when circulating this document that it is in the best interest of women feeling included and moving towards greater equality in our political institutions to use wherever possible gender‑neutral language. [interjection]
Madam Deputy Speaker, the Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs is getting a little excited. Clearly, we have touched a sore spot when it comes to the real intentions of this government around Bill 5. It is a step backward. It is a move to eliminate choice for women. We on this side of the House will defend to the day the right of people to make choices. I have indicated that when one makes choices, one sends messages, just as the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) did when she said the policy from now on would be chairman and not chairperson; just as the Premier (Mr. Filmon) did when he defended the policy of ministers to have functions in clubs that exclude women; just as the minister responsible for Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) does when he stands up, and in a very patronizing way, says "Judy, Judy, Judy."
Hon. Harry Enns (Minister of Natural Resources): Okay, I will just call you Ms. Wasylycia‑Leis from now on, but it takes longer.
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: I am glad the minister is focusing on my surname, because there is a good example of what is in a name, and why I feel strongly and why members on this side feel passionately about names and what they mean and the symbolism around them. My hyphenated name is certainly an example of how strongly I feel and how my husband feels about showing one's feelings about equality in a name, so a name is important.
We could go on with the examples of symbolic gestures, decisions, titles and names that have been used by this Conservative government that have represented a step backward for women.
I would hope that at the end of the day, members across the way and members in the Liberal Party, can begin to see the light of day when it comes to something as significant as the name for a government's advisory council with a very specific mandate to advise government on how to make structural changes on the economic, social, political and educational fronts in order to ensure true equality between women and men.
An Honourable Member: Judy, how are you going to vote on this legislation?
Wasylycia-Leis: The member for
I oppose it for symbolic reasons and on substantive grounds, because one cannot separate the two. One cannot say that they are fully in support of equality between women and men on the one hand and turn around and deny the need to have within government a clear policy on gender neutral language, on organizations mandated to specifically address status of women issues, to convey a message about the struggle facing women in the goal of true equality.
Madam Deputy Speaker, I am quite willing to listen and anxiously await the views of people, men and women, at our committee hearings on Bill 5. I am anxious to be able to hear from members opposite, particularly the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson), why she chose a name that creates a certain impression and sends a signal when there were other choices before her.
The minister has insisted and continues to insist that this is not her choice, that this is not the government's agenda, that she is not responsible for the name change. How often have I heard that from colleagues of hers in this House, particularly the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard), who with every cutback we present to him, every negative decision that we unearth, he claims not to be responsible, that it is someone else's doing and he will have to look into it and see if he can get that changed.
The Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) has introduced this bill. That minister is responsible for this legislation. That minister has brought forward the wishes of a council appointed by this government. Let this minister account for the questions we raise and the issues we bring to her attention and let her, on behalf of all of her colleagues, tell us what is the agenda of this government when it comes to making true advancements on behalf of women, when it comes to extending pay equity into our education system, our municipalities and the private sector.
Let this minister stand in her place and tell us how she will redress and correct the serious erosion that this government has done to our once most prized, valuable daycare program anywhere in this country.
Let the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) account for the growing number of women and children turning to food banks and social assistance lines. Let the Minister responsible for the Status of Women explain to this House the enormous stress and pressures that working women in our society are faced with today as a result of trying to juggle work and family responsibilities without the benefit of supports and programs and services that make it a little easier to do both jobs. Those are the issues that women face on a day‑to‑day basis.
Madam Deputy Speaker, if this government was committed to those issues it would begin by addressing each and every one of those inequities and those regressive changes that this government has brought in over the last several years. It would begin to show that it is serious by sending a signal, by sending a message that this government is committed to an Advisory Council on the Status of Women on women's issues, on addressing women's equality, on removing discrimination facing women in our society today. It would do so beginning with a name, because everything is in a name. Everything signifies, and signals, and symbolizes a government's intentions and agenda.
So, Madam Deputy Speaker, I conclude by
indicating to members opposite that I am very concerned and offended by this
proposed legislation and worried about the future of women's equality in this
province and about the agenda that this government may have yet to reveal to
the people of
Point of Order
Hon. Bonnie Mitchelson
(Minister of Culture, Heritage and Citizenship): Madam Deputy Speaker, there was no
criticism. As a matter of fact, we were
listening quite intently to the member for
Madam Deputy Speaker: The honourable Minister of Culture, Heritage and Citizenship does not have a point of order. It is a dispute over facts.
* * *
Ms. Wasylycia-Leis: Madam Deputy Speaker, I would anxiously await the speeches of every member on the Conservative side of this House. I think it would be most interesting and enlightening to hear every member stand up and express their views about this legislation and about women's equality. I found it most interesting to hear the member for Niakwa's (Mr. Reimer) comments. I think perhaps that we will all read those comments with interest because again we certainly felt as women on this side of the House that kind of patronizing attitude that has so often emanated from Conservative benches in this Legislature.
Madam Deputy Speaker, we have further comments to make from this side of the House. We look forward to questions being answered at committee. We hope that if it does not make a difference, if the name change really is that insignificant and they are simply trying to correct a problem in terms of two organizations having similar names, then this government will look to a variation, to a version that still upholds and represents and encapsulates the true meaning of the Advisory Council on the Status of Women as set out in legislation in 1987.
Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
Becky Barrett (
As a matter of fact, we were agreeing that we appreciated very much having the member for Niakwa's comments put on the record. I think it makes a very good point. No. 1, he talked about the importance of the vigils, the shame, the anger and the despair that we all feel when we are out there, once every month, it seems, celebrating a woman's life and showing our solidarity with our brothers and sisters who come out to these vigils every month. I wanted to say very clearly that we on this side of the House appreciated his comments and felt very much in tune and in touch with what he said.
I also found it very interesting that the member for Niakwa, his comments were very different from the comments that were made at the vigil by the Leader of the second opposition party (Mrs. Carstairs) who felt that vigils were of no use and who did not understand the use of vigils. I just wanted to place on record the concern we have that understanding that the importance of the vigils must be maintained not only as a symbolic gesture, but as a continuing statement and a continuing ability for the women and the men of this province to make a statement about violence and about our anger and our concern about this.
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the member for Niakwa's (Mr. Reimer) comments earlier when he was speaking on Bill 5. I am now going to make my comments on Bill 5 which is the government's position on changing the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women to the Manitoba Women's Advisory Council.
I would like to start again by reiterating what my colleagues have stated very eloquently this afternoon about the importance of language. Particularly as women, we know the importance of language. Every woman in this House, every woman in our society has, at least once in her life, been subject to derogatory comments verbally made about herself as a person, as an individual, as a woman.
Language, we all have personal experiences with that. I would also like to say that not only women have experienced problems and discrimination and insults for their gender, based on nothing but their gender. I have from my own background and current situations examples of where language has been used as a weapon against women, against groups, and for oppression.
The word "boy," one would assume, has absolutely no value attached to it, no sense of positive or negative. It is a neutral word describing the gender of a person of a certain age. That is how it should be. The same could be said about the word "girl." It is a descriptive term used to describe a person of a certain gender of a certain age.
However, many males in the southern
The same thing can be stated about the word
"girl." There are cases in
As well, we all know from our own experiences, some of us from our own personal experiences, others of us from talking with members of other cultural backgrounds, that there are terms that are used in a very derogatory fashion for members of other cultural groups in our society that are meant solely to be derogatory in nature, that are meant solely to show that the person who is speaking these terms feels that he or she is more powerful or better than the person to whom they are referring.
I would just say that language is an incredibly important, powerful tool. It not only allows us to communicate one with another, but allows us to communicate both positive and negative values and attitudes that we hold about individuals and groups. Knowing that, there is nothing in our background or our language that is totally value‑neutral, we do not say a single word that is not fraught with our own background, our own heritage, our own values, our own attitudes. Given that, it is incredibly important that we all understand that our language is value‑laden and full of our own values and attitudes and are constantly vigilant in our own personal lives and for those around us, that the words that we use express exactly what we are saying as clearly as they possibly can.
(Mr. Marcel Laurendeau, Acting Speaker, in the Chair)
The fact that language is our main form of communication, is full of values and attitudes, is an incredibly important tool in sharing our thoughts and ideas and, in many cases, in controlling the actions and behaviours of others, leads me, Mr. Acting Speaker, to a major concern that I have with the statements made at the Statute Law Amendments Committee last July by the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson), in her comments dealing with the issue of the change of the name of the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women. When she says, I do not think a name really makes a difference. I do not think, as I have indicated before, a name makes the difference.
Clearly, what I take from the Minister responsible for the Status of Women's comments there is that she does not agree nor does she feel that the name of this very important committee has any relevance at all to the issues that this committee deals with, to the important concerns that this committee has addressed throughout its history and its life. I feel that is a very important issue to bring up, and I think that it is something that I hope the Minister responsible for the Status of Women will reconsider.
There is an enormous importance in a name. There is enormous importance in the words and the language that we use. We are all aware of it, and if we are not aware of it, we should be.
The second statement and the major reason given by the Minister responsible for the Status of Women for making the change for bringing forth this amendment to change the name of the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women to the Manitoba Women's Advisory Council is that it is a change in name only, that everything that the council does will remain the same, that women's groups felt that it was important to make a change in the advisory council's title because of the concern raised by women's groups and members of the government in the advisory council about the confusion that arose with the name, the acronym being exactly the same for the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women as the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
Mr. Acting Speaker, when the minister says it is a change in name only, I am sure that is what she said to the women's groups that she has referenced yesterday in her speech, that she talked about the facts that the actions and the undertakings of the new advisory council would remain the same. I am sure that is the basis upon which these groups, that she talks about in her speech yesterday, gave their approval. The groups, as she states, are all well aware of the confusions and misunderstandings that have occurred and continue to occur as a result of the similarities of names and the shared acronym. These groups, she says, recognize that this amendment is literally one in name only.
Now, I am not for a moment suggesting that these groups said anything differently to the minister than she has stated in her speech yesterday. I would only suggest, Mr. Acting Speaker, that the groups that she referenced in her comments yesterday might have some concerns should they be aware of things that the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) stated later in her comments when introducing this bill.
I quote: I would like to encourage all members of the House to support this name change, and I want to indicate clearly‑‑and this is the important part‑‑that the change of a name does not necessarily mean that there will be a change of mandate. A change of name does not necessarily mean that there will be a change of mandate.
When the minister says this, the alarm
bells go off very strongly on this side of the House. I think the alarm bells will start to ring in
some of the women's groups that the minister has talked to. Which is it, these women's groups are going
to ask, I am assuming. I am asking for
sure, and the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) and the member for
However, she then later says, it does not necessarily mean that there will be no change in the mandate. Excuse me. That opens it up wide for a change in the mandate, for a narrowing of the mandate, for a reversal of the mandate, for all kinds of things to happen. Not a single one of those women's organizations, I venture to say to you today, would approve of that.
The organizations that the minister spoke to and has stated in her remarks, I think, will be taking a good look at this. I am sure that what they stated was, yes, it is a good idea to change the name as long as the mandate and nothing else is changed because of the similarity. I think they will be very much concerned about the possibility that the minister has left open that the mandate itself may be changed.
The minister herself stated yesterday in her remarks that all issues are women's issues. I certainly hope that the government members present today are aware of the fact that I am about to agree with something that the Minister responsible for the Status of Women has said, when I agree that all issues are women's issues.
There is no one on this side of the House who would disagree with that statement. It is about time we started to understand and act on the fact that all issues are women's issues. That is not the point. The point is that while all issues are women's issues it is still necessary in our society, because we are very far from equality and fairness, that each issue that we look at be looked at as to how it affects and is affected by women, that the employment issues that we are talking about, the issues of violence, the issues of health and education that we are discussing and debating in this House all are women's issues. That does not mean that the result of the debate, the discussion, the allocation of resources is fair or equitable.
There has been some movement made on the part of this government, not nearly what it should be and certainly not nearly what it says it has done, but we must never, until we have achieved true equality and fairness‑‑which I hope will happen very shortly, but until that day comes it is imperative that when we look as a Legislature, when we look as a society, when we look as individuals at any issue that we are dealing with, we also look at it not just from a global perspective, but from the perspective of the impact of those issues on women.
That is the point behind retaining, wherever you put it in the title of this government body, Status of Women, not advisory group made up of women, but Status of Women. It is essential that that remain in the title because the Minister responsible for the Status of Women has not unequivocally stated there will be no change in mandate. She very clearly did not make that statement.
If we state that language has an important part to play, if we say that language gives a signal as to our attitudes and our values, then we must, if we are truly committed to the issues that we all are concerned with, if we are truly committed to helping women face those issues and come to a resolution about those issues, then we must retain the phrase "Status of Women" in the title of this organization.
The member for St. Johns (Ms. Wasylycia‑Leis) has made a very good suggestion, which I must say the Minister of Natural Resources (Mr. Enns) sees no problem with, which is that the title of this advisory committee could be changed, just the ordering of the words, Status of Women Advisory Council of Manitoba‑‑same words, same mandate, same everything, just a different acronym. I say to the government that if all they are concerned about is making sure that there is no telephone messages or letters gone missing and confusion on the part of members of the public because MACSW is the same acronym for both organizations, then just change the order of the words. What could be simpler than that?
I would suggest to members opposite that it is not that simple, that the actions of this government are very clear when you look at what they have done as far as helping improve the status of women, that in every area that this government has dealt with in almost four years, they have decreased the status of women. They are not committed to truly making the Advisory Council on the Status of Women redundant, so at some point in time we do not even have to have this debate. In many areas, the government's action is very clear that you cannot count on this government to actually implement or do what it says, that language for this government is something that they use to their own best interest and not to the interests of women.
I would like to suggest that there are several important areas where this government has fallen down in its commitment to women and several important areas that the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women, or whatever it will be renamed, needs to continue to take a very serious look at.
The whole issue of domestic violence that both the member for Niakwa (Mr. Reimer) and I have talked about today is an area that everyone in this House agrees is of major concern. The whole issue of what do we do to help women and children who are attempting to leave abusive relationships, who are attempting to make a new life for themselves, who are attempting to break the cycle of violence, what are we doing? Well, this government has an excellent report that they have commissioned, that the Minister of Justice (Mr. McCrae) commissioned, the Pedlar Commission report, an excellent report that has some very positive concrete suggestions for how to deal with the whole issue of domestic violence, issues relating specifically to the justice system, which is narrower than the whole issue.
The whole issue of domestic violence incorporates virtually every department which the government needs to deal with. Within the bounds of the terms of reference, Dorothy Pedlar, I believe did a remarkable job in making the presentation.
The problem is that is where it stands, largely. Yes, the government has made some initial steps, has taken some initial actions on some of the recommendations of the Pedlar Commission, but they are the recommendations which require virtually no resource allocation, human or financial. They are the ones that were underway perhaps to begin with. They are the ones, important though they all are, that is only a first step.
The recommendations that go to the heart of the matter, the heart of the issue, as far as the justice system is concerned, are the issues which the government in its own press release says are middle or long term that will require additional resources.
I would suggest, Mr. Acting Speaker, that those issues which are not being dealt with, and I will address only one of them because it crosses the range of justice and goes into concerns about housing and family services is the recommendation that a maximum shelter stay be extended from 10 days as it currently is now to 30 days.
It is in the Pedlar Commission report. It is dealt if not directly, certainly
indirectly, in the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry.
It has been a recommendation of the shelter directors of
Mr. Acting Speaker, I suggest this is the kind of issue that the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women has been looking at and must continue to look at, that women's groups throughout the province are continuing to legitimately castigate this government for its lack of inaction.
If the Minister responsible for the Status of Women (Mrs. Mitchelson) says that not necessarily will there be a change in mandate when she is talking about a name change for this advisory council, groups do really need to take a look at that. They will begin to take a look, a very serious look, at the fact that what this government says and does, does not always 100 percent correspond, and that the whole role of advisory committees in this government is less than exemplary.
This government has instituted a large number of advisory committees, a large number of working groups, a large number of position papers in an attempt to show the public that action is being undertaken. Well, various groups more and more are becoming aware of the fact that the only actions this government is undertaking are the working groups, are the advisory committees.
The Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women is an exception. It is an ongoing organization that has done remarkable work in the past, that has presented on a wide‑range of topics excellent reports, has legitimately told all governments throughout its years of existence where they have fallen down, where they need to expend more energy and resources.
They have been an excellent group of women. They have done remarkable work. The concern that is being raised on the part of members of the official opposition is that this name change is only the first step.
The minister, by saying not necessarily a change in mandate, is leaving open the very distinct possibility that there will be a change in mandate. The reason I am saying that is that the government through its actions in the last four years has shown that it is not committed to the issues as they relate to women, is not committed, as the member for Thompson (Mr. Ashton) has spoken earlier, on the whole issue of pay equity. This government has not shown any commitment to the issue of pay equity, the issue of poverty. The Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women has spoken out very eloquently on the need that our society has to break the cycle of violence, to break the cycle of poverty. This government has done virtually nothing in those areas.
The fact that the majority of people on social assistance, a provincial responsibility, are single parents, the majority of them are women, and the fact that this has been the case for years is something that we in the House all need to take responsibility for and feel concerned about. The fact is that one of the best ways to decrease a reliance on social assistance, to enable people to get off social assistance and become productive members of society with a quality of life to which all members of our society are entitled, is through job creation programs and education upgrading.
What has this government done in that regard? I wish I could say nothing. I wish I could say that the laissez faire, stand‑aside attitude of, not only this government, but their federal counterparts was the only thing that had happened, but no, this government is actively destroying the programs that have been put in place, minimal though they were, and not enough as they were.
This government is actively reducing the supports for women and children and others who are relying on the social assistance programs, actively reducing the job creation programs, actively reducing the educational upgrading and training programs, actively cutting back on all of the programs that not only could help people get off social assistance, but also keep people off social assistance, who are in low‑paying jobs, who are the most vulnerable to layoffs and problems when the economy takes a recessionary nose dive, as it has under the last eight years of federal Conservative government and the last four years of provincial Conservative government.
People who are at the lowest end of the socioeconomic scale, the people who are the most vulnerable to the economic vagaries that we have seen happen in North America in the last decade, those are the people that this government does not respond to. Those are the people that this government does not pay attention to, particularly those who live in the northern part of the province.
Those are the kinds of issues that the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of Women has continued to bring forward, has continued to try and impress upon this government that it needs to work towards ameliorating these situations, towards putting in place programs or at least not cutting programs that can assist people in getting off social assistance, can assist people in upgrading so that they do not remain in dead‑end jobs, so that they have a chance to increase their job skills.
The government talks all the time about the
fact that we are living in a global economy; we have to be competitive; we need
to educate; we need to have an improved, more highly educated population so
that we can compete effectively in the new technological society that we are
living in. No question there. No
disagreement there. The only problem is
that they are not doing anything about it.
They are not putting in resources to upgrade training. They are not putting in resources. They are cutting programs at
The opposition has stated time and time again, and the government refuses to listen to the fact, that this government is not responding to the needs of its population. It is not responding to the needs of its women.
What the government is doing, just one final example of how the government is not listening to the groups that it purports to be listening to, that it establishes to ostensibly help it make its government decisions, is the working group on child care. For 18 months the working group on child care was ostensibly working with the minister and the Department of Family Services to come up with a new, improved, better way of funding the daycare system in our province that would reflect the needs of the daycare community.
What happened? The Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer), overnight, shortly after the last budget year began, when daycare centres had planned their budget legitimately based on the previous formula, they were told six weeks into the budget year that major funding restructuring had been undertaken, completely ignoring and misrepresenting the recommendations of the working group on daycare, spending 18 months with the daycare system, telling the daycare system, yes, they were going to listen, and then not listening at all, listening only to the bottom line.
One of the major impacts that restructuring of child care funding formula has had is on the salary enhancement grant which the previous government instituted as a preliminary recognition of the fact that daycare salaries for child care workers were not adequate, that they needed to be improved, and the salary enhancement grant was a recognition of that.
The legislation requires a minimum of two‑thirds of the employees of any licensed daycare, child care facility to be either a Child Care Worker II or III, having completed an education system for quality care. The salary enhancement grant, which was instituted by the previous government and carried on until April of this last year by this government, stated that the government would provide a salary enhancement grant for all trained child care workers in any child care, whether it was the two‑thirds or up to 100 percent.
Many child cares said, this is wonderful. We will take advantage of this so that we can have a completely trained work force to provide for our children. Our children, which this government constantly talks about, are the most important part of our society and the future of our province.
What did this government do? It changed, it reduced, it eliminated the salary enhancement grant and, in effect, changed the formula so that daycares would only get recognition for the floor of two‑thirds trained staff. Daycares and the members opposite, particularly the Minister of Family Services (Mr. Gilleshammer), are very well aware of the impact this has had on many daycares in our province. They have had to lay off trained staff and hire untrained staff. They have had to lay off staff and not hire additional staff. They have had to make enormous financial sacrifices.
The worst sacrifice that is being foisted on the children and workers of our province in the daycare system is the sacrifice of quality of opportunity, the fact that the child care system is being starved by this government, because they do not believe in it, even though they pay lip service to it.
The child care community does not trust this government anymore. Rightly so. The child care community, the health care workers, the social allowance recipients, the education system‑‑none of these groups in this province trust this government anymore because they know that no matter what the government says, what the government does often is very different. That is why I say that the minister having said that a change of name does not necessarily mean that there will be a change of mandate is a very alarming thing for the women's groups in this province to hear. Now they have not heard it yet, but they will.
I will guarantee you that the minister
during the committee will be asked to clarify her comments, because this
government has on numerous occasions said:
We will not do anything without consulting. We will not make changes to the child and
family service system in this province, in this city. What did they do? Over a weekend they completely restructured
the Child and Family Services agencies in the city of
Yes, the women of this province are going
to be concerned. They are concerned because they do not for a moment, or we on this
side do not for a moment, believe that this is simply a housekeeping measure,
that this is simply a change for clarification.
We think this is just another in the government's ongoing actions to
eliminate and make less effective the groups and organizations and programs and
services for women in the
If the minister truly does believe that it
is only a name change for housekeeping purposes, I would urge her to bring an amendment
to her own bill that changes the Manitoba Advisory Council on the Status of
Women to the Status of Women Advisory Council in
Thank you very much, Mr. Acting Speaker.
Mr. Paul Edwards (St. James): Mr. Acting Speaker, I had not intended, nor had anyone else in our caucus, to speak further to this bill. Our Leader indicated yesterday that she was wanting to see this move expeditiously to committee.
However, Mr. Acting Speaker, I simply want to comment during my time to speak on this bill that we will be adjourning debate because we have learned that comments have been put on the record by the member for Wellington (Ms. Barrett), and perhaps others, but at least by her, which very definitely need to be reviewed by our party, and indeed by our Leader, because we are led to believe that they are not only untruthful, but quite slanderous in the types of allegations which are made about her views on the vigils amongst other things.
To be fair to the member for
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Second Opposition House Leader): Mr. Acting Speaker, I move, seconded by the member for St. James (Mr. Edwards), that debate be adjourned.
Motion agreed to.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau): On the proposed motion of the honourable Minister of Energy and Mines (Mr. Downey), Bill 10, The Manitoba Hydro Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur l'Hydro‑Manitoba, standing in the name of the honourable member for Point Douglas (Mr. Hickes).
An Honourable Member: Stand.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau): Is there leave for this bill to remain standing in the name of the honourable member for Point Douglas?
An Honourable Member: Leave.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau): Agreed.
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Second Opposition House Leader): Mr. Acting Speaker, both opposition parties are not intending to speak on any of the other government bills.
If the will of the House is to call it five o'clock, then call it five o'clock‑‑save you from going through each bill.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Laurendeau): Is it the will of the House to call it five o'clock?
Motion agreed to.
(Mr. Speaker in the Chair)
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Mr. Speaker: The hour being 5 p.m., it is time for private members' hour.
SECOND READINGS‑‑PUBLIC BILLS
Some Honourable Members: Stand.
Mr. Speaker: Done.
Bill 27‑The Business Practices Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: Bill 27, The Business Practices Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les pratiques commerciales, standing in the name of the honourable member for The Maples (Mr. Cheema). Stand?
Some Honourable Members: Stand.
Mr. Speaker: Leave? Done.
Bill 31‑The Municipal Amendment Act
Mr. Speaker: Bill 31, The Municipal Amendment Act; Loi modifiant la Loi sur les municipalites, standing in the name of the honourable member for St. Boniface (Mr. Gaudry). Stand? Not proceeding.
Res. 3‑Free Trade with
Mr. Speaker: Resolution 3, standing in the name of the honourable
member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie), Free Trade with
Mr. George Hickes (Point Douglas): I would like to have the opportunity to introduce this resolution on behalf of the member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie).
Mr. Speaker: Does the honourable member for Point Douglas (Mr. Hickes) have leave to introduce Resolution 3 on behalf of the honourable member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie)? Leave? Leave. It is agreed.
Mr. Hickes: I move, seconded by the member for Wolseley (Ms. Friesen)
WHEREAS the Free Trade Agreement with the
WHEREAS the government of
WHEREAS many Manitobans have grave concerns about the implications of an impending free trade agreement between Canada and Mexico, particularly with respect to its impact on our workers' wages and benefits; and
WHEREAS there has been no public discussion about the elements of such a free trade agreement; and
WHEREAS there has been no public discussion or consensus developed on the benefits and costs of such an agreement; and
WHEREAS the Minister of Urban Affairs has
said that the "benefits for
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the
Legislative Assembly of Manitoba urge the Premier to call on the Federal
Government to immediately suspend free trade discussions with
Mr. Hickes: It is a pleasure for
me to speak on the free trade with
When the first negotiations and first talks came about free trade‑‑it was the years 1983 and 1984‑‑we heard the Prime Minister of Canada today say, we will have nothing to do with free trade‑‑in '83. Then in '84, the same statement was made again by the Prime Minister of Canada: We will have nothing, absolutely nothing to do with free trade.
Somewhere along the line, someone convinced
him and his party that it was such a great idea. I am sure some people have benefited, some
businesses have. If you look at the
individuals who are hourly workers and are in the work force across
When we look at manufacturers right across
Who has really benefited? It is not the people. The real people who have benefited are the
people who own these big companies, who have moved their operations back into
the States, but are still selling us the same goods that were being produced in
Now we are talking about going into a trade
I was fortunate enough to have been there
once. [interjection] No, I was trying to get a suntan so I could really look
like an aboriginal, because those issues are very dear to us, so I wanted to
make sure that nobody would mistake me, but it did not work. When I was in
When I was in
Also, when we talk about loss of jobs, how
many jobs will we lose in
Even if they do get a dollar an hour, if
you took that same item that is made here in Canada where the person is working
on the manufacturing assembly line or in the factory who has made those goods,
and they in turn sell it to us, what do they do with their wages that they
earn? It helps stimulate the economy. They
spend it; most of that money is spent right here in
You have to buy food; you have to have
mortgage or rent; you have to live somewhere.
That money stays here; it helps our economy. If that money goes to
An Honourable Member: You bought a Japanese car.
Mr. Hickes: Oh, I do not drive a Japanese car. I bet you that same item‑‑
An Honourable Member: I saw that thing you drive.
Mr. Hickes: I would not even call it a car. Right, Jack? It gets me around.
Anyway, the point that I am making is that the same item that they bring back to sell to us will probably be at the same cost that we are paying today. So we are not going to be, as consumers, saving a whole pile of money. The point that I make on that is, who is going to benefit? I do not think it is going to be you or I, you know. I am pretty sure of that. It probably will be the big corporations, and I do not understand why people have bought into the whole idea of the whole Free Trade Agreement. The big concern that I have, and I am sure that our party has, is with the loss of many, many, many jobs. When we lose those jobs, I am sure they will offer slim benefits to only a very, very few businesses.
Also, the whole thing with the Free Trade Agreement, I am sure it will undermine a lot of our cultural industries, and most Canadians do not even agree with it. So that is why, when I speak on this just for a few minutes, I would just like to put on the record that I personally totally disagree with the whole free trade, not only with Mexico, but also our whole free trade with the United States.
With those brief comments, thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Hon. Eric Stefanson (Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism): Mr. Speaker, the motion we have before us is fairly similar to the one we had just the other day from the member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock).
I look forward to being able to once again put some information on the record as it relates to a proposed Canada‑U.S.‑Mexico free trade agreement. I will not go into quite the detail on our position as I did the other day, Mr. Speaker. Because some members across the way on occasion seem to have difficulty understanding our position or accepting our position, I think I have to for that reason go through it one more time, particularly for the honourable member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie).
Back in July of this year our government went on record as not supporting a North American free trade agreement unless six very important fundamental conditions are met. At this time I will briefly highlight them, particularly for the honourable member for Flin Flon, and I am sure he is listening very closely to these six conditions.
The first condition, Mr. Speaker, is that‑‑
An Honourable Member: Speak slowly because he has trouble understanding.
Mr. Stefanson: It has been suggested, Mr. Speaker, that I speak very slowly for the benefit of the honourable member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie), but I am sure I do not need to do that, so I will quickly go through the six conditions.
The first one, Mr. Speaker, is that the
negotiations must not result in a renegotiation of the Canada‑U.S. Free
Trade Agreement, and I will come back to that condition again because of some
comments made by the honourable member from Flin Flon (Mr. Storie). The second condition is that
The third condition is that negotiations
must encompass a broad coverage of environmental issues to avoid Canadian environmental
standards gravitating towards the lowest common denominator and to prevent
The fourth condition is that the federal government must ensure that comprehensive and adequately funded adjustment measures are provided. The fifth one is that the federal government must embrace economic policies which are consistent with the efforts and needs of businesses adjusting to trade liberalization.
The final condition, Mr. Speaker, is that the federal government must provide provinces with full participation throughout these negotiations.
Six fundamental conditions. Without those six conditions we as a
government do not support a North American free trade agreement, because we
believe that given a level playing field, when it comes to labour conditions,
environmental standards and the other issues addressed, that Manitobans can
compete, that they can compete with anybody within
Unlike the impression left by the
opposition party that, for some reason, seems to lack confidence in Manitobans'
ability to compete and seem to believe in putting up walls around
The honourable member for Flin Flon likes to suggest that any cause of any economic downturn or any negative impact on our economy, he immediately points to the Canada‑U.S. Free Trade Agreement. It is not based on any fact, not based any feedback from any business, not based on any feedback from any individual. I do not know what it is based on other than his own impressions, I guess. That must be what it is, his own impressions, because it is not founded on a single bit of fact, a single bit of feedback from any company or whatever.
He talks about Tupperware, and once again
at times I must think that the honourable member does not listen closely to
what is said in this House in terms of some of the issues because that was made
perfectly clear back at the time that announcement was made. The company itself indicated that the closing
of their facility here in
I had the opportunity, as I mentioned the
other day, to meet with the vast majority of our sectoral organizations, individuals,
our universities, our labour groups from within
Once again, I have difficulty that the honourable member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie) does not seem to recognize that we have been in a recession certainly within Manitoba and nationally and in many parts of the world and that might have an impact on the economic situation not only in our province, but elsewhere. He does not seem to recognize what the high value of the Canadian dollar can do to your economy in terms of your exports. He does not seem to realize some of the other issues that affect the economy. He points continually to one issue, the Canada‑U.S. Free Trade, not based on any facts or any evidence.
In fact, the studies that have been done to date, the studies done by the Royal Bank of Canada, most recently a study done by policy analysts at the University of Manitoba, the study done by the Canada West Foundation‑‑all point to the fact that while they are not significant there have been marginal benefits to Canada under the Canada‑U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Nothing points to the doom and gloom and the points that the honourable member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie) makes. As I say, they do not seem to be based on any substantiation or any evidence other than impressions.
I want to come back though to the issue of
trade in terms of what we believe in. As
I said, we have confidence in Manitobans' ability to compete, provided they are
given a competitive environment and a level playing field. We believe in breaking down interprovincial
Mr. Speaker, I had the good opportunity and
good fortune to go to an export award ceremony a couple of months ago where six
They encourage us to do the kinds of things
that we are doing in terms of creating a competitive environment here in
Manitoba: by not only holding the line on taxes but reducing personal income
taxes; by not implementing things like payroll taxes, but implementing the
exemption increase so that now 70 percent of businesses in Manitoba are exempt
from the payroll tax. Unlike the
economic policies of the NDP. I guess
they go hand in hand with building barriers, Mr. Speaker. If you build up barriers and you do not
encourage economic growth, and you do not encourage exporting, then you only
have one solution and that is to turn back to the taxpayers of
Here are some examples of what they
did: increased retail sales tax from 5
percent to 7 percent; also introduced an increased payroll tax‑‑introduced
the payroll tax and then increased the payroll tax to 2.25 percent a
payroll. Talk to any person trying to do
What else did they do in the area of
taxation? Let us hear more. They introduced personal net income tax and
surtax, one of the few provinces in
A total of $820 million in tax increases from '82 to '87 by the government that believes in building walls, has no confidence, by the government of the day that had no confidence in Manitobans whatsoever. I find that shameful, Mr. Speaker, in terms of the tax increases.
What have we done? We have not increased personal incomes taxes; we reduced personal income taxes. What have we done? We have increased the threshold on the payroll tax and so on. Clearly a fundamental difference because we have confidence in Manitobans, and we are creating an environment for Manitobans to compete anywhere in the world.
As I say on interprovincial barriers, they
sat back and did nothing, where we have entered agreements with various provinces. All of the provinces throughout
We have also been very supportive of the
GATT negotiations in terms of breaking down and opening up markets for Canadian
businesses, particularly in our agricultural sector where we support the
reduction of the export subsidies and opening market access to other parts of
the world. We have confidence in our agricultural
community and their ability to compete not only in
Once again, I continually look at the policies of the NDP and of the government of the NDP from '82 to '87, I see no evidence of confidence in Manitoba, no evidence of their ability to compete given a level playing field, and that is why on this North American free trade agreement we do not support it as it stands. We put in six very important conditions. We feel if those conditions are met, it creates a level playing field thereby creating the opportunity environment for Manitobans to compete, because Manitobans can compete.
I encourage opposition members to get out and talk to Manitobans, talk to business people, talk to any Manitoban, and you will find they have confidence that they can compete if governments allow them to by not introducing the horrendous tax increases that occurred from '82 to '87, not only the horrendous tax increases, but government abuse and waste in areas like MTX and areas like Manfor.
Let us talk about Manfor and the millions of dollars. Not only do they build the walls around our province, they then think that they are the business people of our province, that they will invest in businesses, that they will drive the economy through their shrewd investment and their wise business management. Shrewd investments like Manfor and the drain of some $30 million in one year, their MTX investments and the $15 to $20 million in MTX, and the list would go on and on and on.
We need look no further than previous NDP
governments and their investment in an airline manufacturing company that cost the
Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to introduce an amendment to the motion, an amendment that I feel improves this motion. I would move, seconded by the honourable member for Riel (Mr. Ducharme)
THAT the Resolution be amended by substituting all words after the first "WHEREAS" with the following:
the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico are currently engaged in negotiations aimed at the signing of a North American Free Trade Agreement; and
WHEREAS the federal government and the
WHEREAS many Manitobans have expressed serious concerns about the potential implications of a North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico with respect to labour and environmental standards and the provision of adequate adjustment assistance; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the
Legislative Assembly of Manitoba support the Ministry of Industry, Trade and
Tourism in calling on the federal Minister for International Trade to ensure that
there is a full public discussion of any North American Free Trade Agreement
prior to any ratification by
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux (Inkster): Mr. Speaker, I guess it would have been two, three days ago past, we were talking about the free trade deal with Mexico, and we had an opportunity, both myself and my colleague from Osborne (Mr. Alcock), to put on the record some of the concerns that we have regarding the concept of free trade with Mexico and the concerns that we have. I do not necessarily want to use up any time to go over those comments because they are in the record and I do not really want to bore anyone. If people are interested in them, they can just read last Monday's regarding the Liberal Party's position on free trade.
In a nutshell, Mr. Speaker, the free trade
We believe the minister needs to play a much stronger role at ensuring that the labour in the province of Manitoba is not going to suffer the consequence of any free trade agreement whether it is just between the United States and Mexico or, in fact, a North American free trade agreement, because we believe that it is not in the best interest of the workers of Manitoba‑‑Canada, if you will‑‑because there are so many concerns that are out there as it stands right now with the free trade deal with the United States, something that we also do not support for numerous reasons.
Suffice to say that the amendment is something that we could not support. We would have anticipated or could have possibly supported it if they had incorporated more of the things that were being proposed from the member for Osborne (Mr. Alcock). I do not believe that it really gives any justice to the member for Flin Flon's (Mr. Storie) resolution. It really changes everything that he had in the "WHEREASes" and "THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED" and so forth. Having said that, and making it very clear our position on free trade, I will take my seat.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Jerry Storie (Flin Flon): Mr.
Speaker, this is an interesting debate, and as the member for
I think that there is sufficient interest in this question that it is worthy of debating a second time. I certainly listened to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism's (Mr. Stefanson) remarks with interest. Much of it was a diatribe on the so‑called ills of the previous government.
Mr. Speaker, I simply remind the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Stefanson) or the "Minister of Unemployment," as he is called more colloquially, the fact of the matter is that in the province of Manitoba today there are 57,000 people out of work‑‑the highest in the history of this province. That is fact No. 1. Fact No. 2 is that in 1991 there were more bankruptcies in the province of Manitoba than at any time in the history of the province of Manitoba, that is fact No. 2; and fact No. 3 is that the welfare lines in the province of Manitoba have gone up 50 percent over last year.
The use of food banks has almost tripled in
the last three years. Those are the sad
facts that face
Mr. Speaker, No. 2, I am finding it more
and more interesting, the schizophrenia that the Conservative front benches and
the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Stefanson) have about free
trade generally. I read the sixth position
that the province has put forward on free trade with
Mr. Speaker, I put it on record today that
the minister is a paper tiger. If the
federal government, following along on George Bush's coattails, decides to sign
a free trade agreement with
Mr. Speaker, let us look at the individual conditions that the minister has laid out. The first one is protecting the Free Trade Agreement. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing, there is nothing in the Free Trade Agreement that is worthy of protection.
We have lost seven out of nine trade disputes. The minister says, I have no facts at my disposal.
I have the facts. The unemployment level, the fact that we have lost some 435,000 manufacturing jobs, the fact that the manufacturing sector across the country, across every sector, has been decimated. Not like the recession in 1980‑81, not like previous recessions, the fact of the matter is these jobs are not coming back. Twenty‑two percent of the jobs in the previous recession did not come back; 65 percent, 70 percent are not coming back this time‑‑fundamental difference.
A restructuring of our economy based on the perception by many businesses that the Free Trade Agreement was there to be used and abused, regardless of the interests of Canadians, regardless of the interests of the people of Manitoba.
Let us talk about facts; 435,000 jobs
disappeared since June 1989 to March 1991.
What about business investment?
The Free Trade Agreement was supposed to spur business investment in
In 1988, the last year before the agreement was signed, investment rose 24.7 percent. During 1989 it rose by 5 percent. In 1990 it fell by .23 percent, and in 1991 it is expected to decline by almost 10 percent.
Fact 2, what has happened to the number of new jobs? Of course, they have fallen month by month. In 1988, on average, 26,000 new jobs were created every month. In 1990, some two years after free trade, we are losing 7,400 jobs a month.
What about the trade balance? What has happened to the trade balance with
An Honourable Member: What have we got this year?
Mr. Storie: I do not have the figures for that. I do not think the facts are in for 19‑‑I will challenge the Minister of Health (Mr. Orchard). When we get the 1991 figures, I will wager him his home quarter that the figures for 1991 will not be pre‑free‑trade figures, they will be worse.
The facts are that
So the agreement has not lived up to its
expectations in terms of the number of jobs created, the investment that we are
supposed to be receiving, but neither has it lived up to its expectations in
terms of protecting our access to the American market. We have lost seven out of nine trade
disputes. We have lost some major trade
disputes, including salmon and steel.
The agreement was sold to Canadians, by and large, on the belief that this
agreement would secure access to the
I do not know if there are any observers of
the political circumstances in the
Now it may as come as some surprise to people in this Chamber that Canadian governments federally, historically, have never been as protectionist as the United States legislature. They have gone through cycles of protectionism over many years. The fact is that their legislation is fraught with protectionist bent that can be easily manipulated to frustrate the agreement, the Free Trade Agreement, which was supposedly to liberalize trade and assure access to Canadians. Believe me, it is not going to do it.
I want to get back to the theme that the
government is indeed schizophrenic, and I believe that the July 16 press
release from the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Stefanson), setting
out his conditions for approval of a North American free trade agreement, were
simply a public relations exercise. If
you wanted to go over each of these conditions, the same exact conditions
should have been precedent before we agreed to the Free Trade Agreement with
We have genuine concerns about the labour
standards in the
The minister includes as a condition, he is
concerned about environmental standards.
He is concerned about creating this level playing field. Obviously, before you get in to a trade agreement
you should assure yourself that there is, in fact, going to be a level playing
field. That was not done in the Free Trade
Agreement with the
I would like to ask the question, and
perhaps the minister will have occasion to respond: If these conditions are so important in terms
of getting into an agreement with
It should have been. I argued, much as the minister has argued,
during that debate. The fact of the
matter is, that this is not really a serious attempt on the part of the
government to stall the free trade agreement negotiations with
We believe, certainly‑‑and if the minister has genuine concerns about the free trade agreement with Mexico or the trilateral agreement, then I would invite him to invite members of the second opposition and the opposition to meet and establish a framework for discussing Manitoba's concerns at the federal level. I am afraid what has happened is that we are going to oblige the federal government, if they come to some agreement, without any kind of a fight. We are simply going to roll over, as many of the Tory governments did certainly, when we signed the Free Trade Agreement with the United States in 1989, simply rolled over, were not responsible to the people whom they represented and ignored the cost of the Free Trade Agreement to those provincial economies.
Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that
the free trade agreement with
We have another concern about not only this set of trade negotiations but the previous one. We have asked repeatedly for the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Stefanson) to come clean with the Legislature, the people of Manitoba, about his department's analyses, analyses he has received from other groups and agencies, jurisdictions that have attempted to understand what is really going on in our economy.
It is no longer good enough to sit back and defend this agreement blindly, because whether the minister wants to believe it or not, some of the impact‑‑and I hope he will acknowledge this, at least acknowledge this in part, the Free Trade Agreement is playing a role in what is happening in our economy. It is playing a role in the depth of the recession; it is playing a role certainly in the longevity of the recession. We are not out of it yet, not by a long stretch. If it is having an impact, let us at least now sit down and say, what is that impact? Let us try and be as concrete as we can and as nonpartisan as we can. I certainly believe it is having an impact, and I believe that there may be increasing calls for abrogating the agreement.
Mr. Speaker, I also want to just end by saying that the minister has said that the members of the opposition and myself in particular are the only ones who continue to foment opposition to this agreement.
Mr. Speaker, I remind the Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism (Mr. Stefanson) that the Royal Bank, the Canadian Manufacturers' Association, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce have all said that the Free Trade Agreement has not worked out the way they thought it was going to. That is because they went in blindly trusting the federal government that it was going to secure access.
I do not care who the minister is talking
to across this country, the fact of the matter is that the Free Trade Agreement
is not working in our interests. Even
the business community, who were behind it virtually 100 percent in 1988 and
moving up to 1989, are now saying there are some serious flaws in that agreement. Even the Minister responsible for
International Trade federally, Mr. Wilson, has now taken the podium and is
saying, Gosh, those Americans had better smarten up; they are abusing this
agreement. They signed an agreement;
they signed a flawed agreement. They
signed an agreement that could never be used to protect our interests, but the
Americans could be used to protect their interests. This minister should get onside with the
Hon. Jim Ernst (Minister of Urban Affairs): I listened intently both to the member for Point Douglas (Mr. Hickes) and the member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie) in their diatribes with respect to the question of free trade.
I think it was in 1990 that the federal
Minister of Finance at that particular time said about his colleagues in the
House of Commons, referring to principally the members of the New Democratic
Party and the members of the Liberal Party, that they would blame on free trade
every sparrow that fell in the country.
Every time something happened they would blame it all on free trade
because of a hidebound ideology, that somehow anything to do with anybody else
outside the borders of
Mr. Speaker, we have to understand for a
moment how the
At the same time you have to understand that
while that is being exported to the
Since the implementation of the Free Trade
Agreement a couple of years ago, we have seen tariff walls on the balance
now. The 20 percent balance of our trade
To listen to my honourable friends from across the way, and particularly the member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie), you would think that 2 percent or 3 percent or 4 percent on the 20 percent of our exports that are tariffable somehow has caused the entire economy of North America to collapse, and particularly it has caused all the problems that have faced Manitoba over the last year or two.
Mr. Speaker, that is just not realistic. For heaven's sakes, for them to stand up here and suggest that because of free trade all of this has happened, all the manufacturing is gone down in Manitoba, that all of the problems that have beset us have gone on because of the Free Trade Agreement is ludicrous. How possibly could anybody in their right mind‑‑and I am not sure that he is‑‑suggest for a moment that very small portion of the economy somehow has caused the catastrophic results.
He did say that he acknowledged the fact that somehow high interest rates might have played a small problem, the fact that there is a world‑wide recession might have had something to do with it, the fact that significant problems exist in world trade, in agriculture in particular, that might have played a minuscule role, that some of those things might have frayed the edges of this whole problem, but the principal cause of this whole problem was free trade with the United States, those ogres across the border, those ogres who consume 70 percent of what we produce. Seventy percent of what we produce are consumed by those people.
Mr. Speaker, the whole question of blaming
free trade on the economic downturn that has beset
We have had for almost 100 years
isolationist trade practices and policies by a variety of governments over a
long period of time. They have been
slowly eroded since World War II, but those isolationist policies by and large
have led to a very startling fact. The
fact that came out was that there are 16 basic technologies used in the
manufacturing of goods in the world, 16 primary technologies. The startling fact was that in
That is an extremely disturbing thing because what has happened is that our industries have been left behind because of concerns over competing in the world marketplace, suggesting we throw up trade barriers around our country, that somehow we will be able to escape that. That, I do not think, can happen. It cannot happen or we will have nothing left.
We will be the third world here in
The Americans know that. They have known that for quite some time, and it is about time we learned that, the fact that our industries have to ensure they are able to put their products on the market, and quality products they are. I have no question that Canadians can produce as good a product as any country in this world, and they can produce it competitively. We have to understand, we have to learn, we have to use the technologies that are available to us, and we cannot simply stick our heads in the sand. We have to be able to go out there and compete on a world market.
Our farmers know that. Our farmers are being decimated, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, by competing in a world market on an unfair playing field. We know, our people know, our companies know they have to be able to compete. They have to be able to go out into the world market and sell their products at an equal or better price than their competitors.
Tell me how the Japanese can have had their money triple and quadruple, have had it adjusted because of world economic conditions, and still remain competitive, the fact that they are able to sell their automobiles, their electronic products and a variety of other goods that they manufacture in a world market, when they have had monetary adjustments in their own economy that have quadrupled the value of their yen in a world market. Because they have found ways to compete; they have found ways to be able to produce their goods less expensively, despite the fact that they have had monetary adjustment.
Mr. Speaker, we have to do the same. We cannot begin at this point to throw up barriers around our country and say, we cannot compete, we cannot possibly go out in the world market and compete, so we will have to try and produce only for ourselves.
This is not on, because if we do, our
entire industry will fold up, because no matter what kind of tariff barriers we
put up, no matter what kind of artificial props we put under the economy of our
country, ultimately it will fall to ruin because we cannot, with 27 million
people in this country, afford to do that.
We cannot continue‑‑my God, our people are taxed to death as
it is. If we are going to provide
economic props to our industry to keep operating, we are going to find out
very, very quickly that there is not enough money in
Five years from now, we will be looking to other countries in this world for third world aid. We will be seeking financial aid; as other countries are at the present time around the world looking to us for aid, we will be looking for it ourselves.
Our standard of living will be significantly
lower. The fact of the matter is, we
only need to look around us and see, Mr. Speaker, what the effect of high
taxation has done to our people. If you
looked at the expenditures, even in
Mr. Speaker, I have to ask the question rhetorically, of course, that the members of the New Democratic Party who have brought forward this resolution somehow do not seem to be available to support it. In fact, the mover of the motion, as contained on the Order Paper, was not even here to move it, and now that he has spoken he has left. You have to wonder how serious the members of the opposition are when they cannot even be present to support their member's resolution when the member, who originally brought forward the resolution, did not even have the courtesy to stay to listen.
The minister has been here. The Minister of Industry and Trade (Mr. Stefanson) has been here. He has spoken, he has listened, and he offered some suggestions. Maybe the member for Flin Flon (Mr. Storie), who introduced this motion initially out of the Order Paper, was able to‑‑perhaps he is learning something. Perhaps he took that information from the Minister of Industry and Trade and has gone to contemplate that information and to learn the error of his ways, but so far I doubt that very much. I have been here for five years, and I look at the member for Flin Flon‑‑
Mr. Speaker: Order, please. I am interrupting the honourable minister according to the rules. When this matter is again before the House, the honourable minister will have three minutes remaining.
The hour being 6 p.m., this House now adjourns and stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow (Friday).