Canada’s Others Voices!
PM MARTIN’S Q & A ROUND TABLE
WITH ETHNIC MEDIA!
April 25th, 2005 - 14:45 - Toronto, ON - 50 minutes
HON. JOE VOLPE (Citizenship and Immigration Minister and member of Parliament for Eglinton-Lawrence): Okay, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much. I’d like to go through this very, very quickly so we can have plenty of time to direct questions to the Prime Minister. What I would like you to do is to direct your questions to me or just give me an indication where you are and I will direct them to the Prime Minister. In other words, speak through me, wait for me to recognize you. I’m just going to ask for one thing, just tell us who you are even though I’ll have it, tell us who you are and soon as you ask the question. And then we’ll go from there. Fair enough?
Mr. Prime Minister, would you start with a couple of minutes (inaudible…)?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN (Canadian Prime Minister): Well, first of all, I want to thank you for giving Joe and myself this opportunity to meet with you. We are at a very important time in the history of Canada and obviously we have got some very important decisions to make, decisions which are certainly going to affect your readers, and I think it’s important to discuss them. One of the things that I have learned from the press is it’s important to respond to questions, but it’s also important not to make too many long speeches.
So I will turn it back to you and just say thank you very much for giving us this opportunity.\
HON. JOE VOLPE: Okay.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, you talked about, are you considering to take the offer from NDP and scrap the corporate taxes?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: We’re discussing it from many areas. Let me just simply give you the principles upon which we’re operating, and there really are three. The first is that the job creation is really the lens through which we’re looking at any of our discussions with the NDP and that part of those corporate tax cuts are for small and medium-size business and small and medium-size business is the major job creator. So we’re very reluctant to eliminate any tax cut that would benefit small and medium-size business. The second principle is that we are discussing, you know, as long as any new monies were going to be spent in areas that we have already identified as priorities – housing, the environment, education, childcare, foreign aid – are areas that we have identified as priorities and so we’re prepared to look at those areas. And then the third area, the third principle is that we are not prepared to do anything that will jeopardize the financial stability of the country. We’ve now got one of the best balance sheets, one of the best overall financial statements of any major country and we’re not going to jeopardize that for anything.
QUESTION: All these will be only done if there’s a government. So the first principle, would it be, would you be able to keep your government?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Well, obviously that’s part of the purpose. We want to get our budget through and we want to be able to protect the government and so, well that I would hope that if we are able to come to an understanding, that it will go a long way towards getting the budget through. We’ll need some help from some of the independents, but that’s all part of the minority government process.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Thank you. What I’ll do is I’ll come back to people, I’ll give you a question and a supplementary, and then if there’s room at the end we’ll keep going, okay?
Adjeet Jane(?), from India Aboard.
QUESTION: When you made the announcement on the western TV (inaudible) that Thursday (inaudible) to call for an election, the Parliament (inaudible) have you, by implication, made yourself a lame duck, Prime Minister? RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: I don't believe so. A minority government is different. Obviously you know and that any government and there’s a great deal of instability which I think really does get in the way of government operating well and I think that if my offer were taken up, then we would have a period of some eight months stability and I think that would make for much better government and I think that that would compensate for any feelings such as you’ve just described. We all know ultimately there’s going to be an election. It’s only a question of when.
HON. JOE VOLPE: I've got I’ve Forest Chow(?) first, okay. Forest Chow, from the World Journal.
QUESTION: Yes, I’d like to know, do you support Japan’s bid to join the U.N. Security Council?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: We recognize the very important role that Japan plays in the world community and at the United Nations. I think Japan pays some almost close to 20 per cent of the overall dues at the United Nations. So we’re very supportive of Japan, but the issue comes down to which of the many options does one adopt before one comes down to which countries will make it up? And we are not prepared to support an option that would reduce Canada’s chances of acceding to the Security Council on a reasonable rotation. And so, I guess to put it quite bluntly, we’re looking after Canada’s position first.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Thank you. (Inaudible) national ethnic press and media.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) spoke to you first about the Conservatives and the Bloc, but (inaudible…) and look at the broader picture, would you say that those three independents really are the ones who hold the balance of power?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Well, that’s a very good question. I think that there’s a certain amount to that. They do that because the Conservatives and the Bloc are clearly forming a team. And it’s interesting, by the way, that today you saw the announcement were the Conservatives are working with the ADQ, which is the provincial party in Quebec which again, in both cases, the Bloc are separatists, the ADQ are what they call autonomists. In both cases it would mean a substantial weakening of the central government. And I could not disagree with Stephen Harper more on this issues. My belief is I believe in a strong central government, and one that’s able to essentially ensure Canadian values.
So the answer, I guess, to your question is, I think, that given that the Conservatives and the Bloc and the Conservatives and the ADQ are essentially forming a cohabitation, yes, I think that the three independents become very important.
QUESTION: So it begs the question, are you all talking, is the Liberal Party talking to these three independents?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Oh, yes, there is ongoing discussion.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Okay, thank you. I’m going to go to Vincent Wong, from the (inaudible).
QUESTION: How do you respond to the Conservative Party put out a similar immigration policy today? And the second question is, I’ve heard rumours that your party’s going to put forward another immigration policy soon. And if so, could you give us a preview about that? RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Well, given that I have the Minister of Immigration here with me, I think I’ll let him answer it.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Well, I had mentioned that I know that the Conservatives just came out with a policy today. I had a quick look at it. Many of the issues on it are reflections, questions. Very few of them have anything to do with something very specific. A couple of them address the announcements that I’ve made over the course of this last week, including ones that I made today. I can only point to the fact that if you would take a look at the platform, all of the immigration issues come under the security agenda and so you’ll forgive me if I tell you that that means that they view immigration as something associated with security issues, number one. And that it’s not very inclusive. It means that they are a drain and you’ll find that that’s the way that they’ve talking. I think that we’ve looked at immigration in terms of being inclusive, reuniting families, as you saw in the announcement I made during the course of the week and the weeks prior.
QUESTION: My second question was is that the second announcement soon about immigration policy?
HON. JOE VOLPE: Well, we made several. We made one where out-of-status spouses can stay here in a bona fide relationship while their application is being processed, first. Secondly, we indicated that we would land those people who are associated with the last of the Vietnamese refugees abroad, if they can provide a family connection. Thirdly, we indicated we would fast track all of those applications with family sponsorship in tsunami-affected areas. Fourth, we indicated that we would provide a multiple-entry visa to all sponsored parents and grandparents over the course of the next five years if they have medical insurance while we eliminate the backlog. Part of that, of course, was to increase the number of parents in the sponsorship category that we would land this year from 6,000 to (inaudible). Today, we announced multiple issues relative to recognition of foreign credentials, both before the application's put in and currently and we addressed those issues in engineering, in human health resources.
There is another announcement on which we have been doing some considerable work. It has to do with skilled labourers, but I don't want to scoop the Prime Minister (inaudible) speak myself.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: If I can just pick up on the last one, I think this issue of foreign credentials is very, very important and this is something that we’ve been working on for the better part of a… more than a year. And essentially, look, we are a nation of immigrants and this is our great strength. If you take a look at what’s happening in a number of European countries, the fact is that the populations are dropping. And my own belief is that immigration is the lifeblood of this country, but immigration, when you don't allow people to practice their profession, just doesn’t make any sense and so the announcement that has been made today in terms of credentials I think is crucial to the kind of nation that we want to build.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Okay, I’m going to go to Ray Chan(?), (inaudible).
QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, it seems now the Chinese and Japanese governments seem to be in odds about the Security Council in the United Nations and thousands of Canadians is actually there doing some campaigning, especially boycotting Japanese goods and other things. Do you think they will jeopardize the harmony of divisions in Canada?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: No. You’re talking to the current difficulties between Japan and China. Again, going back to the Canada, the nation of immigrants, the world is full of disputes, border disputes, territorial disputes, disputes going back you know, sometimes years and years, if not hundreds of years. One of the great things about Canada is that we have always been able, as a people, to overcome them, that in fact, people bring their differences of opinion with them, but they have never allowed it to get in the way of building the better Canada and, in fact, becoming strong Canadians. So, and I’m sure that in this particular case, that’s exactly… this is an old history that has repeated itself with many other people in Canada and there’s no doubt in my mind that both the Japanese and the Chinese Canadians will overcome this.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Thank you. I know you’re next, but let me go to everybody else first. Can I go to Thomas Sares, who is from the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada. THOMAS SARAS: Thank you. Before giving my question, Prime minister, let me make a statement expressing (inaudible) of the (inaudible) united people on this (inaudible). They don't want an election and we don't want an election. I convey this message this morning to the (inaudible) of your position also and just, I want to repeat it to you, the people, at least the majority of the people are thinking that it might be a big waste of money and they don't want elections. The other thing that, my main question is, there is a dispute over the issue of immigration between Ottawa and Queen’s Park with regards to the amount of monies the Queen’s Park is receiving. The fact is that in the past each province had beautiful programs for accepting new immigrants. Eventually of course, in the years of Brian Mulroney and he started with money, all those welcome houses and so on and he falls and the result is that many of these (inaudible). Is the government considering (inaudible) to these people (inaudible)? RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Yes, the answer is yes and as the Minister of Immigration himself has said, look there are some areas of disagreement that we have with the government of Ontario, but there are many areas of agreement and one of them is the fact that, in fact, the funding being provided to Ontario for immigration is not sufficient and that we want to sit down with Ontario and we’ve already increased it substantially, by the way, in recognition of that. We’ve already increased the amount of money, I think by about $72 million, if I’ve remember correctly, $72 million which we’ve given Ontario for increased. It increased funding for immigration.
We recognize that there may well be a need for more money and we are prepared to sit down with Ontario and to see what it is and we also recognize that more services are required in Ontario. This is where most of the immigrants come, although obviously other places as well and we’re prepared to look at that. So the answer to your question is yes, we recognize the problem and we share the view that it has to be rectified.
QUESTION: Thank you.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Thank you, Thomas. Angelo Perstilli(?), Corriere Canadese.
QUESTION: Mr. Prime Minister, I interviewed Mr. Gagliano this weekend and he said that you are asking Canadians what you have denied to him, a due process to be condemned before he was going to be recalled. What do you answer?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Yes, I think that the Minister of External Affairs actually answered this in the House. We made it very clear that when Mr. Gagliano was recalled, that we were not passing judgement on him, but there was one fact that was very clear, that this was a very controversial issue and it was a controversial issue which had extended far beyond our borders and that, in fact, in terms of simply Canada’s image abroad, that we could not have this kind of a situation. So we recalled him, but we made, at the same time, very clear, that we were not passing judgement. But the fact of the breach of confidence was there.
QUESTION: May I have a supplementary?
HON. JOE VOLPE: Yes, go ahead.
QUESTION: On a different issue.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: That’s the way you do it in the House of Commons, a supplementary, without giving it. Mr. Perstilli has learned well.
QUESTION: Canada is a multicultural, bilingual country. We have $1.2 billion for bilingualism and I think between $20 million and $27 million for multiculturalism. If money means something, do we have to read anything into it?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: No. I mean, I think that, first of all, the initial deal at Confederation I think recognized the bilingual nature of the country. I think that multiculturalism is, you can’t just look at the single one item. The announcement that was made Minister Volpe this morning, the $75 million for instance for foreign credentials, recognizes the multicultural nature of the country.
The $30 million we’ve just put into the Pluralism Centre in Ottawa recognizes the multicultural nature of the country.
In most government departments, what you will see is in fact money is spent supporting multiculturalism in one way or another. And perhaps what we should do, because I think there is a validity to your question, not so much in the bilingualism side but on the importance of multiculturalism that perhaps it should be all gathered together so that people can make a fair comparison and I think that’s a valid question.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Thank you. Arnold August(?), from Share(?).
QUESTION: Prime Minister, my sense from all the reports we’ve had is that you inherited a problem that was not of your making. You have said categorically that you knew nothing about the ad scam situation. I haven’t heard, and you might have said it, I haven’t heard you say anything about any of your people. We know there were two camps in the party for quite a while and my sense is that those who were involved were of the other camp and not of your camp.
Can you categorically tell us that none of your people were involved, had anything to do with it, knew anything about it? And secondly, if that’s the case, why aren’t you defending yourself more? Somebody said that you’re too much of a gentleman, but I don't think this is a time to be gentlemanly. Could you…?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: What’s happening in the Gomery inquiry is that the same names are circulating. You hear the same names time and time and time again. You’re absolutely right, there was a time in which there were leadership tensions. None of the names that are being circulated in the Gomery inquiry are people who were associated with me. None. That’s one answer to your question.
The second was that I have made it very clear that anybody who knew about this and that did not come forward should be fired and I can tell you that all of the people who are associated with my government have been asked, this has been discussed with them. And certainly on the basis of that, I can state that there is no one that I know who was close to me who was involved in this in any way, shape or form and to be quite honest, none of their names have come up in the Gomery inquiry.
HON. JOE VOLPE: a supplemental, Arnold.
QUESTION: Why is this message not getting out? What are you not doing? In your speech to the nation the other day, the other night, you ended by saying that any money that will be, that has been found to be sent to the party would be repaid. You didn't say that anybody involved will be prosecuted, charges will be laid. I guess you should have said that at that time, too. But I don't get a sense that you are defending yourself strongly enough. Why is that?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Well, I guess, one of the reasons that I’d like to see the Gomery Commission be allowed to report is that I have a feeling that the conclusions that you’ve drawn will be drawn by, I would hope would be drawn by others.
But I have said, if I didn't say it the other night, but I have said any person who is found to have acted in a criminal way will be prosecuted and that without exception, and that as far as I am concerned, that two things. I’m the Prime Minister of the country and I believe that as the Prime Minister of the country and the leader of the Liberal Party, it is my responsibility to clean this up and I’m doing that. And that I’m, as far as I am concerned, the truth must triumph over ambition. I knew there would be consequences from what is happening here but the alternative, pushing it under a rug, would not have worked, would not have been the way I want to act. I think the integrity of government is absolutely crucial. And so, I suppose, in terms of saying, as Prime Minister, I take responsibility, I suppose the people wondered what that means. Well, it means simply that I’m going to make sure the truth comes out, that the guilty people are punished and perhaps I would hope that in terms of my own defence that other people might speak to that.
My concern right now is that the truth come out.
QUESTION: Thank you.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Thank you. I’m going to go to Mr. (inaudible). Okay, I’m sorry (inaudible...).
QUESTION: If there’s a premature election in the spring, what effects do you see on the economy it's going to have?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Well, I think that the budget would fail, would have an effect on the economy and obviously there would be an effect on confidence. I’ll give you one example, the cities are expecting large sums of money to start flowing to them, the Conservatives have opposed our cities agenda, so we’ve already signed a deal in British Columbia where Vancouver and other cities are expecting monies. If that money didn't come, that would have an affect on them. I know here in Toronto, that the municipal administration is expecting that money to flow. So clearly there would be, from that point of view, an effect on confidence.
There are monies that should be flowing towards our agricultural sector. Again, there would be certainly an effect in confidence in this area. I’ve got to tell you the other area where, and it goes back to something that I said earlier, Mr. Harper and I and the Conservatives and the Liberals have a fundamental difference of opinion on the role of the central government and the fact that Mr. Harper has indicated clearly that he sees a weakened central government at the expense of the provinces, I believe means that in the long run, this country would not be able to meet the challenges that are outside our borders. Let me just give you one example. We all know that over the course of the next 10 years we’re going to be seeing a strengthened Europe as Europe comes together, we’re going to be seeing conceivably a strengthened Russia as it gets its act together, perhaps a strengthened Brazil, but that overwhelmingly, overwhelmingly, the two most powerful economies after the United States are going to be China, after the United States and Japan, China and India. And for many people, this is a threat. For me, this is a tremendous opportunity. Here we are, a small country, we’re 32 million, we’ll be 50 million, let’s say, over the next 25 years.
The opportunity to access those markets of huge consumer markets at a time when our natural resources are going to continue to increase in value, gives us an opportunity as a country that is just beyond compare. But it’s only going to happen if we have a strong central government leading the country and you can’t do it if you’re a country simply run by 10 disparate provinces. And that’s the fundamental difference between Mr. Harper and myself and so I think that yes, I think that it could lead to a loss of confidence, but we’ll have to see.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Thank you. I’m going to go to Sarwat Sahid(?), from the Pakistan Times.
QUESTION: My question is, is there any possibility of an early election?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: I think this goes to the question of the three independents. I think that I’m the wrong person to ask. I would hope there’s not a early election but you know, I mean, I think that measures like the immigration measures that the minister just mentioned are very important. All of this would go by the wayside. So I mean, I would really hope that good sense would prevail.
QUESTION: Thank you.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Okay, I’m going to go on to the second round. So the people who had indicated that they wanted to speak, I’ll take you in order again, and those of you who haven’t asked a question, you might. I’ve got Sukwinder(?) Singh, from San Severa Publishing.
QUESTION: Prime Minister, I want to echo two things before I ask you a question. I want to echo the same thing Sares Thomas has said, that our consensus from the Punjabi Sikh community is that people really don't want elections. People want the government to do some work. Especially the sponsorship inquiry really upsets everybody, it embarrasses Canada on the national scene. We see all these things on BBC and CNN covering it. So therefore also a reason behind not wanting elections is this is the first time that we, as Sikh Canadians have X number of members of Parliament elected to the Parliament and we don't want to take a chance and we want to get four years out of it.
And the third thing, we have a good friend of our community, Mr. Volpe, being Immigration Minister, has done a tremendous job in the past three months that none of the Canadian Immigration ministers have done over the course of two decades. So that was…
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: He’s saying nice things you. You better listen.
HON. JOE VOLPE: I’ve got be deaf.
QUESTION: That was my two things that I wanted to plug in on record. My question to you is, you attended a Sikh parade yesterday. That was the first time in Canadian history that the Canadian Prime Minister ever attended a Sikh celebration of any nature.
You also had a very good agenda, political agenda, which is, one of them was SSM, the bill before House, considerable pushing anti same-sex marriage propaganda against your government, but your speech did not include it. I understand the promoters, the organizers had indicated that they would not like to hear that on their stage because of their religious sentiments.
Was that the reason that you left that portion out of your speech or there was any other political reasons behind it?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Well, while this was the first time that a Prime Minister attended the Vaisakhi celebrations or the birth of the Khalsa celebrations. It’s not the first time I have and have done it many, many times and it is a tremendously joyful celebration. It’s also a very deeply religious celebration. Actually, I was not sort of told what to do or what not to do. I just don't think that you mix politics and what is essentially a, you know, a great celebration bringing the entire Sikh family together. I just think that it would have been… I believe it was very inappropriate by Mr. Harper and I just don't think that’s the kind of thing you do. I mean, I think when you go to a celebration, and what I said in my remarks is that this was a great Sikh celebration, but I think it’s a great Canadian celebration. And that is sort of the nature of my remarks.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Okay, (inaudible) from India (inaudible).
QUESTION: Prime Minister, you have seen that these two people who got charged with bombing the airplane which we have (inaudible) victims and they have been acquitted of course (inaudible) we want you to challenge that.
British Columbia (inaudible) hasn’t so far decided they have asked for extension, another two weeks they will know whether they are going to appeal the (inaudible). In the meantime, we’ve heard that victims families was (inaudible) the Public Safety Minister did meet them and she was there, of course, (inaudible) family decided to (inaudible). Reason that they haven’t asked (inaudible) for such a long time and now they are being (inaudible…) and the your predecessor and the Public Safety Minister earlier had indicated that once the judicial process comes to a close, (inaudible) will certainly talk about (inaudible) one thing, whether this at this stage, you are seriously thinking because there is no closure for this country and why (inaudible…) of time again and some to the same conclusions. Secondly, they have also publicly demanded (inaudible) how is it the prime minister of the country never do since 1985 and they’ve said (inaudible…) to meet the victims' families directly (inaudible...) why should you not, at this stage, when the judgement has gone, that will not interfere, even with us (inaudible) process, at least talk to them and say what you dare to say on behalf of the government and (inaudible) every person.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: I believe the eminent person is going to be named today. If not, certainly he’s going to named early this week. The first decision that has to be taken, obviously, is what’s going to happen with the appeal process in British Columbia. We can’t act in any way until we know what’s going to happen with the appeal. And then the eminent person can meet with the families and begin to put together the questions and the answers that have got to be done.
The general perspective right now, given the length of time that has taken place, and unfortunately the loss of evidence and this kind of thing, is that a judicial inquiry would not lead to the kind of closure that the families would look for and that it would simply be a long, drawn out process making it that much more difficult.
But this is something that the eminent person is going to have to decide in talking to the families. And as you know, the minister herself has said that she would like to meet with the families. But I will say to you that I think that your last comment is a valid one and that certainly along with the Deputy Prime Minister, if there was a desire, because not all the families want to meet. They’re still going through a terrible trauma.
QUESTION: There’ll be public statements of this demand that they would like to meet you.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Well, if that’s the case, then I apologize.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: I’ve not seen this.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister met with some of the families (inaudible) and I think what came out of that is a desire for (inaudible…) will be brought forward a little later on. As you quite rightly pointed out, there is the question, of course the appeal period not having been expired before the Prime Minister of the country pronounced himself or meets with people because I think that there are those who would suggest that it is inappropriate until that is done. And so once that’s expired, then I think you would… you could, in your question, (inaudible…). It’s a good observation.
QUESTION: There were formal letters sent by 70 families, (inaudible) and they, in their recent letter which was handed over to the Public Safety Minister, released to the media, that they expressed a desire that they would like to meet with the Prime Minister.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Let me tell you, if 70 Canadian families want to meet with the Prime Minister…
QUESTION: The victims' family, they represent the victims' families.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: If 70…
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: 70, if 70 Canadians representing these families want to meet with the Prime Minister of Canada, the Prime Minister of Canada will meet with them.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Good, thank you. And I only have a couple of other people who have not asked a question. I’ve got about 10 minutes left in the agenda. So I'm begging the indulgence of those who are on a second round, I’m going to switch to those first and then come back. That’s fair.
Okay, then what I would like to do is I’d like to go to Shrimal Abeyewardene from the Ethnic Press.
HON. JOE VOLPE: (Inaudible).
QUESTION: I have two questions. First, I must thank you, Mr. Prime Minister, for going down to Sri Lanka, the tsunami thing, and meeting with our people and going there.
Several questions have been asked about the Liberal Party and, so I don't see any reason why I should repeat another question to you. All we have to say, then, I can assure you that the Sri Lankan community is behind you and there is no problem on that. But I have still two questions. One is that since you visited Sri Lanka, it’s been some time and so (inaudible…). Do you think your government can play some kind of a role to make peace to Sri Lanka?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Let me just say, first of all, that we all saw the pictures on television about what happened in the tsunami. Those pictures didn't tell one tenth the story. When I went to the coastal village that had been hit frontally by the tsunami, I have never in my life seen anything like that. And I mean, I was standing in front of what, at one time, was a very nice house. There was a large crowd around, just to give you an example, and there was a man who was speaking to me in English and I was talking to him and there was a little boy beside him and who spoke to me in English and said, asked me if I would come with him. He said I want to show you something. So I said fine.
And then just before I left, I said to him, "Are you going to bring your father?" Because I just assumed that this was the son. The little boy looked up to me and he said: "This man is not my father. My father went with the wave."
I’ve got to tell you, you have no idea. You can’t conceive of what the wave of emotion was with me and what it must have been like for those people. The answer to your question, yes, I would like to see us play a role in the peace process. As you know, the Norwegians are playing the key role. We have been in touch with the Norwegians and we have said that we’re certainly prepared to do whatever we can. And we’ve also said that we will make ourselves available to either party as long as it’s well coordinated and as long as we can advance the process.
HON. JOE VOLPE: A supplementary?
QUESTION: My next question might not be really interesting at this part of the time, but just before elections, we met too, and I merely appeal to you to give us some federal labour tax. Do you remember?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Yes, I remember that discussion fairly well. Now what’s happened on that?
HON. JOE VOLPE: Well, can I answer that for you, (inaudible)?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Yes.
QUESTION: Yes, (inaudible…) they have taken everything from us, all the requirements, but we have not received any reply.
HON. JOE VOLPE: No, and I’ll be very frank with you, obviously in the climate of the day, we wanted to make sure that all of the issues related to advertising in all media met a particular test. There is a group that has targeted the funds that are going to be spent for government advertising, i.e. announcements, etcetera, and that what we’re in the process of doing is doing a roll out with all of the media as a government issue rather than as (inaudible).
So I think you’ll find that we will be moving on that probably, I think it went, as you know, Prime Minister, this has to go through a cabinet committee process and we’re pretty close to the end of that process.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: I can tell you, I believe it should be done and I will certainly support it.
QUESTION: Can I get something because I have been involved (inaudible) thank you and would like to thank (inaudible) for taking the initiative to bring us (inaudible) Public Works Canada. We work (inaudible) way to your thinking I believe is totally out of the reality.
We somehow things are moving in the right direction. We run to get the opportunity to every member, we should need an application so at least now the government will now what, exactly, happened and eventually I believe with the budget, the new budget, more advertising is going to come, but we do have a real problem. Because this time now (inaudible) our process from the government, not as before, (inaudible) it takes five to six months for a (inaudible) reach the publication.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Yes.
QUESTION: And most of the members are suffering economically and (inaudible…) $50,000 and $60,000, for example, because they have to pay all the expenses in order for the (inaudible) to have set the publication he needs, in advance, (inaudible) and we are talking for thousands of dollars. That’s the only thing at this point, I know, that you are not aware of those things. We are working and all the members are (inaudible) know that. We are working very hard, I went three, four times to Ottawa, they met me at Public Works. We even made an appearance at the (inaudible) committee and it seemed that we are in the right direction. But somehow, someone and there are minister received me.
HON. JOE VOLPE: I will take that. I’m on that committee providing some of the direction, so I’ll assume that that’s an observation made to me that I will take forth.
QUESTION: Thank you very much.
HON. JOE VOLPE: I know we’ve got time for another two questions, so Rahim Mouton(?), who has not asked a question, from Burma Post.
QUESTION: I am from Burma Post. Rahim Mouton. Since I’ve from Burma, my viewers… my readers are mostly from Burmese-Canadian community and as you know, since Burma, we have a military dictatorship since 1962 almost for 43 years and because of this aggressive regime, most of our people have been fled to neighbouring country and have settled in Thailand and from there, we settle in Canada.
Now after Burmese people are settled in different countries, a lot of migrant people are also (inaudible) in Thailand and while Burmese government has opened their policy of economics and a lot of Canadian firms are going there and investing, especially in mining sectors, like copper mining, gold mining and these mining companies, because of them, military is moving a lot of religious civilians to forced relocation and using these people back for mining as a slave. I mean, they are forced labourers.
So, and a lot of other Canadian investments are going for like car manufacturing sectors that they are imposing, you know. Labourers, in mean, people with the (inaudible) labourers, Thai labourers and (inaudible). So do your government have any intention of imposing sanctions or, I mean, like the United States have imposed a sanction in 2003 against Burma and some other country like E.U. and (inaudible) is imposing sanctions or is taking action against this oppressive regime?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: I actually raised the issue of Burma with the ASEAN nations about a month ago and I’ve had special meetings with both the government of Thailand and the government of Malaysia on the issue who are obviously much closer and in a much better position to put pressure. I’ve got to say, I’m very aware of the problem of migrant workers from Burma into Thailand and the problems that they are facing and the threats of expulsion, and that’s one of the reason that I raised at actually at the request of the Canadian-Burmese community.
Now I’ve got to tell you that there are Canadian companies in the process of exploiting people in Myanmar. It surprises me a great deal and I'm quite prepared to find the Canadian companies that are involved in Myanmar and basically ask them, in terms of their human rights, the treatment of people. And I will get onto that right away.
QUESTION: And then, especially Ivanhoe company. They are using a lot of, you know, see, cyanide poison for extracting gold and that is contaminating the water of the rivers which our people are using.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Do you have the names of the companies?
QUESTION: Yes, Ivanhoe Company.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Ivanhoe.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Ivanhoe, okay.
QUESTION: Yes, and the new gas company, oil and gas, are going for oil exploration and I would like to request your Right Honourable to intervene about this investment, there’s going to be a huge investment by the Canadian companies.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: I don't know new gas, I know Ivanhoe and what I’ve taken note.
QUESTION: Okay, sir. And other sector, second thing, I would like to request your government, if a lot of people are lying in refugee camps in Thailand as well as in India and Canada has just accepted 120 persons per year, so will it be possible for your government to increase the amount?
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Minister?
HON. JOE VOLPE: How could I tell you that we’re working on it. We have some already, as you saw, you heard the previous announcement the kinds of money that we are putting in place and that is designed to address several of those needs. Prime Minister, I’m sorry to do this to you and to everybody around the table because I have three people who want to get in on the second round, but I did say I wanted to give everybody an opportunity, so I’m going to give Amhed Shah Hotaki the last questions, from the Afghan Post.
And then, friends, I’m sorry to do this to you, but you’ll have an opportunity to take some pictures with the Prime Minister. We won’t do any posed pictures, but as he’s walking out, so that you can satisfy the need for your publications on the way out.
Okay, but Amhed your first…
QUESTION: (inaudible) get together a picture.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Sure, let’s do that.
HON. JOE VOLPE: Yes, we can do that. (Inaudible) photographer here, so he’ll do that, okay and then we’ll distribute the pictures (inaudible).
QUESTION: (inaudible) question on both (inaudible) Canadian (inaudible) decided to sent more troops on the PRT teams to Afghanistan especially (inaudible). It’s your plan just to another part of Afghanistan to send more troops for the PRT group or just you want to, Kandahar …
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Kandahar and Kabul. That’s certainly the discussion, I had the discussion with the chief of defence staff two weeks ago and it’s strictly Kandahar and Kabul.
QUESTION: Thank you.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: Okay. Well, if that’s the end, let me just say again, once again thanks, thank you to you all. Actually, we should do this more often and I’m going to tell you, the next time I come, I’m going to be a… That advertising question’s got to be answered.
QUESTION: Well, I was not expecting that you are going to know, but at least your office, to call and they helped, they tried to help.
All the best and don't go for elections, please.
RT. HON. PAUL MARTIN: I’m trying to hold off (inaudible). All right.