House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 36th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-16.

Topics

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Kilger Stormont—Dundas, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

In the spirit of co-operation, I have consulted with members of all parties and wonder if there might be unanimous consent, if you were to seek it, Mr. Speaker, that we would extend, by no more than five minutes, to complete the question and comment period for the member for Calgary Northeast. It is my understanding that we would then put the question and the matter would be deferred.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Is there agreement to proceed for another five minutes, at the end of which we will put the question on the bill?

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member for Calgary Northeast as he was talking about the Chinese migrant boat people. I also dealt with that in my remarks. As a member of the citizenship and immigration committee, we certainly heard about it over and over again, mostly from the members of the Reform Party.

It is true that when the first boatload of people landed on the shores of the west coast, the Reform Party members had a press conference demanding that the boat be turned around and sent back in its present state. They did not even want to give them a new boat. They just wanted to send them back where they came from, obviously not recognizing the 1985 supreme court ruling that once people have laid their feet on this soil they do have a right to a hearing.

Obviously the Reform Party members wanted to be judge and jury both. They wanted to take one look at these people and claim they were not refugees because they did not deem them to be refugees as they did not look like us and send them back to where they came from without even a hearing. This is absolutely absurd because everybody has a right to due process and a hearing, and that is exactly what is going on right now.

I do not expect the member for Calgary Northeast, who has not sat on that committee for a long time, to be fully up to speed on what people are doing to deal with this issue. However, for the member for Calgary Northeast to say that nothing is being done about people smuggling and nothing is being done to deal with the backlog of these desperate migrants who have washed up on the west coast, is absolute baloney.

These people have been locked up and are awaiting hearings. They are being dealt with one by one. In the hearings so far it has been found that most of them do not fit the category of refugee and they are being sent back to where they came from, to the Fujian province. Five or six have been found to be genuine refugees and they are being welcomed into our country.

For the hon. member to stand up and help fan the flames of hatred in this country with misinformation like that is inexcusable. I personally will not sit here and listen to it. I hear it too much on the immigration committee as it is. These members are the architects of the misinformation that is actually turning into an anti-immigration movement in this country built around 500 or 600 desperate people who are seeking a better life on our shores.

I notice there is an organization now called the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee. I am just wondering if there is any connection with the Reform Party because these hate-mongers are saying exactly the same thing as this political party, and there is also the commonality with the names. I am just wondering if they are not more constitutionally connected or associated.

That will be my question. Is there a direct connection between the Reform Party and the Canada First Immigration Reform Committee, which is the purveyor of hate in this country when it comes to anti-immigration?

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:30 p.m.

Reform

Art Hanger Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know of any specific comment that I made during my presentation that involved hate.

I and members of my party do not belong to any organization, nor do we have any ties to any other organization that espouses hate. I am surprised at the member's comments. I feel ashamed for him as a member of parliament trying to impugn that kind of response to this party. None has been placed on his party over any other issue such as this. I do not think it deserves the dignity of an answer when he puts it in that form.

I will put it in a way that all in the House will recognize. The Reform Party wants to see a good, honest, fair immigration process. That is what we are asking for. We have never said anything about not having a good, honest, fair immigration process or a refugee process. We want to see refugees come from those areas in the world where they are truly refugees as defined by the U.N., not gate-crashers.

If that is what this member from the NDP party is trying to portray, I say “absolutely not”. We have set ourselves apart. Sure, we have dared to talk about the immigration policy in this country because it needed to be talked about. It should involve the people in this country and not just fan the flames of anger. There is a party that just did.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The time for questions and comments has now expired. I understand the disposition of the House is to proceed with the question on this bill. Is the House ready for the question.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Citizenship Of Canada Act
Government Orders

5:35 p.m.

An hon. member

On division.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Business Of The House
Government Orders

March 23rd, 2000 / 5:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. I have received notice from the hon. member for Wentworth—Burlington that he is unable to move his motion during private members' hour on Friday, March 24.

It has not been possible to arrange an exchange of positions in the order of precedence. Accordingly, I am directing the table officers to drop that item of business to the bottom of the order of precedence.

Private members' hour will thus be cancelled and the House will continue with the business before it prior to private members' hour.

It being 5.38 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of Private Members' Business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from December 15, 1999, consideration of the motion and of the amendment.

Employment Insurance
Private Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The last time the motion was debated an amendment to the amendment was moved by the member for Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques. The Deputy Speaker had reservations about whether it was in order and took the matter under advisement.

Since then, the Chair was able to look into the matter and is now ready to make a ruling on the amendment to the amendment. First, I wish to remind the members of the House of the wording of the amendment to the amendment.

That the following words be added at the end of the motion:

“and the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development review the situation of these workers at its next sitting.”

Amendments to amendments must flow strictly from the amendment and try to amend it, they must not flow from the original question. They cannot go beyond the amendment, introduce new issues having nothing to do with it, or differ substantially from the amendment.

Since this amendment to the amendment does not meet these criteria, I declare that it is out of order.

Employment Insurance
Private Members' Business

5:40 p.m.

NDP

Michelle Dockrill Bras D'Or, NS

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to the amendment to the motion proposed by my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst with respect to workers in seasonal industries.

The nature of this amendment, which seeks to substitute the immediate action component of Motion No. 222, helps all of us understand exactly what the government is trying to do. It is trying to delay further and this delay is dangerous. This amendment to review employment insurance benefits for seasonal workers is yet another cheap stalling tactic by the Liberal government.

The motion proposes immediate action. We have been asking for that for a very long time as have seasonal workers. Even the delegates to the Liberal convention know it is right. They introduced a resolution calling on the government to remove intensity provisions which claw back benefits for seasonal workers who repeatedly draw employment insurance.

The board of referees of employment insurance in Sydney also know it, especially when they are forced to deny appeals by workers even though they “feel the claimant and many more like her are being penalized by section 15 of the EI Act and would like the powers that be to have a serious look at the act and some kind of restructuring in the near future”.

It is pretty clear to me and everybody except the government to understand that many seasonal workers are seasonal workers not by choice but because the very nature of their work is seasonal. In other words, the cycle which causes seasonal workers to apply numerous times for EI benefits is not the choice of the workers. It is a part of their working conditions.

Seasonal workers, their families and their children cannot wait for the government to figure out that it is only their work that is seasonal. Their needs for housing, food and clothing is not seasonal. The need to get by, day by day, with dignity is not seasonal. It is a basic right.

In my part of the country, looking at the most recent stats available from Statistics Canada, we can see that seasonal employment causes huge changes in the monthly unemployment rate where it has been as high as 20.6% in January 1999 down to 14.1% in August. By December 1999 the unemployment rate in Cape Breton had climbed back to over 20%. In our region where many workers depend on seasonal industries, even our lowest monthly unemployment rate is still much higher than the national average.

By cutting benefits to seasonal workers, the government is directly reducing the quality of life for the hundreds of thousands of people who are employed in seasonal industries in this country.

In my riding of Bras d'Or—Cape Breton, there are many people who depend on seasonal employment. Any Liberal who crosses the Canso tells anybody who will listen that it will be tourism that will save the economy of the island, that it will be tourism that will provide employment for all. Tourism is a seasonal industry.

It is my colleagues and I in the NDP who recognize that although tourism might provide a much needed push to the economy, if EI benefits for seasonal workers are not restored immediately the net gain will not be as big as the Liberals would like Cape Bretoners to believe. On one hand, it pushes for an industry that will provide seasonal work, but with the other it takes away the dignity that those workers deserve. The government should be ashamed of its attempts to sneak out the back door of its responsibility to encourage and promote economic development in Cape Breton.

Seasonal workers are not some marginal part of the workforce. They are an integral part of the workforce and they deserve to be treated with dignity. Most of the seasonal workers who have been affected by the cuts live in rural regions of the country. It is the rural regions that have really been suffering under the Liberal government's slash and burn tactics over the last few years and they are certainly not the beneficiaries of last month's budget tax cuts.

We must stop the marginalization of seasonal workers and we must stop it now. We should not need a lengthy review before benefits are restored to seasonal workers. I know I do not need that. We need to restore those benefits now.

Do we need to have a debate about the problems that seasonal workers face? Yes. Do we need to examine these problems indepth and create long term plans to reduce the recurring cycle of unemployment that seasonal workers face? Yes. Do we need to delay restoring Employment Insurance benefits by reviewing benefits? No. We need to restore benefits now. We need to commit ourselves to an extended debate here in the House and across the country in communities where people depend on seasonal employment. I would not disagree with the principle that the amendment in Motion No. 222 proposes, that is that we need to review EI benefits to seasonal workers, but first we need to restore benefits.

Seasonal workers will not be fooled by any attempts the government makes to increase its popularity in time for an election. The Liberal government's record shows that it deserted seasonal workers. The Liberals should be more concerned with rectifying an unjust and discriminatory policy than improving their lot at the polls.

It is through support of Motion No. 222 without the amendment, so that benefits to seasonal workers are restored immediately. The Liberals have a chance to improve their record. Who knows what it will do for them in the polls? Frankly, who cares?

The important thing is ensuring year round quality of life for all Canadians. Therefore I move:

That the amendment be amended by adding the following words after the word “review”, “in country wide-public hearings”.

Employment Insurance
Private Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

The Chair finds the proposed amendment to the amendment in order. The question is on the amendment to the amendment.