House of Commons Hansard #152 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was first.

Topics

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will have an opportunity to meet with Mr. Sampson tomorrow and we can discuss his case. We are going to do our best to find out how we can serve Canadians in the future and I will listen attentively to the advice he can give me. However, all members of the House have to know that from the Prime Minister to myself to the House leader to many private members on both sides of the House, we worked incessantly for the release of Mr. Sampson and I defend how we did it in a way which was in his best interests.

What happened, and the House will know, is that four British prisoners were in there at the same time as Mr. Sampson. They got out at the same time. We worked together. Our diplomacy worked with their diplomacy.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that William Sampson was brutalized and tortured while the government silently watched this happen.

This question is for the Prime Minister. It is one of the few times that I will be able to put the question to the Prime Minister, probably the last time. Is this the kind of legacy that you want to leave, where Canadians are brutalized--

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. for New Brunswick Southwest knows that he must address his questions to the Chair. He has been here a long time. He is fully conversant with that and I know he will want to comply with the rules in every respect.

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am suggesting that Canada could leave a better legacy on behalf of the Prime Minister in terms of the torture and brutality inflicted on this man, and it was very damming testimony this morning in committee, while the government stood by.

Will the Prime Minister launch a public inquiry?

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale
Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham Minister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the House that when the Prime Minister asked me as chairman of the House committee in this affair to go to Saudi Arabia to speak to the king and to speak to Prince Abdullah about the fate of Mr. Sampson, he was not thinking about his legacy. He was thinking about the safety of a Canadian and how we could effectively assist that Canadian.

The Prime Minister's instructions to me have always been to act in a way to ensure the safety of Canadians through the diplomatic channels that we have established because of the goodwill that Canada has working with other nations and to have success in the end. Mr. Sampson is here with us today to--

Foreign Affairs
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier--Sainte-Marie.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance had the gall to state that the unemployed do not contribute to EI.

I would remind him that, before they lost their jobs, they made their contribution, their full contribution and now they are unemployed, a mere 40% of them are receiving benefits, because the government has helped itself to $45 billion from the employment insurance fund.

Given his minister's insensitivity to that reality, will the Prime Minister admit that, under his government, six out of ten workers paying into the fund do not get anything back from it when they become unemployed, and thus are doubly taxed?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first, I think that the hon. member ought to recognize that the government and the Canadian economy have created 3 million jobs in recent years. This is a considerable contribution to those who, unfortunately, find themselves facing unemployment.

The unemployed receive benefits, which is why the minister said, “When they are unemployed, they unfortunately do not pay into the fund”. When they are working, however, they do.

I think that anyone would have understood the Minister of Finance very well if they had listened carefully.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, anyone who looked at the statistics carefully would see that only 39% of the unemployed draw benefits. With the creation of 3 million jobs, the means were in place to look after those in need.

Will the Prime Minister admit that this represents a poor social choice by his government and that, among other things, it has paid down its debt by taking money from those who needed it most?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

November 6th, 2003 / 2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice
Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone knows that Canadians have collectively rolled up their sleeves and succeeded in eliminating the deficit. That is why today, for example, instead of mortgage rates of 11.5%, people with low incomes are paying only 6%.

That is why there is so much construction, which creates jobs, thereby reducing unemployment. I believe we have always been concerned with ensuring that the weakest members of society have access to work and the self-respect that goes with it.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, six out of every ten persons who lose their jobs are denied employment insurance benefits. The other four, who receive benefits, receive less money for a shorter time because of government decisions.

How can the Prime Minister justify his government's stubborn bias against the most vulnerable people in our society, those who have lost their jobs?

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear that the employment insurance system is there and it is working for those for whom it was designed. Of those who pay premiums, close to 90% will be eligible for benefits should they need them.

As the Prime Minister has said, the government has created three million new jobs for Canadians since it was elected. At the same time, as we have had more people working and more premiums being paid, we have been reducing employment insurance premiums. That has saved individuals and employers a considerable amount since 1993.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I call on the minister to listen to the real statistics, not the ones her department keeps going on about.

When the Prime Minister took office, 57% of people who lost their jobs received EI benefits. Today that figure is 39%, not 90% as she just said. She repeats the same thing over and over.

Is it not the case that the government's refusal to review the rules for eligibility for EI benefits illustrates how the government has made a very poor choice with serious consequences for all those who lose their jobs, that is, 61% of unemployed—

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister for Human Resources Development.

Employment Insurance
Oral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant
Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart Minister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let us look at some of those statistics. Again, three million jobs have been created since the government took office. Half of those jobs have been created for Canadian women.

Let us understand that every single year since we have been in power, we have reduced employment insurance premiums. For the next year they will be at $1.98 for employees.

When it comes to investing in Canadians, I want to remind the hon. member that it is through the employment insurance system that we have doubled parental benefits, that we will be now introducing a compassionate leave program.

We understand our role in supporting Canadian workers.