House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was speech.

Topics

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-287, An Act respecting a National Peacekeepers' Day, as reported (with amendment) from the committee.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed without debate to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Brent St. Denis Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in at report stage.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

All those opposed will please say nay.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

The division on the motion stands deferred until Wednesday, October 24, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

That therefore concludes private members' business for the moment.

Suspension of Sitting
National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

Is it agreed that the sitting be suspended until 12 o'clock?

Suspension of Sitting
National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Suspension of Sitting
National Peacekeepers' Day Act
Private Members' Business

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

(The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:05 a.m.)

(The House resumed at 12 p.m.)

The House resumed from October 19 consideration of the motion for an address to Her Excellency the Governor General in reply to her speech at the opening of the session, and of the amendment.

Resumption of debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

October 22nd, 2007 / noon

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join the debate in the response to the Speech from the Throne.

I commend our leader on the position he has taken in not voting down the government on the throne speech. I think it is wise, because there really was nothing in the speech overall. It was pretty much innocuous. If we were to change 25 words it could be a past Liberal Speech from the Throne.

For the most part, throne speeches try to be positive. They try to set out a bit of a template. This one sort of did it from about 35,000 feet. Nonetheless, I think where we are going to run into trouble is where we drill down into the specific issues, where we look at the details of some of the actions and some of the legislation being put forward by the government.

It is always contended that the devil is in the details and I think that is what we are going to find. As long as this Parliament lasts, as long as the session goes forward, I think what we will find is that the people on this side will stand and fight on an issue by issue basis. That has been our contention, to make Parliament work and to make it work for Canadians, but when we see that the better needs and the best needs of Canadians are being compromised, that is when we will call the government to task.

There are certainly a number of issues like this in the throne speech. When I look at the statement that the government is going to review aspects of the EI system, I personally am greatly concerned. I think a number of Canadians somewhat suspect actions taken by the government in the way it has addressed employment insurance. As the government brings this forward, we are certainly going to try to represent what is best in regard to the needs of workers.

I should state from the outset that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Davenport.

Let us think back to the last time that a Conservative government had control of EI. We can look back to the late 1980s. We know that the EI fund of that time had been exhausted. It was from there, from the Auditor General's report, when we did have a stand-alone EI system, that once that program had been decimated through the late 1980s because of high unemployment rates and the draw on that fund at the time, the Auditor General said we had to take that program and put it back into the general accounts. That is what was done.

We know that through the mid-1990s the unemployment rate came down. More Canadians got back to work. There was less of a draw on the EI fund. There were changes made to the unemployment insurance act back in the mid-1990s. Over time, the premium rates paid by workers and employees went down. The economy took hold and grew. As a country we began to prosper and more money was paid into the fund.

I shared some time with my colleague from Acadie—Bathurst on an all party committee in the last Parliament. We put forward some recommendations on changes to EI. Some very worthwhile things came out of those consultations and that committee. Certainly the dropping of the divisor rule and going to the best 14 weeks are things that I think better serve the workers in this country.

We saw the response of the Conservatives at that time. They wanted no part of that. They wanted an in-out, stand-alone system, like an insurance policy. Canadians have come to expect more from that system. A great piece of EI legislation came forward in the last session. As a matter of fact, it was put forward by my colleague from Sydney—Victoria. It would extend sick benefits to those who are undergoing cancer treatment or perhaps are debilitated from heart and stroke illnesses. These are devastating illnesses to experience. They sometimes yield catastrophic outcomes for a family.

I thought the legislation made sense, but we saw that the government had no use for it. The government saw no purpose in it and voted against it, which was very disappointing. I am sure it was disappointing not just to the other three parties in this House, but to working Canadians, because all they are trying to do is provide for their families.

I think it is telling about the Conservative government as well when we read through the throne speech but do not see the words “student”, “university” or “post-secondary”. Those words are nowhere to be found in the Speech from the Throne. Our young students can draw no kind of hope or optimism from this throne speech.

Certainly we saw the government show a total disregard for the students of this country when it decimated and gutted the student employment program last year. It was the opposition parties in the House that fought to have at least a bit more money put back into that program. Community groups from coast to coast supported that program and had offered summer employment opportunities to students for many years. It was a great program, well served, and was subscribed to by many businesses and not for profit groups from coast to coast. Yet it was decimated by the Conservative government.

This showed a total lack of caring and understanding by the government about the needs of students in this country and a lack of understanding of the needs of not for profit groups in this country. Giving extra money to students is necessary to help them pay their way through university, but for many of these students this program is their first opportunity for a summer job to build skills and to start developing a resumé. I do not think there is anything better that we can give our youth. That was torn away from them by the government last spring.

While on the topic of universities, I note that I come from the province of Nova Scotia, which has a great reputation for having some of the top post-secondary institutions in this country, such as St. Francis Xavier, St. Mary's and Dalhousie. The post-secondary institutions in Nova Scotia are at the forefront of a lot of research. These post-secondary institutions have pretty much been pillaged by the Conservative government. That is what concerns me about the throne speech.

The government is changing the way it supports these institutions in transfers from the federal government to provincial governments. It did put in a bit more money, and I commend the government for doing so, but when it changes the system from an equity based system to a per capita based system, it is the small Atlantic provinces that are going to be hurt. In this change alone, Nova Scotia will receive $28 million less under the new system that was adopted by the Conservative government. Over the 10 year term of this change, Nova Scotians will receive $65 million. The province of Alberta will receive $3.5 billion. The minister's own province is doing okay, but where is the equity? Where is the fairness? Why should Nova Scotia be left behind? That is the unfairness that I see. That is pitting one region against another. We have seen this time and again from the government. There is a true unfairness there.

I can assure the government that we on this side of the House, on an issue by issue basis when that legislation comes forward, will stand and defend the rights of Nova Scotians. We will defend fairness. We will make sure that whatever the Conservatives bring forward will be scrutinized. If it is going to hurt Nova Scotians and if it is going to hurt Canadians, we will stand here and we will defeat it.