House of Commons Hansard #22 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it is the Bloc that should explain its position. This government has created many measures to help the unemployed during this global recession, but the Bloc has voted against those measures.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I invite him to debate with me in front of any group of unemployed workers anywhere in Quebec or Canada.

Incredibly, seven months before he was elected, this member signed a petition calling for the waiting period to be eliminated. As mayor of La Pocatière, he was in favour of eliminating the waiting period; during his campaign, he was in favour of eliminating it; but once he got here, he became a yes-man, just like his fellow yes-men, the token Quebeckers.

Will this Prime Minister take a stand and give Quebec something else?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc asked for an additional two weeks of benefits for the unemployed, and our government gave them an additional five weeks of benefits, as well as measures for long-tenured workers.

The Bloc voted against that, because what it really wants is for the federal government never to do anything. That is the real position of a separatist party, but the people of Quebec want a government that acts on behalf of Quebeckers.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government maintains that employment insurance premiums are set by an independent body. However, in the budget, it clearly announces that it will rake in a $19.2 billion surplus between 2011 and 2015.

How can the government claim that it does not have control over the employment insurance fund when it is already announcing that the fund will generate inordinate surpluses?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, when we presented measures to help the unemployed, I noticed that the Bloc voted against every single one of them. I also want to share this new reality with the Bloc MPs. When we presented our economic action plan, they voted against it. We just got our report card from Statistics Canada.

For the fifth month in a row, Canada's gross domestic product has increased by 0.6%. That means we made the right decisions, which they voted against.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, the minister does not have the courage to answer the question.

The reality is that the employment insurance fund is controlled by the government. Like the Liberals before them, the government will continue to set overly high premiums and try to pay out the least amount of benefits possible in order to generate huge surpluses for paying down the deficit.

Why does the government not acknowledge that, just like the Liberals, it will continue to gouge the unemployed?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma
Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, when we froze premiums for two years at $1.73 per $100 of earnings, the Bloc again stood up and voted against that measure at a time when the unemployed needed it the most: during the global economic crisis.

I want to remind the hon. member that if we had accepted the Bloc's proposal, a person receiving the full amount of employment insurance would have received $914. Our additional five weeks gave $2,285 to the unemployed, or $1,371 more than what the Bloc proposed.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the Prime Minister why he refused to pay back the $60 billion the Liberals stole from the employment insurance fund. He said he could not change history; he could not change the past.

The government has apologized for residential schools. It has compensated Chinese immigrants for the head tax. But when the time comes to atone for a blatant theft, why is he abandoning the unemployed?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I am very sorry that money was stolen from the EI fund 10 years ago by another government. That $60 billion is gone; that is the sad reality. We have established a system that will prevent anything like that from ever happening again, which is to the benefit of unemployed Canadians.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, what is happening here simply is not right. Here is what the former EI fund chief actuary, Mr. Michel Bédard, had to say, “The Budget Implementation Act...is now formally and finally wiping out the accumulated EI surpluses worth $57.2 billion”, $7 billion of that under the Conservative government.

The Prime Minister told the House that “every dollar in EI premiums should be used for the benefit of workers”. Why is the Prime Minister legalizing this Liberal theft?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Let me go back, Mr. Speaker. As everybody knows, that money, some 10 years ago, was taken by the previous government and used for other priorities. That is the reality. The $60 billion no longer exists. It has been spent.

We are instituting a system that will protect workers' premiums in the future and ensure they are used for the programs. That is our commitment and that is what we have done. I am sorry the leader of the NDP and his party have chosen not to support that.

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the government is going to make the workers and small businesses pay a second time for the money that was stolen.

Here is what the member for York—Simcoe, speaking for his party right before it took power, said:

The Conservative Party believes that the government needs to be held accountable for the cumulative balance in the Employment Insurance account...We believe that the slate must not be wiped clean.

The Conservative Party believes that this surplus is the property of those who have made the contributions to Employment Insurance—the workers and employers of Canada.

The Prime Minister's cabinet colleague had it right. Is he wrong today?

Employment Insurance
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest
Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper Prime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, the leader of the NDP knows full well that this money has been spent. It was spent years ago by the previous government. That is the reality.

As I said before, we cannot change the past. We can set up a better system for the future. When we do so, I wish the NDP would join us and actually support these things.

What matters is not crying about the past. What matters is doing something now to help the unemployed and the workers of the country. That is what this government is doing.

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

April 1st, 2010 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ujjal Dosanjh Vancouver South, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of National Defence says that he never received any face-to-face warnings about the risk of torture. However, senior diplomat, Cory Anderson, says that he met the minister five times on the ground in Kandahar when he was a political adviser. They discussed torture in Afghan jails as a mission killer. The minister did not listen to Anderson, did not listen to Colvin and denied ever being warned.

The minister has been misleading the Canadian public and the House. Why?

Afghanistan
Oral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)

Mr. Speaker, virtually everything my colleague has said is incorrect. Nothing new was introduced when he spoke to committee yesterday. There were no specific allegations of any abuse. In fact, Mr. Anderson stated, quite clearly, that the rigid monitoring regime that was put in place by this government had been effective and that there was not a problem.