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House of Commons Hansard #275 of the 35th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was quebec.

Topics

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Reform

Jim Silye Reform Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Speaker, the government has tabled two bills amending the Unemployment Insurance Act. It is trying to make it better, trying to improve it to make it something that holds hope for all Canadians. The government is trying to show Canadians that it is being responsible.

In my role as an opposition member and as an individual who has employed a lot of people and has seen how the unemployment insurance system works, I am sorry to report that upon evaluation of all the items, clauses and elements in the bill, basically the minister of human resources has taken a 12 or 15-year old idea, brought it to the surface and finally has his way. Instead of making it simple, he has proceeded to make it even more complicated, more confusing and more convoluted than the Income Tax Act. He has done nothing to make it sound and appear in language that people can understand. He had a choice between using the KISS method in accounting, keep it simple stupid, as opposed to what he has done.

I have a number of concerns about this. The minister had the opportunity to make unemployment insurance truly a program for which it was designed: an insurance program against the time when someone is unemployed. The payments should be equal between employer and employee. I do not know why the minister has allowed the practice to continue where an employer has to pay almost 1.4 times that of an employee. This is what kills jobs. This is why payroll taxes are called job killers. The minister has not listened to this.

If this were a true insurance program, there would be no need for the minister to use moneys from UI for five development tools; $800 million for targeted wage subsidies; targeted earnings supplements; self-employment; job creation partnerships; skills loans and

grants. This is nothing more and nothing less than a vote getting method of spending money. It is old style politics. It reeks of self-service, reeks of missing the point.

The money should go to reduce UI payments for both employer and employee instead of being used for these programs. Then if we want job training programs or to subsidize businesses to hire people, it should be a separate envelope and spending should be made visible instead of invisible.

We are giving the human resources development minister$19 billion to play with when all we are spending on UI benefits is $11 billion. All the other programs amount to approximately$3.1 billion and there is still a slush fund of about $5 billion left over. Why?

We could lower taxes, offer tax relief to the Canadian public through relief of payroll taxes. Employers and employees would be happy with that. But no, the minister wants to be king. The minister wants to hold out a carrot on a stick to say that he is going to help all the unemployed people.

I do not understand why there are different rates of payment across the country for people who collect benefits. Why did he not address that problem? In an area of high unemployment, 16 per cent or higher, why do people get more for staying there than if they moved to an area where there is low unemployment of 6 per cent or less, and get less money for staying there? People are not being asked to look for a job. They are being paid to stay put and are paid more money to stay put than to go and look for a new job. That does not solve the problem. It adds to it, just like the Minister of Finance keeps adding to our debt by setting targets which add to the problem instead of solving it.

The name change is serious. Changing the name from the unemployment insurance program to employment insurance program is really serious. What does that mean to the Canadian taxpayer? People are going to say that they paid into it and when they are unemployed they expect to get their money from unemployment insurance. Fine, they get it. Some people have abused the system and we are trying to weed them out.

If the name is changed to employment insurance people are going to think: "I am paying money into a program which will guarantee me a job if I lose my job". That is what employment means. The minister is toying with people's minds. He is toying with a name change which will have a serious impact. The people will be disappointed if they do not get what they want. It is ridiculous. Once again it is all about politics.

Why not address the problem and solve it? Let us use the unemployment insurance program as such. We should not use it for other things which will increase the costs and allow the minister to waste taxpayers' money. It should be used for the purposes for which it was intended: strictly for payment when people are unemployed.

Supposedly somewhere along the line the minister tested a trial balloon on a voucher system. If the provincial governments do not offer training the way an unemployed individual would like it, if they want to be retrained, if they want to receive an income supplement, if they want to become self-employed, if they want a loan or if they want to create a partnership, they can go to the federal government with the voucher and it will give the individual what they want. Does that not add to the problem? Is that not overlap and duplication of services? Is that not what we are trying to avoid with decentralization?

The Prime Minister promised the province of Quebec that he would transfer manpower training to it. With this bill he has not let go of the strings. He has not let Quebec take care of manpower training. With this bill he is still involved in job training. He is still looking after the training of the people of Quebec. That does not solve the problem. Once again it is adding to the problem. I do not see the difference between job training and manpower training. C'est la même chose, n'est-ce pas?

Where would we go? What would the hon. member for Calgary Centre do if he happened to be lucky enough to have the job of the Minister of Human Resources Development a couple of years from now? With all due respect to our current critic, the hon. member for Calgary Southeast who is looking forward to that job, I do not want it. However, if I had the job the first thing I would do would be to make it a true insurance program. I would establish matching funds for employers and employees, not accelerate the payments made by employers. That might create tax relief which might enable companies to hire more people.

The second thing I would do would be to have everyone pay the same rate, qualify the same way and receive the same amount of money wherever they are. I realize there are some differences. Perhaps in tougher areas they might be allowed an additional week of benefits, but that would be it. Everyone would receive the same benefits. That would make people move around the country to find jobs, rather than staying put, staying cushy and saying thank you very much.

I would also change job training. I would not have human resources development looking after job training. The hon. member for Calgary Centre would have the Minister of Industry look after job training, if in fact we wanted to offer job training to people and if in fact the industry was reluctant to provide opportunities for people to learn, to obtain jobs and to become skilled.

The government should get out of the business of being in business. It should lower government spending to the point where it is only collecting money to do the things which Canadians want. This is not a program which Canadians want; this is a program

which the human resources development minister and his bureaucrats want.

We are collecting $5 billion more than we need. It might be more than $5 billion because there are other programs we could abolish. We might be collecting $6 billion or $7 billion more than we need. That is why our taxes are so high.

It used to be that the bureaucrats in unemployment insurance who worked in the towns and cities across the land helped the people who were unemployed. They would look in the papers, they would get on the phone and they would find employment opportunities. There was a three-strike rule, which is something the minister has not addressed.

For example, a plumber is out of work and cannot get a job. He collects unemployment insurance. The agency in the old days when it wanted to help, would say: "We cannot get you a job in your trade right now, but there is an opportunity over here. Would you like to learn something new? Would you like to try something else?" The plumber would reply: "No. I want a plumber's job". The second time it was: "We have something over here working in a school. If you are on the spot and the pipe bursts you might be lucky". The reply was: "No, I don't want that". The third job they offered was paying relatively the same amount of money he was making or something close to it. Even if it was not close to it, they told him to take the job because he is the available person who has some skills they need.

Many jobs are going unfulfilled. We talk about our high unemployment levels but we never talk about the number of available jobs. We never correlate the two. I believe the three-strike rule should be reintroduced as well.

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

It being 2 p.m. we will now proceed to Statements by Members.

Voyageur FestivalStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, like every year, I would like to invite all my colleagues to attend the Voyageur Festival in St. Boniface next February. This festival celebrates the history, traditions and culture of the French and Metis people.

We offer an impressive line-up of activities such as exhibitions, dancing, singing, music and theatre, all in French. Thousands of people from all over the world come to the festival to witness this joie de vivre. This year, the Voyageur Festival was voted one of the best 100 tourist destinations by the American Bus Association. It is the second time that the largest winterfest in western Canada has received this honour. The Voyageur Festival was also awarded three prizes by the international association of festivals and events.

I therefore invite you, Mr. Speaker and all my colleagues, to be our guests at this festival showcasing the tenacity and richness of the French and Metis cultures.

Canadian Broadcasting CorporationStatements By Members

December 11th, 1995 / 1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Gilbert Fillion Bloc Chicoutimi, QC

Mr. Speaker, the steam roller of cuts imposed by the federal Liberal government, that posed not so long ago as the great defender of culture, is on the move. The first target is unquestionably the CBC and Radio Canada International.

Over the weekend, more than 600 layoffs were confirmed at the CBC. These layoffs are to be distributed equally between the French and the English networks, which is unfair.

Last week, the Prime Minister said that there was no Quebec culture. So why protect it then? That seems to be the reaction of CBC senior management, even though the French network has demonstrated that it is more efficient, popular and costs less than its English sister network.

And what about Radio Canada International, which they are about to wipe off the face of the earth without even waiting for the Juneau report?

These cuts will have a devastating impact on the people and artists of Quebec and Canada.

Victims Of CrimeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, the justice minister stood in the House when Reformers demanded recognition for victims of crime and told all how he listened to victims groups, police associations and chiefs of police. He has heard from every victims group in Canada, from police officers, police associations and chiefs of police that section 745 of the Criminal Code reducing parole eligibility for murderers should be repealed.

Angry Canadians have told me this justice minister rams through legislation that divides Canadians, but when it comes to legislation that would unite Canadians like repealing section 745 he does nothing.

A private member's bill is languishing in committee because the justice minister does not have the courage to follow the wishes of every victims group, police and the vast majority of Canadians.

The justice minister will prorogue the bill that will repeal section 745. He will allow first degree murderers a statute of limitations on their heinous crimes. He will continue to follow the wishes of a few instead of the many and will continue to divide Canadians instead of unite them.

IraqStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jag Bhaduria Liberal Markham—Whitchurch-Stouffville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Food and Agriculture Organization, an agency of the United Nations, released a shocking report on the implications of the economic sanctions against Iraq.

In the four years since the Persian Gulf war more than 560,000 Iraqi children have died as a direct result of the sanctions. Present day suffering is intolerable; food prices are extremely high; and the water and sanitation systems have rapidly deteriorated.

Most important, hospitals are functioning at 40 per cent capacity and many serious operations are being performed without the proper medical supplies. The bottom line is that literally thousands of innocent children are dying every day.

In the true spirit of the upcoming holiday season I call upon the government to support the elimination of the UN embargo and support the giving of humanitarian aid and medical supplies to the people of Iraq.

Canadian Armed ForcesStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Ted McWhinney Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, the commitment by the minister of defence of the Canadian Armed Forces to the new international force that is to maintain the just concluded truce between the three warring parties in Bosnia-Hercegovina remains within the parameters of the United Nations charter.

NATO is a regional security organization within chapter VIII of the charter. Its military commanders and political governors are thereby placed under the aegis of chapter VI of the charter on peacekeeping and on international law under the charter, including the contemporary laws of war.

ArmeniaStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sarkis Assadourian Liberal Don Valley North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the seventh anniversary of the terrible tragedy of the Armenian earthquake.

On December 7, 1988 nature unleashed its fury and hundreds of thousands of lives were changed forever by this tragic event. The magnitude of this natural disaster is almost unimaginable. The death toll has never been firmly established, but estimates range upward of 100,000 deaths and over 500,000 additional people injured.

In response to the tragedy the Government of Canada provided over $6 million in aid to Armenia through the Red Cross and Canadians from all regions of our nation donated an additional $2.5 million in humanitarian relief.

When I was in Armenia last year I was told again and again that the people of Armenia are forever grateful to Canada and Canadians.

Sacred AssemblyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Elijah Harper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, last week thousands of Canadians from all walks of life gathered in Hull for a sacred assembly. We brought together spiritual leaders of many faiths, aboriginal leaders from coast to coast, youth, elders, political leaders, as well as guests and visitors from South Africa, Brazil, the United States and Central America.

I am happy to tell the House that the assembly was a success. We came together in the spirit of faith and reconciliation and agreed on a new vision for Canada as a whole. We have laid the groundwork for reconciliation and healing in this land.

I thank members of the House who joined us in Hull last week, especially the member for Saint-Jean who represented the official opposition, the hon. minister of Indian affairs and the hon. Prime Minister. They all made valuable contributions. I hope they will continue to work with us as the process of healing and reconciliation continues for all Canadians. God bless.

The ConstitutionStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Jean H. Leroux Bloc Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's bill to give five regions of Canada a right of veto on any eventual constitutional amendment is worse than the amending formula contained in the Constitution imposed on us in 1982.

In less than two weeks, the Liberal government will have imposed distinct society on Quebec against the will of the Quebec National Assembly and given a veto to two provinces that do not want it or would prefer something else.

The amending formula for the Constitution that requires the consent of seven provinces representing 50 per cent of the Canadian population was already considered particularly coercive. Now consent will be required from seven provinces representing 92 per cent of the population.

As Jean Dion writes in today's Le Devoir , we can just imagine some smart alecs inferring that the consent of 14 provinces representing 142 per cent of the population will be required in the future.

Hmcs CalgaryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Darrel Stinson Reform Okanagan—Shuswap, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian military performed a miraculous rescue at sea recently when five air crew aboard an aging Sea King helicopter rescued 30 people from a sinking cargo vessel during a raging mid-Atlantic storm.

Thirty times during that terrible storm, Master Corporal Rob Fisher was lowered on to the heaving deck of the bulk carrier Mount Olympus , epitomizing the best traditions of brave men in fearful conditions.

Piloting that chopper was Captain Dan Burden, a 36-year old naval officer from Salmon Arm in my riding of Okanagan-Shuswap, where he attended elementary and high schools and where his proud parents, James and Norene Burden, still make their home.

Captain Burden recently spent six months in the Persian Gulf. Over Christmas he plans some r and r with his wife Catherine, four-year old son Alexander and infant daughter Elizabeth.

I ask the House to join me in congratulating the Canadian Navy and especially the officers and crew of HMCS Calgary for their heroic efforts.

Stora Feldmill Ltd.Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Francis Leblanc Liberal Cape Breton Highlands—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to inform the House today that STORA Feldmill of Sweden will be carrying out a $650 million expansion of its pulp and paper facilities in Point Tupper in my riding of Cape Breton Highlands-Canso. The company made the announcement today.

The investment in a new paper plant at this location will create 800 construction jobs over the next two years. Just as important, the expansion will secure newsprint and paper production jobs over the long term in eastern Nova Scotia.

The government, along with its provincial and municipal partners, has pursued the expansion vigorously. Once again we have proven that Nova Scotia can attract international investment.

The location of the facility on the Strait of Canso on our east coast offers competitive transport costs to both the United States and Europe. The new facility is scheduled to be in operation early in 1998 and project planning has already started.

The government has proven it can be aggressive in attracting and keeping international investment in Canada.

Highway 416Statements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Jim Jordan Liberal Leeds—Grenville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the announcement that federal and provincial governments have agreed on a plan to finance the construction of highway 416 south from Ottawa is being applauded throughout eastern Ontario.

Besides providing hundreds of construction jobs, the new four-lane route will connect the nation's capital with the nation's busiest highway.

Dozens of accidental deaths and injuries over the last few years have been attributed to a highway that is simply inadequate. Canadians and visitors alike can look forward to a modern, state of the art highway in and out of the nation's capital by the year 2000.

I congratulate both levels of government for finally giving the project the priority it deserves.

Government Of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Karen Kraft Sloan Liberal York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, in a recent Ekos poll Canadians were asked what values they wanted their federal government to uphold. Responses were collated and presented in two groups. One of the top three values identified by Canadian elites was minimal government.

What did the Canadian public say was their top three values? They were freedom, a clean environment and a healthy population. Minimal government was last on a list of 23 choices for Canadians.

What does the Reform Party want? It wants to cut, to gut and to eviscerate the federal government. Canadians want a strong federal government with strong national standards. The Reform Party is not the party of the people as it says but a party of limited special interests, a party for the elite and not for the people.

Judge Jean BienvenueStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Rocheleau Bloc Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, judge Jean Bienvenue of the Quebec superior court made unacceptable and revolting comments regarding the victims of the Holocaust and women in general. The judge said that women were capable of committing acts more despicable than those of the vilest man.

I ask the Minister of Justice to order without delay an inquiry by the Canadian Judicial Council. Unfortunately, the council rarely reprimands a federal judge. In fact, the whole disciplinary process concerning federal judges must be reviewed, and a detailed code of ethics must be implemented.

The real scandal regarding this incident is the federal process of judicial appointments, which is based on partisanship. I still wonder how a Liberal federal government could ever appoint Jean Bienvenue as a judge.

QuebecStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Cliff Breitkreuz Reform Yellowhead, AB

Mr. Speaker, just over one week ago 1,000 Albertans attended a public rally in Edmonton and the people overwhelmingly rejected the notion of giving a veto to the separatist Quebec government and turned thumbs down on the open ended distinct society clause.

However this top down government is bent on ramming these Quebec appeasements down Canadians' throats. The Liberals have the gall to invoke closure on the distinct society motion, once again trampling on the democratic process. This is 1989 all over again when the Mulroney Tories rammed the GST down our throats. Now look at the federal Tories.

To the four Liberal MPs from Edmonton we say Canadians are tired of politicians lacking the backbone to represent them in Ottawa. When this mixed Liberal quartet votes on the veto and distinct society bills, Edmontonians will be watching and they will remember.

Federal GovernmentStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Chris Axworthy NDP Saskatoon—Clark's Crossing, SK

Mr. Speaker, two announcements in the past week demonstrate that the government's approach to reducing the deficit protects the rich and punishes the poor.

The Minister of Human Resources Development picked the pockets of unemployed Canadians to the tune of $1.9 billion, yet all the top banks in Canada have announced billion dollar profits for the last year. Clearly the federal government is forcing the burden of paying the huge debt, which it and the Conservatives have created, on the least affluent in Canada.

The federal government provides absolutely no funding for the UI program and one wonders what moral authority it has to attempt to reduce the deficit with money contributed to the UI fund by ordinary Canadians. Ordinary Canadians are being forced to do more than corporate citizens to reduce the deficit. With obscenely high bank profits, the government is not taking any measures at all to ensure that they too are paying their fair share of the deficit.

These two contrasts simply show how natural it is for the Liberal government to look after its corporate friends. Maybe some day we will have a government for the people, by the people.

Mouvement De Libération Nationaledu QuébecStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bonaventure—Îles-De-La-Madeleine Québec

Liberal

Patrick Gagnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, the Mouvement de libération nationale du Québec held its first public meeting yesterday, in Montreal. As you know, the primary objective of that movement presided by Raymond Villeneuve, a former FLQ member who was in exile for 16 years, is to promote Quebec's independence.

Depicting Quebec's English-speaking and ethnic community members as "enemies of the Quebec people", the movement, through its president, intends to take all the means it deems necessary to implement the distorted ideas expressed in its manifesto.

The values and the ideas of the Mouvement de libération nationale du Québec are totally incompatible with the democratic and peaceful traditions of Quebec and Canada. Therefore, I urge members of this House to strongly condemn this group of extremists for its barely veiled incitement to violence.

LEADER OF THE PROGRESSIVEcONSERVATIVE PARTYStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Discepola Liberal Vaudreuil, QC

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, the leader of the Conservative Party came another step closer to the politics of the Reform and the Bloc Quebecois with the statement that he would like to see the end of Canada's multiculturalism policy.

This statement by the Conservative leader suggests that he would be ready to dump all of the multicultural policies and the multicultural heritage of his party in order to snatch the votes of a few intolerant people from the Bloc and the Reform.

At a time when the winds of intolerance blow across Canada, the Conservative member for Sherbrooke is giving in to an easy fix, and he too has started making political hay at the expense of the cultural communities.

It is a pity to see that the political ambitions of the Conservative leader have led him to turn his back on the sacred principles of multiculturalism, principles he defended tooth and claw when a minister in the previous government.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, my question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister.

This morning during a recorded interview for CBC-TV, the Prime Minister said he would like to use the federal government's constitutional powers to maintain peace, order and good government to prevent another Quebec referendum if he judged it was based on a vague question.

Are we to understand from the words of the Prime Minister that, on the very day he feigns recognition of the distinct society in a motion, he is announcing his intention to impose his wording on the next referendum question?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, anyone respecting democracy respects the outcome of the referendum that has already been held in which Quebecers stated categorically that they do not wish to separate Quebec from Canada.

The Prime Minister himself knows that the wish of the people of Quebec is not for a referendum but economic action. That is the area on which we will be focussing.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Prime Minister takes a very short view of history. We know that Newfoundland held more than one referendum before becoming part of Canada. In that case, it was all right, but in Quebec's case, the usual double standard applies.

Since the Prime Minister must be aware that the vast majority of Quebecers have massively rejected his so-called offers, are we to understand that the only way the Prime Minister thinks he can win the next referendum is by taking control of the process himself, thus ignoring the National Assembly?

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, this was not the first referendum. There was another referendum before that. The hon. member may want to talk about respect for democracy, but it was not the Prime Minister who said he would keep having referendums until he won. Respect for democracy is uppermost in the minds of the majority of Quebecers, who do not want a referendum. They want economic action, something the Leader of the Opposition admitted in his speech two weeks ago.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, respect for democracy means to recognize, in a democratic exercise, what people want, and if people change their minds, if

they make a democratic decision, that should be recognized. The Prime Minister is saying he will not recognize the democratic process. It is all right when he wins, but only then. Some democracy.

I want to ask the Deputy Prime Minister how the Prime Minister can reconcile the honeyed words he spoke to Quebecers before the referendum with the statement made this morning in which he denied the Quebec people the fundamental right to determine their own future.

ReferendumsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalDeputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is really interested in respecting the will of Quebecers, let him come here tonight and vote with the government of Canada to enshrine recognition of the distinct society in this government, because in so doing, we will respect the desire of Quebecers for real change within Canada.