This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #5 of the 35th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was vice-chair.

Topics

Government BusinessGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Reform

Jake Hoeppner Reform Lisgar—Marquette, MB

They have been starving for 30 years now, ever since the Trudeau era. Mr. Trudeau ran not on ideas, not on philosophy but on charisma.

That is what we are trying to determine today. Can another election be won on charisma or on ideas? Which are we going to go for? It looks to me as though charisma and ideas are dead, and so Reformers will have to take over because we have something that has not been seen before in the House: honesty, accountability and the freedom to do what one thinks is right, not what the hierarchy tells us.

Democracy comes back to the idea that we vote on a ballot and nobody knows how we vote. Publicity can be put out saying: "I was against the government and I did not vote for it", but what was done behind closed doors? That is what I see in a lot of the backbenchers.

We do not agree with the frontbenchers. We do not agree with what the government is doing. When it comes time to make a decision, it is not willing or able or capable. Why? Has anyone ever thought why? The Prime Minister says: "If you do not do what I told you to do in the House, I will not sign your nomination papers in the next election". Does that not sound like coercion or intimidation? I would hate to have a leader who would tell me he will not sign by nomination papers because I am going after the wheat board and the commodity exchange because they are the sole entity of what I am doing.

Why are we even debating this? We should prorogue the House for the rest of the two years. We would probably do more good outside of the House than sitting here debating things we know are a fact and that we cannot change. That is the problem in the House.

What can I say to a Liberal government that does not want to listen?. We can tell the Liberals what was told to the Conservatives in the last election. The Liberals were not elected, the Conservatives were defeated. In the next election history will change and we will defeat the Liberals because the people will vote for the Reform Party. We will throw the Liberals out of the House once and for all. We will have a reformed House that is honest and accountable and that will really do something for this country.

Government BusinessGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Osvaldo Nunez Bloc Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising of course in opposition to the government motion, the motion tabled by the Liberal government, a Liberal party which was outraged against a similar motion by the Conservative government in 1991.

The Liberal government has tabled Motion No. 1 which allows a minister, during the first 30 sitting days, with a mere statement when proposing a motion for first reading, to restore that bill to the same stage in the legislative process as it was during the previous session. The bill needs only be in exactly the same form in every detail as it was in the previous session. That is the rule.

The government has incorporated into the motion amendments concerning the period for examination of the Main Estimates for the fiscal year 1996-97. These amendments are related to prorogation of the House and are of a technical nature. There is no precedent for such a motion. The only precedent that exists dates back to 1991, when the Conservative government tabled a motion for debate on March 28 and moved closure on May 29.

Prior to 1991, Parliamentary precedent required such a motion to have unanimous consent of the House, and this was democratic. If all parties were in favour of this motion, there would be no problem in proceeding case by case.

It is interesting to review the speeches made in 1991 by various Liberal members, who were then in opposition. I will begin with the member for Cape Breton-East Richmond, today a government minister, who stated that they were opposed to the government motion because "the motion attempts to place before the House five separate and distinct legislative matters which do not lend themselves to being considered together. The government should have given notice of five individual motions and this motion seeks to circumvent, indeed to subvert, the normal legislative process of this House".

The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands, who often rises to speak in this House, not so much since prorogation but during the past two years at least, said in 1991 "They have to be reinstated in the usual course, but they ought to have been introduced and dealt with as new bills in this session". That is the tradition, the rule, the custom. He added that "any irregularity of any portion of a motion renders the whole motion irregular. For this House to adopt a bill without any debate, without any discussion at any stage is completely irregular and improper".

In 1991, the hon. member for Glengarry-Prescott-Russell said "The implications of ruling this motion in order would be such that I fear we could render-if a government wanted to-this House of Commons totally irrelevant and redundant".

The member for Cape Breton-East Richmond, whom I already quoted today added, on pages 657 and 659 of Hansard: "The motion before us today in its substance is totally unacceptable-[and] is designed for the sole purpose of subverting the legislative rules of the Parliament of Canada". What the hon. member said at the time was pretty significant and fairly serious. Today, however, they are doing an about face and are saying the total opposite. Really coherent.

He went on to say: "-trying to reinstate legislation which has fallen dead as a result of the government's own ineptitude and subsequent action with regard to proroguing this Parliament". This is exactly what is happening today. The Liberal government decided on February 2 to prorogue the session. It knew where the bill was at. Why was it not debated in the previous session? Why did it not decide to prorogue at some other point?

The member for LaSalle-Émard, now the Minister of Finance, said, again in 1991: "We find ourselves in the situation we are now in. The bill died on the Order Paper. In its supreme arrogance and lack of understanding, this government comes to us and says: `we would like to reinstate it"'.

Next, I would like to quote the member for Halifax, who said in 1991: "The government should be ashamed. We are wondering today why there was a prorogation-the House leader is presenting us this pernicious motion-and I emphasize the word-in order to speed up the passage of five bills, in total disregard for the traditions of the House and the British parliamentary procedure and in disregard for the Canadian people".

The former fisheries minister, influential member of the Liberal Party, the member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, now the Premier of Newfoundland said, again in 1991: "Parliament is being systematically destroyed by the government-in hundreds of years of evolution of parliamentary government, such a motion has never been put before any parliament-because [such a motion] is a form of executive dictatorship-Parliament belongs to the people-[government] uses the tyranny of the majority-to deny the elected representatives-[their responsibility] to be heard in the proper examination of bills".

I come back now to the member for Kingston and the Islands, who said: "The government wants to impose a new definition of democracy on Canadians, one of the greatest affronts to the House in years. It is immoral for the government to introduce this motion. The government is short-circuiting the legislative process to consider five bills. This behaviour is reprehensible. The government knows it. It has not produced a single tittle of evidence to support this gross breach of our practice, and I suggest that it is totally inappropriate".

Next, I would like to quote the member for Winnipeg St. James, who said: "No government would want to resurrect a bill that was

deemed dead some time in the past-if the government in effect says to heck with this House, to heck with the opposition, to heck with precedent, if that is the view of the government, how much more down the road can it go?"

Finally, to quote the member for Saint-Léonard, the riding neighbouring mine, and now the Minister of Labour: "If the government really intended to examine these bills, it should have done it before the prorogation of the House and that should have been negotiated."

In my opinion, this motion is anti-democratic. It runs counter to the rules, customs and traditions of British parliamentary procedure. I see no reason whatsoever for the government's decision to introduce this motion when two opposition parties are against it.

This motion will affect several bills, bill C-111 in particular. This bill on unemployment insurance I described in a previous speech as a bill on poverty insurance or destitution insurance, since its ultimate objective is to reduce benefits to the unemployed and to attack the jobless rather than joblessness, contrary to the Liberal red book's promise of "jobs, jobs, jobs".

Instead of creating those jobs, it has tabled Bill C-111 which is also anti-union and anti-worker and has been criticized across Canada. We have witnessed demonstrations in New Brunswick, in Quebec, in Ontario, and last week in British Columbia. The unemployed from the Outaouais region came here to demonstrate against the bill. I personally took part in a regional demonstration against the bill held in Montreal by three labour federations. Everyone felt that the bill would be considered to have died on the Order Paper. But now with this motion we find ourselves faced with the bill at the same stage, as if there had been no prorogation. This is unacceptable to all those who have worked against this bill, which is anti-worker and anti-union.

For all of the foregoing reasons, I am vigorously opposed to this government motion.

Government BusinessGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, on this government motion there are two issues that absolutely must be dealt with and addressed. First is the lack of integrity the government has demonstrated on this issue. My colleagues have said very clearly that when government members were in opposition they made a commitment not to do what they are doing today. That is issue number one, the lack of integrity the government has shown on this issue.

The second point I would like to make is with regard to the appropriateness of this motion relative to private members' business. Can private members' business be tied into this resolution as part of government business? The point I would like to

make is that private members' business is just that; it belongs to the private members.

Everything we do in this House, or in any legislative assembly should be to give the private member the opportunity to express his or her opinion on a special item, or an item relative to constituents, or an item relative to a special interest. In a free way, a private member should be able to express his or her thoughts without government control; without the government saying when something should be done or when it cannot be done; or the government taking away the agenda or giving the agenda to the private member.

That is exactly what is happening. The government has intervened in private members' business. Those are the two topics I will cover in my remarks in the few remaining moments.

First I will deal with the integrity of the government. As some of my colleagues have done, I will quote some of the remarks made by hon. members of the government when they were opposition members in 1991.

I quote the remarks of the current premier of Newfoundland, the former member for Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte, Mr. Brian Tobin, when he stood in this House. He spoke very clearly on a motion quite similar to the one we have here today. He said: "We see the decision by the government today to put this motion before the House as a confirmation of the destruction, and that is what it is, of our parliamentary system". No truer words have been spoken from this side of the House. If they are good on this side, they should be just as good on the other side of the House.

Mr. Tobin went on to say that by such a motion as we are looking at here today, the parliamentary system is being systematically destroyed by government. He went on to say that Canadians watching this debate are wondering what the fuss is all about. It is about destroying the parliamentary system.

We can look at what other participants in that debate had to say about the matter. I refer now to a current minister, Mr. David Dingwall, the member for Cape Breton-East Richmond-

Government BusinessGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

I know we are just getting back in shape, but I would ask you please not to mention hon. members who are currently in the House by name.

Government BusinessGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Lethbridge Alberta

Reform

Ray Speaker ReformLethbridge

Mr. Speaker, the current Minister of Health made these remarks while he was a member of the loyal official opposition. He said very clearly to the House at that time in words well spoken, as they usually are by our Minister of Health: "Third and finally, I contend that the motion is in principle unacceptable in that it seeks to circumvent, indeed to subvert, the normal legislative process of this House. In the past, this kind of thing has been done only by unanimous consent. Now the government is seeking to establish an omnibus precedent by attempting to force this procedure on the House. This is an offensive and dangerous departure from the practices of all parliamentary bodies and it is, I believe in accordance with Beauchesne's citation 123(1) and Standing Order 1, unprecedented violation of the checks and balances written into the rules governing the normal legislative process". That says it.

I could go on to quote other members of the House-

Government BusinessGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

The Speaker

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

Aquaculture IndustryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jean Payne Liberal St. John's West, NL

Mr. Speaker, the future of the aquaculture industry in Newfoundland is very promising. Announcements made by the federal aquaculture development strategy is evidence of this.

Also, the aquaculture steering committee's strategic plan for the development of Newfoundland and Labrador is further evidence. Additionally, a $100 million economic renewal program has committed $20 million to the industry to foster development.

Aquaculture in Newfoundland is entering a growth period where production is expected to rise dramatically over the next two to three years and well into the future. With this new growth, new jobs will be created in my riding of St. John's West as well as many other rural and coastal communities where limited opportunities exist.

Mining IndustryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Deshaies Bloc Abitibi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I speak on behalf of thousands of citizens who consider the mining sector vital to the economy and the lifeblood of many regions in Quebec and Canada.

In December, the Bloc Quebecois supported the positions of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources in an interim report. The committee proposed practical solutions for improving mining's environmental accountability while improving the environmental assessment process to include, as in the Quebec scheme, firm deadlines for the various stages of the procedure.

Although we opposed federal interference in environmental assessment, the Bloc Quebecois must, for the good of the mining industry, ask the new ministers of the environment, fisheries and

transport to use better judgment than their predecessors with respect to the Canadian and Quebec mining sectors.

JusticeStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Reform

Randy White Reform Fraser Valley West, BC

Mr. Speaker, let me quote criminal defence lawyer Russ Chamberlain of Richmond, British Columbia: "Victim impact statements are just venting the spleen and don't serve justice and should be outlawed, banned completely". He also said that victims want to blame everyone else for their "pathetic" lives.

These kinds of lawyers and Liberal politicians-what is the difference?

Let me identify just a few of the unconditional victims' rights that will exist in a Canada governed by the Reform Party. Victims must have the right to choose between giving oral or written impact statements. Victims must be informed in a timely fashion of the details of the crown's intention to offer a plea bargain before it is presented to the defence, and victims must also know why charges were not laid if that is the decision of the crown or the police.

Criminals have far too many rights under the Liberal government. We must devote ourselves to victims' rights as we should have done in the first place.

Human RightsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Audrey McLaughlin NDP Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, on March 4, 1986, 10 years ago, then Minister of Justice John Crosbie promised his government would put sexual orientation into the Canadian human rights code. Ten years later we still have not seen a federal government willing to prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians in the Canadian human rights code.

The current Liberal justice minister said initially that it was pretty hard to do in pre-election time. Then he said we had to fight separatism and that is why he could not put it in the human rights code. The Prime Minister said he would like to see it in the human rights code but we were just running out of time.

We are not running out of time. The Liberal government has run out of guts, and I challenge the Minister of Justice for once to prohibit sexual discrimination in the Canadian human rights code. Seven provinces and one territory have done it. Surely the Liberal government can do it as well.

Employment InsuranceStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Roger Simmons Liberal Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, the government's new employment insurance package has the support of the majority of Canadians, and so it should because the old UI was desperately in need of reform.

However, certain measures in the new plan, including the intensity rule and the divisor method, must be changed, as the new HRD minister has agreed. Without that change the very people who are most in need of our assistance will be hurt. People such as seasonal workers, substitute teachers and others who live in areas of high unemployment would rather be working full time, year round but cannot through no fault of their own.

I support their cause. The long standing Canadian practice of fairness and equality for all must prevail as the government puts its finishing touches on its new employment insurance reforms.

Gateway North Marketing AgencyStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Elijah Harper Liberal Churchill, MB

Mr. Speaker, in January the hon. Minister of Foreign Affairs announced the launching of a new agency to promote the port of Churchill, the Gateway North Marketing Agency.

The launching of this agency is good news for the port and good news for Canadian farmers. For the first time we have an agency devoted to connecting shippers and producers with the cheapest way to ship from the prairies to Europe and Latin America. The launch of Gateway North will help to make our northern ports self-sufficient and save western farmers money.

Gateway North is good news for all of us.

CubaStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Jesse Flis Liberal Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, nine days ago Canada condemned Cuba for shooting down two civilian aircraft. It was an unwarranted act resulting in the tragic death of two U.S. citizens.

Without question the United States has the right to respond to this incident, but the passage of the Jesse Helms-Burton bill, which poses a direct threat to Canadian companies doing business with Cuba, is itself an excessive use of force.

The United States has every right to determine its own trade policy with Cuba, but the Helms-Burton bill oversteps legal boundaries and violates the purposes and principles of the UN charter. It furthermore infringes on the sovereignty of Canada and that of other friendly trading nations in the Caribbean basin.

The Prime Minister of Canada speaks for all Canadians when he says: "Friends are friends and business is business". However, the Helms-Burton bill is no way to do business nor is it a way to treat your friends.

Therefore I urge the U.S. Congress to kill such an irresponsible piece of legislation.

JusticeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Reform

Jack Ramsay Reform Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, I will read from an article that appeared in the Toronto Sun referring to Paul Bernardo and the mollycoddling of other sadistic criminals in this country:

In our society, it's the criminals who really count. Violent criminals get an inordinate amount of our attention. They are celebrities, and so they have all the trappings of success. For them, room service and cable. For them, counselling, university education, exercise equipment, health care, clothing, mail service, hot showers and central heating.

Commit something big enough and get your own room away from the other riff-raff, which will ensure that you are not subjected to the same sorts of abuse you have been shelling out to others.

The bottom may drop out of the social safety net for the rest of us but one sociopath and many other criminal deviants will be safe and warm.

I commend my colleague from Fraser Valley for his initiative in introducing a motion calling on the government to draft a victim bill of rights.

Highway 50Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, on March 1, the Quebec minister of transport announced the second stage of highway 50, between Mirabel and Lachute. The work, over a distance of 11 kilometres and estimated at over $19 million, will be completed over the next three years. We are taking the trouble to point out this good news because we feel it important to stress the fact that this work is being done as part of the Canada-Quebec agreement on highway improvement.

The government of Canada has long been the favoured partner of communities in the Outaouais and in eastern Ontario. We are delighted that the Government of Quebec has finally decided to back us in our efforts to provide the appropriate tools for economic development to this important region of Quebec.

Economic RecoveryStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Vaudreuil Québec

Liberal

Nick Discepola LiberalParliamentary Secretary to Solicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, last week, the Prime Minister of Canada appealed for solidarity and co-operation from all Canadians. Our country's economic recovery requires a concerted effort by all stakeholders to help make the various government initiatives efficient and cost-effective.

We must all do our part to set our country back on the road to growth and prosperity. Governments across Canada are working hard to address the problem of our crippling debt and deficit. Governments are shrinking to an acceptable size and becoming more efficient. Citizens, business and labour must in turn support our efforts to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The Prime Minister is holding out his hand to all our Canadian partners. Together, let us grab it so that all Canadians can be better off.

Status Of WomenStatements By Members

March 4th, 1996 / 2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance picked international women's week as the time to table his new budget. It is therefore with great confidence that women are waiting to see what the minister has in store for them in the future. As you may recall, the upcoming budget comes only a few months after the fourth international conference on women, where Canada made a formal commitment to continue to help women in their efforts to achieve equality.

What women want from their government are concrete and positive measures that will improve their situation and that of their children. The Bloc Quebecois supports all women's groups in Quebec and Canada. We hope that the minister, especially during international women's week, will honour his government's commitments and show some initiative. Given his track record, he has a lot of catching up to do.

International Women's WeekStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Maria Minna Liberal Beaches—Woodbine, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to commemorate International Women's Week. Its origins can be traced to labour strikes in both 1857 and 1908 in New York city. Workers were protesting the dangerous working conditions and exploitative wages of women employed in the textile industry.

Later, women's rights and suffrage also became issues of concern. In 1911 the first International Women's Day was celebrated to acknowledge women's struggles.

March 8 marks a global celebration of women's accomplishments and of advancements toward gender equality. It is also a time to focus on issues that affect women's lives. The government is determined to address these issues. I stand proud of our efforts to counter violence against women, inequality in the workplace and gender discrimination.

Imagine a world in which true equality is no longer a distant dream.

IsraelStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Keith Martin Reform Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, today another suicide bombing occurred in Israel, murdering over 20 people and injuring countless others. We deplore this atrocity in the strongest possible terms and our deepest sympathies go to the victims of this terrible crime.

This is the second attempt in two days to derail the Israeli peace process and I urge the Israeli and Palestinian people to continue to pursue the path to peace, for by not doing this will only lead to war.

To Mr. Arafat, bring the murderous element of Hamas to swift justice. Work with the Israelis to supplant the social organization of Hamas and build up the economic situation of the Palestinian people, for by doing this you will cut the legs out from Hamas' support.

Those who commit these crimes are the enemies of peace. Their intention is the pursuit of war, pit person against person and neighbour against neighbour. You must not let this happen. You must not let the dove of peace be slain by its enemies for the sake of all the people in the Middle East.

Middle East Peace ProcessStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Beauport—Montmorency—Orléans, QC

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Bloc Quebecois, I want to condemn the new terrorist incident that has struck hard at Israel's population today, and jeopardized the peace process in the Middle East.

The bombing in Tel-Aviv, for which the Hamas fundamentalist movement has claimed responsibility, is the fourth such incident to occur in less than ten days in Israel and it has claimed several dozens more innocent victims.

This senseless violence not only jeopardizes the long and difficult peace process, but also adversely affects negotiations on the eventual status of Palestinian territories.

We wish to express our deep sympathy to the families of the victims and to the Israeli people.

The Bloc wishes to stress the need to resist the temptation to retaliate, and to carry on the peace talks. It is the fight against violence, and not the fight against peace, that must prevail.

Manitoba Medical AssociationStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rey D. Pagtakhan Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the committee on alcohol and pregnancy of the Manitoba Medical Association is to be recognized for its healthy baby month project aimed at increasing public awareness on the ill effects of alcohol during pregnancy.

During this special month, which ends March 15, many community groups throughout Manitoba are volunteering their time and expertise, holding panel discussions, displaying posters and making public service announcements to further this cause.

Consumption of alcohol during pregnancy is the leading preventable cause of mental retardation. Hence, this project by the multi-disciplinary committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Oscar Casiro merits the support of the House.

Preventive strategies such as this one will help reduce the occurrence of fetal alcohol syndrome and thereby help ensure the well-being of our youngest Canadians, the future of our nation.

Impaired DrivingStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Telegdi Liberal Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, in December Statistics Canada reported the rate of people charged with impaired driving dropped in 1994 for the 11th consecutive year. More important, over the last decade there has been a steady drop in the number of alcohol related deaths.

Statistics Canada attributes the decrease mainly to a slow change in social norms brought about by government campaigns and the involvement of community groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Many of the people involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving are volunteers who have lost relatives and loved ones to the senseless carnage of drunk drivers. The efforts of these volunteers are most praiseworthy and laudable.

Impaired driving is the most frequently committed violent crime in this country. It has a far greater impact on society than any other crime.

We are still losing four Canadians a day because of impaired driving. These are preventable deaths.

We must continue the campaign until all Canadians know that impaired driving is not acceptable in Canada.

Crime PreventionStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Reform

Myron Thompson Reform Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to pay tribute to two Mount Royal College criminology students, Marino Mihoc and Sean Mulligan. These two individuals have developed a community oriented policing program which aims to build a stronger community by establishing innovative crime prevention projects in the middle schools and ultimately to teach kids how to become better citizens.

This is a unique project in that it has not been tried anywhere else in Canada. I strongly encourage all members of Parliament to become advocates of this project in their own constituency and to begin by contacting my office for further information.

This could be a project that would provide a reduction in crime throughout Canada. Crime prevention must begin at an early age. This program provides the guidance necessary to those children leaning toward destructive behaviour.

Best wishes to these two young men for this community oriented police program in Airdrie, Alberta.

Status Of WomenStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ronald J. Duhamel Liberal St. Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of International Women's Week. I encourage all Canadians to join with the international community to emphasize women's achievements and to reflect on the initiatives that need to be taken in the coming years.

I also want to point out that Canada was awarded the world prize for greatest progress made in the last decade, regarding the status of women. The prize is awarded by the International Federation of Business and Professional Women.

We are making significant progress in the promotion of equality for women. However, we must pursue our efforts, particularly as regards violence against women. We must recognize that violence against women violates human rights, something which is unacceptable in Canada.

Governments, media, businesses, communities, families, as well as social, educational and religious institutions all have a role to play in making our world a safer place.

Unemployment Insurance ReformOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Roberval Québec

Bloc

Michel Gauthier BlocLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, in Quebec and in the maritime provinces, a growing number of demonstrations are being held to oppose the reform of the unemployment insurance system, whose net result will be to exclude thousands of workers from the scheme. In the middle of an employment crisis, the government is cutting benefits to the unemployed and, in order to reduce its annual deficit, is creaming off the surplus from the UI fund although it has not contributed to it since 1990.

My question is for the Minister of Human Resources Development. Could the minister, whose role should be to protect the unemployment insurance system, tell us whether, on the eve of the budget, he has received guarantees from his colleague, the Minister of Finance, that he will stop using the fund surplus to artificially lower his deficit?