House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was farmers.


Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Canadian Alliance Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to take the opportunity to thank my constituents of Calgary West for re-electing me to the House of Commons. It is a great privilege to represent them yet again, and I thank them for this great honour.

I would like to describe for the folks back home what is going on today. The Liberals are making changes to employment insurance. I will talk about some of the things that should be done but are not being done and how the bill will affect people in Alberta and across the country.

I look around the House today and I see our pages. They serve us very well here in the House of Commons and do a great job for us. I will tell them a little bit about some of the injustices that are being visited upon them because they as well suffer the consequences with regard to employment insurance.

At the present time the government hires them as students. Because they are not full time, because they are part time, the government will collect employment insurance from them. All of you have EI deducted from your cheques.

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I remind the hon. member to make his interventions through the Chair.

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Canadian Alliance Calgary West, AB

Of course, Mr. Speaker, you are the one who issues their paycheques. You are forcing these students to pay into employment insurance, yet because they are part time they will never be able to collect on the money they have paid in.

If for some reason they were to leave this job or you were to let them go, they would never be able to collect on the money you are taking from them. It is not insurance; it is a tax. For these students who are helping us in the Chamber today, you are levying a tax on them. There is no ability for them to collect it.

Parliamentary pages are like hundreds of thousands of other students across the country who pay into employment insurance under the guise that it is insurance, and yet if they lost their jobs or wanted to collect back on it they never could.

This does not just apply to students. It applies to more than just part time students. The government is hoodwinking people like hairdressers, the self-employed, and all sorts of people who are paying into EI but who have no ability to prospect of drawing on it because of the way it is structured.

I will call it what it deserves to be called. It is not an Employment Insurance Act. It is an employment tax. That is exactly what you are doing to these students, Mr. Speaker, and it is exactly what your government does to millions of people across the country when it levies this tax.

Real things to create jobs, real initiatives other than tax cuts, are something my party and I support. To give an example of how nasty this tax is, how pernicious this tax is that you put upon these pages and others in the country, the government right now has approximately $35 billion in the EI fund. It is a huge surplus.

The fund's chief actuarial officer says a $15 billion surplus is all that is required. Therefore more than $20 billion is being hoarded by your government, Mr. Speaker, from people like these pages right here—

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I am having some difficulty. Certainly I am quite prepared to accept when the member refers to the Chair as being an officer of the House that has responsibilities within the Board of Internal Economy, the House of Commons being the employer of all employees on the Hill including the pages.

However, it is neither my government nor is it my opposition. I would hope the hon. member can make that distinction. The Chair is the Chair of the House of Commons, not of any party, not of any member, but of all parties and of all members.

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.


Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I too heard the references of the member opposite and I know you have addressed them. However, I hope my colleagues in the House can agree that it is inappropriate for a member in making remarks to directly or indirectly impugn the impartiality of the Chair in the way the member opposite appears to have done.

I hope all members in the House on both sides will accept that. If the member opposite has been misinterpreted by me or others in the way he has made the remarks, I hope—

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Order, please. The Chair at this point is in no way offended, but I did want to make some clarifications, not on the opinions, the arguments or the debate, but simply on the position of the Speaker.

With the greatest of respect to the parliamentary secretary, I think we are engaging in debate and the debate at this time belongs to the member for Calgary West.

Employment Insurance ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rob Anders Canadian Alliance Calgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am heartened that somebody who previously served as the government whip is able to distance himself from the Liberal government across the way. I will continue to talk about what the Liberal government has done previously and continues to do.

The Liberal government is hoarding $35 billion in the EI fund. It is unconscionable when not nearly that amount of money is necessary.

I would like to tell the people of Alberta, who I know will undergo a provincial election very soon, exactly what is happening in terms of the EI fund. I also tell all pages in the House of Commons to pay attention because these numbers hold true for province of Ontario. The numbers hold true for those working in Ontario as well as those in Alberta.

Alberta pays $1.8 billion into the EI fund. Alberta takes out $500 million. That leaves in the fund a net $1.3 billion overpayment every year. There are 1.6 million working Albertans. If one does the math it works out to roughly $800 per person. Those numbers carry forward for House of Commons pages as well. They do not earn as much as the average worker because they are part time. If, however, they earned an average wage in the low thirty thousands per year, they would be overpaying to the tune of $800 per year in employment insurance, in terms of what they put in and what they take out in aggregate collectively.

That is inherently unfair when the government is taxing nearly $1,000. Canadians are overpaying in terms of the Canada pension plan. The young people around this room know. I know and the government knows. You know, Mr. Speaker, that in 2017 the Canada pension plan will go bust when the actuarial demographic weight cracks down on it. Yet they are overpaying into the plan.

They and others like them are overpaying into both of these plans, EI and CPP, to the tune of $1,000 or better per year, money they could have in their wallet and spend to their own discretion rather than give to the government. It is wrong.

What I would propose is somewhat controversial so I hope members across the way will listen. Five per cent of someone's wage, whether a janitor or the president of a given corporation or public entity, could be taken and put into a mandatory retirement savings plan, a super RRSP. In that way it would not be collectively wasted. It is not a Ponzi scheme. It is not a pyramid scheme. It is not something that goes into general revenue where people wonder if it will ever come out again.

It would go into individuals' accounts. They would know how much money they put in per year. They would know the rate of return on their investment. They could put it into GICs. They could put it into treasury bills. They could put it into bonds or into any number of instruments. They would know how much they had in aggregate.

If I asked any one of the bright people in the Chamber today, and they should be fairly bright people because they are supposed to be running the country, how much they had contributed over their lifetimes into the Canada pension plan, I bet not a single one of them, not even yourself, Mr. Speaker, would know even to the nearest hundred or the nearest thousand dollars exactly how much they had put into the CPP.

The reason they do not know and you do not know, Mr. Speaker, even though they are supposed to govern this land, is that EI is a collectively held fund. Because they do not have individual accounts they do not know. It is the tragedy of the Commons. Ironic is that statement, tragedy of the Commons.

Another 5% would go to employment insurance. My father has recently retired. I hope he is having a good time and enjoying his retirement years. Maybe he is out doing something a little more enjoyable than watching me on TV. I do not know. If somebody like my father who never collected a day of employment insurance in his life could have the 5% he had set aside in EI rolled over to his pension when he turned 65, then 10% of his lifetime earnings would have been saved and invested for when he retired. That would be fair. It would be just. It would make sure that people were not abusing the worst aspects of the employment insurance system and that they would know it was theirs and was there for them.

I see the security guards around here. I remember that last session the government took money out of their pension fund, the public service pension fund. It scooped billions of dollars out of their pensionable earnings. That was wrong. If they were able to put 5% or 10% aside, they would know how much they were putting in and what they were getting as a return on their investment, rather than having the government take it from them. That would be far more just.

I hope we see that someday, rather than the present system that has all sorts of abuses wrapped up in it. People who work as part time students pay into the employment tax but have no ability to collect it. People who are self-employed and run their own businesses are double taxed, once as an employer and once as an employee.

Liberal members across the way laugh. They are making fun of the students in this room. They are making fun of the security guards who work above them. They are making fun of the people who are self-employed and double pay this tax. They laugh despite the fact that they have $20 billion sitting in their chest that they should not have. It is owed to Canadian taxpayers, not to the Liberals who laugh across the way.

Automotive IndustryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Maurizio Bevilacqua Liberal Vaughan—King—Aurora, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada is one of the world's largest producers of automobiles but their assembly alone does not account for the importance of the sector to Canadian manufacturing. A host of associated companies, large and small, make up Canada's automotive after market. They greatly contribute to the world class standing of Canada's automotive industry.

The Automotive Industry Association of Canada represents these companies. They are some 1,300 in number and include suppliers, national distributors and wholesalers which employ more than 220,000 people.

This morning AIA Canada's board of directors met with members of parliament to discuss how industry and government could work together to solve the current and future challenges facing the industry. The discussions are part of AIA's ongoing commitment to participate constructively in the policy making process of the country.

AIA Canada has provided parliamentarians with timely analysis on a number of issues and presents the perspective of the industry in a clear and effective manner. I thank its members for their contribution and involvement in helping shape Canada's public policy.

AgricultureStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Lynne Yelich Canadian Alliance Blackstrap, SK

Mr. Speaker, as a third generation farmer and representative of a largely agricultural riding, I am pleased that an emergency debate was called today on the crisis facing the agricultural community.

I impress upon my colleagues the devastation that is taking place in the rural economy. It will only get worse in the short term without a strong federal initiative to end the downward spiral.

Farm incomes are expected to drop again this year to 65% below the five year average, a five year average which was built on an existing crisis period. Saskatchewan has approximately 25% of the nation's farmers and annually the number drops as people are forced off the land.

The struggles of our primary producers affect the entire country. Therefore the support of the House is critical to a solution being found. Let us use this opportunity to work together to bring about an end to the crisis.

Let us keep in mind that Eisenhower once said “It is mighty easy to farm when your plough is a pencil and you are a thousand miles from a cornfield”.

Medal Of BraveryStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.


Jerry Pickard Liberal Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, at a ceremony in Ottawa earlier this month, five individuals were awarded the Governor General's Medal of Bravery for their valiant rescue efforts along the shores of Lake Erie at Point Pelee National Park in August 1998.

Two Canadians and three Americans were involved: Helmut Dueckman, Mark Major and Juliana Bartel, as well as Ashley and Marna Getz.

On that day when two small children were overcome by two metre waves, those who witnessed the event did not pause to react. They put their lives at risk to save others.

Tragically, 71 year old Helmut Dueckman, grandfather of these two children, lost his life despite the heroic rescue and revival attempts by Mark Major, a member of the Point Pelee National Park staff.

We commend these tremendous acts of bravery and join Helmut Dueckman's family in mourning his loss.

Job CreationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Bonnie Brown Liberal Oakville, ON

Mr. Speaker, last Friday Statistics Canada released its latest labour force survey. The numbers again confirm our government's successful job creation record. Over two million new jobs have been created since the Liberal government took office in 1993.

In the last year our job creation record is particularly remarkable when it comes to women and youth. Compared with a year ago, employment among women is up by 154,000 or 2.7%. This increase is more than twice the increase for men. As for youth, their employment grew by more than 70,000 jobs in the last five months.

What has been the strongest sector for job creation in the last 12 months? It has been trade. Employment in the trade sector rose by 4.9% in the last year, a rate more than double that of all other industries.

We will continue to establish policies that ensure all Canadians can participate in a future where Canada is one of the most innovative, inclusive and entrepreneurial nations in the world.

Heart And Stroke FoundationStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Lynn Myers Liberal Waterloo—Wellington, ON

Mr. Speaker, cardiovascular diseases impose a devastating burden on Canadians, accounting for 37% of all deaths annually and placing a significant hardship and a diminished quality of life upon those living with these conditions. As our population ages we can expect to see an increase in Canadians living with the crippling effects of heart disease and stroke.

During this month of February, representatives from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada will be going door to door in order to raise awareness and to receive donations as part of a national strategy to deal with cardiovascular disease. Events are planned in communities across Ontario and from coast to coast and I would like to encourage all Canadians and all members in the House to participate.

I call on all members of the House to raise awareness in their communities and in their ridings about the benefits of leading a heart healthy lifestyle. Our efforts can save lives.

Saskatchewan CurlingStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Roy H. Bailey Canadian Alliance Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, a recent poll conducted by a Saskatchewan radio station named curling as Saskatchewan's number one sport, with hockey a close second.

Saskatchewan is well known for its addiction to curling. Not only does Saskatchewan love the game, but it also loves to play host to curling events, both national and provincial.

A month ago volunteers from Weyburn and for miles around put on an extraordinary show when Weyburn hosted the National Mixed Curling Championship. Later in January, the Estevan Curling Club hosted the Tournament of Hearts, which selected the Saskatchewan rink for the national finals.

Of course I am proud of the Estevan and Weyburn areas for showing the many visitors their unlimited hospitality and of course I am proud to tell you that they are both in the Souris—Moose Mountain constituency.

East Coast Music AwardsStatements By Members

2 p.m.


Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, being a proud member from beautiful Cape Breton Island, I would like to congratulate my fellow Cape Bretoners on their achievements at the East Coast Music Awards on Sunday.

Gordie Sampson, Freddie Lavery, the Barra MacNeils, Natalie MacMaster and Jennifer Rollan made us very proud for the awards that they received.

As many Canadians know, Cape Breton has produced many fine musicians, and with music being a very important part of our culture, Mr. Speaker, you can be assured that Cape Breton will continue to contribute to the Canadian music scene.

Economic DevelopmentStatements By Members

February 13th, 2001 / 2 p.m.


Francine Lalonde Bloc Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, 2,000 jobs created, another 5,000 while a new plant was being constructed, the reopening of a plant closed since 1998, close to one billion dollars in investments: these are the results, in the riding of Mercier alone, of the recent Mission Québec to Spain.

Interquista, a consortium of GESPA and SGF, will be building a recyclable plastics plant in Montreal East at a cost of $700 million. The petrochemical industry in the east of Montreal, which was hard hit by federal policy, is being reborn. Recommendations by BAPE have been integrated with the project and will allay any concerns the public may have.

Combining Quebec's openness to the world, the potential of our economy, the persuasive force of our state, and the power of our economic levers, that is the Quebec model.

And it works. Only the rest of Canada is bothered by it. May we move quickly from the status of a poor province to that of a rich country.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Inky Mark Canadian Alliance Dauphin—Swan River, MB

Mr. Speaker, farmers across Canada are in a state of crisis. They are begging for help from the Liberal government. They are cash strapped through no fault of their own. Years of low commodity prices with high input costs have pushed many family farms to the brink of bankruptcy. This $100 billion industry needs immediate government assistance.

Agriculture is the backbone of the rural economy. Imagine the negative domino effect of taking the farmers off the land. Over the last two years Manitoba has lost 20% of its farmers. This year we will lose another 16% if the government does not come up with an immediate cash injection.

As a member of parliament from rural Canada, I plead with this government to lend a helping hand to those who provide the food for our tables, the Canadian farmers.

Transportation SafetyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Andy Savoy Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, the disgraceful and perilous section of the Trans-Canada Highway running between St. Leonard and Fredericton, New Brunswick is the primary transportation corridor for destinations in Atlantic Canada. This section is in dire need of an upgrade to four lanes. Hundreds of thousands of people from all across Canada travel this portion of the Trans-Canada every year.

Since the federal election in November there have been no less than 40 accidents, 6 serious injuries and 1 fatality on this section alone.

Currently there is approximately $90 million left in the lucrative Canada-New Brunswick highway agreement. Unfortunately, little of this funding has been spent on road improvements in the two years since the last provincial election, and it is rumoured that in the next two years none will be spent until immediately prior to the next provincial election.

For the sake of all Canadians, I call on the provincial government to sacrifice its self-serving political agenda and begin spending money on twinning this section of the Trans-Canada or accept the responsibility for the unnecessary deaths of Canadian adults and children whose lives will be lost on this corridor of death over the next two years.

Health CareStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Judy Wasylycia-Leis NDP Winnipeg North Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are nearing the one year anniversary of the introduction of Alberta's bill 11, a bill that has since been passed, received royal assent and, only 11 days ago, had standards approved that will allow private hospitals to treat patients overnight.

We are all one year older but this Liberal government is clearly no wiser. As Ralph Klein goes to the hustings he will surely defend his attacks on medicare by pointing to this federal government's silence on bill 11.

Canadians watched the Liberals run an election on being the defenders of medicare. Since then they have done nothing to protect medicare. This weekend we saw a real defence of medicare. We saw the Manitoba NDP government stand up against private hospitals. It did not just express grave concern. That government slammed the door on two tier health care in that province. That is how it is done.

When will our federal government show the same courage and prohibit private for profit hospitals?

Elizabeth GrandboisStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.


Paddy Torsney Liberal Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a courageous Canadian woman, Elizabeth Grandbois.

Ms. Grandbois is a woman of tremendous strength and volition. In 1997 she was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig's disease. Since then she has maximized her time by focusing her energies on raising awareness about this fast moving neurological disorder. On February 2 Elizabeth staged a huge musical celebration and fundraiser called Elizabeth's Concert of Hope.

She enlisted great Canadian talent: the Nylons, Susan Aglukark, Michael Burgess, Ian Thomas and Kevin Hicks. They joined her in this tremendous project and, surrounded by friends and family, politicians, celebrities and generous supporters, Elizabeth welcomed 750 individuals to Hamilton's Theatre Aquarius. Together they raised an incredible $250,000.

Elizabeth Grandbois is an outstanding Canadian. I am proud to have her as a friend and as a constituent in Burlington. Her courage will benefit all Canadians. As singer-songwriter Ian Thomas said, “The event was a testament to an excellent spirit. Where most of us would recoil and nurse our wounds, she tends to represent a spirit of humanity most of us aspire to”.

Games Of La FrancophonieStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Benoît Sauvageau Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 2001 Canada will be hosting the IVth Games of la Francophonie. They will be held in Ottawa, the capital and a unilingual English city.

Here are a few useful statistics for the countries who will be coming to visit us and who will be told that Canada, “the best country in the world”, is bilingual.

First, according to Statistics Canada, 91% of the population of the city of Ottawa speaks English only, and 9.5% are francophone.

Second, the rate of assimilation of French speakers in the unilingual English capital of Canada is close to 30%.

In light of this, it would clearly appear that the expression best reflecting the true picture of the unilingual English capital will be a sign in English saying “Welcome to the Games of la Francophonie”.

Samuel De ChamplainStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Denis Paradis Liberal Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, in 1604, Samuel de Champlain arrived in Acadia. He explored the coastline in the hopes of finding an ideal place to establish a colony. This was the start of a fine and great adventure.

As we approach the 400th anniversary of Champlain's arrival in America, I will undertake to make several statements in the House to focus on this great page of history.

Canadians, and more especially our young people, must remember all these facts and discover this great explorer, who, with other men and women, helped build the new land called New France.

Samuel de Champlain did not hesitate to go in search of his dreams. He was a true empire builder. According to author Samuel Eliot Morison, Champlain is one of the greatest explorers in history, probably the person who played the greatest role in the history of Canada.

I will come back to this.

Food Inspection AgencyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Rick Borotsik Progressive Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, it has been almost two weeks since Canada imposed a ban on beef imports from Brazil. This decision was not based on science but on politics. The Prime Minister's office says that it is a health issue not a trade issue, in spite of receiving no evidence from their own officials that there is BSE.

Even though scientists from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed that there is no evidence of human risk, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the federal government continue to persist in discrediting Canada's reputation. The Liberal government is damaging our trade situation further by setting the example for other countries to take Canada's lead in basing decisions on politics and not on science.

The Liberal government has gone so far as to muzzle and harass scientists within the CFIA who question the government's intentions because they know there is not sufficient evidence to maintain this ban.

The Prime Minister has allowed the industry minister's bungling of the Bombardier file to affect the work of the CFIA and Canada's international trade reputation. It is time to stop passing the buck. The Prime Minister and the cabinet must answer to Canadians.

PornographyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.


Joe Comuzzi Liberal Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in October of last year Corpus Christi Church and St. Margaret's Church in Thunder Bay, led by their pastors, Father Pat Stiller and Father Donnelly, and their committees, led by Elizabeth Bortelussi and Rosalie Douglas, organized a white ribbon campaign against child pornography.

Hundreds of citizens wore those ribbons, signed them and returned them to their parishes, and I, in turn, delivered them just recently to the Minister of Justice.

It was never the intention of this parliament, when it passed the charter of rights and freedoms, to allow any form of child pornography in this country. I would hope that by the actions of these two parishes in Thunder Bay the benches will take judicial notice of the intent of parliament when it comes to making decisions with respect to child pornography in Canada.

International TradeStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, in China lung cancer and tobacco related diseases are of epidemic proportions. The World Health Organization has said that three million people will die in China every year in the near future. In fact, tobacco companies have free dances and distribute free cigarettes to children so that they will become addicted.

Why has the Prime Minister and the government taken representatives of the tobacco industry to China with them? Why does the government claim to be for health care and claim to try to prevent smoking here at home while in the same vein take smoking and tobacco reps abroad? Is it the official policy of the government to say that it is preventing tobacco consumption at home while promoting tobacco consumption abroad?

This government should stop being hypocritical, eject the tobacco reps right off the team Canada mission and start doing abroad what it says it will do here at home.

Ethics CounsellorOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Okanagan—Coquihalla B.C.

Canadian Alliance

Stockwell Day Canadian AllianceLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, we have before us today a confirmation from the ethics counsellor that the Prime Minister indeed did have a stake in the golf course next to the Auberge Grand-Mère during the time that it received millions of dollars. It is called a conflict of interest.

The ethics counsellor has now confirmed what we have been maintaining all along, that the Prime Minister stood to lose money if the value of that golf course dropped.

Why does the Prime Minister continue to deny that he had an interest in those shares during that time?