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 #161 of the 37th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was endangered.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:45 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, honestly the best thing I can do is repeat to the hon. member her own words. On March 12 she said in the House:

The principle of overpayment is a good one. If Canadians receive government benefits to which they are not entitled, they should pay them back. No one argues with that.

The only one who seems to argue with it is the hon. member and her party. The government has only ever recovered that portion of benefits paid to people who were not legally allowed to receive them. I never thought I would ever see the day when that party challenged us on recovering benefits that were not eligible to be paid.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Carol Skelton Canadian Alliance Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar, SK

Mr. Speaker, the HRD minister said yesterday that changes were necessary to make the process fair. This would imply that it was previously unfair.

Will the minister admit that for five years her department ripped off innocent workers?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

No, Mr. Speaker, I will not.

Let me be clear. If individuals honestly or mistakenly fail to declare their earnings, the only amount that they are expected to pay back is the amount equal to the benefits that they received for which they were not eligible.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General of Canada reiterated to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that the spirit of employment insurance had not been respected in setting the premium rate, because of the exaggerated surplus in the EI fund: more than $40 billion.

Can the Minister of Human Resources Development assure us that the rates for 2003 and 2004 will be set in a process that is, and I quote the auditor general, “transparent and objective”, or will she continue siphoning money from the unemployed?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. junior finance minister.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalSecretary of State (International Financial Institutions)

Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, this $40 billion surplus is not real money. It is not real.

What is real, is that over the last nine years, the government has reduced premiums substantially, giving contributors more than $6 billion. And the government announced its intention to continue these decreases in the future.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Bloc

Paul Crête Bloc Kamouraska—Rivière-Du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, what is real, is that the government paid down its debt on the backs of the unemployed.

Will the minister ensure that the rate setting process is transparent in order to guarantee adequate parliamentary control so that employers, employees and the unemployed stop getting fleeced by this government?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, what the auditor general said at committee is exactly what she said in her report in December. What she indicated is that she thought there was a better way of setting employment insurance premium rates. We agree with her. That is why in Bill C-2 we included that as part of the act. I would remind the House, the hon. member and his party that they voted against that bill.

Arts and CultureOral Question Period

March 21st, 2002 / 2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, there must be something about Scandinavian countries the Liberals do not like. First they send a scandal ridden politician to Denmark and now the heritage minister interferes with an upcoming royal visit from the king and queen of Norway.

The minister claims the Sami Inuit exhibit was cancelled in Toronto because of lack of funding. Ironically, if the venue were changed to Hamilton, funding from Heritage Canada would magically appear.

The minister is quoted as saying that she would love to fund the event, but is she not really saying that she would love to fund the event as long as it is in her home town of Hamilton?

Arts and CultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, on the contrary. The member opposite and his party have been very critical of the government for allegedly funding organizations that never applied. In this case no application has ever been received either in Toronto or in Hamilton. It is very difficult to fund an exhibition for which an application has never been received.

I am awaiting the application. I hope the University of Toronto or any other organization will apply forthwith.

Arts and CultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jim Abbott Canadian Alliance Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is rather interesting because the Norwegian ambassador confirmed today in a letter to the Globe and Mail that the foreign affairs department and the embassy contacted Heritage Canada. Ambassador Havnen was looking for alternative sources of funding; the minister was interested in alternative venues.

Why does the minister not just admit that she never intended to assist with the funding unless the event was moved to the Hamilton art gallery whose chairman just happens to be Jordan Livingston, a significant campaign donor and longtime political friend of the minister?

Arts and CultureOral Question Period

2:50 p.m.

Hamilton East Ontario

Liberal

Sheila Copps LiberalMinister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is rather sad that the member opposite would besmirch the reputation of a gallery which has the fourth largest collection of art in Canada, which had a curator who was a member of the group of seven and which has an incredible international reputation.

That being said, I am not surprised because the member quotes the ambassador. If he reads the letter that the ambassador wrote to the Globe and Mail he will find that the ambassador stated very clearly that the only thing that I attempted to do was to help the ambassador in achieving his objectives of bringing the exhibition to Canada.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans just returned from holding hearings into foreign fishing violations just outside our 200 mile limit.

Witnesses were very forceful. In fact some were near tears in telling us directly that Canada must take action against these violations by NAFO member countries. In 2001 there has been a documented illegal harvest of greater than 10,000 tonnes of species under moratorium.

This strikes at the heart of this country's protecting its fish stocks. What is the minister willing to do to protect our fish?

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

West Nova Nova Scotia

Liberal

Robert Thibault LiberalMinister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member and his committee for the outstanding work on this most important issue for Atlantic Canada.

I should like to make it clear that Canada will not tolerate the deliberate abuse of NAFO rules by foreign fishing fleets on the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap.

I have announced today as a first step that Canada is closing its ports to fishing vessels from the Faroe Islands for persistent violations of NAFO measures and disregard for conservation of the fish stocks.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, the actions of Ari Ben-Menashe and his Canadian company, Dickens and Madson, have put the life of Zimbabwe opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in extreme danger.

Mr. Tsvangirai has been charged with treason which calls for the death penalty based on a highly questionable videotape done by the same individuals. These individuals have been involved in a history of fraud and extortion around the world.

Will the solicitor general instruct the RCMP to investigate the international activities of Ari Ben-Menashe, Alex Legault and their company, Dickens and Madson?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the RCMP is investigating the allegations. As my hon. colleague is well aware I am certainly not in a position to indicate whether it should or should not, but the RCMP has indicated that it is investigating.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, today is the day that the Americans are supposed to announce their decision on what they are going to do about Canadian softwood lumber. On his return from the United States, the Prime Minister indicated that an agreement was imminent, and the Minister for International Trade made the commitment not to sign any agreement that did not take provincial specifics into account.

Can the Deputy Prime Minister assure us that his government will not sign an agreement just to save face for the Prime Minister, and that any agreement that might ensue will respect the specific nature of Quebec and of the provinces?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario

Liberal

Pat O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, discussions went on through the night last night in Washington and negotiations have resumed. Our negotiating team is sparing absolutely no effort to find an agreement.

I can assure the hon. member, the House and all Canadians that the government simply will not sign a bad deal just to have a deal.

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Bill Casey Progressive Conservative Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Mr. Speaker, month after month, week after week, the Minister for International Trade stood in the House and assured us that he would accept nothing short of free trade in softwood lumber.

Why is he caving in at this 11th hour and changing the position he repeated to us so often?

Softwood LumberOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

London—Fanshawe Ontario

Liberal

Pat O'Brien LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade

Mr. Speaker, I have no idea where my hon. friend would get that impression. The fact of the matter is, I repeat, that the government will not sign what it considers to be a bad deal.

The long term goal remains exactly the same. We will not have a deal that does not guarantee unfettered open access for Canadian softwood lumber to the American market. That was, is and will continue to be our position.

FisheriesOral Question Period

2:55 p.m.

Liberal

Charles Caccia Liberal Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1981 the Government of Canada was among the first to sign the United Nations convention on the law of the sea. During the election in 1993 the Liberal Party made a commitment to ratify the convention.

When could Canadians expect the Government of Canada to ratify the United Nations convention on the law of the sea?

FisheriesOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and his interest in this matter. He knows full well, as does the House, that it is the policy of the government to ratify the law of the sea convention as soon as possible, bearing in mind that it is the primary duty of the government and ourselves to protect the fishing stocks of this country.

We heard the minister of fisheries speak to this matter in the House this afternoon. We have now dealt with the straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. We will continue pursuing protection of fish stocks and will sign the law of the sea convention as soon as we are assured the Canadian interests in this important area are guaranteed.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Keith Martin Canadian Alliance Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, senior Zimbabwean politicians and members of the Zimbabwean defence force have with the help of Dickens and Madson turned Zimbabwe into a hub for the sale of blood diamonds. This same company is the company from which the Department of Foreign Affairs was extracting information.

My question is very simple. Will the solicitor general also ask the RCMP to investigate the involvement of Ari Ben-Menashe, Alex Legault and Dickens and Madson in the sale of blood diamonds, arms trafficking, fraud and their involvement with Robert Mugabe?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Cardigan P.E.I.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay LiberalSolicitor General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, I have responded to my hon. colleague previously. The fact of the matter is that he is fully aware he can inform the RCMP of these allegations. It can evaluate the allegations and decide whether or not it will investigate.

My hon. colleague is fully aware that I do not direct what the RCMP does or does not investigate, but he is certainly open to giving the information to the RCMP, and I suggest he should.

Battle against HomelessnessOral Question Period

3 p.m.

Bloc

Christiane Gagnon Bloc Québec, QC

Mr. Speaker, under the SCPI, which was announced in 1999, the Quebec region was to receive $7.2 million to battle homelessness. On December 1, 2001, the 23 projects selected by the joint committee were submitted to the department for review and signature.

Now, three months later, not one cent has been paid out. No region except Quebec has been involved in such a lengthy allocation process.

Will the Minister of Human Resources Development make a commitment to speed up the project approval process for the Quebec region, so that they will all have been approved by Easter?