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House of Commons Hansard #152 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-19.

Topics

DiwaliStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, Diwali, a festival of lights, is celebrated by a large segment of the South Asian community around the world. It commemorates the return of Lord Rama to his kingdom after completing 14 years in exile. Streets and homes are brightly lit with rows of lights.

The festival symbolizes the victory of righteousness over evil, light over darkness. Hindus join with their families and friends in celebrating it with prayers, sweets, exchanges of gifts and fireworks. This occasion also marks the Hindu New Year.

On behalf of the South Asians in Ontario organization, I extend my personal invitation to all members of the House to attend a Diwali celebration tonight at 6 p.m. at the Hindu Temple at 4835 Bank Street. Let me say Happy Diwali.

Municipality of Saint-AmbroiseStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Bloc

Sébastien Gagnon Bloc Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, QC

Mr. Speaker, allow me to point out to the House today that the municipality of Saint-Ambroise, in my riding, is celebrating its 100th anniversary of municipal life.

Many activities are taking place this week to commemorate this important milestone in the democratic municipal life of Saint-Ambroise.

The organizing committee also wants to mark the courage and vitality of the women and men who, throughout the past century, shaped Saint-Ambroise and gave it its unique colour and joie de vivre, which has been passed down from generation to generation.

I give congratulate everyone in Saint-Ambroise, wish them a great 100th anniversary of democratic life, and invite all the residents of the Saguenay and Lac-Saint-Jean to take part in this important celebration.

TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, before our Prime Minister lifts off, I would like to remind him that the airport in Red Deer, Alberta is open 12 months and it has over 40,000 flights per year. It has made requests for funding but it has received nothing. In contrast, the airport in Charlevoix is closed for more than half the year and has fewer than 1,500 flights, yet it received over $5 million in government funding, compliments of the former finance minister.

Could the government tell us why it is flying Charlevoix in first class and the west in coach?

TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

Liberal

Martin Cauchon LiberalMinister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Mr. Speaker, we have in place across Canada regional development agencies. Of course when we look at the programs, because they are flexible, we have programs that could vary from one region to another.

On the question of Charlevoix, it is clear to me that tourism development is key. Of course when we look at what we have there, the golf courses, Le Manoir Richelieu, as well the casino, it is just normal to get involved in such a fantastic project for economic development there.

TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Deborah Grey Canadian Alliance Edmonton North, AB

Mr. Speaker, for corn's sake, we have a little tourism out west ourselves.

Red Deer is only one example of western airports that have been virtually ignored by the government. Swift Current, Tofino, North Battleford and Yorkton have received precious little funding despite growing needs.

The Prime Minister's understudy laments about western alienation, but cheating these airports certainly is not the way the west is won. Looks like he has been caught with his flaps down. How can the Liberals claim to care so much about the west, yet leave the airports running on empty?

TransportOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Beauce Québec

Liberal

Claude Drouin LiberalSecretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec)

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member does not understand is that the region has an unemployment rate of 16% and that 30% of the jobs in the region depend on tourism. It is an important tool for development in the region. Transport Canada had issued a warning that this was a dangerous runway. We have acted in the interests of the people of the region and faced up to our responsibilities.

Member for Edmonton NorthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds Canadian Alliance West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, the very hon. member for Edmonton North might not have another opportunity to rise in the House again. I have a question for all members. Will they ever forget her first appearance in Canada's Parliament as the advance guard for the Reform Party?

The answer is we will never forget. She will never forget either, because her caucus today has purchased her chair to take back to Edmonton so she can sit and watch question period every day.

Who will join me in standing and applauding the hon. member for Edmonton North for her service to Canada, her constituents and her country?

Member for Edmonton NorthOral Question Period

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Member for Edmonton NorthOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for South Shore.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Gerald Keddy Progressive Conservative South Shore, NS

Mr. Speaker, William Sampson's testimony at committee this morning was poignant and damning. It clearly demonstrated the abject and sorry failure of the Department of Foreign Affairs to protect Canadian citizens abroad and further underlined the ineffectiveness of Canadian soft power diplomacy.

Ministerial platitudes did not save William Sampson. British strong-arm diplomacy did.

Will the minister commit today to a public inquiry before another Canadian is tortured in another Saudi jail?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will have an opportunity to meet with Mr. Sampson tomorrow and we can discuss his case. We are going to do our best to find out how we can serve Canadians in the future and I will listen attentively to the advice he can give me. However, all members of the House have to know that from the Prime Minister to myself to the House leader to many private members on both sides of the House, we worked incessantly for the release of Mr. Sampson and I defend how we did it in a way which was in his best interests.

What happened, and the House will know, is that four British prisoners were in there at the same time as Mr. Sampson. They got out at the same time. We worked together. Our diplomacy worked with their diplomacy.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that William Sampson was brutalized and tortured while the government silently watched this happen.

This question is for the Prime Minister. It is one of the few times that I will be able to put the question to the Prime Minister, probably the last time. Is this the kind of legacy that you want to leave, where Canadians are brutalized--

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. for New Brunswick Southwest knows that he must address his questions to the Chair. He has been here a long time. He is fully conversant with that and I know he will want to comply with the rules in every respect.

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Progressive Conservative

Greg Thompson Progressive Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I am suggesting that Canada could leave a better legacy on behalf of the Prime Minister in terms of the torture and brutality inflicted on this man, and it was very damming testimony this morning in committee, while the government stood by.

Will the Prime Minister launch a public inquiry?

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I can tell the House that when the Prime Minister asked me as chairman of the House committee in this affair to go to Saudi Arabia to speak to the king and to speak to Prince Abdullah about the fate of Mr. Sampson, he was not thinking about his legacy. He was thinking about the safety of a Canadian and how we could effectively assist that Canadian.

The Prime Minister's instructions to me have always been to act in a way to ensure the safety of Canadians through the diplomatic channels that we have established because of the goodwill that Canada has working with other nations and to have success in the end. Mr. Sampson is here with us today to--

Foreign AffairsOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier--Sainte-Marie.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance had the gall to state that the unemployed do not contribute to EI.

I would remind him that, before they lost their jobs, they made their contribution, their full contribution and now they are unemployed, a mere 40% of them are receiving benefits, because the government has helped itself to $45 billion from the employment insurance fund.

Given his minister's insensitivity to that reality, will the Prime Minister admit that, under his government, six out of ten workers paying into the fund do not get anything back from it when they become unemployed, and thus are doubly taxed?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

November 6th, 2003 / 2:20 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, first, I think that the hon. member ought to recognize that the government and the Canadian economy have created 3 million jobs in recent years. This is a considerable contribution to those who, unfortunately, find themselves facing unemployment.

The unemployed receive benefits, which is why the minister said, “When they are unemployed, they unfortunately do not pay into the fund”. When they are working, however, they do.

I think that anyone would have understood the Minister of Finance very well if they had listened carefully.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, anyone who looked at the statistics carefully would see that only 39% of the unemployed draw benefits. With the creation of 3 million jobs, the means were in place to look after those in need.

Will the Prime Minister admit that this represents a poor social choice by his government and that, among other things, it has paid down its debt by taking money from those who needed it most?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Saint-Maurice Québec

Liberal

Jean Chrétien LiberalPrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone knows that Canadians have collectively rolled up their sleeves and succeeded in eliminating the deficit. That is why today, for example, instead of mortgage rates of 11.5%, people with low incomes are paying only 6%.

That is why there is so much construction, which creates jobs, thereby reducing unemployment. I believe we have always been concerned with ensuring that the weakest members of society have access to work and the self-respect that goes with it.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, six out of every ten persons who lose their jobs are denied employment insurance benefits. The other four, who receive benefits, receive less money for a shorter time because of government decisions.

How can the Prime Minister justify his government's stubborn bias against the most vulnerable people in our society, those who have lost their jobs?

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear that the employment insurance system is there and it is working for those for whom it was designed. Of those who pay premiums, close to 90% will be eligible for benefits should they need them.

As the Prime Minister has said, the government has created three million new jobs for Canadians since it was elected. At the same time, as we have had more people working and more premiums being paid, we have been reducing employment insurance premiums. That has saved individuals and employers a considerable amount since 1993.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Suzanne Tremblay Bloc Rimouski-Neigette-Et-La Mitis, QC

Mr. Speaker, I call on the minister to listen to the real statistics, not the ones her department keeps going on about.

When the Prime Minister took office, 57% of people who lost their jobs received EI benefits. Today that figure is 39%, not 90% as she just said. She repeats the same thing over and over.

Is it not the case that the government's refusal to review the rules for eligibility for EI benefits illustrates how the government has made a very poor choice with serious consequences for all those who lose their jobs, that is, 61% of unemployed—

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

The Speaker

The hon. Minister for Human Resources Development.

Employment InsuranceOral Question Period

2:25 p.m.

Brant Ontario

Liberal

Jane Stewart LiberalMinister of Human Resources Development

Mr. Speaker, let us look at some of those statistics. Again, three million jobs have been created since the government took office. Half of those jobs have been created for Canadian women.

Let us understand that every single year since we have been in power, we have reduced employment insurance premiums. For the next year they will be at $1.98 for employees.

When it comes to investing in Canadians, I want to remind the hon. member that it is through the employment insurance system that we have doubled parental benefits, that we will be now introducing a compassionate leave program.

We understand our role in supporting Canadian workers.