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House of Commons Hansard #107 of the 38th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Don Boudria Liberal Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not want to belabour the point but there a couple of things that should be brought to your attention. First, it is not correct to say that this is merely a matter of a commercial nature and so on. Intellectual property judgments rendered over the last little while in the case of Julia Roberts and a number of others are quite clear that it is not that way where name recognitions are such that this is not a matter purely of the kind that the hon. member suggests.

The hon. member is referring to what he called civil remedy. The House will know that we are in the public domain. All of us are members of the House. As the hon. member for Halton has suggested, these sites are designed to look like official websites. They may have fine print on the corner that says that they are not, but they are still in appearance very similar to what members of Parliament use.

Furthermore, in the case of a number of us, and I am one of them, they took the site that I had for a long time and as a matter of fact it is linked to my House of Commons website and has been for years and years. The same had occurred to “my name”.com until earlier today. When the organization was phoned a number of times by the media, they released “my name”.com but still hung on to “my name”.ca. Clearly this is not someone else whose name happens to be the same as mine.

A number of us have what I would call unusual names. I can say that because mine is one of them. I do not know of anyone else who bears the same name and even if I did, that person likely would not be an MPs and have my picture. That is not the same thing. The threshold is far different. It has been established in international courts of justice as being different. It is a different threshold under which we operate. There are links between those sites and our official sites. If people were to go onto my official site right now they would see the link to “my name”.ca. If they were to transfer to that site they would see that a religious organization is making disparaging remarks about a member of the House, namely myself. No one can say that is a legitimate use of the domain name in question. It cannot be.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Derek Lee Liberal Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have two thoughts on this. What has been outlined to the House sounds a little like impersonation or identity theft. Those two actions may or may not be covered under the Criminal Code.

The second and more significant issue I would urge upon you, Mr. Speaker, is that these actions of impersonation, identity theft or using members' names and may interfere with the work of members of the House and it may interfere with the functions of the House collectively as positions, false or accurate, in relation to the members and their work are placed on the World Wide Web. I think that is the bigger issue. This is not just a domain name issue. It has to do with the functions of the House and the proper functioning of the House and its members collectively.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ken Epp Conservative Edmonton—Sherwood Park, AB

Mr. Speaker, I think I can be of some assistance to you by telling you that in my opinion there is not a thing that you can do about this and you should reject the complaint.

It is a matter of the way the Internet is being used. While these things have been going on, I actually logged onto the site on my computer and, frankly, it is a process that is being used by people who care intensely about the issue of marriage.

In looking for these sites I found the one for the riding of Halton. In that particular case it says “You can trust”, and then it names the member and says that he is in favour of the traditional definition of marriage.

In the case of the member for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, at the top of the website it states, “This is not the official website of”, and it names the member's name. So there is a total disclaimer there. Indeed, they have his picture and they have used .ca, as the member has indicated, but there is nothing he can do short of making sure he has registered and preserved all of the variations of his name if he wants to avoid this.

There is not a thing that the Speaker can do. I do not think there is anything that any court of the land can do. That is just the way the Internet works and all of us are subject to this type of thing. I would urge the member to listen to what the constituents are saying.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jason Kenney Conservative Calgary Southeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I have a brief addendum. I think your honour needs to understand that, for instance, in the United States it is common practice for Internet entrepreneurs to register domain names of candidates and those candidates then at some point have to purchase those domain names through a commercial transaction. This is an established precedent. No one has a prior right to a series of letters on the Internet.

I would further point out that I find it quite interesting that my colleague opposite should only raise this now when it affects him. Five years ago the hon. member for Okanagan—Coquihalla, when he was leader of the opposition, had his name .ca, .org, .net and various other versions registered, presumably by members of my hon. friend's party, with scurrilous content put on websites with those addresses.

I, myself, have had iterations of my name on the Internet as domain addresses taken by extremist organizations and I never raised this matter, nor did my colleague from Okanagan—Coquihalla, nor, I suspect, have other members who have had their names previously registered because we respect the freedom of people to do so and we also recognize our own responsibility to protect our own names. If we fail to do so that is not a responsibility of the House of Commons or the Government of Canada.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to this now for two days and I find it very interesting that when I went through the same problem as the member is experiencing and took it to the people opposite, they regarded it very lightly. They laughed and joked about the fact that this was being done to me on a completely different issue. Now we see the hypocrisy being displayed about how serious this is but when it was a different issue I received no support from that side of the House and there was nothing I could do about it.

I went to Internet companies. I went to all the people who were using my name to spread all kinds of things about me that were totally false and those people laughed and joked about it. They said, “oh, ha, ha, ha”. Now it is happening to them and it is a very serious thing on another issue.

Mr. Speaker, this has been going on for some time and it is a bit hypocritical for them to now raise this as a very serious issue.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I sympathize with members on the opposite side of the House that sometimes things that should be taken seriously are not by the government when it does not affect its members. I also appreciate the viewpoint of the member for Elk Island that this may be, like many other things on the Internet, impossible ultimately to enforce or to do anything about.

However, I do not think that two wrongs make a right and because somebody ignored or did not treat seriously a serious concern of the hon. members in the past does not mean that I would want the Speaker to let that be the deciding factor in judging whether or not there was something here that should be the appropriate concern of Parliament.

I am not sure whether that which impinges on our personal name is ultimately a matter for Parliament or not but I think it is worth thinking about. I would just urge members who in the past were not taken seriously when they raised this matter, to not throw out the baby with the bath water. Maybe it is time they should welcome the fact that people who otherwise or earlier did not take this seriously now do and maybe it is worth having a look at in some fashion. That is my only point.

PrivilegeOral Question Period

3:20 p.m.

The Speaker

I thank all hon. members who made a contribution today for the additional clarification they have offered on this point which I have under consideration and will continue to have under consideration and return to the House in due course with a ruling that I hope will satisfy everyone.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

June 2nd, 2005 / 3:25 p.m.

The Speaker

Before the House broke for question period, the hon. member for Windsor West had the floor. There remain two minutes for him in the time allotted for his remarks.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to wrap up. I know I am splitting my time with the member for Hamilton Centre and I am looking forward to his comments on the subject.

I will once again appeal to members of the House that what the member for Acadie--Bathurst is doing is presenting a modest attempt to change the system. There seems to be a lot of divisiveness on what we should do about employment insurance in this country, how it should affect workers, and how we can make it a better program.

This is a modest approach and a practical way for us to do something, before this Parliament recesses or falls, for the people who are paying into the employment insurance program and who are in areas where there is over 10% unemployment.

We know those regions are having problems. It may be something related to their environment, or maybe it is related to historical employment issues that they have not been able to address. Perhaps there has been a downturn with a significant employer in their area that has caused them to percolate up beyond the 10% mark. We would be lowering the number of weeks from 14 to 12 of the best weeks.

We are talking about $20 million which is the estimated cost of this expenditure. It would be going to help families and individuals pay for their mortgages, to assist them to find other employment, and to ensure that they do not fall behind in other payments or debts.

It is not money that would be lost. It would actually be spent in the community. It would create stability in those areas where we know we have specific strategic problems. That is important to remember because once again it is a modest step in a House that is divided on an issue. We know it is important not only to employers but to employees, and that is why the member for Acadie--Bathurst should be congratulated for doing this.

All Canadians know that this House is divided. There is a lot of controversy relating to everything from tapes, scandals, opinions of spending resources to decisions about the country. Here we have an attempt, which has been unfairly criticized, to bring people together so that we can actually accomplish something.

If we look to this motion, we can see how it can affect Canadians and more importantly how it helps individual workers and their families. It is a good first step for a House that is often divided, and more importantly, it might restore some confidence that we in this House are looking at issues that affect Canadians.

I will be supporting this NDP motion. It is a motion that all members can support. It is something that is not going to be expensive. It is not going to be irresponsible. It is going to be limited and focused, and more importantly, any resources go back to taxpayers who are paying into the system. They are making regular contributions to employment insurance on a day to day basis. For that reason it is going to be an improvement in a very divided atmosphere.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it strikes me that in the last few weeks in this House, or perhaps even the last month or so, we have seen an awful lot of rage, some of it simulated, some of it genuine, but all of it directed toward the alleged and sometimes obvious flowing of great sums of money in inappropriate ways. Yet, here we are talking about something that should be the appropriate object of moral outrage. There are many families in the riding of Acadie--Bathurst and in ridings all across this country who are struggling to make ends meet.

It must be, for them, a source of legitimate outrage that the sums of money that we talk about here every day as having gone to this bagman or that ad firm or this Liberal Party hack or whatever the case may be, are beyond their wildest dreams. All they are asking for is for a change in the regulations having to do with employment insurance that would enable them to collect a meagre sum of money on a monthly basis, a sum of money that would not even register on most people's fiscal graphs around here.

Yet, this is scoffed at by the government and by the official opposition. We cannot tell where the Bloc Québécois members are because they are so blinded by their own rage that when they finally have an opportunity to cooperate with the NDP to do something about EI, they cannot see the forest for the trees, or the trees for the forest, whichever metaphor is appropriate. I wonder if the hon. member would want to comment on that.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note the frustration we seem to be sensing from Canadians. The member is quite right because we are talking about a few hundred dollars. We are talking about a few hundred dollars for people to ensure that they do not fall behind on their mortgage payments and that they can make their payments on their cars so that they can find new employment. It is to ensure that their kids are going to be able to go to school and that they are not going to fall behind on any other payments that they might already have in terms of debt. This is a transition point.

These workers have paid into this fund. It is not a gift back to them. They have paid into this fund and their employers have paid into this fund. For heaven's sake, why in a House divided can we not do a modest thing?

It is a responsible thing the member for Acadie—Bathurst has done. He did not come here with a shopping list that nobody could support. He did not come here and say that we were going to position ourselves in a way that we were going to make a lot of hits on people, on the government and on the opposition parties, and ensure that we embarrass them. He found something that is a reasonable approach that all members can support.

For the Conservatives, here is immediate tax relief for those families. They can control this, they can stand up and deliver on this with us, with the Bloc and with the Liberals that support this, and get effective change for people.

What good is it going to do, in all of this employment insurance debate, if we deny this motion and we withhold from those families in economic areas that have over 10% unemployment a small, modest change so they can hang on? What would we accomplish by denying a small change to a system that affects people on a daily basis and could provide some stability in a time when their communities are affected quite significantly by unemployment rates over 10%? What benefit are we going to derive from that?

I think that other Canadians out there would recognize that we have to have a modest change for those regions that are most vulnerable. We are talking about from the best 14 weeks to the best 12 weeks, a very modest change. I think Canadians would support this and they would welcome this to ensure that their brothers and sisters in other parts of this nation would be able to hang on.

I know for a fact that my community contributes a lot in taxes on a regular basis. We do not mind the fact that we have to help other people at times, but we want to know that this country is going to be there for us when we need it. I think that is why we should support this motion.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:30 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to compliment my colleague from Windsor West and certainly my colleague from Acadie--Bathurst who is sponsoring the motion. Both have put forward powerful, effective arguments. If people are watching at home who are either unemployed or have an unemployed family member and are lacking any hope in finding employment, I am sure they take those arguments very seriously and are probably wondering why they did not have the same kind of effect on the rest of the House. I want to compliment those members for making that kind of powerful argument. They have also laid the groundwork as to why this is so reasonable.

Let me visit a couple of the issues that I think warrant the consideration of members of the House and why they should ultimately support this motion.

There is nothing new here. This is not some wild eyed, pie in the sky, perfect utopian aspect of how the world ought to be in its perfection. It is nothing like that. This is about an issue that was recommended by one of our committees in February of this year.

There were 28 recommendations from the committee dealing with improvements to EI. The NDP, the Bloc and the Liberals supported the report in its entirety. The Conservatives supported some of the recommendations. That is the starting point and I am not going to put too much emphasis on talking to them, although I think that some of those members who actually give a damn about the unemployed ought to be concerned about this. Maybe something will happen and lightning will strike, and they will see the light and be there for their constituents.

My main focus is on the Liberals and the Bloc because together we can make this happen. We can do this; we have the votes. This is a minority government. When we join together on this or any other issue that we think important, we can make it law.

I do not understand why the Liberals are offside. If they have suddenly taken a trip down the road to Damascus, then they should please send a note over. I would love to start praising the fact that they have joined us on this. I have been advised by our whip that the minister indicated earlier that the government is not going to support this motion. Why? Why would they not support this when just a couple of months ago all of the Liberals on the committee voted for these 28 recommendations?

Is it because it was just at committee, so the Liberals could play their posturing games where they say one thing, talk like New Democrats, get passionate like New Democrats, but govern like right wingers? Is that what was going on? If it was, then it was disgusting.

This is not just some theoretical debate about some esoteric issue. As my good friend from Windsor West pointed out, we are talking about the ability of fellow Canadians to maintain their life while they go through the crisis of unemployment. We are not talking big dollars. I believe the difference between what is already in front of us and what is proposed here today is $20 million. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

The sum of $20 million is a lot of money, make no mistake about that. However, in a system where the surplus alone has generated over $50 billion, it is not a lot of money. It is certainly not enough money to justify saying to the unemployed in this country that they are not good enough to get the attention and support of the House. These are good, decent, hardworking people who just want to provide for their families like every one of us here in the House and like everybody else in this country,

We just went through the experience of seeing the Liberal government put $4.6 billion, a surprise gift, into corporate tax cuts in the last budget. It is funny how the Liberals found $4.6 billion that nobody was really asking for. They had no mandate for it. It was not part of the election campaign. All that we in the NDP have ever asked for is for the Liberals to take a good look at the difference between what they say and what they do, and this is a prime example.

Take a $4.6 billion that no one campaigned for, no one had a mandate for and no one asked for--

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

Peter Adams Liberal Peterborough, ON

Can you make it a bit louder?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

I will scream as loud as I have to get some justice for people who are looking for some kind of recognition that they are important. Damn right I will yell. If the unemployed had a chance to be here it would be deafening. Someone has to stand up and speak for them. It is a good thing that they have friends in the members from Acadie--Bathurst and Windsor West who are prepared to stand up and give voice because you are not prepared to do it.

Prior to that $4.6 billion, the government had $100 billion to give away--

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I can hear the member clearly, but of course the member would know that he is not allowed to address people in the first person. If he could address them by riding names or by their titles that would be fine.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am sorry. I think I am getting better, but I do not have it down just yet. However, I accept that and I will do my best to continue to stop presenting things in a way that is unacceptable to you. However, the anger I suppose is part of it and I appreciate the tenor that you took in slapping me on the wrist.

My point was we just went through an exercise of $100 billion, the biggest tax cut in the history of Canada. The Liberals had enough care about corporations that it found $100 billion. All we are asking for is $20 million to give some scared, frightened, decent Canadians a bit of a hand. Do we not owe them that? Is that not the least we can do?

I grant that this will not change the world and it is not a huge thing, but that is the whole point. We are trying to make Parliament work. We have brought in a motion that is very small and narrow. I know there are a lot of activists in the EI community and in the labour movement who are somewhat concerned that it does not contain more. Through you, Mr. Speaker, I would say to them very directly to take a look at how much trouble we are having getting support for this little piece. It will give them an idea of how tough that battle is.

In trying to make the minority Parliament work, we decided we would take one chunk of these recommendations. Keep in mind that we tried to make it part of the deal, the new better balanced budget we negotiated with the Liberals, but we did not get it. That is why we are bringing it in this way.

For the life of me, I truly cannot understand how members of the Liberal Party can stand behind their colleagues who voted in committee for this very recommendation. Yet when it is time to put their money where their mouth is, they are nowhere to be seen. It is totally unacceptable.

I urge the members of the Liberal caucus, enough of them at least, to reconsider their position on this. It is not that much to ask.

What more do the unemployed have to do to get a decent shake around here? The government stands by and lets Wal-Mart use economic terrorism in Quebec to stop unionization. It seems the Liberals do not want unions to do well in Canada. Again, the Liberals talk a good story, but look at what they did or in this case did not do. They have stood by and done nothing as Wal-Mart marches across not just North America but the world now, putting hundreds of thousands of people who have small businesses out of work.

I am approaching the one minute mark and that is a shame because there is so much to be said.

Why are the smallest things always the biggest fight? We are talking about $20 million that could make the difference between someone being able to put food on the table or not, or to buy a nice dress for their daughter's prom or to ensure that their son has the fees to be involved in local sports.

We are talking about that. It is not billions and billions of dollars. We are certainly not talking about envelopes stuffed with cash, like we have seen in the sponsorship scandal. All we are asking for is a measure of decency for people who have worked hard their whole lives and who through no fault of their own find themselves unemployed.

The least we can do in one of the richest, most generous, nations on the planet is provide some modicum of support while they go through this crisis. That is not asking too much as a Canadian citizen.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I do not want to interrupt the debate, but there have been discussions among all parties and I think you would find unanimous consent to deem the ways and means Motion No. 9 tabled earlier today concurred in on division.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the consent of the House?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

No.

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Peterborough Ontario

Liberal

Peter Adams LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague's discussion about EI and the suggestion that in some way the EI program was lacking in generosity, that we only needed another $20 million and that this would have some effect. I feel obliged to put some things on the record.

The first one is that in the budget, Bill C-43, which is before us and which I know he and his party are supporting, there are $300 million in new investments in the EI program which shows that the government is putting in money. They include the three new pilot projects which will benefit 220,000 people each year and will run for three years in regions where there is 10% per cent or more unemployment.

These programs will enable individuals new to the labour market or returning after an extended absence to access benefits up to 840 hours of work when linked with the employment program. They also will allow the calculation of benefits based on the best 14 weeks over the 52 weeks preceding the claim. I know we are discussing a change in the 14 weeks.

Also included in the $300 million is increasing the working while on claim threshold to allow individuals to earn the greater of $75 or 40% of benefits in an effort to encourage people to take work without a reduction in their benefits.

This is a figure we also should put against the $20 million which the member mentions. We have lowered premiums every year for the last many years. The result of these rate reductions for employers and employees means that in 2005 they will pay $10.5 billion less in premiums than they would have under the 1994 rates, which are at the beginning of the period that we are discussing.

Could my colleague comment on the fact that it is a generous program, attempts are being made to improve it and that although he is talking about $20 million, there is a lot more than $20 million in play here?

SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

David Christopherson NDP Hamilton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the primary difficulty we have is that we do not agree with the premise that it is generous.

Take a look at what has happened since 1990 under Conservative and Liberal governments. In the 1990s we started with 75% of the unemployed receiving EI coverage. That means 75% of people who were unemployed qualified for some kind of EI. Even that was not ideal but it is certainly was getting a lot closer than where we are today. Thanks to the Conservatives and Liberals, they put it in reverse and put the pedal to the metal. Now only 38% of the unemployed in the country receive benefits. Put another way, two in five of Canada's unemployed receive EI benefits at any given time. It was double that in the 1990s.

When the member speaks about how generous it is and how wonderful things are, I beg to differ. I suggest with great respect that the facts put the lie to the argument that somehow the Liberals and the Conservatives care at all about the unemployed.

I will wait for my opportunity. When the member gives a speech and I will want to ask him a question. That question will be this. How can Liberals stand in this place and say that they care about the unemployed when under their regime, benefits and eligibility to the unemployed have been cut, cut, cut? Yet on the corporate side, there are millions and billions in tax gifts, gifts, gifts. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who is important to them and who is not.

Ways and MeansGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Beauséjour New Brunswick

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, let us try this again. There may have been some confusion earlier.

Discussions have taken place between all parties. I believe you would find unanimous consent for Ways and Means Proceedings No. 9, for which notice was given earlier this morning, to be deemed carried on division.

Ways and MeansGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

Does the hon. parliamentary secretary have the unanimous consent of the House?