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House of Commons Hansard #58 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was nations.

Topics

TaxationStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is day 30 since the Liberal leader said, “We will have to raise taxes”, 30 days in which he has not denied making the statement, 30 days with no retraction of the statement and, most important, 30 days without an explanation of which taxes he would raise, by how much he would raise them and who would have to pay.

This is the same Liberal leader who describes himself as a “tax and spend Pearsonian-Trudeau Liberal”. He fathered the Liberal carbon tax. He said, “We have also got to have popular, practical, believable policies that may involve some form of carbon tax”. He is also considering a hike in the GST, saying, “I am not going to take a GST hike off the table”. These are not my words, but they do concern me.

After a month of silence, can the Liberal leader set the record straight once and for all and tell the House which taxes he would raise, by how much he would raise them and who would have to pay?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, a third of a million Canadians have lost their jobs under the Conservative government.

Tens of thousands cannot get the employment insurance they paid for, because Conservatives insist on eligibility rules designed for the beginning of a boom. But the boom has gone bust. The C.D. Howe Institute, the Conference Board, and the TD Bank are not socialist organizations, and they all say the Conservatives are wrong on EI.

Why will the Prime Minister not help all the jobless workers who are suffering through his recession, regardless of where they live?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, as members will have heard from our social development minister as well, we have a generous system of EI in this country. It has been in place for a while. We actually made it better under budget 2009 by extending work sharing and by extending the program itself by five weeks. It is driven by market demands. It is there for times of economic difficulty, and 80% of those who pay in get money out of the system.

We will not be in favour of a system that drives higher payroll taxes, which will not be to the benefit of workers and not to the benefit of businesses.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ralph Goodale Liberal Wascana, SK

Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. The previous Liberal government slashed EI premiums 12 consecutive times. That is a cut of more than 40%, and now premiums are frozen at that lower Liberal level.

EI rates will only go up if these Conservatives put them up. So do not blame the Liberals and do not blame the innocent victims who are trashed by a Conservative recession.

The Prime Minister thinks EI benefits are too generous. The minister says they are too lucrative. Will they not just admit the only thing stopping them from fixing EI is their own archaic reform party ideology?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativeMinister of Industry

Mr. Speaker, I see the member for Kings—Hants applauding his House leader there.

Here is what the hon. member for Kings—Hants said at a more sensible time in his life. He said, “Payroll taxes, especially EI taxes, are a tax on jobs”.

That is what he said then. He was right then. We are right now. We will not forsake the workers. We will not forsake Canadian businesses. We believe in lower payroll taxes.

We believe in lower taxes, whereas his leader said, one month ago today, “We will have to raise taxes”.

That is not good enough.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, the economic crisis is also hitting lobster fishers. Lobster prices have collapsed. Fishers in Quebec and Atlantic Canada are literally on the brink of bankruptcy. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans does not seem too worried about this. She does not even have time to meet with representatives of the fishers. They are trying to reach her, but “There is no service at the number you have dialed.”

What will the Conservatives do to help the people of Gaspé, the Magdalen Islands and Atlantic Canada who make a living from the lobster fishery? Will the government buy back their licences, or will it let them go hungry?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, it is true that the lobster industry is facing some serious challenges. It is in crisis, like many industries are.

This is not a time to grandstand; this is a time to work together. That is what we have done. Our minister has had numerous conversations with her provincial counterparts. All are engaged in this throughout the Atlantic region. She is having a meeting tomorrow with industry and provincial leaders in Moncton, and we expect some good solutions to come out of that meeting.

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Lawrence MacAulay Liberal Cardigan, PE

Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans indicate to the House that the Government of Canada will establish a rationalization program for the fisheries in Eastern Canada with appropriate federal funding?

Also, the minister and the government received an EI proposal from the fishing industry that would allow people in eastern Canada involved in the fishing industry to draw EI this winter. Will the minister stand in her place today and confirm that these changes are forthcoming?

Fisheries and OceansOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, this question is a little premature. As I just mentioned, she has a meeting tomorrow with all her provincial counterparts and all the main industry leaders from Prince Edward Island, his province, and the other provinces as well.

We will see what comes out of that meeting. We expect some solutions to come.

Lobster IndustryOral Questions

May 14th, 2009 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, day after day, as industry after Canadian industry hit the wall and Canadian workers hit the streets, all we have seen from the Minister of Human Resources is standing regurgitating talking points. She is like the ShamWow salesman and Canadians are not buying it.

What we see in Atlantic Canada is a pending crisis in the Atlantic lobster fishery. What is the minister willing to do to help these people and spare us the sales pitch?

Lobster IndustryOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission B.C.

Conservative

Randy Kamp ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans

Mr. Speaker, obviously the member and some of his colleagues are missing the things that we already have done. In fact, if he read our economic action plan, he would see that we have already improved access to credit. We have already put in place a fund that will help with marketing. There are some conditions in the industry right now, such as a reduced demand, that have pushed prices down. This government has no control over those things. We are working on the things we can control.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, the government's answers, and especially the Prime Minister's, are full of lies. Yesterday, the Prime Minister said that an employment insurance eligibility threshold of 360 hours would give unemployed workers 52 weeks of employment insurance benefits. That is not true.

It is not true under the current system. It is not true under the bills the Bloc has introduced. It is not true under any mechanisms.

Can the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development explain how a 360-hour eligibility threshold would automatically give—

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. I regret to have to interrupt the hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie, but he used unparliamentary language, and I hope he will withdraw what he said the next time he asks a question.

The hon. Minister of National Revenue has the floor to reply.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, can the leader of the Bloc Québécois answer my questions?

When our government wanted to help people who are losing their jobs by giving them an additional five weeks of benefits, at a time when it is harder to find a job quickly because of the recession, why did the leader of the Bloc Québécois vote against that measure?

In addition, when we wanted to give people a $1,350 credit for home renovations in order to stimulate the economy and create work for the construction industry, why did he vote against that measure?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I used the same language the Minister of Public Works and Government Services used yesterday. If he can use it, I can use it.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

I ask the minister to stand up and explain the falsehood we heard yesterday.

How would 360 hours equal 52 weeks of benefits? That is not true.

The people who elected us expect us to tell the truth. I ask the question again. If the government has even a modicum of honesty, let her stand up and correct her answer.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, please. The hon. Minister of National Revenue.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, the employment insurance system is based on the unemployment rate in the regions of Quebec and Canada. The higher the unemployment rate, the fewer hours or weeks Canadians need to work to qualify for employment insurance. That is our model.

For example, in Gaspé, the unemployment rate often fluctuates around 20%, whereas in Quebec City, it is only 4%. Everyone understands that it is easier to find a job in Quebec City than in Gaspé. That is the basic principle behind our employment insurance system.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, under the Quebec bill, an eligibility threshold of 360 hours and a 16% unemployment rate would entitle people to a maximum of 36 weeks. That is far from the 52 weeks referred to by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Will the minister acknowledge her mistake and apologize to the unemployed?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, there have been a number of employment insurance reforms over the years in this country. The program we have at present takes regional unemployment rates into account. The program is adapted so that the number of weeks worked to be eligible for benefits is lower in areas where it is harder to find a job.

The drawback to the system proposed by the Liberal party is that it would destabilize the foundations of our employment-based economy. It would even have another major drawback: encouraging people to work under the table rather than stimulate the economy of Canada.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the minister were the least bit honest, she would acknowledge her error and apologize to the unemployed.

Instead of ranting on about the opposition proposals for improving the system, the minister ought to acknowledge that the present system does not meet the needs of workers who lose their jobs.

Will she at last carry out a thorough reform of this program by setting eligibility at 360 hours, abolishing the waiting period, and improving benefits, as the Bloc Québécois is proposing?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Jonquière—Alma Québec

Conservative

Jean-Pierre Blackburn ConservativeMinister of National Revenue and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, while our economy is in difficulty, it is important to act on a number of fronts simultaneously. The first is to try to stimulate the economy. To that end, $12 billion has been earmarked to promote construction. the development of infrastructure just about everywhere in the country, and repairs to infrastructure that is, shall we say, in bad shape.

Then we are making money available to people for home renovations. We are also supporting workers. They proposed eliminating the two week waiting period, but we have given five more weeks of benefits to the unemployed, which is to their advantage. It means—

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order. The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth.