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House of Commons Hansard #50 of the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was senate.

Topics

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, difficult situations call for daring ideas. Until now, this government has not come up with anything particularly bold for unemployed workers. In phase 2 of the Bloc's plan, we proposed increasing benefits from 55% to 60% of the claimant's salary.

Will the government seize this opportunity to be creative and get behind the Bloc's proposed measure?

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, once again, the Bloc Québécois has made a series of proposals. It knows perfectly well that it will never be held accountable because it will never be in charge of a budget in this House. We, on the other hand, have to make decisions based on the needs of the people. We are going through hard economic times right now. We think that it is important to give people more opportunities and to enable them to collect employment insurance for a longer period of time. Instead of just two weeks, as they have proposed, we are offering five.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Bloc Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, an American economist has said that “The virtue of extending UI benefits goes beyond simply providing financial aid for the jobless to more broadly shoring up household confidence”.

Given the situation, how can the government not provide a tool such as the income support program for older workers, which is another way to stimulate consumption and mitigate the cash shortage caused by the crisis?

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, once again, we consulted Canadians when we brought in our economic action plan. We implemented measures to support the economy and help those who were having a hard time finding jobs. We are providing an extra five weeks of employment insurance benefits. The Bloc Québécois would have provided just two. Anyone who is entitled to 30 weeks of employment insurance would get nothing more under the Bloc's proposal, while our initiative will provide five extra weeks. That is why our plan is better.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, 55 days ago the House adopted the New Democratic plan to fix the EI system. It was very specific. It said that the hours required to work to qualify should be reduced to 360 across the country. It said that self-employed workers should be a part of the plan. It said that the rates should be increased and the two-week penalty should be eliminated.

The Prime Minister used to say that a prime minister had a moral obligation to respect the will of the House. I think he would agree that he has a moral obligation to help those in need in a crisis.

When will he fix EI to help Canadians who are trying to get through this economic crisis?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, it was not that long ago that the House adopted the government's economic action plan which increased benefits to the unemployed and which provided additional funds for retraining, both for those eligible for employment insurance and not eligible for employment insurance.

This is not an abstract question of parliamentary right or wrong. This was real benefit for Canadian workers. The New Democratic Party should have been onside and should have been supporting those changes for workers.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, the problem was the budget did not get the job done and talking to Canadians across this country makes that very clear. This brutal recession is making it very clear to workers that because of a generation of changes to EI, they are being left out. Women are not being treated equally. People in different regions across the country are not being treated equally.

The Liberal record is clear. Before the Liberals were in government, 75% of workers were able to get EI help when they needed it, but when the Liberals left government, it was down to 40%. Now is the chance to fix it.

Will the Prime Minister assist in fixing the EI system that--

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The right hon. Prime Minister.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, when this government brought in five additional weeks of benefit, it did it for every region right across this country equally. There is no excuse for the New Democratic Party and the Bloc to vote against these benefits for workers.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, unemployment rates are reaching record highs across the country. The NDP is making concrete proposals to help people.

For instance, the bill introduced by the hon. member for Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing reduces the number of hours required to be eligible for employment insurance to 360, increases benefits and does away with the distinctions between regions.

Will the government and the Prime Minister support these changes to employment insurance?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, for some time now, the employment insurance principle has been that when unemployment goes up in a given region, benefits are increased to help the sectors in difficulty. In our economic action plan, we added five weeks of benefits for all regions of Canada. This is a very important improvement for all Canadian workers. The NDP and the Bloc Québécois should have voted for those benefits, and not against the workers of Canada.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Foreign Affairs concerning the 25 Canadians being held in quarantine in China.

It appears that there is no public health risk to justify this decision by the Chinese government. What will the minister do for those Canadians at this time?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

I have asked authorities and our consular officials in China to go to meet those people and, first of all, ensure that they are properly served, as well as ensure that everything meets public health standards. I also asked them to make the necessary approaches to the Chinese authorities to clarify the situation.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, another drastic decision by the Chinese government is something on which the Canadian government needs to fight back, and that is the question of the Chinese government deciding that it will not accept importation of Canadian pork products.

There is absolutely no scientific evidence whatsoever that either cured or cooked pork represents any kind of threat to the health and safety of anyone. I would like to ask the minister, if he agrees with me, why would he accept the pathetic words of the Minister of International Trade, who said that the decision by the Government of China was “disappointing”? It is more than disappointing, it is illegal.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Battlefords—Lloydminster Saskatchewan

Conservative

Gerry Ritz ConservativeMinister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is absolutely right. China is operating outside of sound science. China has received those assurances from the World Health Organization and the OIE. It has also received calls from the Minister of International Trade and me on that very issue.

We are looking for clarification as to why it has gone as far as it has. We will have a response to that very shortly. Should China continue on, of course there is the WTO challenge which we would not hesitate to initiate.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Ruby Dhalla Liberal Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the victims of the economic crisis are growing. The Chrysler plant in Brampton has shut down. The Chrysler plant in Windsor has shut down. The result is 8,000 people who have no jobs. Those 8,000 Canadians face an uncertain future and will be looking to EI for help.

The Conservatives have already turned their backs on these thousands of unemployed Canadians. Will they finally show some compassion? Will they finally step up to the plate, take some leadership and reduce the eligibility requirements for EI so that these victims can actually get the help that they need now?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:30 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the member should keep up with the times. The accessibility has dramatically increased in Windsor for EI, as well as the length of the benefits.

We are there also with special programs for long-tenured workers, those who have been in the workforce for quite a while, who may be 40 years of age with little in the way of transferrable skills. We are helping those people get the skills they need so they can have jobs in the future.

It is time the Liberals caught up and stopped with the rhetoric, and stopped talking about raising nothing but taxes.

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

May 4th, 2009 / 2:30 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, May 1 has come and gone and if the minister has not noticed, the auto crisis is deepening.

All the support in the world will not help the auto industry if Canadians are not buying cars. The minister promised the secured credit facility would be ready by May 1 to help buy and lease cars, but it has yet to be deployed. The BDC admitted that it does not have the expertise to create or implement the facility and had to recently appoint a team to do so.

Did the Minister of Finance mean May 1, 2009, or May 1 some other year for this credit facility?

Automotive IndustryOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Whitby—Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Jim Flaherty ConservativeMinister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, as I said in response to the hon. member last week, we have been consulting with Canadians carefully, with auto dealers, with the auto assemblers, with the auto parts people to frame this package in an intelligent way so that it will actually work for the industry. I look forward to making the announcement shortly.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources has further isolated Canada by calling on California to abandon its plan to combat greenhouse gas emissions caused by automotive fuels. She has gone so far as to make veiled threats of judicial reprisals against one of the most progressive states in environmental matters.

Can the Minister of Natural Resources look beyond her role as minister of oil and realize that the oil sands operations are a complete environmental disaster?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is not so. The Bloc Québécois should do its homework.

We have the same principles as the U.S. We have adopted the same targets as the U.S. There is definitely much at stake and that is why we have established a mechanism for maintaining dialogue with the U.S. on clean fuel, technologies and science. The Bloc members should abandon their partisanship and support the government.

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bloc Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

Mr. Speaker, Ottawa is lobbying California to abandon important elements of its fight against greenhouse gas emissions. That is not dialogue.

Is it not the minister's real intention to weaken American regulations as much as possible so that we do not have to change anything here at home?

The EnvironmentOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, that is not so. Our government is presently working with President Obama on a plan based on the same principles as those adopted by the United States. We share the same economic and environmental space as the U.S. and that is why we are working together to reach an agreement in Copenhagen.

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Bloc Laurentides—Labelle, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdelrazik cannot be brought back to Canada because he is on the United Nations' no-fly list. According to Richard Barrett, who is in charge of the UN team monitoring al-Qaeda's activities, Canada could allow this Canadian citizen to go home, even if he is on that list.

Since the UN is not opposed to his return, will the government deliver a passport to Mr. Abdelrazik, so that he can come back to Canada at the earliest opportunity?

Foreign AffairsOral Questions

2:35 p.m.

Pontiac Québec

Conservative

Lawrence Cannon ConservativeMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, as I already mentioned in this House, we will not deliver an emergency passport to Mr. Abdelrazik, for national security reasons.

Mr. Abdelrazik is on the list established by the United Nations Security Council as an individual with ties to al-Qaeda. Therefore, he is subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze.

Our government is taking its obligations seriously and that is why we are not going to do this.