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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

HealthStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, the recent discovery of H1N1 influenza on a farm in central Alberta has led to many questions regarding the safety of pork in Canada. The answer is simple: Canadian pork is safe and this is not a food safety issue.

The World Health Organization, the World Organization for Animal Health and all scientific experts agree that the H1N1 virus cannot be transmitted via cooked pork.

In fact, the science is so conclusive that the European Union has said that it will keep its borders open to Canadian pork. Following a conversation between our agriculture minister and the U.S. secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, Americans will continue to eat Canadian pork and keep the border open.

I want all Canadians to be assured that the Canadian government is taking every step possible to protect our food supply and Canada's pork industry.

In the meantime, I urge all Canadians to fire up the barbecue, throw on some chops or ribs and enjoy Canadian pork.

World Press Freedom DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to remind all my colleagues that yesterday was World Press Freedom Day.

The United Nations has declared May 3 to be World Press Freedom Day.

We all know what a fundamental cornerstone of our democratic system a free press represents.

Without strong, independent media, our democratic system simply could not work.

Our citizens need to be informed of what is happening in their world. Without this kind of information, they cannot make informed decisions and cannot fully benefit from living in our society.

Whether in matters of public health—as we are seeing right now with the flu crisis—or to inform the public about decisions made by their government on their behalf, information provided by the media allows everyone to make more informed choices.

Let us take this opportunity together to reflect on the vital, no the indispensable, role of the free press in our society.

Firearms RegistryStatements By Members

May 4th, 2009 / 2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jim Abbott Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, how can the NDP members say they are standing up for their constituents?

The member for Western Arctic said he would vote against the gun registry because the majority of the residents of the Northwest Territories wanted the registry abolished.

The member for Thunder Bay—Rainy River said, “I am very pleased to tell the House that, for eight years since the turn of the century, my constituents have told me that we need to get rid of the long-gun registry”.

The member for Timmins—James Bay said, “It was never set up to deal with the realities of northern Ontario”.

The member for Winnipeg Centre said, “I wouldn't want one more penny to go to that gun registry”.

Yet, they all voted in favour of the registry. How can members of the NDP say they will vote against something then sit on their hands or oppose it? How can the NDP members say that they are standing up for their constituents?

PensionsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen NDP Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, the pensioners of AbitibiBowater's Thorold plant need to know that their previous employer will be held accountable for their pension obligations and that AbitibiBowater will not be allowed to cut and run from the workers of Thorold.

The pensioners of Canada, regardless of what industries they have spent a lifetime building, deserve more. Canadian pensioners are mothers, fathers, grandparents, and they ought to be spending the time they banked by the sweat of their brow enjoying their grandkids, spending time at the lake, taking care of loved ones or exploring new parts of the world.

Unfortunately, this is not the case. Pensioners are facing anxiety and sleepless nights because they have no guarantee of financial security. Their financial security is being destroyed and the ripple effect across Canada is being felt in every home.

Companies must be held accountable for their pension obligations. The very foundation of our society depends on it. Without economic security for our pensioners, the system will crumple under the weight of fear and lost hope.

I want pensioners to know that they are not alone, that New Democrats--

PensionsStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Jacques Gourde Conservative Lotbinière—Chutes-de-la-Chaudière, QC

Mr. Speaker, tax, tax, tax, that is the mantra of the Liberals, who held a unilingual English love-in in Vancouver. The Liberal leader, who is the father of the carbon tax, still does not want to acknowledge that this tax hurts people. During the most recent general election campaign, Canadians rejected this tax on everything. When I say everything, I mean everything: fruit, vegetables, cereal, goods and public transit.

As he and his party believe and as he is so fond of saying, taxes will have to be increased. Raising taxes is what Liberals do. Punishing Canadians with taxes is what Liberals do. Adding to the tax burden on Canadians is what Liberals do. Keeping quiet and not saying which taxes will go up is what Liberals do. But reducing the tax burden, giving Canadians tax breaks and lowering taxes is what Conservatives do, and we are very proud of that.

Quebec NordiquesStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Pascal-Pierre Paillé Bloc Louis-Hébert, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year marks the 30th anniversary of the merger of the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League, which made it possible for the Quebec Nordiques to join the NHL. Marcel Aubut, then their legal advisor, handled the merger.

It was 22 years ago, in the fifth game of the quarter final series against the Montreal Canadiens, that Alain Côté scored in the 17th minute of the third period, although the goal was disallowed. The team's coach, Michel Bergeron, also known as "the Little Tiger", protested vehemently. To this day he maintains that it was a goal. This goal will remain etched in the memory of Quebeckers and marked the history of the Nordiques.

During the current playoffs, the hearts and minds of Quebeckers are filled with nostalgia for competition between these two Quebec teams and a desire for the return of the Nordiques. When will the Quebec Nordiques return to the NHL?

Halifax Forest FireStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, as residents of Purcells Cove and Ferguson's Cove of Halifax deal with the aftermath of last week's devastating forest fire, I would like to express our deep gratitude to everyone who came to the assistance of families who had their lives disrupted or homes destroyed.

Nova Scotians always rally to the aid of their neighbours at difficult times like these and we are proud of the efforts of the brave firefighters, police officers, Red Cross officials and community volunteers who responded.

We were all shocked by the random destruction of the fire and thankful for reports that nobody in the community suffered any serious injury.

I know all members of the House will want to join me in letting everyone touched by this tragedy know our thoughts are with them.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Andrew Saxton Conservative North Vancouver, BC

Mr. Speaker, our government's economic action plan is delivering real results for Canadians.

At this critical time we are reducing taxes on Canadian families, creating jobs, and helping Canadians who are hardest hit by the global recession. That is what Canadians have asked for and that is what we are delivering.

This is in stark contrast to the Liberals. Over the weekend the Liberal Party reaffirmed its commitment to taxing Canadians. The Liberal leader supported the risky carbon tax scheme during his first leadership race and the Liberals have once again adopted a carbon tax policy at their convention.

We also know that they want to increase the GST and they want to end the universal child care benefit. As if that was not enough, the leader of the Liberal Party recently announced that he will have to raise taxes. The Liberal Party is just reaffirming its economic clumsiness.

When will the Liberal leader come clean with Canadians and tell them which taxes he will raise, by how much he will raise them, and who will have to pay these increased taxes.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, employment insurance is not working in this country and there are some key issues that need to be fixed: access, benefit levels, maternity leave, fairness across regions, and the status of the self-employed.

Will the Prime Minister commit to launching an independent examination of these issues and present concrete proposals for reform before the House rises in June?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, as the leader of the Liberal Party should know, Canada has a very generous system of employment insurance that was, in fact, enhanced in the most recent economic action plan of this government.

I am perplexed by the sudden interest of the Liberal Party in NDP employment insurance policy. I guess the reason to borrow this is to create a diversion from the reaffirmation at the Liberal convention of the carbon tax. It is not any better an idea the second time around.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister believes in magic thinking. He believes that if one repeats a falsehood constantly, it becomes true. It does not. It remains a falsehood.

On employment insurance, there is one problem that can be fixed right now. There are 58 standards of eligibility for EI across the country. That makes eligibility depend on where one lives and that is wrong. Will the Prime Minister commit to an immediate 360 hour national standard of eligibility for employment insurance--

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Order, the right hon. Prime Minister.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, once again, the leader of the Liberal Party will know that that is a long-time policy of the New Democratic Party, not of the Liberal Party.

When we are talking about saying things that are true, I am only quoting the leader of the Liberal Party himself, who has said repeatedly that he wants to raise taxes. I know he is being honest. He is just honestly wrong.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario

Liberal

Michael Ignatieff LiberalLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, for a prime minister who levied a punitive tax on income trusts, that is really something.

The Prime Minister is in a position to help thousands of unemployed workers who are not currently eligible for employment insurance right now.

Why will he not commit to creating an immediate 360-hour national standard for EI eligibility?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, our party asked the Liberal Party to share its suggestions for the economic action plan in January. We did not receive any suggestions. Instead, we improved employment insurance benefits.

Let me just go back to this issue of the tax fairness package, which was a big net tax cut to Canadians, brought down business tax rates across the board, and for the first time in history brought in income splitting for the pensioners of this country. That party voted against it. This party voted for it because we believe in cutting taxes.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Michael Savage Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, this Conservative recession is destroying Canadian families, many of whom cannot collect EI. Rather than establishing a national standard for all claimants, the government's response is to tell newly employed Canadians to wait and hope that enough of the people in their region lose their jobs and then maybe they can all qualify for help.

They have been failed by the government, which has not ensured that EI is available when it is needed most. The question is simple. Surely, the time has come. When is the government going to fix EI eligibility?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that it was his party that created the current EI system, but we did improve upon it because we had to. As an example, people in the Kitchener region right now, where unfortunately the unemployment rate has gone from 5.4% to 9.5%, can now access EI four weeks sooner, that is with four weeks less work, and they get 13 weeks more benefit than they did a year ago.

While we are increasing EI access and benefits, the Liberals are only increasing rhetoric and taxes.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, according to the minister's logic, the unemployment rate would have to go up for unemployed workers to be eligible. In the lower St. Lawrence region, a claimant needs 455 hours of work to be eligible. In Montreal, that number is 595, and in Gatineau, it is 700. The employment insurance system should be fair to all unemployed workers, to all Canadians, regardless of their postal code.

Does the Conservative government acknowledge that the time has come to create a national standard—

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, we are all aware of the folks in Oshawa who have seen a lot of job losses in the last year. The system is working there. Now it takes two weeks less of work to qualify for nine weeks more of benefits. That is because things have gotten worse. Our system is responding. We have added an extra five weeks.

Once again from the Liberals all we get is increased rhetoric and taxes, where we are increasing benefits and access.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, for years, the Bloc Québécois has been asking that the minimum to qualify for employment insurance be 360 hours. That proposal is included in phase 2 of our assistance plan. The Liberals suddenly understood the importance of such a measure at their convention and are now proposing to introduce it. We need to remember that the Supreme Court ruled that the Liberal government illegally took money from the EI fund in 2002, 2003 and 2005. We are talking about a surplus of more than $8 billion over three years.

Instead of legalizing what the Liberal government did, why does the Prime Minister not use that surplus to improve the employment insurance plan?

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, of course, during tough economic times such as these, we need to have compassion for people who are losing their jobs and are in difficulty. Our employment insurance system is based on the unemployment rate in a given region. The higher the unemployment rate, the fewer hours people have to work to qualify for employment insurance. As well, our economic action plan added five weeks to the benefit period so that people can receive employment insurance longer when they are going through a difficult time.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Bloc

Gilles Duceppe Bloc Laurier—Sainte-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, everyone is calling for a reform of the employment insurance system. One of the first things that needs to be done is to eliminate the waiting period. That would help unemployed workers directly and stimulate the economy.

What is the Prime Minister waiting for to go ahead with this other proposal in phase 2 of the Bloc's assistance plan, which is supported by the CSN and the FTQ?

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, before we tabled our economic action plan, we consulted all Canadians. People wanted more flexibility during tough economic times. We looked at different options, and instead of adding two weeks, as the member is proposing, we are adding five weeks when people need it most, because it takes time to find a job.