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House of Commons Hansard #129 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was workers.

Topics

Forest Fire Emergency CrewsStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past week the people of Timmins—James Bay saw heroism up close. Our region was under threat from numerous fires, and we had over 1,500 people evacuated from the various fire zones.

In the case of Kirkland Lake 8, the fire reached within three kilometres of the town, and for nearly a week the emergency officials not only had to fight the fire but also had to prepare for the possible evacuation of an entire community. It was an enormous undertaking.

In the case of Timmins 9, this was a major firestorm that drew on all the resources of our provincial MNR fire crews. It was touch and go for days.

I had the great honour of working closely with the emergency teams, and their professionalism and dedication were beyond compare. I specifically want to thank the MNR crews, emergency measures, municipal officials, police, hydro, Red Cross and the many volunteers.

It is going to be a long, hot summer. I would like to thank, on behalf of the New Democratic caucus, all of Canada's fire crews who put their lives on the line in the summer to make sure that our northern communities are safe.

Global Centre for PluralismStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, last night His Highness the Aga Khan hosted Her Excellency Roza Otunbayeva for a speech at the Global Centre for Pluralism.

Several Conservative ministers, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, were in attendance. They later joined Ms. Otunbayeva and the Aga Khan for dinner.

In her public lecture, Ms. Otunbayeva spoke eloquently about the challenges of promoting pluralism in the Kyrgyz Republic. Following unrest in 2010, Ms. Otunbayeva provided strong, stable leadership in challenging times. In many ways, Ms. Otunbayeva is the Margaret Thatcher of central Asia. She helped usher in parliamentary elections and a peaceful transition of power following her interim presidency. A video of her lecture will be posted on the Global Centre for Pluralism website, and I encourage all Canadians to watch her speech.

Our Conservative government has invested millions of dollars in the Global Centre for Pluralism and supports what His Highness is doing. Our Conservative government has also welcomed Ismaili refugees to Canada from central Asia, and our government looks forward to collaborating with His Highness the Aga Khan in the future.

Oslo Freedom ForumStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I recently returned from the annual Oslo Freedom Forum, described as the Davos of human rights, an inspired and inspiring gathering of pioneers and leaders, from former presidents to grassroots activists, who are involved in advocacy, policy, media, business and technology. They came together to bring humanitarian causes to the forefront of the global agenda; to shine a spotlight on repressed societies that warrant exposure; and to to enlarge, enhance and empower the international struggle for freedom. This year the forum engaged in a series of compelling and interactive exchanges on the Arab uprising, one year later; lessons learned from case studies of emblematic political prisoners; slavery in the shadows; and the impact of new technologies and paradigms in the protection of human rights.

We are witness to a growing criminalization of dissent, to systematic and systemic assaults on human rights and to a quarantining of human rights that is too often ignored, marginalized or sanitized.

Oslo took us out of the shadows of repression into the sunshine and the struggle for freedom, reminding us all of our individual and collective responsibilities for the promotion and protection of human rights at home and abroad, and particularly in the shadows of repression.

Agriculture and Agri-FoodStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP agriculture critic has made unacceptable accusations against Canadian meat producers, claiming that road kill and dead stock would be allowed into the processing system.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The beef producers I represent have made Alberta beef the world standard.

The NDP allegations have threatened our world-renowned reputation. Producers in Quebec are appalled that the NDP leaders would have the audacity to make such accusations against Quebec pork.

This is the same New Democratic Party that is completely wrong in attacking Canada's energy and natural resource sector. It is now also recklessly hurting Canada's largest manufacturing sector with its wildly irresponsible and false claims.

The number of food inspectors on the front line is still growing, with $51 million from the economic action plan 2012. Of course, the NDP voted against it.

Our Conservative government is focused on protecting the economy, jobs and the quality—

Agriculture and Agri-FoodStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member for Vancouver East.

Prime Minister's OfficeStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, last Thursday during a meeting with his constituents, the member for Kootenay—Columbia offered Canadians a sobering glimpse into the life of a Conservative backbencher.

He described how Conservative MPs were powerless to stand up for their constituents and admitted that he could not explain the details of the Conservative's Trojan Horse budget bill.

I remember a time when Conservatives allowed dissent, a time when that Prime Minister promised to give backbenchers a real voice, back in the forgotten days when they claimed to stand for the grassroots and believed in democratic reform.

Now the Conservative PMO silences dissenting voices—not just scientists and the media, but even their own members. Last week's heavy-handed overreaction by the PMO is bad for Canadian democracy.

How can Canadians trust that this Prime Minister will listen to their concerns when he is not even willing to listen to the concerns of his own MPs?

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, it seems these are lonely times for the Liberal MPs huddled in the far corner of the House of Commons. Apparently it is getting harder and harder to find friends.

At the special committee our government created to study the responsible resource development section of the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, all parties had the opportunity to call witnesses.

Can members guess who the Liberal Party called? Did it call an independent expert in the field? Did it call a friendly NGO to defend its carbon tax, which has already been rejected by Canadians? Did it call an industry representative or an academic to discuss how this budget would create jobs and growth?

No, no, and no.

The Liberals could have called anyone in Canada, and they chose to call the Liberal member for Ottawa South.

That is right. When the Liberals were given a chance to hear from anyone they wanted regarding this important legislation, they chose to hear from themselves.

I guess even--

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please.

The hon. member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands has a few seconds to finish his statement.

Liberal Party of CanadaStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals had a chance to hear from anyone they wanted, regarding this important legislation, they chose to hear from themselves.

I guess even when they are talking to themselves, it is good have someone to listen.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative EI cuts will not only devastate seasonal workers, they will also hit Canadians working on temporary contracts, hundreds of thousands of people, not seasonal workers but those in precarious term jobs, at least in their own fields. These people work hard, pay into EI and should be able to access EI when they need it. Now they will be forced by the Conservatives to either take a 30% permanent pay cut or be kicked off EI.

Why is the Prime Minister going to force the most vulnerable workers into an even more precarious position?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is that in many parts of the country, people have difficulty finding work, particularly in some parts of the country where much of the economy is seasonal and people have difficulty finding work off season. Of course, EI will be there for people who cannot find a job.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, what the Prime Minister does not seem to want to understand is that taking employment insurance benefits away from unemployed workers will not help them find jobs. This objective simply does not make any sense.

According to what the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development said last week, the real objective is to provide the McDonald's restaurants of this world with cheap labour. She named McDonald's. These workers will be forced to abandon their careers and skills and take a 30% pay cut. That will be their only choice.

Who is supposed to benefit from this reform—the workers or McDonald's?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, since we are talking about jobs, I have to say that I just attended the G8 summit and Canada has the best track record for job creation of all G8 nations. It is this government's policies that are helping workers to find jobs. For those who are unable to do so, there will be employment insurance benefits.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, there is not a single aspect of this plan that will actually help anyone find a job. What unemployed Canadians can look forward to are threatening emails from the Conservative government telling them what low-paying jobs they must now apply for, at least until they get kicked off EI and then they will not even be able to pay for their Internet connections any more.

Can the Prime Minister explain why the Conservatives want to force unemployed workers to choose between a 30% pay cut or the EI benefits they have paid for and they deserve?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Once again, Mr. Speaker, of course, it is the policies of this government which are helping Canadians get jobs. We have 750,000 more people working today than we did during the recession. I just attended the G8, where we have the best job creation record among that group of countries. We will continue to do our best to try and put some resources into helping people find jobs. At the same time, for those who still cannot find work in their seasonal industries and seasonal parts of the economy where people have difficulty finding work, there will, of course, be employment insurance as a safety net for those people.

Old Age Security ProgramOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, the truth is that the Conservatives are attacking not only the unemployed, but also seniors.

The census data released this morning show that Canada is aging and that even more seniors are going to need old age security in the coming years. Seniors have followed the rules all their lives, but the Conservatives are now robbing them of $10 billion to make up for the F-35 budget deficit.

Why are the Conservatives making tomorrow's seniors pay for their mismanagement?

Old Age Security ProgramOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Haldimand—Norfolk Ontario

Conservative

Diane Finley ConservativeMinister of Human Resources and Skills Development

Mr. Speaker, it is true that the census shows that the population is aging faster than before, but it is also true that those numbers show that the old age security program is not sustainable in the long term.

Furthermore, a number of organizations agree, for example: the Fraser Institute; The Institute for Public Sector Accountability; David Dodge, economist and former governor of the Bank of Canada; Fred Vettese, Chief Actuary for the consulting firm Morneau Shepell; the Canadian Taxpayers Federation—

Old Age Security ProgramOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.

Parliamentary Budget OfficerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is simply wrong. Expert after expert says that OAS is sustainable. A new report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer reveals that Conservative budget cuts are actually twice what they have admitted publicly and now Conservatives are refusing to share even basic information with the PBO. Workers waiting to hear about the future of their jobs deserve the truth. The government has a legal obligation to provide information to the PBO.

Why are Conservatives so hell-bent on keeping Canadians in the dark about their planned budget cuts? Why?

Parliamentary Budget OfficerOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Parry Sound—Muskoka Ontario

Conservative

Tony Clement ConservativePresident of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario

Mr. Speaker, let me reiterate that we will continue to report to Parliament and through Parliament to Canadians through the normal means, which includes the quarterly financial reports, the estimates, the public accounts. All of these reports will be publicly available in due course.

They will report that we are on track with budget 2012 to deliver jobs and opportunities to Canadians. We are on track to reduce the deficit to zero in a moderate fashion. We are on track with all of our promises in the campaign.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

May 29th, 2012 / 2:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Premier Dunderdale of Newfoundland is quoted as having said this about the situation with respect to employment insurance, “What is it that we have to do down here to get your attention? We try to co-operate; it doesn't work. We vote for you; it doesn't work. We don't vote for you; it doesn't work. What is it?”

The premier is expressing a frustration that is shared by other Atlantic premiers, indeed by premiers across the country, with respect to the lack of consultation by those jurisdictions that are going to have to pay the price for this downloading.

Is the Prime Minister prepared to meet with Premier Dunderdale and the other premiers?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:20 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, I meet with premiers all the time.

In terms of the specifics here, no one is suggesting any downloading, quite on the contrary. We want to make sure the people who are getting EI or thinking of getting EI have the opportunity to work in the labour market. There are many cases where those labour market opportunities are not being taken advantage of and these reforms are part of a package to accomplish that. It is good for all parts of the country, including Newfoundland and Labrador.

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Liberal

Bob Rae Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that the Prime Minister is not prepared to recognize the reality of the situation. If people cannot get employment insurance benefits, they will turn to the provinces for welfare. History clearly shows that that is what happens. That is why the premiers are insisting on discussing the repercussions of these cuts on the provinces.

I am asking the Prime Minister directly. Is he prepared to meet this country's premiers in order to deal with this problem, yes or no?

Employment InsuranceOral Questions

2:25 p.m.

Calgary Southwest Alberta

Conservative

Stephen Harper ConservativePrime Minister

Mr. Speaker, this government has one of the best job creation records in the entire developed world.

We want to make it possible for Canadians to fill existing positions. For example, if people are not able to find work in areas where employment is seasonal, we will make sure that employment insurance is available to them.