October 5, 2000

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The Speaker

First of all, my dear colleague, things would be different if documents were tabled during question period, but that is not the case.

The parliamentary secretary is here now and if she wants to table a letter, she would first have to ask for the consent of the House. She now has the floor.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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LIB

Raymonde Folco

Liberal

Ms. Raymonde Folco (Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I do ask the House for consent to table the letter I referred to during question period. It is in fact a letter sent to the treasury board secretary.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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The Speaker

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to table the document?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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Some hon. members

Agreed.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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REF

Randy White

Reform

Mr. Randy White (Langley—Abbotsford, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, as I advised the clerk, I rise on a point of order. Last June 14 the House leader of the official opposition raised a point of order regarding his Motion No. 425 on the order paper, which reads as follows:

That a message be sent to the Senate to acquaint their honours that this House wishes to convey its dismay regarding the undue delay in the Senate's progress on Bill C-247, an Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Members of the House of Commons have expressed their distress at the unnecessary delay in dealing with this legislation and in the interest of co-operation between the two chambers, and, ultimately service to the Canadian public, the House feels compelled to express its serious concerns regarding the handling of Bill C-247 by the Senate.

I believe he intended the motion to be placed on the order paper so as to be moved at routine proceedings under the rubric motions.

I have concerns of my own about the fate of Bill C-247 and I will just read one aspect of it. It provides that a sentence imposed for the offence of sexual assault under section 271 of the criminal code shall be served consecutively to any other sentence for an offence under that section.

I was awaiting your ruling, Mr. Speaker, before taking any further action of my own on this matter. The hon. member's point of order is well taken. I wait for the day he moves the motion so I can participate in the debate and vote in favour of his motion.

This is important because Bill C-247 was gutted at committee by the government leadership. Thankfully it was restored by the power of the backbench and opposition members when it was reported back to the House. Since the government backbenchers are feeling a little taken of advantage of and abused lately, this would be a perfect time in my opinion for them to flex their muscles again on the issue. Speaker Fraser ruled, and I quote:

The rubric motions usually encompasses matters related to the management of the business of the House and its committees, but it is not the exclusive purview of the government, despite the government's unquestioned prerogative to determine the agenda of business before the House.

There is speculation that the Prime Minister will call an election. In that event Bill C-247 would die on the Senate order paper. I suspect we know that the government did not want the bill to come into law and there it sits in the Senate some 15 months. I believe we have an obligation to the House to go back to the Senate and ask where that bill is and when it is coming forward.

What I ask of the Chair is that the Chair communicate to the Senate its concern about the fate of Bill C-247. I am sure we do not want that bill to die in the Senate after going through all this hard work and difficult time in debate to make sure it got out of here as best we can after third reading.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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The Speaker

I thank the hon. member for his intervention on Bill C-247, which as he says is an act to amend the criminal code and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

The House will recall that this is already the subject of private member's Motion No. 425 standing in the name of the hon. member for Fraser Valley. On June 14 he also raised a point of order concerning the motion and its progress in the Senate.

Since the issues raised by the hon. member for Langley—Abbotsford and Fraser Valley are the same, it is my intention to return a ruling to the House in the next few days. It will be returned.

It is not the purview of the Chair to wonder or question when or if there will be an election. We will carry out our duties as if we have five years to serve here. I will get back to the House with my ruling in the next few days.

The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona came to see me about a question of privilege and I have a direct question for him. I said he could raise it. I presumed it was a question of privilege arising out of today's oral question period.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie

It is not out of question period today.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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The Speaker

If it is not out of question period, I will wait until tomorrow to hear the question from the hon. member so that we follow the procedures.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Points Of Order
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The House resumed from October 4 consideration of the motion that Bill C-44, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act, be read the second time and referred to a committee.


NDP

Angela Vautour

New Democratic Party

Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, PC)

Mr. Speaker, this is certainly a very important issue for not only me but certainly for the people of my riding of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac and all of Atlantic Canada. More than that, this is not only an Atlantic Canada issue—

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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REF

Reed Elley

Reform

Mr. Reed Elley

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I believe we are still speaking to Bill C-45, is that not correct?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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Some hon. members

No.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The government, as is its right, had the House move to Bill C-44. We are now in rotation on Bill C-44.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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REF

Lee Morrison

Reform

Mr. Lee Morrison

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Yesterday a member had just finished his remarks when we finished with Bill C-44 and we did not get a chance to ask any questions. I wonder if we could do that now before going to another speaker.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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The Acting Speaker (Mr. McClelland)

The Speaker, in rising to ask for debate on Bill C-44, asked for questions and comments of the last speaker. If the member who was on his feet for questions and comments were here, I am sure we could put forward an appropriate motion to see whether the House would agree to revert to questions and comments and then go forward.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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NDP

Angela Vautour

New Democratic Party

Ms. Angela Vautour (Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, PC)

Mr. Speaker, I rise today on a very serious issue that is a concern for many people, not only in my riding, Beauséjour—Petitcodiac, but also right across the Atlantic region and the country.

Workers who depend on seasonal industry are found not only in the riding of Beauséjour-Petitcodiac but anywhere in Canada where the main industry is seasonal.

In 1996, the Liberal government decided to make changes to employment insurance plan, while knowing that HRDC had a document showing that, just as an example, 75% of seasonal workers in New Brunswick lived on less than $10,000 a year. Still, the government attacked these workers, even though they had been saying day in and day out that they opposed the changes. When I led the coalition against the cuts to employment insurance in New Brunswick, we told the government what impacts the cuts would have.

I came to meet with the former human resources development minister and present her with a petition containing 17,000 names. These people were saying that the cuts were going to hurt them badly, that they represented discrimination against seasonal workers and were therefore unacceptable, and that the poorest of the poor would be the ones paying for the deficit.

But the Prime Minister, who came to get elected in the riding of Beauséjour, turned around and said “I visited the area and people there are all drunk in taverns, while collecting UI benefits”. The people of Beauséjour—Petitcodiac responded to that comment on June 2, 1997.

People from my area have had enough of being laughed at, denigrated and called lazy. The Prime Minister of Canada said it and the Canadian Alliance said it again just now, everyone in the Atlantic provinces is lazy and does not want to work.

I have one thing to say to the members of the Liberal Party and the Canadian Alliance: people from my area are hardworking, they are educated and they work very hard. When there is work, they work. They have no problem with working, except that work in our area is seasonal. Nobody wakes up in the morning saying “I want to be a seasonal worker”. It is the nature of the industry to be seasonal.

Canada must understand that, Ontario must understand that, Alberta must understand that, the government must understand that. The members of the Canadian Alliance must absolutely understand that people in my area are not lazy.

I myself worked in the seasonal industry, and I can assure the House that nobody can call me lazy, far from it. I am tired of hearing this sort of thing. I am tired of hearing that the people in my community are all lazy.

Who are known as hardworking people in western Canada? Who are considered relentless workers, people who work seven days a week? The people from Atlantic Canada who have to leave their communities to find work. Our young university graduates who have to leave their communities and their families to go and work in western Canada.

That is not what Canada is about. That is not what our party wants. Our priority is to ensure that everybody has equal opportunity to be gainfully employed all year round. As people in my region would say “We would easily trade our EI benefits for a full time job. Any time. No problem”.

The problem is, we have a government that is attacking the worker instead of the problem, and that is not right.

A couple of weeks before a federal election and the Prime Minister comes in and says “Oops”. The Minister of HRDC said herself that it was a punitive measure. Ça punissait les travailleurs. If it does punish the workers why did it take the Liberals four years—two weeks before an election call—to say that they made a mistake? Can they fix all the problems they have caused in those communities over the last four years? How many family break-ups have there been? How many kids have been forced into the school breakfast program because their parents can no longer feed them because of the cuts to EI? How many parents have been forced to go to food banks because of the cuts to EI?

Can anyone imagine being a single parent making $10,000 a year and having the Liberal government take part of that money away? According to a member of the reform alliance party, $10,000 is a comfortable salary. I would like to see that member try to live on $10,000 a year. I think she would change her mind. Perhaps what she needs is to end up living on $10,000 a year. Then she would understand what it means.

The Alliance members are saying that they are going to govern this country. I doubt it. I doubt very much if Canadians will accept the kinds of comments made in the House by the reform alliance members.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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PC

Peter MacKay

Progressive Conservative

Mr. Peter MacKay

Lazy maritimers, they called them.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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NDP

Angela Vautour

New Democratic Party

Ms. Angela Vautour

Yes, lazy maritimers.

A report was released last week stating that 40% more children are living in poverty today than we had 10 years ago. It keeps increasing on a daily basis. The Liberals are wondering why we have more poor children. If the parents are poor the children are poor. That is how it works.

I have eight food banks in my riding and I have 82,000 people living in the riding. Every one of those eight food banks told me last week that they have seen an increase in people using the food banks directly because of the cuts to EI. They are not saying maybe. They are saying directly. Who made the cuts?

I collected EI when the Progressive Conservative Party was in power. I was able to feed my son and myself and pay my rent with that EI cheque. We cannot do that any more with this Liberal Party in power. We need to change. Not only do we need to change the EI program, we need to change the government. We need to sit on that side and fix what the Liberals have broken, which is exactly what we intend to do after the next federal election.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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REF

Lee Morrison

Reform

Mr. Lee Morrison (Cypress Hills—Grasslands, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, I find it very interesting that members of that party do not seem to be clear on the concept of who is against who in the House.

The government is over there but during her speech she spent a great deal of time attacking, of all people, the reform conservative alliance. This is a bill on which all opposition members should be united in opposition to the government.

Does the member really think it is more fun to bite the ankles of the Alliance and lick the hands of the government than it is to act as a member of parliament in opposition?

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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NDP

Angela Vautour

New Democratic Party

Ms. Angela Vautour

Mr. Speaker, the member should not make statements about seasonal workers having a comfortable annual income and that they do not need any help. On top of that, the government is going to cut all regional development for the same regions that need development to solve the problem.

The employment insurance program is not the problem in our rural communities. The problem is that we do not have jobs. The party that the member represents is saying that it does not agree with regional development. I have no problem saying that the Liberal government has made mistakes and has caused a lot of hardship, but I can also say that the Reform Party would do the same, if not worse.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance Act
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October 5, 2000