November 6, 2003

?

The Speaker

The hon. member for Laurier--Sainte-Marie.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Finance had the gall to state that the unemployed do not contribute to EI.

I would remind him that, before they lost their jobs, they made their contribution, their full contribution and now they are unemployed, a mere 40% of them are receiving benefits, because the government has helped itself to $45 billion from the employment insurance fund.

Given his minister's insensitivity to that reality, will the Prime Minister admit that, under his government, six out of ten workers paying into the fund do not get anything back from it when they become unemployed, and thus are doubly taxed?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, first, I think that the hon. member ought to recognize that the government and the Canadian economy have created 3 million jobs in recent years. This is a considerable contribution to those who, unfortunately, find themselves facing unemployment.

The unemployed receive benefits, which is why the minister said, “When they are unemployed, they unfortunately do not pay into the fund”. When they are working, however, they do.

I think that anyone would have understood the Minister of Finance very well if they had listened carefully.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Gilles Duceppe

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Gilles Duceppe (Laurier—Sainte-Marie, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, anyone who looked at the statistics carefully would see that only 39% of the unemployed draw benefits. With the creation of 3 million jobs, the means were in place to look after those in need.

Will the Prime Minister admit that this represents a poor social choice by his government and that, among other things, it has paid down its debt by taking money from those who needed it most?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I think everyone knows that Canadians have collectively rolled up their sleeves and succeeded in eliminating the deficit. That is why today, for example, instead of mortgage rates of 11.5%, people with low incomes are paying only 6%.

That is why there is so much construction, which creates jobs, thereby reducing unemployment. I believe we have always been concerned with ensuring that the weakest members of society have access to work and the self-respect that goes with it.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la Mitis, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, six out of every ten persons who lose their jobs are denied employment insurance benefits. The other four, who receive benefits, receive less money for a shorter time because of government decisions.

How can the Prime Minister justify his government's stubborn bias against the most vulnerable people in our society, those who have lost their jobs?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Jane Stewart

Liberal

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, let me be clear that the employment insurance system is there and it is working for those for whom it was designed. Of those who pay premiums, close to 90% will be eligible for benefits should they need them.

As the Prime Minister has said, the government has created three million new jobs for Canadians since it was elected. At the same time, as we have had more people working and more premiums being paid, we have been reducing employment insurance premiums. That has saved individuals and employers a considerable amount since 1993.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Suzanne Tremblay

Bloc Québécois

Mrs. Suzanne Tremblay (Rimouski—Neigette-et-la Mitis, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, I call on the minister to listen to the real statistics, not the ones her department keeps going on about.

When the Prime Minister took office, 57% of people who lost their jobs received EI benefits. Today that figure is 39%, not 90% as she just said. She repeats the same thing over and over.

Is it not the case that the government's refusal to review the rules for eligibility for EI benefits illustrates how the government has made a very poor choice with serious consequences for all those who lose their jobs, that is, 61% of unemployed—

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
Permalink
?

The Speaker

The hon. Minister for Human Resources Development.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Jane Stewart

Liberal

Hon. Jane Stewart (Minister of Human Resources Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, let us look at some of those statistics. Again, three million jobs have been created since the government took office. Half of those jobs have been created for Canadian women.

Let us understand that every single year since we have been in power, we have reduced employment insurance premiums. For the next year they will be at $1.98 for employees.

When it comes to investing in Canadians, I want to remind the hon. member that it is through the employment insurance system that we have doubled parental benefits, that we will be now introducing a compassionate leave program.

We understand our role in supporting Canadian workers.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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CA

John Reynolds

Canadian Alliance

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, Red Deer airport has local support for airport improvements. It has provincial support. It even has $1 million committed by a commercial airline carrier that wishes to start scheduled service.

How can the government justify denying federal help to Red Deer, while handing out $5.3 million to a rarely used airport at Charlevoix?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Transport
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LIB

David Collenette

Liberal

Hon. David Collenette (Minister of Transport, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member should know that Transport Canada has divested a lot of airports over the last number of years and is not involved in the daily operation.

We do have ACAP funding which provides for certain safety measures and we have spent nearly $5 billion on various improvements over the years. However, regional development agencies are entitled for regional variations to make certain investments and that is what is done from time to time.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Transport
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CA

John Reynolds

Canadian Alliance

Mr. John Reynolds (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, Canadian Alliance)

Mr. Speaker, the time is when it suits the Liberals.

In Red Deer, funding commitments have been made by the local and municipal governments and private users. The airport in Charlevoix serves cabinet ministers and the Desmarais family.

When other airports are willing to put up a third, a third, a third, how much money did the Desmarais family contribute to airport improvements in Charlevoix?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Transport
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LIB

Claude Drouin

Liberal

Hon. Claude Drouin (Secretary of State (Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec), Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member needs to know is that it is not a one-third-one-third-one-third program; it is a program of Economic Development Canada within the program of strategic infrastructure for regional development, in areas where tourism-related development is very important and 30% of employment is related to tourism. Le Manoir and the casino were important elements to which we contributed in order to help provide employment for the people.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Transport
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NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, my question is for the right hon. Prime Minister.

Yesterday the Prime Minister rightly expressed concern about what had happened to Maher Arar. He pointed the finger at the fact that it was the Americans who actually deported him, yet there remain many unanswered questions with respect to the Canadian role. Did the Americans consult the Canadian government as to whether or not they should deport him to Syria? If they did, what did Canada say? If they did not, what does that say about our relations?

I ask the Prime Minister, is he not willing today on his last day in the House of Commons as Prime Minister to do the right thing and initiate an adequate inquiry into what exactly happened and what the Canadian role was in this particular incident?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I said yesterday that this deportation was done by the American government and we were not involved.

One official said that they had received advice from the Canadian government. The Minister of Foreign Affairs asked his counterpart who had said so to reveal the name and the information they have about the so-called Canadian participation. We are not to start an inquiry in Canada about something that has been done in the United States, having no facts to justify an inquiry.

If things come from the Americans that demand that we look further, of course we will look at what can be done. Accordingly, at this moment--

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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?

The Speaker

The hon. member for Winnipeg—Transcona.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
Permalink
NDP

Bill Blaikie

New Democratic Party

Mr. Bill Blaikie (Winnipeg—Transcona, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, in my last question ever to the Prime Minister, I would ask him in his answer not to abdicate to the Americans the responsibility for sorting out what happened. Why are we asking the Americans what Canadians did? Why can we not find that out for ourselves, either as the government or through an inquiry?

Would the Prime Minister use this last opportunity to finally give an answer I might be happy with and say that he will do something about this, that he will have the appropriate inquiry? Let Canadians find out what Canadians did. Let us not depend on Americans to tell us what happened.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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LIB

Jean Chrétien

Liberal

Right Hon. Jean Chrétien (Prime Minister, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I like to be nice. It is not that I do not want to be nice.

I know one thing, when we have inquiries of this nature a lot of expenditures are incurred. If there is no Canadian, it cannot be justified. He cannot name one person on the Canadian side who is responsible for anything. We checked with all the departments. We could not find anything. The only accusation came by a statement from the secretary of state of the United States who said that Canadians were involved. It is in my judgment his responsibility to say so.

If there was no Canadian involved, this is not the time to have a fishing expedition.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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CA

Inky Mark

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Inky Mark (Dauphin—Swan River, PC)

Mr. Speaker, hopefully the Arar case will not become a black mark in Canadian history. The way this man was treated goes against basic human rights. Canada's reputation is at stake. Canada is known around the world as the protector of human rights.

Mr. Arar's family and friends, the Liberal backbench, and the opposition are unified in calling for a full public inquiry.

My question is for the Prime Minister. To clear the air, why will the government not hold a full public inquiry?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Foreign Affairs
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November 6, 2003