May 12, 2004

LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Lib.)

What we should understand, Mr. Speaker, is that measures have been implemented that should remedy the problems identified by the Liberal task force, which has indicated that a number of measures were necessary to provide Canadians who find themselves without work with opportunities for brighter futures. We have taken action, and we have done so quickly. Is the hon. member opposite suggesting I not implement these measures?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Paul Crête

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Paul Crête (Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup—Témiscouata—Les Basques, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, to settle their quarrelling, the Liberals took last minute measures, which have been widely criticized. This is the same kind of smoke and mirrors trick as in 2000. The government introduces transitional measures, saying that it will see later. With this government, later means never.

Does the minister understand that his first duty is to help people and that he can settle the quarrelling later?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, our duty is to implement measures dealing with the problems we are seeing in the employment insurance system and to resolve these problems. We have done so. We are giving hope to our fellow citizens who find themselves without work. Through these measures, we are trying to give them the future we would like for all other Canadians. What I see are measures providing $280 million to the regions. That is good news.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Sébastien Gagnon

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Sébastien Gagnon (Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has made commitments to the Sans-Chemise to solve the problem of seasonal work. But, far from being the answer to their hopes, the measures announced today are causing anger. They have been described variously as “insulting and clearly inadequate” and “thumbing their noses at workers”. The Sans-Chemise commented “They are just making fun of us”.

Can the Prime Minister tell us frankly whether these are the kind of reactions he expected to this empty shell? Is it not a negative move?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, what is negative is the criticism just delivered by the member opposite. It does not, of course, take into account the $280 million to resolve the problems noted in employment insurance and to give people some hope. This is a duty—something unfamiliar to the Bloc, of course.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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BQ

Sébastien Gagnon

Bloc Québécois

Mr. Sébastien Gagnon (Lac-Saint-Jean—Saguenay, BQ)

Mr. Speaker, let us be perfectly clear. People do not live in the regions on a temporary basis. That is where they want to live permanently. At the present time, the regions are being depopulated, and this phenomenon is certainly not going to be remedied with these half measures. It is not a privilege to live in the regions, it is a right.

Does the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development understand that the people in the regions are calling for more than transitional or temporary solutions? They are calling for a complete, and permanent, reform of the employment insurance system.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, as I have stated on several occasions, I am waiting for the final report by the Liberal task force. I must emphasize that again. It has made some very positive recommendations, and I have acted immediately. I have also said that we are aware of the situation with the seasonal industries. A concrete solution must involve provincial authorities, the industries and the regional agencies.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
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CA

Diane Ablonczy

Canadian Alliance

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal horror movie “Ad Scam” cost taxpayers a quarter of a billion dollars. The Prime Minister admits this over budget turkey had to have a political director, but Liberal censorship left the witness list on the cutting room floor.

The Prime Minister as former finance minister kept writing cheques to cover out of control production costs. Is his leading role not the real reason the committee inquiry was cut?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
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LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General recently said to the public accounts committee that she had never said that $100 million, let alone $250 million, had been stolen or misplaced. She said that there were inadequate contracts and paperwork for the transactions, and that all of the various processes that are in train will look into these matters.

For three months, for 40 witnesses, the public accounts committee, sometimes being stalled by the opposition, has been hearing witnesses. The time has come for an interim report.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
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CA

Diane Ablonczy

Canadian Alliance

Mrs. Diane Ablonczy (Calgary—Nose Hill, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General said that $250 million was mismanaged and that was not a compliment. There was waste, mismanagement and corruption. That pretty much sums up the sponsorship program.

Canadians want to know, who gave the orders and where did the money really end up? Why did the Liberals shut down the committee before the truth could come out?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
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LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, nobody has shut down the committee. I am sure that the research staff on the public accounts committee could provide a definition for the word interim to the hon. member.

After hearing from former ministers of public works, from deputy ministers, and from political staff, the time has come to give some reporting to the Canadian public of what the committee has heard and what it makes of it to date.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, that reporting has been in the media every day, but yesterday's motion to shut down hearing other witnesses and to move into secret hearings, combined with the Prime Minister's apparent intention to shut down Parliament next week means that Canadians will lose their only window into the truth on the Liberal sponsorship scandal.

The Prime Minister promised that he would get to the bottom of this before going to the polls. I want to know, why is he breaking that promise? Why is he breaking his word?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and other members of the public accounts committee have had every opportunity to report to the Canadian public on what they have heard and how they have considered the evidence so far.

In the meantime, we have criminal investigations and we have had criminal charges. Those criminal proceedings are going forward. A special counsel has been appointed for the recovery of finances. That person is working hard and there should be lawsuits soon. We have every process in mind, including the public inquiry beginning in the fall. The Canadian public will have a full view of what has happened here.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
CA

Jason Kenney

Canadian Alliance

Mr. Jason Kenney (Calgary Southeast, CPC)

Mr. Speaker, there is no chance the Canadian public will even have a partial view before this Prime Minister tries to call an election because he does not want Canadians to know the truth.

The issue is, why did the Prime Minister make a promise in February that he would leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of the Liberal sponsorship corruption before going to the polls? Why are his Liberal hacks now shutting down the committee, moving it into secret, and allowing no more witnesses with 90 more to be heard, with the public inquiry not to start for months? Why did he break his word? Why did he break his promise? Why did he not tell the truth to Canadians?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Stephen Owen

Liberal

Hon. Stephen Owen (Minister of Public Works and Government Services, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I note that the chair of the public accounts committee has just entered the chamber. He said a couple of months ago that he would like to have a preliminary report soon based on the committee's work. That was in February.

Here we are three months later, 40 witnesses later, including former ministers and deputy ministers, and including political staff. Let us have a report for the public to find out what the public accounts committee has found.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Sponsorship Program
Permalink
LIB

Gilbert Barrette

Liberal

Mr. Gilbert Barrette (Témiscamingue, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, following the recommendations of the Liberal task force, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development announced new measures for seasonal workers.

Can the minister confirm to this House that the five-week extension of employment insurance will take place under existing conditions?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
Permalink
LIB

Joe Volpe

Liberal

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, it is quite simple and straightforward; the answer is yes, provided people are in an economic zone with an unemployment rate of 10% or greater.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Employment Insurance
Permalink
NDP

Yvon Godin

New Democratic Party

Mr. Yvon Godin (Acadie—Bathurst, NDP)

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Federal Court made a ruling in which it reversed the decision of the Electoral Boundaries Commission for New Brunswick to transfer certain municipalities from the riding of Acadie—Bathurst to that of Miramichi. The Minister of Justice now has 12 months to recognize the decision of the court.

Can the minister make a commitment today to introduce a bill immediately—before the imminent election call—to implement the Federal Court ruling and ensure justice is done to the people of Acadie—Bathurst, who were overlooked by the commission?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Electoral Boundaries
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LIB

Jacques Saada

Liberal

Hon. Jacques Saada (Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I understand my colleague's question. The decision on the Raîche case was indeed made public yesterday. It is a good 40 pages long and merits close study.

Nevertheless, this decision raises questions that go far beyond simply establishing the electoral map for two electoral districts. It questions the very independence of the commission, which was established under the laws of our Parliament specifically to be separate from political interference. The hon. member's request for a bill would compromise the commission's independence. We must consider all this before we decide what to do.

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Electoral Boundaries
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NDP

Lorne Nystrom

New Democratic Party

Hon. Lorne Nystrom (Regina—Qu'Appelle, NDP)

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

The Prime Minister often speaks about a democratic deficit in this country. Yet, he has bypassed nominating conventions and appointed several of his own Liberal candidates.

I want to ask the Prime Minister, would he agree to amend the Canada Elections Act to make it mandatory that where there is a riding association, to be a candidate in a federal campaign a man or a woman must be nominated by his or her riding association? Would the Prime Minister agree to that? It is democratic. It is a step in the right direction. Most of us do it. Would he do it as well?

Topic:   Oral Question Period
Subtopic:   Electoral Reform
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May 12, 2004