May 6, 2004 (37th Parliament, 3rd Session)


André Harvey


Hon. André Harvey (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his intervention.
I understand that my Bloc colleagues are happy here, in Canada's Parliament. They want to be re-elected. However, whatever the issues they have occasion to deal with, their figures are never right.
They always include Quebec. I am also a Quebecker; I am from the Saguenay. I am keen to be involved in the next election campaign with them. We will talk about the real numbers. Every time I have the opportunity to talk with them, unfortunately, I am obliged, not to be disrespectful, to try to correct the facts about the numbers.
In the past 20 years, our fellow Quebeckers have contributed $73 billion to employment insurance, and we have provided $86 billion in benefits. Not only that, but in the past 10 or 11 years, the amounts collected and distributed were about the same. We are not taking into account here the contributions that were reduced by several billions of dollars.
Also, this does not include manpower training programs. For 25 years, Quebeckers asked for them. In the past seven or eight years, we transferred $600 million a year to the Quebec government. This does not include reductions in contributions, which amount to several billions of dollars a year.
Members opposite keep going back to that $40 billion surplus, but they forget about the investments in initiatives that contribute to creating jobs and are important for the future of our regions.
It is unfortunate members in the Bloc are ready to stoop to anything just to get elected. It is really unfortunate. They indulge in demagoguery just to keep their seat in this great democratic institution, the Canadian Parliament.
Let us take, for example, the issue of employment insurance. The leader of the Bloc came to my region and told the public that $157 million were missing. I checked, and it was $239 million. I thought they would have a good research service by now, with the Election Finances Act, and that their researchers could come up with accurate figures.
They even make mistakes about the softwood lumber issue. In health care, they were talking this week about a 4% federal contribution. Then, it went up to 14%. They should raise that to 40%, because that is the reality.
I would simply like to ask my colleague why it is they always come up with the wrong figures in our discussions.
In conclusion, I would like to say this. We improved the Employment Insurance Act and we will continue to do so year after year, in spite of the demagogy we hear from Bloc members who do not want to lose their seat in the Canadian Parliament because they are very happy here.
When they come to my area, they talk about unemployment but when the time comes to invest they go somewhere else, to Gatineau, for instance.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
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