Personal Data

New Democratic Party
Hamilton Mountain (Ontario)
Birth Date
August 16, 1937
consultant, draftsman, fire fighter

Parliamentary Career

February 18, 1980 - July 9, 1984
  Hamilton Mountain (Ontario)
  • N.D.P. House Leader (October 7, 1981 - September 3, 1984)
September 4, 1984 - October 1, 1988
  Hamilton Mountain (Ontario)
  • N.D.P. House Leader (September 4, 1984 - September 5, 1986)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 4 of 951)

August 26, 1987

Mr. Jean-CIaude Malepart (Montreal-Sainte-Marie):

Mr. Speaker, a poll conducted on behalf of the Department of Finance shows that 71 per cent of Canadians are against the proposal of the Conservative Government to tax bread, milk and butter.

We are campaigning to make people aware of this issue, and to date 25,000 people have signed a petition urging the Conservative Government to drop this project.

Last weekend the pathetic Quebec Conservative caucus asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney) to reconsider this stupid idea. Since the Prime Minister has refused to withdraw this measure and wants to go ahead with his suggestion aimed at taxing bread, milk and butter, I would simply tell all Canadians that the Liberal Party is pursuing its awareness

campaign and urging them to sign petitions to force the Government to reconsider such an idiotic decision.

Subtopic:   TAX REFORM
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August 25, 1987

Mr. Jean-CIaude Malepart (Montreal-Sainte-Marie):

Mr. Speaker, after a debate which clearly showed once more the indifference and lack of concern of this Conservative Government for the Canadian people, I would like to come back to a question which I asked the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Bouchard) about the unemployment insurance benefits of older workers.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is important to remind the Members of this House and those Canadians who are now listening to us in their homes that, in the past, when an older worker lost his job, accepted early retirement to protect the jobs of younger workers and continued looking for work even though he received benefits from the pension plan to which he had contributed, he was also entitled to unemployment insurance benefits. Unfortunately, in January 1985, this

August 25, 1987

Adjournment Debate

Conservative Government decided to put an end to this practice, and without informing those who had applied for unemployment insurance benefits after taking an early retirement, the Government cut off their benefits.

After a hard fight of 17 or 18 months and with the support of thousands of older workers in the regions of Quebec City, Sherbrooke, Abitibi, Rouyn-Noranda, the North Shore, Montreal, and especially the Montreal-Sainte-Marie constituency, we were able to make the Government go back on its decision and reverse its position, just as we had done in the case of the partial de-indexation of old age security pensions

As of now, 46,000 older workers in Canada have been reimbursed the unemployment insurance benefits to which they were entitled and received an average of $10,000 each.

Unfortunately, and in this case, I asked my question to the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Bouchard), because of the silence and indifference of the Conservative and New Democrat Members who have done nothing about this issue, we have to continue our representations because there are 2,500 other workers in Canada who lost their jobs before January 5, 1986, and had accepted to take early retirement under the rules which applied at the time.

But unfortunately these people were known to have left their employers on December 31, 1985. New Year's is a holiday and the offices of employment centres are closed, so the Government does not want to do them justice quite simply because the men and women who went to see the Canada Manpower Centre staff to apply for unemployment insurance benefits were told by the officials: No, you are not eligible right now. Come back in three weeks or a month because you just got your severance pay. So they did come back, but today the Government refuses to reimburse them.

This is what I would like to know from the Member or the Parliamentary Secretary who will be answering my question: On the basis of what social justice principle does this Conservative Government maintain two classes of older workers? We have an older worker who has set aside part of his wages and transferred that part to an employer pension plan, and we have another older worker in another company who has saved up part of his income to contribute to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan. The result is that the latter is entitled to draw full unemployment insurance benefits, even if he is receiving $400 or $500 per week from his RRSP. Unfortunately for Canadians listening to us now who opted for early retirement, when they were hired, like our public servants and our military, they had to pay unemployment insurance benefits and contribute to an employer pension plan.

But when these people lose their jobs, and there are hundreds and thousands of people losing their jobs in the regions, they go to the Unemployment Insurance Office and they are told: No. The Mulroney Government will not give you your unemployment insurance benefits. The Conservative Government and Conservative Members say: No, we don't

trust your word, we don't believe you. Go get another job. If you do find another job and you lose it, then you will be eligible. That is outrageous! It is completely outrageous, Mr. Speaker, to treat a worker like this.

Mr. Speaker, I wish the Minister's Parliamentary Secretary would tell us why, on the basis of what kind of social justice, his Government is proceeding in this way. How can Conservative Members meet older workers and still talk to them without shame? And this decision does not apply just to today's older workers, it applies to all workers.

Today, Conservative Members were pulling out all the emotional stops to save jobs, Mr. Speaker, but I think it is time justice were done.

Mr. Speaker, you are telling me my time has expired. I hope the Parliamentary Secretary has good news-not for me but for thousands of older workers who are awaiting the Government's decision. I hope he says his Government will reimburse all older workers and eliminate this discriminatory treatment of our workers.

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June 10, 1987

Mr. Jean-CIaude Malepart (Montreal-Sainte-Marie):

Mr. Speaker, in one month, six companies have announced they are closing their plants and laying off more than 2,000 employees in Quebec, mainly in the Greater Montreal area: Simmons, Coleco, McIntyre, Metallurgie generale, and Taran and Murdochville.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, it was announced today that the shipyard industry is experiencing its worst year in the past 25 as far as loss of employment is concerned, and the same applies to industries involved in railway car construction.

Mr. Speaker, I would urge all Conservative Members in this House to put pressure on the Government and the Minister of Transport to release funds to save over 2,000 jobs in Quebec.

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June 9, 1987

Mr. Jean-C'laude Malepart (Montreal-Sainte-Marie):

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-50. I suggest it is important that everyone should remember why Bill C-50 was introduced in the first place. The fact that we now have a measure designed to make refunds or correct the mistakes of the Conservative Government does not in any way reflect the will of the Conservative Government nor of the Conservative Members, except for one or two.

First it must be recalled that on January 5, 1986-this was the outcome of a December 23, 1985 decision to make a Christmas gift-the Cabinet headed by the Prime Minister himself saw fit to cut off the unemployment insurance benefits to which older workers voluntarily or involuntarily opting for early retirement were entitled. For example, an older worker who lost his job because the plant shut down. He had the right to withdraw his pension plan contributions, so the Government decided to cut him off Ul benefits because he was receiving pension benefits. The decision was officially made public on January 5, 1986 and we know that the ensuing wave of protests from Canadians generally and the the Official Opposition, the Liberal Party, forced the Government to take cover behind the Forget Commission, waiting for advice. We also know that on December 3, 1986 the Forget Commission told the Government: You are wrong, you must rescind these regulations and reimburse older workers. On December 5, two days later, the Minister of Employment and Immigration (Mr. Bouchard) did admit the Conservative Government had erred and he unveiled policy changes.

Sadly enough, when the Minister of Employment and Immigration made his announcement he failed to remove all discrimination and, a few months later, he showed us a questionnaire which was more like a request that older workers in fact denounce the officials who were alleged to have misinformed them. And so it was that strong representations made by ARSAC, by the coalition and by spokesmen for retired military personnel once again forced the Government to backtrack and withdraw the questionnaire after owning up to its monumental blunder.

The end result of all this was that on March 18, 17 months later, the Government agreed that it was completely mistaken, that it was wrong to seek to cancel Ul benefits, particularly in the case of men and women who had vested rights, and on April 1 the Government introduced Bill C-50.

Unfortunately, once more, older workers had to put pressure on this Conservative Government. In each Conservative

constituency, they had to put pressure on their Members of Parliament to force the Government to debate this bill on June 9.

After fighting for seventeen months, older workers have won only part of the battle. For them, victory will come in two years when they defeat this Government. What they have won now, Madam Speaker, is that all workers who retired before January 5, 1986, voluntarily or not, and who filed a claim at their unemployment insurance office, and there are 35,000 of them, will be paid a total of $65 million.

Unfortunately, there are still 2,500 people in Canada who, as my colleague for Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Lachine East (Mr. Allmand) has just reminded me, also took early retirement voluntarily or not before January 5, 1986. The most obvious example is the case of the Gulf refinery employees who lost their jobs because of this Conservative Government and this Prime Minister (Mr. Mulroney). Because of this Prime Minister and this Government, these people have been denied their full unemployment insurance benefits. This is what happened when they filed a claim, Madam Speaker, as shown by the affidavits signed by people from all Quebec constituencies who have sent me postdated applications to prove that they went to their unemployment insurance office between September and November 1985 to file a claim, where they were told by unemployment insurance officials: "You have your separation pay and sick leave; when those have run out, you can come back and be eligible for unemployment insurance."

Once more, there is nothing for them in this Bill. Unfortunately, no Conservative Member is rising to defend these 2,500 people who are entitled to the full reimbursement of their unemployment insurance benefits because their case dates back to 1985. I trust that, when we move an amendment in committee, the Conservatives will rise to support this amendment so that all those who stopped working before January 5, 1986, will become eligible even if they did not go to their unemployment insurance office immediately. I have here a letter from a voter in a Conservative riding who has this to say: "I took early retirement on December 31, 1985. On January 1, 1986, Government offices were closed and the company office and staff were on holidays." This worker received his job separation form only on January 8, and when he went to the unemployment insurance office to file a claim, the Government would not let him.

There are hundred of cases in every constituency and this injustice will remain if the Government does nothing.

Wc all recall that the Government decided in secret to commit this injustice toward older workers by having an order in council published before the Christmas adjournment on December 23, so that no one would learn about it. The Cabinet had met with the Minister in secret to attack older workers, and all the Ministers who are here now were accomplices in that decision.

June 9, 1987

Today, the Government could have used the same method to say it had made a mistake and committed an injustice and that the Cabinet would cancel rules 57 and 58 to reimburse everyone automatically without discriminating against older workers.

Let us see now what we have in the Bill for all the men and women who have lost their jobs. People in the Champlain constituency, in the Trois-Rivieres area, in East Montreal, in Abitibi, in Murdochville. Workers in Murdochville who are going to lose their jobs, will withdraw their pension funds, which belong to them, and contrary to what the Hon. Member for Capilano (Mrs. Collins) did, those people have contributed to a registered retirement plan out of their own income, They have used their own money to contribute. But those people will not be eligible for full unemployment insurance benefits. In Murdochville, those people will have to find another job, work for 20 weeks, and then they will be told that if they lose that second job, they will qualify under the system on the basis of what the Hon. Member for Capilano called-as the Hon. Minister for Employment and Immigration says, on the basis of employment income. That time it will work. The first time was no good. Yet what people tend to forget is that the unemployment insurance benefits paid to those recipients will be based on the income from their second job.

Take all the members of the Armed Forces in Canada. All the servicemen. The Government wants to spend $186 billion to buy submarines to defend ourselves against the invisible enemy. The enemy of Canadians is "Brian Mulroney" and the Conservative Government. That Government is reluctant to pay even its servicemen. It told so to the Armed Forces Personnel in Canada-and I am surprised that Conservative Members from provinces other than Quebec do not stand up to speak for those servicemen. We have former members of the Armed Forces in this House. It is a shame to see them remain silent.

That means that all those who now serve in the Canadian Armed Forces, and who have to quit their job, will not be eligible for full unemployment insurance during the seven, eight or nine months when they look for another job. And if after ten months they find another job and they work until they are 65, they will have paid unemployment insurance, they will have lost a job and they will have been discriminated against by this Government. Those people will never have been eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.

Those are the facts. Later on, we will be proposing amendments. We look forward to the attitude of Conservative Members . . . Some of them siad that they were open in their consitituencies. When people forced into early retirement went and met them specifically, they all said: You are right. But the time of reconing has come, and we shall know where we all stand.

Contrary to what the NDP says, I believe it would be wrong to vote against that Bill. It is not a perfect Bill, it is not a Government Bill. The reason we are dealing with this Bill is that the Official Opposition, the Liberals, the people of

Unemployment Insurance

Canada have forced it upon the Government, Without the action of the Official Opposition, elderly people would never have been entitled to a refund. It was what the present Employment and Immigration Minister was hoping for, when he took part in the decision to cut unemployment insurance benefits, and we know what the Minister did with the Forget Commission. He wanted $6 million of the Canadian peoples' money, of the Canadian taxpayers' money. Now, Mr. Minister, whereas you took part in wasting $6 million, $4.5 million is all that would be required to bring some fairness to 2,500 people.

Mr. Minister, given that you have wasted all that money, I do hope that you will have a little more social sympathy when you think of those people.

Madam Speaker, what will be the consequences for older workers? There will fall into two groups: those who will be entitled to the benefits of a RRSP and those who will be entitled to the benefits of a Registered Pension Plan. And both will be penalized.

The Minister of Employment and Immigration will be entitled to a pension as a former director of a CEGEP and former teacher. He will get his full pension. When the time comes for him to collect his pension as a former teacher and former director of a CEGEP, he will not be asked: How much income do you get from other sources? Both he and his employer have contributed to his pension fund. Why should the Minister, who will be entitled to payment of a full pension, deprive older workers of their full unemployment insurance benefits while they remain available for work?

Madam Speaker, I would hope that the Minister comes to the realization that as a result of his Bill, some 2,500 people are in the grey area, I mean those older workers who have agreed to an early retirement. Take the case for instance of the Wabasso workers and those from various other companies in Trois-Rivieres, Champlain, both Montreal East and Montreal West, as well as Saint-Hyacinthe. Their company has closed down and were laid off because of some provincial piece of legislation, they received separation payment after a notice of so many weeks. The House will remember the case of the Gulf refinery in Montreal East which was closed down by this Conservative Government: Because these workers had

accepted separation payments, something like eight, ten or eleven weeks in compensation following the closing of the plant, they could not-and I have obtained notices from the Department, pursuant to section 17: The employment office cannot entertain an application for unemployment insurance benefits as long as the separation payments have not been exhausted.

Mister Minister, I do hope that you know the Unemployment Insurance Act and Regulations. To conclude, Madam Speaker, I wish to remind the Minister that the committee of the House, made up of representatives from the three parties, have recommended to withdraw Sections 57 and 58 and not to discriminate against older workers, both men and women.

June 9, 1987

Unemployment Insurance

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May 12, 1987

Mr. Jean-CIaude Malepart (Montreal-Sainte-Marie):

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, like the Hon. Member for Saint-Maurice (Mr. Grondin), I was unable to express my views on the constitutional question. Today, I therefore rise in my seat to congratulate the Leader of the Official Opposition (Mr. Turner) on his position and his open attitude to Quebecers, and for having responded favourably to the legitimate claims presented by the Government of Robert Bourassa. Mr. Speaker, after he took this position and made this speech, I think Quebecers will be able to say: John Turner is one of ours, a true Quebecer and a great Canadian.

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