Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:13
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to speak to you today about a solid man who unfortunately passed away on May 25. We were greatly saddened to learn about the death of Francis Dufour. This builder of Quebec's political history drew his last breath at the age of 91, late Sunday night.
Mr. Dufour was the archetypal proud representative of my region who spent his entire life in Jonquière. He first became involved in the Alcan employee's union in Arvida, then continued his civic involvement at the municipal level as mayor, then in the Quebec National Assembly as the member for Jonquière.
He will be remembered as a man with deep ties to his community, a man of integrity, a people person, who dedicated himself to serving citizens and advancing the independence movement in Quebec.
On behalf of the people of the riding of Jonquière and all the people of Quebec, I offer my most sincere condolences to Francis Dufour's family and loved ones.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:14
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:25
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair. I've missed you, by the way.
On another note, the emergency wage subsidy was created for people who fear for their jobs or their businesses. It's for people who need it, not for millionaire political parties like the Liberals and Conservatives. In Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, as in many other ridings, we respond daily to businesses that don't have access to it.
Unfortunately, there are people in our ridings who won't have the opportunity to hire staff this summer. There are businesses that are losing less than 30% of their revenues; they are losing 29%. These businesses won't have access to it. Everywhere we look, there are businesses that are falling through the cracks. Meanwhile, the Liberals and the Conservatives are getting the wage subsidy to fund partisan activities. I repeat: it is to fund partisan activities. The Liberals and Conservatives don't even do it on the sly; they do it openly.
These two parties have raised millions of dollars since January. Every dollar that's taken comes out of the taxpayers' pockets. It's the workers' money, not the political parties'. It's so embarrassing that it's shameful, disrespectful and ridiculous.
The Liberals and the Conservatives have to pay that money back. I think that's obvious. For the Bloc Québécois, its immeasurably clear. It's a question of ethics, morality and respect for citizens.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:27
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:35
Mr. Chair, I'll try not to spend too much time.
Will the Liberal Party of Canada pay back the money it took from the wage subsidy program, yes or no?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:36
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:36
Mr. Chair, I'll take that as a no.
In my riding, Trillium Media owns several weeklies. The company doesn't qualify for the wage subsidy because it has suffered losses of 28% instead of 30%. The historic village of Val-Jalbert is in the same situation.
Does the Liberal Party of Canada consider itself to be in greater financial difficulty than the historic village of Val-Jalbert and Trillium Media?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:36
Mr. Chair, I'll take that as a yes.
Does my hon. colleague take into account the fact that the billions of dollars that are currently being handed out come from taxpayers' pockets? It even comes from the pockets of people who have lost their jobs and who pay taxes when they go to the corner store.
On the other side of the House, is it considered justified for multi-million dollar parties to finance themselves with public funds, yes or no?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:37
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:38
Mr. Chair, I'll take that as a yes.
It's fantastic! The money that the Liberals are going to get from the wage subsidy is going to go directly into their election kitty.
When they go to get their election expenses reimbursed, they're going to get 60% of that money back. So they'll have made the wage subsidy work for them. The businesses that'll have access to it won't, but the political parties will.
Doesn't that contravene the Canada Elections Act, yes or no?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:38
Hon. Anthony Rota - 12:39
I don't know how to take it this time. I didn't get it all.
I think it's necessary to stop, eject and throw the tape out, and provide an honest answer to the questions we ask.
Can my colleague across the way answer a very simple question? Are their employees going to be used for political fundraising and so, once again, make the generous wage subsidy they receive work for them, yes or no?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:39
Mr. Chair, we've already seen a Duceppe who denounces the use of federal programs by the Liberal Party for the Liberal Party.
Can my hon. colleague tell me if she's able to look the entrepreneurs in her riding in the eye and tell them that they don't deserve the wage subsidy, because their loss of income is only 28% or 29%, while her party is dipping into the cookie jar, yes or no?
Hon. Chrystia Freeland - 12:40
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:05
Mr. Chair, I have a point of order.
The sound is not very good. This happens when ministers respond in the House.
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:06
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:12
Mr. Chair, I'm feeling generous today, and I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Pierre-Boucher—Les Patriotes—Verchères.
At the beginning of the crisis, the government called on entrepreneurs in Quebec and Canada, inviting them to set an example in the situation we are experiencing. Many of them turned to the supplemental unemployment benefit (SUB) plan to maintain the employment relationship and to preserve some security, enabling their employees to get through this difficult period with more peace of mind.
However, on May 22, despite the fact that these entrepreneurs had made sure that the SUB program would still be in place when the CERB was introduced, they were surprised. Employees were told at that time that they would have to repay the CERB because of the alleged gains they had made under the SUB program. At SOPREMA, one of the large employers in the Drummondville region, 150 employees are affected. At Bridgestone, in Joliette, 1,100 employees are affected by this decision. At Goodyear, in Valleyfield, 150 employees are affected, and there are dozens more.
Does the minister intend to correct this mistake so that employers who are able and willing to do so can treat their employees better during this difficult period?
Hon. Carla Qualtrough - 13:15
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:15
Mr. Chair, employers received absolutely no news from the government before this measure was implemented, despite the fact that they were assured that this measure would be transferred to the CERB. That's not an answer when those folks acted honestly and in good faith. They feel cheated, and rightly so.
Does the government intend to fix this mistake, which would simply be the right thing to do?
Hon. Carla Qualtrough - 13:16
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:16
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
On April 27, Option consommateurs sent a letter to the Minister of Transport to warn him that the airlines' refusal to reimburse their customers for cancelled flights was contrary to Quebec's laws.
What is the minister going to do to put an end to this situation?
Hon. Marc Garneau - 13:16
Mr. Chair, the minister sounds like a broken record.
A few hours ago, the following motion was passed unanimously: “THAT the National Assembly ask the Government of Canada to order airlines and other carriers under federal jurisdiction to allow customers whose trips have been cancelled because of the current pandemic to obtain a refund.”
What will the Minister of Transport tell the National Assembly of Quebec?
Hon. Marc Garneau - 13:17
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:17
Mr. Chair, I find it rather odd that the Minister of Transport and the Canadian Transportation Agency are telling the airlines that Quebec's regulations and laws are not important and that they can override them. It seems to me that this is a strange way to operate. Theoretically, under the famous Canadian Constitution, which they imposed on us, that is not how it should work.
Can they uphold their own constitution?
Hon. Anthony Rota - 13:18
Bruce Stanton - 14:00
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
At a time when we are asking our fellow citizens and Quebeckers to make sacrifices and even greater efforts, the Liberal Party, the government, is directly pilfering from a subsidy program that should be going to those who need it, not to rich political parties and their millionaire supporters.
At a time when the work in the House is even more essential—we should be working even harder, just as we are asking the people to do—the government, with the complicity of the NDP, decides to suspend the work of the House. This is the result of an absurd agreement that is absolutely impossible for it to implement.
Can the government confirm to the House, and simultaneously to the NDP, that the measure involving 10 days of leave is absolutely not something it can do?
It is not in its jurisdiction, so it is a measure that it cannot implement.
Hon. Pablo Rodriguez - 14:02
Let me shoot the puck back to the Leader of the Government in the House. He himself decided to close the rink, to shut down Parliament. That is where the teams are, and that is where the goals are scored.
But when you play a sport, when you are on a team, and when you are in Parliament, you still have to play by the rules. But the government does not keep its word. It made a promise to us as well, just like it made one to the NDP. It was about the Canada emergency student benefit. The Deputy Prime Minister herself said that it was certainly a good idea. What did the government do? It backed away.
I play on a team and I play by the rules. I take it at its word because this is the right place. Here, in this chamber.
So I would like the government to tell people that this measure is absolutely not in their jurisdiction. That was my previous question. It was not about which parties were negotiating or not and when they kept their word or not. The NDP has to realize that their agreement is absolutely worthless.
Hon. Pablo Rodriguez - 14:03
I urge the honourable Leader of the Government to recall the House. I am ready to be here, on the ice, all the time. I must remind him that we are not sulking. The Bloc Québécois has self-respect and respect for the public.
An agreement is not a promise, it is an agreement. A word is given in dignity and sincerity; a bond of trust is created.
When a player decides not to play by the rules, I do not let myself be taken in twice. I prefer to negotiate here, as we should be doing all the time in Parliament, not trying to play with someone who never keeps his word.
I would just like the Leader of the Government in the House to tell us that the measure about the 10 days is not up to him and so he will not be able to make it happen.
I could also ask him whether he found out from the Government of Quebec whether it agreed with the measure.
Hon. Pablo Rodriguez - 14:05
Bruce Stanton - 14:05
Let me teach the Leader of the Government in the House some arithmetic.
First, 37.5 hours per week, as well as the time we spend sitting on our normal committees, is quite a bit more than the eight short hours each week he is giving us.
Second, once again, the leader said that it is absolutely not in his jurisdiction. So he reaches agreements with parties though his word is worth nothing. I hope that the NDP has not reached an agreement with him.
Hon. Pablo Rodriguez - 14:06