The Commons: Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair exchange diabolical plans for EI -

The Commons: Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair exchange diabolical plans for EI

One could almost smell the sulphur…


The Scene. The Prime Minister has a special gift for making his government’s policies sound altogether banal, utterly and profoundly unremarkable.

“We will continue to do our best to try and put some resources into helping people find jobs,” Mr. Harper said this afternoon, under questioning about his government’s proposed changes to employment insurance. “At the same time, for those who still cannot find work in their seasonal industries and seasonal parts of the economy where people have difficulty finding work, there will, of course, be employment insurance as a safety net for those people.”

But if Diane Finley’s smile did not assuage the opposition parties, what chance do Mr. Harper’s words? From the other side of the House, there is worry that seasonal workers will be particularly impacted. There is fretting that the unemployed will be compelled to take lower paying jobs. There is fear that those without work will be deprived of EI benefits. There are concerns that the Harper government didn’t consult with the premiers. There is even dismissal of the Conservative plan for more and better emails.“Mr. Speaker, there is not a single aspect of this plan that will actually help anyone find a job,” Thomas Mulcair fumed this afternoon. “What unemployed Canadians can look forward to are threatening emails from the Conservative government telling them what low-paying jobs they must now apply for, at least until they get kicked off EI and then they will not even be able to pay for their Internet connections any more. Can the Prime Minister explain why the Conservatives want to force unemployed workers to choose between a 30% pay cut or the EI benefits they have paid for and they deserve?”

Seated a couple spots over from Mr. Mulcair, David Christopherson thumped his desktop in appreciation for the NDP leader’s effort here—the government’s grand plan tied up in a harrowing tale.

When it was his turn, Bob Rae suggested that the changes would result in a downloading of costs to the provinces. Mr. Harper assured him it was all good.

“In terms of the specifics here, no one is suggesting any downloading, quite on the contrary,” the Prime Minister ventured. “We want to make sure the people who are getting EI or thinking of getting EI have the opportunity to work in the labour market. There are many cases where those labour market opportunities are not being taken advantage of and these reforms are part of a package to accomplish that. It is good for all parts of the country, including Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Unpersuaded, Mr. Rae reviewed the concerns of seasonal employers and proceeded to an almost philosophic query. “Could the Prime Minister tell us why he will not withdraw these suggestions until such time as he has established a stronger national consensus for the kind of changes that this requires?” the interim Liberal leader wondered aloud.

Regardless of whether the Prime Minister could or should or would, this question seemed doomed from the moment it escaped Mr. Rae’s mouth.

” Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Harper offered by way of response, “these changes are widely supported by employers.”

Standing for his sixth and final intervention, Mr. Harper moved then to land a final shot—a little something to be clipped for the afternoon chat shows or evening news.

“Our philosophy here is different than that on the other side,” he explained. “We want to make sure people can get jobs when jobs are available rather than employment insurance. We want to make sure that when jobs are available Canadians get first crack at those jobs, not temporary foreign workers.”

Ah ha. Here, apparently, the Prime Minister had figured out the opposition’s diabolical plans to put every citizen of this country on employment insurance while importing millions of foreign workers to perform all of the jobs that are presently filled by Canadians.

Faced with such a “dangerous economic experiment”—as the daily emails from the Conservative party warn Mr. Mulcair is preparing to unleash—the plan for more and better emails should seem all the more reasonable.

The Stats. Employment, 11 questions. Military procurement, five questions. Ethics and the RCMP, three questions each. Labour, fisheries, infrastructure, the budget and the environment, two questions each. Syria, the disabled, veterans, poverty, trade and disaster relief, one question each.

Diane Finley, seven responses. Stephen Harper, six responses. Vic Toews, four responses. Andrew Saxton, three responses. Rona Ambrose, Lisa Raitt, Keith Ashfield, Tony Clement and Denis Lebel, two responses each. Peter Van Loan, Julian Fantino, David Christopherson, John Baird, John Duncan, Peter Kent, Jim Flaherty, Peter MacKay and Ed Fast, one response each.


The Commons: Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair exchange diabolical plans for EI

  1. “ Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Harper offered by way of response, “these changes are widely supported by employers.”

    Well, why wouldn’t they be? It’s forced labour at low cost.

    • Ah, but what happens when these employers are told who to hire? :-)

      • What happens when employers discover they have a lot of sullen resentful workers?

        • They will discover (the employees ) that they are not “entitled to a job”, but must in fact earn it.

          • The resentment will come, in large part, from workers being prevented from seeking higher-paying work in the fields for which they are trained by being forced to work long hrs at McJobs – despite having paid into EI. It’s much harder to look for work while working.

        • Harper is taking the US Republican approach of busting labor. According to Krugman this 30-year “age of greed” produced: a) declining productivity growth; b) massive trade deficits; c) soaring inequality. (This leaves out skyrocketing debt, eroding living standards, declining GDP growth — all of which culminated in a financial economic meltdown.)

          Now Harper is importing these very Reaganomics to Canada and bringing with it: a, b, c, etc.

        • These workers go online to annoy everyone on Macleans.

  2. Why is it no one ever tells us how much money seasonal fishermen earn…..

    What next….teachers get EI because they are seasonal?
    Hockey players because they are seasonal?

    • Some fishers do very well in a good year. When travelling through fishing
      communities it shows in nice houses and a lot of male toys in the yard.
      That applies to people who own their boats and licenses .. which usually
      means a lot of debt. And most people who work in the fishery don’t own a
      boat or license.

    • Prairie farmers can not collect EI at the end of the season once they sell their crop, so why can east coast fishermen collect EI and the end of the season once they sell their catch?

      • Your analogy is pretty wonky. Most people in the industry are just workers who are able to access EI in much the same way as farm workers.
        More importantly Praire farmers are fortunate enough to finish their season just as the oil patch is firing up for the winter season. Obviously many maritimers aren’t so fortunate. I imagine that those who can do so try to find what seasonal work in their oil patch if they can, or head to AB if they have to.
        The notion of cutting off skilled seasonal workers from the fishing industry just so you can say you made them fill a Mac job is typical Harper wooly thinking.

      • You mean the business owners, right, but their employees, the farm workers, they can get EI. Farmers are business owners, not employees.

        The point you raise to me is that we do not see ourselves as a nation of people: we do not understand each others’ ways of life in different regions, and never seem to empathize with regions doing badly — we want to blame them for some kind of mismanagement, even though all regions have ups and downs.

        • In fact, it occurs to me that farmers may even opt out of paying into EI, since they cannot collect it. I am a small business owner and I don’t pay into it and I cannot ever collect it either. Let me point out that I DID pay into it for 20 years before starting my own biz, and never collected it.

  3. Sounds like Harper’s “action plan” to turn Canada into a resource super-power is a “dangerous economic experiment.” Instead of competing with developing countries like Russia and Brazil, we should be fostering innovation and productivity so we can compete with first-world nations — that is, if the goal is to remain one.

    I hope Mulcair is smart enough to attack Harper on his bungling of the economy. In the last election the Liberals handed Harper the economy, even though they were responsible for all of its strengths. Harper claimed he made Canada an “economic star” and the Liberals said nothing even though the The Economist article Harper quoted said, “Much of the country’s resilience stems from policies—such as bank regulation and sound public finances—which predate Mr Harper.”

  4. “ Mr. Speaker,” Mr. Harper offered by way of response, “these changes are widely supported by employers.”

    So they consulted the fishing industry then!

    As with most Harper assertions, it’s best to not take them too seriously.

    • Why is ti the rest of the oountry’s responsibility (those of us who work 50/52 weeks of the year) to subsidize seasonal workers, especially fisherman. Can you not budget for the months that you are not employed? EI is not a “right” as it seems you have come to believe. In fairness, calculate what you have contributed to EI, then look at what you have taken. Let your conscious be your guide and for some of you, the rest of us cannot afford you.

      • Everyone on the east coast — move to Fort McMurray! RFN. Leave your homes, uproot your families, and join the fracas in AB. Or come to SK and work in a call centre or a mine!

    • One of the regulars on here – I forget who at the moment – coined the perfect word for this: Harperbole.

      • that was pickngrin. Remember that name: he coins new words.

  5. What is it that everyone fails to see! Its not! About seasonal workers and how they receive employment insurance benefits and rip the system off. Its about our whole country, our whole eceonomy and the whole manufacturing industry! People are loosing jobs! They are loosing their well paid jobs! They cant find equal paying jobs to compensate for it. Its an employer’s market! Employer’s love being able to pay lower wages and make higher profits. But even that is failing! Failing so miserably. So what has the government have you focused your attention on! Employement is on the rise! There is no bad job! If you have to take a job at 30 percent less money you have to take it. To bad, so sad, it doesnt address the fact that your taxes and bills just keep going up. The majority of people are falling behind. What relief are they offering? Nothing! Not a damn thing!

    Three weeks ago. Some of you very people criticised and said nasty things because I didnt want to work for minimum wage in a seasonal industry. Oringinal Emily even made synide comments about going on welfare. Not realising how ignorant and rude she was being. I pointed out I was going to lose everything! My home! My car! Did one of you give a damn about that? No! And what is happening now! Everything I pointed weeks ago is happening.

    We got the government we supposively elected in office. I have never been a Harper fan! He should have been thrown on his rear during the last election. And what did we do. Give him a majority government. And he still doesnt listen to the people. Clearly working on his own agenda.

    • I give a damn about that, Ryan, and I hope you do not lose your home and car. You need to call your MP and tell this to him/her too. I am upset at these changes — not only can the harper gov tell you you have to move, uproot your family — but since they canned the appeal board, there is no way for us to even fight back.

    • I’m sorry, it was a mistake and I spoke without thinking (as I tend to). It’s hard to empathize with someone who is struggling so much, as I’ve never had to. I think it’s awful what is happening to you and I fear for all of Canada’s future in all of this mess.

  6. “We want to make sure the people who are getting EI or thinking of
    getting EI have the opportunity to work in the labour market.”

    Anybody else find this distinctly Orwellian?

    Fact is, this–combined with things like eliminating the ‘fair wage’ rules–are all about driving down labour costs in Canada. If you are a business owner, that is good, I’m sure–more money in your pocket! And those of certain a political/economic faith believe that this will also allow companies to grow their businesses and hire more workers, so it is good for everyone, right?

  7. I’m still wondering if, after getting laid off from a job, you would be forced to apply for the same job if it is offered with a 30% wage cut.

  8. i’ve only collected EI once in 20 years but it sure helped and i’m glad some idiot didn’t tell me to go work at rotten ronnies.

    i live i alberta and holy crap everything is expensive here $5 for milk and $3.50 for bread good luck!

    didn’t they have like a 40 billion dollar surplus with EI just a couple of years ago ???

    we pay we should be able to collect no questions asked.

    they don’t own it ! we do. they just baby sit the cash and it looks like they aren’t doing a good job.


      • Please take your caps lock off before commenting

  9. How is this anything other then an attempt to lower wages to make the rich richer and drive the middle class, the working poor and everyone in between straight to the poor house unable to afford groceries. How is this making Canada better? How is this something we all voted on.

  10. “We want to make sure the people who are getting EI or thinking of getting EI have the opportunity to work in the labour market”

    Uh whut? Was something preventing them from doing so before? Or did Stephen just get “Opportunity” and “Oppression” mixed up again?

  11. Perhaps people need to recall, there are 4 (weather) seasons in Canada and you can move into different jobs for each, ie, summer = landscaping, winter = snow removal. I was laid off from my trades job in Calgary when Chretien announced the Kyoto Accord … the oil and gas industry in Alberta was sucker punched by that; anyway, when I finally found a job it was making garbage cans instead of oil field machinery and I took a $10 hr pay cut – more than 30% for me! I was still able to pay my bills but had less disposable income … suck it up people, you don’t get paid to do nothing!