Let’s watch as opposition MPs attempt to raise in the House the matter of Gerald Keddy’s misunderstood comments.
Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives continue to negatively stereotype Atlantic Canadians and to attack the unemployed. The Prime Minister said Atlantic Canadians have a “can’t do attitude and a culture of defeat”. Then the human resources minister said she wanted to, “make it lucrative for the unemployed to stay at home and get paid for it”. Now the member for South Shore—St. Margaret’s refers to all those no-good bastards sitting on the sidewalk in Halifax who cannot get work.
The Speaker: Order, please. I do not care if it is a quote or not, members cannot do directly what they cannot do indirectly. We could find quotes of all kinds that contain all kinds of unparliamentary expressions that cannot be used in the House. I caution the hon. member to refrain from the use of unparliamentary language.
Hon. Scott Brison: I agree, Mr. Speaker, it is a despicable word to use anywhere to describe Atlantic Canadians who are suffering. With an unemployment rate of 9.3% in Atlantic Canada, not only is the member attacking the unemployed, but he is attacking people when he says “sitting on the street”, he is attacking the homeless, many of whom suffer from mental health issues, including addiction. The ill and destitute need our compassion and our help, but this government cut literacy funding and has done nothing to help the homeless. When will the Conservatives stop attacking the people who need help the most? When will they stop kicking people when they are down?
Ms. Megan Leslie (Halifax, NDP): Mr. Speaker, it was reported today that the member for South Shore—St. Margaret’s referred to the hardest hit in my riding as “those no good bastards sitting on the sidewalk in Halifax”. The member’s comments are inexcusable–
The Speaker: Order. I have interrupted one hon. member on this point today already that the use of this word is not proper. I would urge the member for Halifax to avoid doing something she could not do otherwise by saying it is a quote. I have done this once already today. I hope it will not be necessary a third time. The hon. member for Halifax.
Ms. Megan Leslie: It is unparliamentary, Mr. Speaker, and I am glad that you agree. The government has offered only the most grudging support to the unemployed. It just cannot stop its true colours from shining through. My question is for the Prime Minister. What is he going to do to convince the people of Halifax that he does not endorse the member’s remarks?
Mr. Michael Savage (Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, today, we mark the 20th anniversary of a parliamentary motion calling for the elimination of child poverty. We have much work to do to, even to change people’s attitudes, including members of the Conservative government. The minister for employment insurance suggested that she did not want to make EI too lucrative. And today, we read the comments from the Conservative member for South Shore—St. Margaret’s who referred today to the unemployed as “all those no-good ‘blanks’ sitting on the sidewalk in Halifax”. I cannot even use the word in this Chamber. Is this what the Prime Minister meant when he referred to a culture of defeat? An email apology will not feed children or house families. Will the government commit today to an anti-poverty plan for Canada?