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Paul Massicotte

The Hon. Paul J. Massicotte, B.Comm., C.A. Senator Paul Massicotte was appointed to the Senate on June 26, 2003 by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. He represents the province of Québec and the Senatorial Division of De Lanaudière.

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Third reading of Bill C-10

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Statement made on 12 March 2009 by Senator Joan Fraser

Hon. Joan Fraser:

Honourable senators, I agree with Senator Murray, but what we face here is an exercise in blackmail.

My problem has been that the victims are not we, in this chamber; the hostages in this exercise in blackmail are the most vulnerable of Canadians, who are now feeling and will increasingly feel as the months wear by, the bite of the worst economic straits we have faced in 70 years.

Even before Senator Mitchell extracted the information that has so shaken us all — and I do congratulate him for that — I lay awake more nights than I would like to think worrying about the price that would be paid no matter what we did in this chamber.

Now we have learned about these incredible — almost hidden — clauses on Employment Insurance. I do not believe that my friends on the other side of this aisle were any more aware of those provisions on Employment Insurance than we were. I am sure it came as much as a surprise to them as it did to us.

I would love to be able to support Senator Murray's motion, because what he is proposing is — in all terms except those I have just described — what we should be doing, but I try to gauge the consequences of it. At the very least, we would be delaying to unemployed Canadians — and denying to some of them — those extended Employment Insurance benefits that they so desperately need. What we will be giving them is not enough, but it is better than what they have now. That is at the very best.

Assuming that a miracle occurred and the government suddenly decided to accept the severed bill with a few days' delay, taking us past one more Sunday; but the government has said it would not accept a severed bill, even if all the opposition parties joined to pass it. In order to avoid accepting the severed bill, it would have to go to the people. That would mean a delay of months before any stimulus was available.

I do not know much about Stephen Harper. I am not privileged to be — I will use that word ironically — in his inner circle, but one thing I have observed so far about Mr. Harper is that when he says he will do something, no matter how ill advised that thing may be, he usually does it. He gives new meaning to the definition of stubbornness. I, for one, am not willing to play that game of chicken at the very likely price of help for those Canadians who need it most.

There are many things in this bill that we know are objectionable, and I suspect that in a truly non-partisan way, the committees that study the subject matter will find other things that need correction, because that is what committees do. In a 500-page bill, it is not possible that there should be no flaws at all. Some of the things can be corrected. Pay equity, for example, can be corrected in a new parliament by simply revoking this iniquitous — in my view — bill.

In the meantime, I have concluded that I owe my vote to the most vulnerable. I shall abstain on Senator Murray's motion and I shall — as Senator Mitchell put it — not vote for this budget, but vote to allow this budget to pass.

Recent Statements from Liberal Senators

Business of the Senate

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I'm rising to speak on behalf of my leader, the Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cowan, who had to be in Halifax tonight on public business. I must tell you that when I called him to say we were going to be adjourning for the summer tonight, he was, I could tell, quite irritated, not because he wanted us all to go on working like galley slaves but because he had already written a speech that he wanted to give tomorrow morning.

Lighthouses as Irreplaceable Symbols of Maritime Heritage—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Thank you, Your Honour, and my apologies to Senator Champagne.

Unequal Access to Justice—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Joan Fraser | Colleagues, I know that Senator Jaffer was preparing to close this debate but, before she did that, I just had to say how terribly important the subject she has raised is.

The Senate—Promoting and Defending Causes that Concern the Public Interest—Inquiry

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Jim Munson | Honourable senators, I am looking for a bit of love and empathy at this late hour because I do have a speech, but you have to understand that, in the interest of having dignified departures for our five senators this week, I gave up my time to make sure that we were able to celebrate the departures of Senator Buth, Senator Segal, Senator Callbeck, Senator Dallaire and Senator Champagne.

Study on Status of Canada's International Security and Defence Relations

19 Jun, 2014 | By Senator Grant Mitchell | So, you thought you weren't going to hear from me? Well, I fooled you! So there! I rise in support of this report by the Defence Committee recommending that Canada become involved in ballistic missile defence with NORAD. I congratulate Senator Lang and other members of the committee for what I think was great collaborative work, completely non-partisan, very extensive and detailed with intense research.
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