Statement made on 26 May 2009 by Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette
Hon. Céline Hervieux-Payette:
Honourable senators, we need to remember that in June 2008, the Bank of Canada Act was amended. The Bank of Canada was then allowed to buy back securities from our Canadian banks. Not so long ago, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the bank was allowed to buy back up to $75 billion to help Canadian banks by providing them with liquidity.
Perhaps the Leader of the Government in the Senate does not recall that when the Senate studied that bill, the Minister of Finance refused to appear before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce to explain why the Bank of Canada Act was being amended. The minister could see the crisis coming. Last fall, he tried to have us believe that he did not know the crisis would be so severe, yet he knew that $75 billion would be made available to our banks.
The minister should think a bit about her government's transparency and the fact that a finance minister who does not tell the truth does not inspire much confidence.
Currently, all the statistics indicate that our unemployment rate will reach 10 per cent. The Leader of the Government in the Senate tells us that we have all the tools we need to deal with the problem. We need this money to make the rest of the economy work. Unemployed workers cannot spend because they cannot qualify. Will the last five weeks of benefits enable people to make ends meet? Or should we not amend the act to give people access as soon as possible, as most OECD countries have done?
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