John Rafferty Closes Debate on C-501

OTTAWA – In the House of Commons, Thunder Bay Rainy River MP John Rafferty was up today speaking on Bill C-501.

Here is the text of the comments made by Mr. Rafferty:

Mr. Speaker I rise to close debate on my Private Members’ Bill C-501 and thank the House for the opportunity to do so.

The legislative process can at times be messy.  We know this and we have seen this with other business presently before the House.

But we also know that sometimes, when there is a common interest  and a shared commitment among parties, such as between the Liberals and Conservatives on HST that legislation can sail through this place in as little as four days.

Bearing that in mind, on June 16 2009, less than one year ago, every Member of every party in this House passed a motion that said they fundamentally share a desire with the NDP to:  <quote> “Ensure that workers’ pension funds go to the front of the line of creditors in the event of bankruptcy proceedings.” <end-quote>

The Liberal, Bloc, and yes – even the Members that sit with the Conservative government agreed – that pension funds must go to the front of the line when a company enters bankruptcy.

C-501 is a simple bill that respects and fulfills the unanimous desire of all parliamentarians in this House to  put  pension  funds  at  the  front  of  the  line  when  a  company  enters  bankruptcy.

If members support this objective, then they will support my bill and vote to send it to committee.  If a party opposes this bill then they are going back on their word and misleading Canadians.  It is really that simple.

Today the Conservative government appears to be going back on its word – on their commitment – to more than 4.7 million Canadian families who worry every day about their retirement income.

This Conservative government and its members who are planning to vote against C-501 – or who are trying to stop the bill by other frivolous means are slaves to an outdated ideology that says that we must put the vulture capitalists and shadowy backroom financiers – like those who used to work at Lehman Brothers and who still work at Goldman Sachs – ahead of hard working Canadian men and women who have earned their wages, earned their pensions, and who have earned a dignified retirement.

The Bloc Quebecois has stood by the commitment they made to working Canadians last June and indicated that they will support his bill. I thank them for their support, and I hope they will prove to be reliable supporters throughout the entire legislative process.

The Liberals have made similar noises, but in the past have proven to be shall we say – unreliable – when it comes to supporting workers rights – or any progressive bills or motions for that matter.

I would like to remind the Liberal caucus that in Finance Committee on March 25, 2010 – the Liberal Finance Critic and Member for Markham Unionville said….and I quote; “The Pensions critic for the Liberals and myself, as finance critic, will be recommending that the Liberal Party support the NDP Private Members Bill on amendments to the BIA, as in when it comes to the House of Commons.” <end-quote>

I thanked the Honourable member for his remarks at the time, but remind him and his Liberal colleagues today that words mean nothing if they are not accompanied by deeds.

Despite the best efforts of their well connected lobbyists and back room wheelers and dealers – some of whom may even be former MPs– the Liberals too appear to have come around to the New Democrat position that pension security must be among the highest priorities of this parliament.

I thank them for their support if it is forthcoming for this bill, but remind them that in the end they will be held accountable by the voters for their actions.

It must be said that each and every Member of this place must live up to the commitment that they made to millions of Canadians on June 16, 2009, and that they must vote now to send C-501 to committee where it can be properly examined, debated, and/or amended as need be.

Mr. Speaker in closing I would like to thank the members of this House who have shared their thoughts, concerns, and support for C-501 during this debate and I urge to them to live up to their commitment on pension security and pass this bill unanimously.