drugdealers-ei-thumb-1.png
drugdealers-ei-thumb-1.png This article is more than 8 years old

Conservative minister says sorry for anecdote about drug-dealing EI recipients who need to get a real job

Denis Lebel’s tour of his home province of Quebec to drum up support for the Conservative government has hit a little snag. Stephen Harper’s Quebec lieutenant was in the middle of an interview with Radio-Canada over the weekend when he started talking about unemployed people who collect Employment Insurance. He was explaining that a farmer […]

Denis Lebel’s tour of his home province of Quebec to drum up support for the Conservative government has hit a little snag.

Stephen Harper’s Quebec lieutenant was in the middle of an interview with Radio-Canada over the weekend when he started talking about unemployed people who collect Employment Insurance.

He was explaining that a farmer he had just met had a handful of jobs to fill, but he couldn’t find workers. This is what followed:

“We often pay people on employment insurance to sell,” Lebel told the interviewer, stopping himself in mid-sentence. “Well, they’re not always good substances. I want it to stop. I want the people that we’re paying not to work to find a job.”

We asked Lebel’s office on Tuesday if he was referring to illegal drugs. His director of communications, Michèle-Jamali Paquette, explained that he was — but he was simply recounting a story told to him by somebody else. That person had talked to him about a case of drug traffickers who were also collecting EI, said Paquette.

“I can tell you that Minister Lebel’s words were taken out of context,” said Paquette, who added: “if he offended anyone, he is sorry. He has never lacked respect for anyone receiving Employment Insurance. He does, however, believe that those who are able to contribute to the work force, should. That is why our government has made modest and reasonable changes to EI to better connect unemployed Canadians with available jobs in their local area that match their skills.”

(36.6% of unemployed workers in Canada now receive Employment Insurance after the Conservatives tightened restrictions over the past few years. This is an all-time low, down from 83% in 1990. In Montreal, eligibility is 32.1%, down from 39.5% in 1997, and 37% in Quebec City, down from 53.3%.)

Have a listen to the snippet of the interview, conducted in French:

 

In the past, Lebel’s caucus colleagues have called EI recipients as “bad guys” and “no-good bastards sitting on the sidewalk in Halifax.”

Photo: techverse.net.

Our journalism is powered by readers like you.

We’re an award-winning non-profit news organization that covers topics like social and economic inequality, big business and labour, and right-wing extremism.

Help us build so we can bring to light stories that don’t get the attention they deserve from Canada’s big corporate media outlets.

 

Donate
PressProgress
PressProgress is an award-winning non-profit news organization focused on uncovering and unpacking the news through original investigative and explanatory journalism.

Most Shared

Amazon DSP News

Pierre Poilievre Claims He’s a Friend of the ‘Working Class’. He’s Spent Years Attacking Canadian Workers.

Related Stories

News

Amazon’s Use of “Massive Loophole” in Labour Law Hinders Courier Union Drive

View the post
News

Christian Nationalists Are Organizing Against LGBTQ Education Resources in Schools

View the post
News

5,000 Winnipeg City Workers Poised to Strike for the First Time in a Century

View the post

Explainers

Human rights & inclusion

Amira Elghawaby

Here’s The Problem With Hoping Corporations Will Be Socially and Environmentally Responsible On Their Own

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

The battle of the PACs in Calgary’s municipal election

View the post
Politics & strategy

Jeremy Appel

27 Different Candidates are Vying to be Calgary’s Mayor. Here Are the Biggest Issues at Stake.

View the post
Newspapers always have a business section – why not a labour section? We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get Canadian Labour News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers.
We’ve launched a free newsletter covering labour issues in Canada.
Get Canadian Labour News You Won't Find in Corporate Newspapers