An Act to amend the National Capital Act (appointments and meetings)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session and the 40th Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Paul Dewar  NDP

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)

Status

Introduced, as of Jan. 26, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the National Capital Act to

(a) reduce the number of members of the National Capital Commission from

fifteen to seven;

(b) have the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and other members of the Commission appointed to hold office during good behaviour and increase the term of the other members from three to four years;

(c) require that two of the other members also be city councillors, one for the city of Ottawa and one for the city of Gatineau; and

(d) open the Commission’s meetings to the public.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Income Tax Act
Private Members' Business

March 25th, 2010 / 5:30 p.m.
See context

Bloc

Johanne Deschamps Laurentides—Labelle, QC

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, again we are gathered to debate Bill C-288, to give every new graduate who settles in a designated region a tax credit. This bodes well, because it means the bill has passed committee stage.

In 2007, my colleague the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord introduced a similar bill, namely Bill C-207. It received support from a majority of the members in the House at all stages and even got as far as the Senate. I promise my colleague, young people and the regions of Quebec to have the same determination to get this bill passed.

To put this into context, the purpose of Bill C-288 is to give a tax credit to every new graduate who settles in a designated region. Since being introduced in the House, this bill has come a long way and has received a great deal of support.

Bill C-288 is supported by a variety of groups and generations throughout Quebec: the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec, or FECQ, and the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec, or FEUQ, which represent 40,000 and 125,000 students respectively in Quebec; the FADOQ network, which has 255,000 members, and the Fédération québécoise des municipalités, which represents 972 municipalities. They have all given their full support to the bill. What is more, the bill is supported by a number of RCMs, chambers of commerce and youth employment centres.

In addition to this sizeable support, last November the hon. member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and I delivered 3,000 postcards in support of Bill C-288 to the office of the hon. member for Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean. Contrary to what some people have suggested, these postcards were indeed signed by people who are affected by the bill.

Before going any further, I would like to thank two colleagues: the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier and the hon. member for Churchill who have been behind Bill C-288 from the beginning.

I would also like to thank the representatives of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec who came to show their strong support for Bill C-288 by testifying before the Standing Committee on Finance. I greatly value their support because, in a way, this bill is designed for the thousands of students and graduates who will move out of large urban centres to go live and work in the regions.

The main purpose of this bill is to attract young graduates to the regions in order to help solve two main problems: the exodus of young people and the serious shortage of skilled labour. It is important to encourage young graduates to settle in the regions, where they will start their professional careers, and to recruit skilled labour for the benefit of the regions.

The exodus of young people is becoming increasingly problematic in terms of the economic vitality of areas that are far from large centres. These areas need young graduates in order to develop and to enhance their ability to innovate. Obviously, giving recent graduates who settle in regions a tax credit of $3,000 per year—up to a three-year maximum of $8,000—would help revive local economies and meet labour needs.

The exodus of young people has a negative impact, both socially and economically, on any region. It speeds up population aging and reduces the average education level of the people left behind, which undermines the region's ability to innovate. The more remote regions are losing the most residents. In many cases, they depend on one type of industry; these are called single-industry regions.

Gone are the days when resource regions could prosper based solely on extracting natural resources for primary processing elsewhere. In order to grow, the regions will have to look to technology and develop their processing industry more.

Quebec was hard hit by the forestry crisis. Since 2005, Quebec has lost 26,000 jobs in the forestry industry alone, that is, the industry and related services, such as transportation and logging equipment. This represents 50% of Canada's total loss.

Since the Conservatives came to power, about a third of all forestry jobs have disappeared. Some regions have been decimated. Since the summer of 2004, my region, the Upper Laurentians, which has been hardest hit by the crisis, has lost 58% of all forestry jobs in Quebec.

Of the 17 forestry companies in my riding, 14 have been forced to close their doors. Heavy machinery operators, engineers, technicians and truckers have borne the brunt of these job losses. Those with higher levels of education, special skills and expertise, such as engineers, have been forced to leave our beautiful region to find work in their fields.

The Government of Quebec realized that to promote regional economic diversification, it would have to develop new business opportunities in other fields.

This is a major hindrance to the development of secondary industry and high-tech. In all of the studies that have been done, many companies have said they would only be able to stay in their region if they did not grow very much. So long as businesses stay small, they can take care of professional and technical work themselves. If they grow, they have to hire skilled workers. Difficulty finding such workers in the regions might force companies to relocate to urban centres, where they are more likely to find qualified workers.

Bill C-288 proposes a beneficial tax measure for all young eligible graduates in Quebec and Canada. Quebec is not the only province experiencing a youth exodus. Across Canada, economic activity has gradually moved from more rural regions to larger centres. Some provinces—Quebec, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Manitoba—have introduced a graduate tax credit. The Quebec government introduced its credit in 2003, then amended it, so that it now resembles the tax credit proposed in Bill C-288, which I am talking about today.

The Conservatives tried to derail the debate on this bill by grossly inflating the cost of the program. In his November 24 report, the Parliamentary Budget Officer assessed the proposal according to a number of different scenarios. I would like to clarify some of the data so that members can focus on the essence of the bill.

First, the regions designated in this bill will be determined by the Minister of Finance, after consulting with the provinces involved. Second, the regions will not be designated based on the number of people who would be affected; they will be based on the needs identified in these regions far from Canada's major cities. I should point out that the bill excludes metropolitan regions with more than 200,000 residents. Third, the bill must focus on resource regions and regions with low rates of urbanization that are struggling with long-term unemployment rates, an indicator of poor employment prospects.

Finally, we used economic and health regions as geographic criteria. We then used the long-term unemployment rate to determine the regions where job prospects are more difficult—4.7% and up in 2006. From these regions, we considered only the regions that had over 12% of their population living in rural areas.

In total, we identified 34 health regions that met these criteria, representing 8.24% of the Canadian population. According to the estimates of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, such a measure would cost around $230 million per year, rather than the $600 million claimed by the Conservatives.

Of course, other regions could be added during the discussions between the federal government and the provincial governments, but these regions will have to meet the requirements of the bill, and have a high long-term unemployment rate, combined with a low rate of urbanization or a low population density.

Adding a few regions that meet the above criteria would not substantially increase the cost of the bill.

We still want the support of Liberal and NDP members for this Bloc Québécois initiative. We hope that Conservative members will put aside their partisan ideology and act in the interests of young graduates and the regions.

I believe that many young people who are about to complete their post-secondary education or professional training are waiting for this bill to pass. A number of my colleagues have probably had exploratory visits from young graduates. These young people are in contact with community stakeholders, the decision-makers, and are in a position to determine the regions' needs and to tell us what kind of labour force is needed in our regions to develop secondary and tertiary processing.

The bill creates many expectations. It provides an incentive for attracting youth back to the regions. However, young people who are interested in returning are also interested in the quality of life they may find there. A young person who moves to the region may start a family. Families add vitality to a region.

As I stated earlier, this time I hope that the Conservative members, especially those from Quebec—in particular the members for Pontiac, Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean and Jonquière—Alma—as well as the independent member from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier will understand that they must put their regions' interests ahead of their party's interests in order to support all regions of Quebec and their young people.

October 19th, 2009 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Conservative

John Baird Ottawa West—Nepean, ON

Others are obviously hoping to advance the debate and push the government to bring forward the legislation. Mr. Dewar brought forward two bills, Bill C-207 and Bill C-367, regarding governance and protection of Gatineau Park. They certainly informed our work in preparing the bill. I know that Mr. Proulx has been very vocal on this file, as have Mr. Nadeau, Mr. Bélanger, Mr. Poilievre, Mr. O'Connor, and others.

Action Plan for the National Capital Commission
Government Orders

June 18th, 2009 / 5:15 p.m.
See context

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the government for bringing this bill forward. I think this is a bill that will need some study at committee. It is a bill that will require us to hear witnesses. However, I want to thank the government for bringing forward a bill that will do what I think many of us want to see done.

Gatineau Park will actually be protected. The park will be given the proper designation. It will have someone who is going to be a steward to make sure that this park is there for generations. I also want to acknowledge a number of people who were the driving forces behind this bill getting to this place so that we will hopefully have protection for the park.

I want to acknowledge my predecessor, Ed Broadbent, who brought his private member's bill forward to do what this bill is attempting to do, which is protect Gatineau Park. After Mr. Broadbent's retirement, I was able to get the confidence of the people of Ottawa Centre and be elected to the House of Commons. I brought this forward as my first private member's bill and have since brought it forward to this Parliament after the last election. Some changes have been made, but it is essentially the same design.

I brought forward two bills. One was Bill C-207, which was to reform the NCC, and Bill C-367, to protect Gatineau Park. The government has done some good things in its bill that have brought these two component parts together.

I would hope that certain amendments are considered, but a good thing about the bill is that it opens up the National Capital Commission board meetings to the public. That is something that had been long overdue. It sounds strange to be saying that in 2009, but for far too long the NCC did its business behind closed doors.

The bill will also legislate boundaries for Gatineau Park. It may be strange to know that, prior to this, there were no boundaries for Gatineau Park. In fact, most Canadians would not have been aware of that. Indeed, people who have lived their whole lives in this region would not have known that there were no boundaries. Now, we have that and those are good things.

There are a couple of things I would like to see and I will enumerate those. We can certainly bring these to committee. In Bill C-207, that I brought forward on the reformation of the NCC, I recommended that we reduce the number of people on the board to make it a little more functional and hands on, and that we ensure that there would be city councillors from both the Gatineau side and the Ottawa side, nominated by the respective councils and represented on the board of the NCC.

Right now we do not have a democratic representation on the board. There are appointments made by governor in council. I thought this would be a smart thing to do. Consultations that I held here in the community recommended that we have someone who represents the interests of the people in the region, from the council perspective in both Gatineau and Ottawa. It would also still have people who were appointed to make sure that the national view was incorporated.

I also wanted to make sure, and this is connected to Bill C-367, my private member's bill on Gatineau Park, that we not only legislated the park boundaries as is contemplated in this bill but give it the same protection as a national park, so that no new developments or encroachments on the park would take place without the approval of Parliament. That is a very important piece. It is not in the bill and I hope that we can amend the bill to do that.

Gatineau Park is an incredibly important piece of our country's history. It is the residence of the Speaker and a former residence of one of our prime ministers. Interestingly enough, it was one of the first parks that was to be contemplated as a national park. Yet, because of reasons I will get into in a little bit, it was never able to achieve its right as a national park.

It was created back in 1938, as we know, but its history goes much further back than that. It was a very vibrant place for logging and other industry. It was a place, however, that people knew from the beginning, going back to 1912, that there needed to be some protection. There were park officials who said, “Look, we have to keep an eye on the development here. There's some industry happening”.

There were deep concerns around forest fires and how that related to industry, and the fact that the actual park itself might not be around without protection. Over many years and the persistence of people in the area, there was a push on the government of the day to contemplate protection.

Interestingly enough, and I will get back to the point of the former prime minister, it was his concern that it would be seen to his benefit because of his residence there. He did not want to be seen as having put a national park there. He did not want to be attacked by the opposition parties of the day. So it was left unprotected.

There were many studies. Sparks Street, just down the way, is actually named after Percy Sparks. Percy Sparks was with the Federal Woodlands Preservation League. He was someone who was very clear about the need for protection. In fact, one of the recommendations that he made to the government of the day was to make sure that there were boundaries and protection but for reasons, as I mentioned, of politics. However, it was never actualized.

There had been great work done in the Rockies to protect natural green space, but we were not doing it in the foothills beyond Parliament. However, over time there were considerations about how to protect the area. By and large these ideas worked and they were considered by many as a workable solution.

The development encroachment of recent years has stressed the park, be it through roadways that were built or through the development of recreation that was not really sustainable. People have been kind of chipping away at developing the park. It was very clear to many that the park needed protection.

We know that green space is limited. We know that the habitats that exist there are very diverse, the flora and the fauna. We know that when we talk to people from the Sierra Club, CPAWS, and the Friends of Gatineau Park, these groups have been extremely active in making sure that there is protection for the park. All have done inventories of Gatineau Park. It is one of the most diverse areas that we have in the country. The biodiversity there is extremely important. There is a very vibrant fish habitat.

However, if industry and development are allowed to encroach upon habitat, and we do not put in sufficient protections, then we will see that lost.

One of the things we need to note about Gatineau Park is that it has done a very good job. People have done a very good job of keeping a balance with the exception of the development that I mentioned. Right now in Gatineau Park there are recreational opportunities and people are able to enjoy the park as a leisurely place, but there are also people who are interested in biodiversity and protection who want to ensure that we do have some diversity and protection of the green space. Without protection of the park, without legislative protection of the park, it will be lost.

Growing up in this city, it was common practice for us to get on our bikes and go up to Pink Lake and some of the other lakes and go for a swim. It would take us about 35 to 40 minutes on our bikes and enjoy pristine nature. I have seen that change since I was a kid. We need to ensure that the beauty of the park and the diversity of the park is kept. Without protection, without legislative protection, and without resources, that will not happen. The pristine beauty and the opportunities I had when I was growing up will not be there for my children or grandchildren unless we protect the park.

When we look at what is in the bill, there are extremely important components to protect the park. One of the things that is important to note, and I give some credit to the NCC, is that recently CEO Madame Lemay and Russ Mills, as the chair, are looking at opportunities to acquire land to ensure that we grow the park. As I mentioned, we have seen development chip away at the park. Recently, there has been an acquisition of lands. That must be a mandate for the NCC. We must make sure that the park grows and is protected. We must make sure that the kind of development we saw in the past does not happen again.

When we consider the protections that are contemplated in the bill, there must be a balance by making sure that the park grows, making sure that people can use the park for recreational purposes, making sure that the biodiversity is protected, and making sure there is a plan for the future. Those component parts must be realized by the bill.

While many from outside the region would be surprised that Gatineau Park is a park, they may say to go ahead and provide it with the protection it needs. We must appreciate that this is a very diverse place, that it needs strong protection. This has to be thought out well and that is why it is important that we send the bill to committee.

I began my speech by mentioning the fact that I was giving credit to the government for bringing the bill forward and there was applause from the government side. When we get things right, let us mention it.

What needs to be done at committee is to look at those component parts I just mentioned. We need to look at biodiversity and the environmental interests of the park and ensure they are going to be protected. We must ensure that we have the necessary structures in place to be sure that happens. We must ensure that the recreational opportunities are there for people, and that we ensure that the biodiversity is going to be there and that we grow the park.

If we look at what is happening around the world and certainly across the country when it comes to green space, we need to reclaim green space and grow parks. We have had numerous decades where we have just used our green space in ways that have not been helpful.

That is why it is incredibly important that this go to committee, to hear from witnesses to ensure that we can make this park continue not only the history that I mentioned in the short time I had but to make sure that it is going to protect the biodiversity that is going to ensure the future of the park. We must ensure there are mechanisms in place for many, many years.

I want to close by saying that too often in our country we do not preserve our history. We forget the past. With this bill and with this park preserved we will preserve our history and protect the past. We will also look to the horizon and the future to make sure that we do the right thing, preserve the biosphere that is Gatineau Park. It is one that is worth preserving to make sure that this is something for all to see. When my children, grandchildren and others visit the park in the future, they will know we did the right thing with this bill. We protected the park. We protected our history and we protected the environment that is so pristine.

National Capital Act
Routine Proceedings

November 21st, 2008 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-207, An Act to amend the National Capital Act (appointments and meetings).

Mr. Speaker, I am reintroducing this bill and I want to give kudos to the government for good first steps on reforming the NCC. However, there is more that needs to be done.

This bill would bring into practice and force the public appointments commission to ensure people are appointed to agencies, boards and commissions based on merit. I believe this should happen, specifically with the National Capital Commission. I urge the government to adopt this bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)