House of Commons Hansard #6 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was seniors.

Topics

James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and Northeastern Quebec Agreement
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon
B.C.

Conservative

Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Standing Order 32(2), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the annual reports for 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03, for the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and the Northeastern Quebec Agreement.

Canada Elections Act
Routine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-465, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (identity of electors).

Mr. Speaker, we all remember the controversy caused by the Chief Electoral Officer's decision to allow voters to vote while wearing a veil. On behalf of the Bloc Québécois, I promised to introduce a bill to amend the Canada Elections Act.

This bill will require all voters to establish their identity, with their faces visible, before they can vote. The bill also provides that when a voter does not have photo identification with their name and address, the voter can provide two pieces of identification authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer.

As we have mentioned, this situation is absurd and must be corrected through legislation. This is why we are introducing the bill.

In any case, I believe this bill will easily receive unanimous consent. I would remind the House that every party has indicated its support for this approach. Furthermore, the government announced this very intent in the Speech from the Throne.

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

National Defence Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Dawn Black New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-466, An Act to amend the National Defence Act (definition of “employer”) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act.

Mr. Speaker, we have a rather ridiculous situation right now where members serving in the Canadian reserves do not have a guarantee of job protection when they serve on a mission for Canada. My bill aims to rectify that.

When reservists serve on a Canadian mission, they should have a guarantee that their job will be protected and be there for them when they return to Canada.

Currently, three provinces have elected legislation, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, to protect jobs that are covered under provincial jurisdiction. My bill would change the federal legislation so that people who work in jobs under federal legislation would be covered.

Actually, the House proposed some changes in 1998 but, under successive Liberal and Conservative governments, those changes have never been implemented.

I push the government to ensure that our reservists who serve Canada have a guarantee that their jobs will be protected when they come back to this country.

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

Excise Tax Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Blair Wilson West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-467, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (medical equipment).

Mr. Speaker, charities are increasingly funding the acquisition of medical equipment that community hospitals need. In my riding alone, the St. Mary's Hospital Foundation's Back the CAT campaign raised $1.6 million for a CT scanner and the Whistler Health Care Foundation raised $1.3 million for a CT scanner. The Powell River Health Care Auxiliary has similar plans.

Canadians who give to our hospitals and help their neighbours get the medical care they need should not have to pay GST on these donations. The bill would ensure that the funds raised by our hospital foundations will go even further in helping to improve Canadians' health care.

I ask my colleagues from all parties to support the bill and help gets results for our hospitals and for Canadians.

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

Canada's Clean Air and Climate Change Act
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-468, An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air and Climate Change Act).

Mr. Speaker, it is with some pleasure and some regret that I present this bill. This was, of course, the clean air and climate change act that was rewritten by all members of this House.

I have the support of the member for Toronto—Danforth, the leader of the NDP, who has helped create the full circle of this bill. He created the subcommittee, the standing committee that was able to address the flaws in the original government act, and worked with all members of Parliament from all sides of the House to create some progressive environmental legislation for this country in the absence of true leadership on this front, which Canadians are demanding on a daily basis. The world is demanding that Canada finally take its place on the stage and do its part in the battle against climate change.

It seems that, in coming full circle, we finally present the government with a way forward, a way in which it can no longer delay real action against climate change and can no longer tell Canadians that it cannot be done.

We in the New Democratic Party believe that this is an issue that must be addressed and that it can in fact be done.

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

Income Trusts
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am pleased to present an income trust broken promise petition on behalf of Mr. Doug Alderson of Peterborough, Ontario, who remembers the Prime Minister boasting about his apparent commitment to accountability when he said that the greatest fraud is a promise not kept.

The petitioners remind the Prime Minister that he had promised never to tax income trusts but he recklessly broke that promise by imposing a 31.5% punitive tax, which permanently wiped out over $25 billion of the hard-earned retirement savings of over two million Canadians, particularly seniors.

The petitioners call upon the Conservative minority government to admit that the decision on income trusts was based on flawed methodology and incorrect assumptions, to apologize to those who were unfairly harmed by this broken promise and to repeal the punitive 31.5% tax on income trusts.

Logging Industry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present to the House today.

The first petition involves restrictions on log exports from private lands. Private lands are regulated by the federal government and one-third of the land mass of Vancouver Island is actually a private land forest.

The petitioners note that of approximately one million acres of private forest land on central Vancouver Island, nearly 70% of the logs harvested are currently destined export. They are, therefore, calling upon the Government of Canada to implement a tariff on logs exported from private lands to level the playing field and ensure that Canadian mills, as well as secondary industries that rely on byproducts from processing, are given equal opportunity.

Rail Transportation
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, my second petition involves the E & N railroad, that is the Esquimalt and Nanaimo railroad, which goes from Victoria up to Nanaimo in my riding and further up to Courtenay and Comox.

The petitioners are calling on the government to act speedily to keep the E & N railroad running. They note that the E & N is part of Vancouver Island's economy and its history and that it was a federal guarantee made as a precondition of British Columbia entering Confederation.

I would note, along with constituents, that we all have an interest in advancing green energy and transportation options. The petitioners are asking for help to keep the E & N railroad running.

Natural Health Products
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, my final petition involves a private member's bill, Bill C-404, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (natural health products). There are 564 signatures on this petition from my own riding; Qualicum Beach; Parksville; Brandon, Manitoba; London, Ontario; and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.

Canadians are asking that support for the use of national health products is widely accepted in our society to promote health and wellness and improved access to natural products would allow Canadians to better manage their own health and relieve pressure on the health system.

The petitioners are calling upon Parliament to enact Bill C-404 and take the GST off natural products and make them more available to Canadians to help promote wellness and health.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister for Democratic Reform

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

The Speaker

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine on a point of order.

Bill C-357—Employment Insurance Act
Point of Order
Routine Proceedings

October 23rd, 2007 / 10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the floor. As I am sure you recall, a few days ago, I informed you that the Bloc Québécois intended to respond to the Conservatives' request concerning Bill C-357. They called for a royal recommendation concerning the creation of an independent employment insurance fund. I will now raise a few points that will surely enable you to make an informed decision about this issue.

I would like to bring to your attention our argument against requiring a royal recommendation to pass Bill C-357, to create an independent employment insurance fund. That is why I am addressing you today.

At the outset, we recognize that the content of Bill C-357 is very similar to Bill C-280, as introduced in the 38th Parliament. It is clear that the Speaker's ruling on June 13, 2005, included a number of elements that were open to interpretation. The Conservatives are referring to those very elements to support their assertion that the bill now before us requires a royal recommendation. That is why we must take the time to review the Conservatives' arguments point by point.

First, the Conservatives claim that passing this bill would lead to additional expenses. That is totally false, because the current legislation already provides for fluctuations with respect to premiums and conditions of eligibility, which determine the fund's revenues and expenditures that go through the government's consolidated revenue fund. This bill is not designed to change these provisions, so it is not true that the bill would engender additional costs. Therefore, there is no basis for the claim that this bill would bring about “additional” or “new” expenditures.

The Conservatives are saying that the appropriation of public revenue will be altered depending on the circumstances and the way it is managed. The current legislation provides for a contribution to be deducted from every pay cheque and it is understood that this money will be used to ensure supplementary income to contributors who need it because of their own economic circumstances. The eligibility criteria for employment insurance and the premium rates that determine the revenue and expenses of the fund, will serve the same purpose and use the same mechanisms when this bill is enacted. I would add that a change to the eligibility criteria would still require a legislative change. Let us be clear, not only does this bill not require additional expenditures, but what is more, the purpose of and reason for these public funds will not change in any way.

We acknowledge, as the Speaker said on June 13, 2005, that it does involve transferring public funds to an independent employment insurance fund, but royal recommendation is not needed for two reasons. The Speaker himself said, on May 9, 2005, that:

The royal recommendation is also required where a bill alters the appropriation of public revenue “under the circumstances, in the manner and for the purposes set out” in the bill.

Although there will indeed be a transfer of revenue to an independent fund, the circumstances, manner and purposes by which the commission will set the premiums and manage the revenue will not change at all. Furthermore, the spirit of the current act will be better protected since the revenue generated by the premiums will no longer be used to serve interests other than those defined by the act, namely those of the workers. Using revenues that should go into the fund, but instead are taken into the consolidated revenue fund for purposes not listed in the act, will no longer be possible.

A royal recommendation would be necessary if the bill were seeking to withdraw revenue from the government's consolidated revenue fund to be used for purposes other than those described in the act. In this case, it is clear that the purpose of the bill will not alter anything in the current legislation. On the contrary, it will allow the spirit of the act to be respected and prevent the misappropriation of funds that the Liberals and Conservatives are known for.

Fourth, the argument cited on June 13, 2005, that the investment of public monies by the Commission represents new or different expenditures, must have workers seeing red.

The federal government continued to invest—or, in other words, spend—the public monies from the fund to pay down the Canadian debt, which violated the spirit of the law. It clearly did not act in the interests of workers, who watched these monies—that they, with their employers, had paid to ensure themselves against economic downturns—disappear. It was the government, not this bill, that invented a new purpose for the fund and its surpluses.

Finally, adding 13 commissioners will be financed by a small increase in expenses, which will no longer appear as an expenditure from the consolidated revenue fund, given that the Conservatives recognize that the employment insurance fund will no longer be a part of the consolidated revenue fund. Since the Conservatives no longer know how to oppose an idea that they supported in the past for purely populist considerations, today they are attempting to use procedural arguments to avoid openly declaring themselves against a bill that is necessary and that contributors have demanded for many years. Only their neo-conservative ideology, hidden behind a populist facade, can justify such deplorable actions.

With that, I conclude my presentation.

Bill C-357—Employment Insurance Act
Point of Order
Routine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Peter Milliken

I thank the hon. member for his comments. I will most certainly take them into account, along with the others, when I rule on this bill.