House of Commons Hansard #15 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was industry.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Manufacturing and Forestry
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord.

It is my duty to rise today to address the situation in the manufacturing and forestry sectors. In my country, Quebec, these sectors are going through a serious crisis. In my area and in my riding of Gatineau, in the Outaouais region, we can feel their pain.

At the Domtar plant located in Gatineau, in the Outaouais region, there are only 70 active workers remaining to provide electric, steam and sewer services to the neighbouring Kruger plant. At the end of October, 180 out of the 250 Domtar employees were laid off. They were producing coated paper for magazines.

The union and the revitalization committee are continuing to work relentlessly to get this federal government to help the plant keep its machinery operational, so that an eventual buyer can take over and restart production, and thus, give back jobs to the papermakers who were cut loose last month. They are asking that the federal government help that plant as it did the Davie shipbuilding plant in Lauzon, near Quebec City, in the early 2000s, by keeping the machinery up to standard. That was successful over there, and the Davie Shipyard was revitalized. We wish the same for Domtar in Gatineau.

Incidentally, the Minister of Industry will meet later today with union representatives from that plant, namely Gene Hartley and Gérard Carrière, as well as myself. We will try to enlist the support of the current government in our efforts, as the workers from Davie, in Lauzon, did. I cannot imagine the Domtar plant in Gatineau shutting down completely. The 400 employees of the Kruger plant, also in Gatineau, which depends on the three services Domtar continues to provide, might also fall victim to the current crisis in the paper industry.

I think of the Bowater plant, located in my riding. This paper plant employed 1,450 workers in 1991. Today, there are only 425. Last March, 171 papermakers were laid off. As Gaston Carrière, union leader and president of Local 142 of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, pointed out, in February 2007, the multinational announced to the employees operating machine No. 3 that the machine would be temporarily idled for 30 days. One week before production was to resume, Bowater announced that machine No. 3 would be idled indefinitely.

At a press conference in June 2007, Mr. Carrière said he saw employees with 25 to 30 years of service in tears. In this case, the Conservative government's program for older workers did not pay a single cent to those individuals. It is a trumped-up program whose criteria are so strict that one would have to live on Saturn to access it.

That is the current state of the manufacturing and forestry crisis. It is extremely difficult for the workers who have been affected, as well as their family and community. The Bloc Québécois would like to play an active role in boosting these industrial sectors. This is why I support the motion put forth by my colleague, the Bloc Québécois' industry critic, the hon. member for Trois-Rivières:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should immediately establish a series of measures to help the manufacturing and forestry sectors hard hit by the rising dollar and increased competition from new players in the field of low-cost mass production, specifically including a program to support businesses that wish to update their production facilities, a series of investments and tax measures to support research and development in the industry, the re-establishment of an economic diversification program for forestry regions similar to the one that the Conservatives abolished, a review of the trade laws to better protect our companies against unfair competition, and better financial support of workers affected by the crisis in the manufacturing sector.

Like the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, the Bloc Québécois believes that by taking no action, the Conservative Party is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Here are some solutions the Bloc Québécois has come up with: support the workers hit by the crisis; create an income support program for older workers, to enable workers aged 55 to 64 who cannot be retrained and who are victims of massive layoffs to bridge the gap between employment insurance and their pension fund; make substantial improvements in the employment insurance program by increasing the accessibility period by five weeks for all regions, regardless of the unemployment rate; raise the benefit rate from 55% to 60% and base the benefit calculation on the best 12 weeks; eliminate the waiting period and reduce the minimum number of insurable hours required to qualify for benefits to 360; create financial tools to encourage companies to invest and modernize, such as a program of loans and loan guarantees to help companies modernize. These loans, which would be made available to companies at the market rate for financially healthy companies, would be especially useful to companies in financial difficulty that cannot easily borrow on private markets or have to pay a risk premium, which adds to their interest charges.

Introducing this program would mean lower interest rates for companies that are investing. While the higher dollar should let companies renew their production equipment at a low cost, they simply do not have the ready cash to invest.

As well, companies need better tax support for research, development and innovation. The government needs to expand the types of eligible expenses by including the costs of obtaining patents or the costs of training employees who are working on innovative projects.

The Research and Development Tax Credit must be made refundable so that businesses will benefit from it even though they are at the development stage and do not make any profit.

A program must be established to provide support for the production of energy and ethanol fuels using forest waste. Besides contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases, such a program would allow forest-dependent businesses to have additional revenue coming from the sale of energy and to spend less for petroleum fuel.

Fixed greenhouse gas reduction targets must quickly be set in order for a carbon credit exchange market to be established. I would like to point out that aluminum smelters and forest-dependent businesses have made important efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

Let us also think about modernizing the trade legislation to better protect businesses against unfair competition. The Canadian antidumping legislation goes back to the Cold War era and is completely outdated in the present context, particularly as we face the competition from China. It is urgent to get the Canadian trade legislation up to par with other industrialized countries, especially the United States and the European Union countries. The member for Terrebonne—Blainville has in fact introduced Bill C-411 for the benefit of all Quebecers and Canadians.

That is what the Bloc Québécois is proposing. It is proposing solutions to major problems. All that is missing now is the political will. On our side, we have the will. We raise these issues and we manage to meet with citizens suffering from crisis such as the one we are facing now, in the forestry and manufacturing sectors among others.

Opposition Motion—Manufacturing and Forestry
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, last week in the town of Cochrane, Ontario we lost the plant at Norbord, in the previous two weeks we lost Tembec Cochrane, 200 or 300 jobs, so there is a loss of about 500 jobs in a town of 5,000. That is mirrored across northern Ontario with 130 jobs lost at Weyerhaeuser Wawa OSB, jobs lost in Kenora, jobs lost in Thunder Bay, jobs lost in Atikokan. Yet what we have seen from the government is absolute, complete disinterest in the fact that we have an overheated dollar right now and it is winnowing out in a brutal fashion the industrial capacity of rural northern Ontario to be able to compete where our markets are.

I would like to ask my colleague why he thinks the government shows a disinterest that would do Marie Antoinette proud, a disinterest for any region outside the tar sands, for the regions across Canada, whether in northern Quebec or northern Ontario, that are suffering because of misplaced policies by the government which is favouring one region of this country at the direct expense of every other region based in manufacturing and forestry?

Opposition Motion—Manufacturing and Forestry
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the NDP member for his question. In fact, part of the answer is contained in his question.

At some point, we must have a broader vision of the population as a whole that is represented here in the House of Commons. It is not true that Canada relies solely on the wealth currently generated by oil companies. Favouring this industry is forgetting that there are other industries in this country and that, in Quebec as well as in Ontario and elsewhere in Canada, some industries are doing very well while others are struggling.

Only those industries that are struggling must receive help because the crisis is making them vulnerable. Day after day, new issues are brought to the fore by stakeholders as well as by industry and union representatives who propose solutions. These solutions go beyond mere tax cuts. We need tax credits to help these industries.

Opposition Motion—Manufacturing and Forestry
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege to ask a question of my Bloc colleague.

One of the interesting things that the Conservative government has done is to bring in a fee bate program against the automotive industry. This is a program which taxes vehicles, often manufactured in Canada, which may also provide a rebate for vehicles. It has not changed the trend with regard to purchasing fuel efficiency vehicles. The evidence from the automotive industry shows that.

An interesting part of this is that auto workers in Oshawa, Brantford and other parts of Ontario who are being laid off because of this situation are watching their taxpaying dollars go to companies that produce vehicles offshore. Companies based in South Korea or Japan which are flooding vehicles into Canada are receiving thousands upon thousands of dollars individually. Millions of dollars are going to those corporations that are then once again running workers in this country out of jobs.

What does my colleague think about a program that sends the tax dollars of hard-working Canadians to other countries which are then used in those countries' industries to make sure that we lose jobs over here? What does he think about that Conservative strategy?

Opposition Motion—Manufacturing and Forestry
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Nadeau Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, it has to do with what we were saying earlier. Each sector has its reality, and that reality is pretty harsh right now for the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

With regard to international trade, our laws are based on the cold war. They were adopted in another era. Today, the auto industry, the paper industry and the softwood lumber industry are in crisis. They are suffering from the short-sightedness of the current government and the fact that it does not see wealth coming from anywhere else but western Canada, Alberta and oil companies. It so happens that the wealth of a country, be it Quebec or Canada, comes from all the workers capable of working in all the existing industries.

National 4-H Month
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Mr. Speaker, November is National 4-H Month and it is time to celebrate how 4-H reaches and contributes to communities throughout New Brunswick and Canada. The 4-H program promotes and encourages the growth and potential of our greatest resource, our youth.

In 2006-07 New Brunswick alone had approximately 537 members who helped to contribute to agriculture, their communities and rural New Brunswick. From cows, to computers, to public speaking, to parliamentary procedures, the 4-H program has brought leadership and development programs to New Brunswick young people for over 90 years.

I am proud to have eight of the twenty-six provincial clubs in my riding of Tobique—Mactaquac. The 4-H motto of “Learn To Do By Doing” is the key to developing self-confidence, responsibility and leadership skills. I saw evidence of these skills at the provincial 4-H show in Fredericton when I had the honour to assist the judges at the Overall Showmanship Competition.

This month we pay tribute to this fine organization. I want to commend everyone involved for their commitment and dedication to youth and agriculture.

Agricultural Research
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Atlantic Food and Horticultural Research Centre in Kentville, Nova Scotia, is too important to Atlantic growers to lose. The research scientists in Kentville understand local growing conditions and work with local industries to overcome local challenges.

When the honeybees began to disappear, the centre worked with local blueberry growers to aid crop pollination. It works with local wine experts to create new grape varieties for Nova Scotia's colder climate. As local wine maker Bruce Ewert says, the research centre's work “is very crucial for our industry”.

The government has recently appointed a panel to review all non-regulatory research labs across the country and the future of this research centre is now unclear.

I urge the government to bring this review out into the open, to work with and listen to all local stakeholders including the growers and of course the employees of the research facilities. I urge the government to keep research for Canada's agricultural industries in the regions, and close to the producers and the commodity groups affected.

Manufacturing Sector
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Vincent Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, the corporate tax cuts announced by the federal government are not the solution to support Quebec's manufacturing industry.

The Quebec manufacturing sector, which is going through an unprecedented crisis, will not benefit from these tax cuts, since manufacturers have a hard time generating profits. Who will primarily benefit from these cuts? Once again, it will be the immensely rich oil companies.

Meanwhile, Conservative members from Quebec are on their knees before the Prime Minister, in the hope of becoming ministers or of keeping their jobs as ministers. It should be noted that in the riding represented by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, eight plants have closed down, either temporarily or permanently. The Conservatives are not doing anything about the fact that, since 2003, some 135,000 Quebec workers have lost their jobs, yet they claim to protect the Quebec nation.

The economic statement is designed for western Canada. The Bloc Québécois is the only party that really looks after the interests of Quebec in Ottawa.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
Statements By Members

November 13th, 2007 / 2 p.m.

NDP

Judy Wasylycia-Leis Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I salute the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Manitoba office, on its 10th anniversary. Last night, Stephen Lewis topped off celebrations speaking to more than 1,000 well-wishers.

For 10 years CCPA-Manitoba has been publishing high quality research that has had a real impact on the lives of people. It grew out of the work of professors Errol Black and Jim Silver who, together with Wayne Anthony, initiated the project that became CCPA-Manitoba in November 1997.

As an MP for the exact same time as this think tank has been in existence, I can testify how difficult it would be to do my job without the work of CCPA and how central it is to the pursuit of social justice. It was born at a crucial moment when consecutive Liberal and Conservative federal governments put corporate tax cuts ahead of community and equality rights.

Without the research of CCPA it would have been impossible to counter the regressive agendas of health care privatization, housing cutbacks and growing poverty. Through it the voices of the inner city and aboriginal peoples have been included in the research of today.

I congratulate Executive Director Shauna McKinnon and all members of the Manitoba CCPA.

The Gala des Lauriers de la PME
Statements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Lemieux Glengarry—Prescott—Russell, ON

Mr. Speaker, the fourth Gala des Lauriers de la PME was held here in Ottawa, on the weekend. This prestigious event, organized by the Réseau de développement économique et d'employabilité, was an opportunity to recognize the exceptional contribution of minority small and medium size francophone businesses across Canada.

As a member of Parliament and Parliamentary Secretary for Official Languages, I had the honour of attending that evening and of presenting the award for the “New Businesses” category. I was honoured to present this award to a business located in my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell. Indeed, this year's award went to Hawkesbury's Green Beaver company.

Green Beaver is a company that produces personal care products that are all natural and chemical free. Its business is not only flourishing but it is also working to better our environment and our health.

I want to congratulate the owners of Green Beaver, Alain Ménard and his wife, Karen Clark, on their achievement. They make Glengarry—Prescott—Russell proud.

Diwali and Bandi Chhorh Divas
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sukh Dhaliwal Newton—North Delta, BC

Mr. Speaker, Diwali, the Festival of Lights, and Bandi Chhorh Divas, celebrate the reaffirmation of hope, friendship and goodwill. It is about renewal and reconnecting with our loved ones, and those who mean so much to us within our communities.

These celebrations represent the way people of all faiths and all cultures come together. They signal an achievement of Canada's diversity.

I, along with other members of Parliament, had the chance to take part in these celebrations in schools, in community halls, and in places of worship across Canada.

To be among new Canadians from around the world, as well as those whose parents and grandparents put down roots here, is to see the real Canada of the future coming together.

I ask all members of this House to join me in wishing all Canadians a joyous Bandi Chhorh Divas and a happy Diwali.

Health
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, November 14 is world COPD Day. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD for short, affects 425,000 Canadians and of these sufferers the disease will take the life of 4,300 this year in Canada alone.

Since 2000, female mortality due to COPD has risen at double the rate of breast cancer. COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in this country and yet less than 50% of Canadians are even aware of this disease.

This disease is characterized by shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing and increased sputum production. Sufferers have said that it is like breathing through a straw. We know how this would affect even minor activities in life.

Sandy Lee and her colleagues at the Lung Association are asking all Canadians to wear something red tomorrow on COPD Day and, if possible, a Lung Association emblem to alert people to the dangers of COPD.

The generosity of all Canadians is needed as well because it is through donations that the Lung Association can finance the research that will bring a brighter tomorrow.

Climate Change Summit
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yves Lessard Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, on September 24, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, welcomed Catherine Gauthier, an 18 year old woman from my riding, at the climate change summit.

Ms. Gauthier addressed the 80 heads of state and told them, “The citizens of the world... will no longer tolerate elected leaders who do not act accordingly. ...I am now among the many who will vote for the climate.”

Her speech earned her congratulations from many people, including Ban Ki-moon.

Ms. Gauthier said that the absence of the Prime Minister disappointed her. “It is absurd, she said. He boasts about providing a bridge between Kyoto proponents and opponents, but he cannot be two-faced.”

Finally, she deplored the lack of action of the government, which is solely ruled by economic imperatives. “One must not forget that the economy is built on natural resources. There is a way to strike a balance between the two... and it is called sustainable development, she said.”

Congratulations to Ms. Gauthier for her wonderful sense of responsibility to humanity.

Alain Charland
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to pay tribute to Alain Charland, an exemplary citizen of Charlesbourg, who was presented the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation for his dedication to veterans.

Mr. Charland is an active member of the RCMP, Drug Section, in Quebec who gives generously of his time and talents to change the lives of veterans and to ensure that their contributions are not forgotten by future generations.

A military history buff, he has an impressive collection of old Canadian Forces uniforms, badges and clothing that he loans to various organizations for ceremonies or exhibitions, including the Royal Canadian Legion, of which he is a member. Since 1993, three old Canadian Forces vehicles restored by Mr. Charland have been used in ceremonies in Quebec and Ottawa.

Mr. Charland's dedication to members of Canada's armed forces and youth is well known in the community, where he enjoys discussing military history with them.

I wish to salute this big-hearted man.

Manufacturing Industry
Statements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

John Maloney Welland, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canadian manufacturing is struggling against a high Canadian dollar, rising energy costs and global competition. These negative impacts have been felt in the region of Niagara where the manufacturing sector has been a vital component of the local economy for decades and a primary source of employment. Its decline has led to significant and unacceptable job losses and plant closures.

I compliment the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce, representing more than 1,000 local businesses and over 26,000 employees, for its intensive study and report on manufacturing, including its recommendation that the federal government provide targeted incentives for green technology in this essential area of our economy, as well as additional funding for research and development at our post-secondary institutions.

Such initiatives will put Canada at the cutting edge of green technology, helping stabilize and revitalize the manufacturing sector, while making it more resilient and competitive.

Urgent action by the Conservative government is essential to facilitate the transition into the modern economy and globalization. Niagara residents will benefit along with all Canadians.