House of Commons Hansard #12 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was documents.

Topics

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Simcoe North, ON

Madam Speaker, the young people of Canada should be concerned about the environment and the work we do that might in any way bring it under some concern.

That is exactly why for the last four years the government has continued to invest record amounts of money, working with the provinces to invest in the research that is needed to advance technologies. We know we need to use technology to come to grips with issues like greenhouse gas emissions.

We have signed onto the agreements, worldwide, from Copenhagen. We will ensure that environmental protection continues to be a standard that will be in place as we grow and create opportunities for young people. The two have to be dealt with at the same time.

This is a government that has expanded parks and has a record of cleaning up lakes. It has taken the investments that are needed to actually make concrete interventions to improve Canada's environment.

We will stay on that track, but we also have to work with our partners in municipalities and provinces to ensure regulations are strong but also workable.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:25 p.m.

Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles
Québec

Conservative

Daniel Petit Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to be in the House today. I sincerely believe that the Speech from the Throne and budget 2010 are mindful of Quebec, as they are of all the other provinces and all the territories in this great country.

The Speech from the Throne lays out the government’s broad priorities—priorities that are faithful to Canadian values and that focus on what is most important to Canadians.

The budget sends a clear message: Canada has returned to economic growth following the deepest recession since the 1930s. This budget aims to contribute to this recovery and sustain Canada’s economic advantage. To do that, the budget contains measures in three broad areas. I am going to review them, because it is useful to reiterate them.

First, under year 2 of Canada’s economic action plan, the budget provides for federal stimulus measures totalling $19 billion, complemented by $6 billion from provinces, territories, municipalities and other partners.

Second, the budget invests in a limited number of new, targeted initiatives to create jobs and stimulate economic growth for tomorrow. The budget is based on innovation and makes Canada a destination of choice for businesses wanting to make new investments. This will all have tangible effects on Canada as a whole, including Quebec.

Third, budget 2010 provides for a three-point plan that will bring Canada’s finances back to balance after the economic recovery.

The priorities of this government focus not only on every province and every territory, but on every Canadian. This is particularly true when it comes to the environment, in areas that are of concern to Canadians, like water pollution, protecting wildlife and plant life, and, of course, climate change.

The government’s position on the environment is very clear: we are going to find a balance between economic priorities and environmental priorities. We are going to be proactive in our stewardship of our spectacular natural treasures, and we will preserve them so we can pass them down to future generations.

Budget 2010 provides for over $190 million in new measures to support a cleaner, more sustainable environment and to continue to achieve Canada’s climate change objectives.

Among those measures are the following.

A $100 million investment over four years to support clean energy generation in Canada’s forestry sector, through the next generation renewable power initiative. This investment will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by developing, marketing and implementing new clean energy technologies in the forestry sector, including biofuels, renewable electrical power and chemicals from forest biomass.

Eligibility for accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment will be expanded to include heat recovery equipment and distribution equipment.

Sixteen million dollars over two years to continue to implement the government’s action plan to protect the Great Lakes by cleaning up areas where the environment has suffered the most degradation.

Thirty-eight million dollars over two years for Canada’s invasive alien species strategy to reduce the risk of invasive animal and plant species flourishing in Canada.

Up to $11.4 million over two years to deliver meteorological services and navigation services in the north, to meet Canada’s commitments to the International Maritime Organization.

Height million dollars over two years to support community-based environmental monitoring, reporting and data collection in the north.

Also, $18.4 million over two years for the preparation of the government's annual reports on key environmental indicators, such as air and water cleanliness and greenhouse gas emissions.

These new resources build on the sustained investment that began with Canada's economic action plan to make our economy more viable and strengthen Canada's position as a clean energy superpower. This investment includes the following.

One billion dollars over five years for the clean energy fund. This fund supports research and development for clean energy systems and demonstration projects, including carbon capture and storage initiatives.

One billion dollars over five years for the green infrastructure fund. This fund is intended to support priorities such as the production and transportation of sustainable energy and carbon transmission and storage infrastructure.

Three hundred and eighty million dollars allocated exclusively to the ecoenergy retrofit—homes program, which encourages Canadians to make their homes more energy efficient.

In 2009, the government also allocated $1 billion over three years to the pulp and paper green transformation program. This program provides incentives for pulp and paper mills to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and become leaders in the production of renewable energy from biomass.

We understand very well that the growing exploitation of our resources requires us to make more enlightened environmental choices than ever before. We are therefore committed to take effective international measures to fight climate change.

The Copenhagen agreement was a big step forward. It laid the groundwork needed to get all the major greenhouse gas emitters to act to reduce their emissions.

The agreement represents a turning point for Canada and for all the other countries committed to implementing it effectively. It is the first detailed global agreement on climate change. It is the first global agreement under which the principal greenhouse gas emitting countries quantified their commitment to reduce their emissions. They include the United States, China and India.

We have to work to turn these political commitments into a binding treaty. This will be the focus of the negotiations this year. To advance these negotiations, Canada will pursue its active and constructive dialogue with its national, continental and international partners.

As stated in the throne speech, we will also honour the financial commitments we made under the agreement. Canada will release funds to help developing economies reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change. Canada's Minister of the Environment is holding talks with our international partners to establish the level of contribution per country.

Our desire to harmonize our climate change policy with that of the United States goes well beyond greenhouse gas reduction targets. We must continue to push for a process that would coordinate our respective regulations. Close collaboration has thus far led to excellent progress in the automobile, marine, aviation and biofuel sectors. However, we still have more work to do.

Our approach to climate change is based on rigorous science. As we are all aware, this year is the International Year of Biodiversity, which is a fitting opportunity to reflect on our rich natural heritage and our duty to protect it. It would be remiss of me not to mention it. Canada is a leader on the international stage when it comes to biodiversity. We were the first industrialized country to ratify the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

Our government has invested significantly in biodiversity. From Darkwoods in British Columbia to the ecosystem in the greater Nahanni area of the Northwest Territories to Deep Cove, Nova Scotia and many other places in Canada, the government has taken measures to protect more than 100 million hectares of land—almost 10% of Canada's land mass—and 3 million hectares of ocean.

We have dedicated $275 million over five years to measures related to species at risk. We have also invested $225 million in conservation programs for natural areas. This investment played an important role in acquiring 122,000 hectares to protect the habitat of 79 species at risk. We invested $5 million in working with provincial and federal partners in order to find a solution to the issue of invasive alien species that are threatening the native fauna and flora.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Madam Speaker, you must be as shocked and surprised as I am to listen to the litany and recounting of information, I guess propaganda would be a more impolite term, of what the government members opposite have been delivering.

Can anyone imagine, in an environment where we have seen all of the institutions of Canada being dismantled one by one, where we have seen the economy fall apart over the course of the last 24 months, where we have seen one person after another lose their jobs, where factories have been closing one by one, where the forestry sector has been collapsing mill by mill, where the mining sector alone has been able to survive and where the fishing and agri-production centres have been collapsing, that the members opposite come forward and shamelessly recount all of the great things they have done?

They seem to have forgotten. The parliamentary secretary is part of a government that has increased the national debt by $100 billion. Every Canadian is now on the hook for $3,000. It has increased the deficit by $53 billion over the course of a year, another $2,000 for every man, woman and child, and he sits here recounting the great glories of his government.

When will he be embarrassed enough to say, “I apologize”?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened to my colleague, but I did not understand the question. He did not ask one.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I want to deal with the government's shift of the taxation in this country from corporations to ordinary Canadians. When the government is finished, ordinary Canadians will be paying more than four times in taxes what corporations are paying.

We see here basically a race to the bottom. We have corporate taxes going from 40% down to 15%, when the American tax rate is still 35%. Why do we need to be so much lower than the Americans? We have Nordic countries that have corporate taxes in the 50% range and they are doing just fine.

No better sources than Statistics Canada and Finance Canada, which have said that business spending on machinery and equipment have declined as a share of GDP and that total business investment spending has declined as a percentage of corporate cash flow.

We also know that IT use by Canadian business is only half of what it is in the United States.

Where is the proof that these corporate tax reductions will work?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. I want to point out that the Conservative Party has been through two extremely difficult recessions. We had year one of Canada's economic action plan and we are starting year two. But this member and his party voted against workers. In my province, his vote counts. He voted against workers in Quebec, against unemployed workers in Quebec, against all of the tax cuts we have in Quebec. That is the problem. The Conservatives are not working only for Conservatives; we are working for the Liberals, the Bloc Québécois and the NDP.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I could not help but listen to some of the questions going to my colleague who just gave a wonderful and excellent speech.

I was wondering if he could take a moment to explain for the member opposite, who was part of the coalition, how important it is to keep taxes low for corporations, because corporations do create jobs and stimulus to the economy and we are competing around the world. Could he explain for the member how it actually works?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The hon. member has 15 seconds to respond.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Daniel Petit Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question.

When there are corporate tax cuts, new jobs are created. That is common knowledge.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Charlottetown.

l am honoured to stand today to pay tribute to the people of Etobicoke North and to respond to the Speech from the Throne, the speech to provide the government's vision for the country, to set out its broad goals and directions and the programs it will undertake to accomplish those goals.

The speech should rejoice in Canada's history, build on our country's great spirit, our core values, what we stand for and why we exist, reaffirm our timeless purpose, passed from generation to generation, and should set the course for a greater future.

The speech should create opportunities for families: the opportunity for a first-class education; an excellent health care system when people need it most; the chance to get a fulfilling job; and the ability to contribute. It should provide care for society's most vulnerable: our children; those who suffer from brain disease, such as ALS, MS or dementia; and our aboriginal citizens. We must commit to closing the gap in a generation.

Governing means creating opportunities for every Canadian and not merely administrating. Where is the government's fierce resolve to do whatever it takes to dream of the future Canadians want and deserve, while addressing the tough decisions we face about our growing deficit, our warming climate and the future of our health care system, all of which will have an impact on future generations?

Where is the understanding that in building Canada's future, tackling climate change for example, there will not be one single defining action, one technological fix or one miracle moment? Rather, real action will require relentless steps in one direction: energy efficiency, transportation changes, personal responsibility and building greater momentum.

I would like to mention a case to highlight vision and catalytic policy to stimulate progress. For the next few minutes I will highlight the vision of His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia who is transforming education and modernizing the business environment to become one of the top 10 most competitive countries in the world. Before I continue, I appreciate the differences in our society and our economy but it is the vision we must learn from.

When the kingdom was established in 1932, education was available to very few people, mostly the children of wealthy families living in the major cities. Today, however, there are 25,000 schools, 11 universities, with an astonishing 22 more currently being built. Female students make up a little over half of the nearly five million Saudi school and university students.

Most recently in 2009, over 3,000 dignitaries from around the world attended the official inauguration of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST. It came with an endowment of $10 billion and aims to be one of the world's great institutions of research, with partnerships with 27 universities, including Caltech, Harvard and Stanford in the United States, and Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College in the United Kingdom.

Government ministries, private companies, investors and the Saudi public all repeat the mantra of the 10x10 vision. Consequently, Saudi Arabia has shown significant improvements in the World Bank's Doing Business rankings over the last five years, leaping from 67th position in 2004 to 38th in 2006, 16th in 2007 and to 13th in 2009, ahead of advanced economies such as France, Germany, Japan and Switzerland.

The kingdom's exception performance and membership in the World Trade Organization has been driven by the vision of His Majesty.

In 2006, the Global Competitiveness Forum, an annual meeting of top business leaders, international political leaders and selected intellectuals and journalists, was founded. It is the premier event on the road to the World Economic Forum's Davos meeting.

The kingdom has actively encouraged domestic and foreign investment in the country, created new ministries and the National Competitiveness Centre, established the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority and privatized companies.

Canada must dream and dream big. In the past, Canadians built a country-wide railway system, they fought in World War I and World War II and they travelled to space. And remember the Allies gave 2% of GDP to rebuild Europe.

We have to negotiate for our children who are not here. We have to accept moral responsibility. With every tough decision, we must ask if this is something our children would be proud of.

As someone who taught at a business school, I understand that we must slay our country's biggest deficit in history, $56 billion. We must confront this brutal fact while retaining unwavering faith that we will prevail in the end.

However we cannot do it by destroying what makes us Canadian and in some cases uniquely Canadian. Let me take health care for example. Worldwide, we are now seeing major movement between public and private financing. Countries with a public financing scheme are trying to discover what the private sector might have to offer. Countries with the private sector, like Australia and the U.S., are looking to the public sector for advantages.

Today Canadian health care is at a crossroads. We must fix the system that served us so well for many years. We cannot let it slip away.

Thankfully, making improvements does not necessarily require higher spending. If we look at hospital costs across 10 OECD countries, we see wide variations. If unit costs could be reduced to the level of the best performers, average costs could potentially be reduced between 5% and 48%.

Opportunities for cost reduction include more emphasis on preventive medicine and the social determinants of health, such as early detection visits and mammograms. We know that diseases are cheaper to treat if they are caught earlier.

There are opportunities for better coordination. Problems can happen throughout health systems but most particularly at the barrier between primary, specialist, acute and long-term care. This is recognizing of course that we have a federal-provincial system.

There are opportunities to reduce drug spending. For OECD countries, drug spending is annually increasing at 5.7%, outstripping growth for other types of health care and GDP.

While we work to meet this challenge, a tectonic shift is taking place in medicine. For the average patient the movement is subtle, but ultimately it will affect the entire landscape of health care.

Genomics will allow tomorrow's physician to predict in utero or at birth what major diseases a person is likely to develop. Vaccines will be created specifically to treat an individual person's cancer. Stem cells will be used to regenerate a specific tissue lost to disease or trauma. I have seen heart cells beat in a petri dish. They will be used to repair the heart after a heart attack.

I know stem cells are scary for some people, but they have to understand that stem cells can be taken from adults. As an adult I can choose to take adult stem cells from my hip bone.

Medical information will be digitized and instantly available. Medicine will become safer.

I left a job I loved to run for elected office because I believed and still believe today that it is the job of government to make life better for Canadians today and to have a dream to build for a better tomorrow.

What I wanted to see in the throne speech was real vision for the future. It was not there. I wanted acknowledgement of our immense challenges, our aging baby-boomers entering their high demand period for health care, a recognized problem worldwide.

Today one in three, or ten million, Canadians will be affected by neurological or psychiatric disorder or injury at some point in their lives. Brain disorders and injuries will become a leading cause of disease in the next 20 years.

I want to see our current challenges and our future challenges laid out frankly and honestly with a plan to take action in the short term and in the long term.

Most of all I wanted to see promise, building hope for a better future by taking the right steps now. That means not only reducing the deficit, but building the social safety net now and in the future, as this side of the House was able to do in the 1990s.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Oshawa
Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Madam Speaker, I must say that I was actually shocked at the member's example bringing forth the vision of King Abdullah and maybe comparing that to how the Liberal Party would like to see Canada.

We are talking about Saudi Arabia, where women's rights are pretty much non-existent, there is no democracy, a fair justice system is lacking and health care is for the rich.

I have listened to the Leader of the Opposition's speech in response to the Speech from the Throne. There was absolutely no vision. There was nothing. It was vacuous speech. I was wondering if that is what the hon. member is putting forth. Is that the vision of the Liberal Party for Canada, that Canada should be more like Saudi Arabia? Is that what she is saying?

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, absolutely not. I was highlighting that Saudi Arabia had a vision for its people to build for education, to build for a better tomorrow. How could any country go from 67th position in the world economy, back in 2004, to rank at 13th by 2010, with the goal of being in the top 10? They have done it by inviting Harvard University professor Michael Porter to come and consult with the government. Now their companies are having growth of 6,000% and 8,000%. It was simply to highlight that we need vision, and in this example I used a vision for health.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, the government continues to shift taxes from businesses to working people. For an example we only have to look to the harmonized sales tax in Ontario and in British Columbia, which will take effect this summer.

The government also intends to rely on personal income tax for more than four times as large a share of its revenue in the future as the contribution from corporate income tax. In other words, ordinary Canadians will pay four times more in personal income tax than businesses will pay in corporate tax.

It is important to note that wealthy Canadians receive a large portion of their income in the form of stock options, equity, dividends and profits. Corporate tax cuts actually increase their incomes. Furthermore, that income is taxed at a lower rate than the income of the average worker.

I would like to ask the member how this is fair to working people.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for the question. I think that is a question for the other side of the House.

My concern is certainly that we in the Liberal Party would like to see a focus on more money for Canadians who have low incomes. We would like to see child health care. We would like to see a focus on our seniors.

Where was the investment in our seniors? Population aging has tremendous implications for Canada, where most elderly people would not be able to meet more than a small fraction of the cost of the health care they incur. The average hospital stay for our seniors costs $7,000, and that does not take into account emergency and cardiac care.

Where was the investment in prevention? We know what the global risks to heath are. They are high blood pressure, tobacco use, high blood glucose, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity. These factors are responsible for the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

We know that reducing these risk factors along with alcohol use and cholesterol, and increasing our fruit and vegetable intake, will increase global longevity by about five years.

Resumption of Debate on Address in Reply
Speech from the Throne

1:55 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

Resuming debate, could I ask for a little order, please, out of respect for the members of Parliament who are speaking? I know this is collegial conversation, but the noise level does go up.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Charlottetown may start his comments.