House of Commons Hansard #24 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to join the debate on Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill. Ten minutes is not long enough to address the 880 page document, a document so omnibus it makes one wonder if there could ever be enough allotted time for that debate.

Last month, I debated the government's wasteful expenditures and I spoke to the shortcomings of the budget: the lack of a job creation strategy; no investment in early childhood development; no national child care plan; no affordable housing strategy; no pension reform; no national vision or legacy; and after having invested $50 billion in infrastructure spending, no real jobs. The bottom line is there are no real benefits for Canadians and nothing has changed.

Bill C-9 would do nothing to address these concerns. In fact, it confuses the matter even more. What is worse is the underhanded and sneaky insertion of amendments that deserve their own independent worthy consideration and their own debate.

Instead of dealing with the real problems facing Canadians, the Conservatives are ignoring the cries for job growth and job creation. Over 300,000 Canadian jobs have been lost and Canadians remain out of work. The budget offered no solution to compensate for lost jobs or for the 8% of Canadians who are unemployed, or a staggering 11% of Mississaugans. To inflict further pain, the Conservatives will impose a $3 billion job-killing small business tax. Even the CFIB reported that this measure would kill more than 200,000 jobs.

Today, however, I want to concentrate on the government's underhanded tactic of inserting amendments into the bill. Let us be clear. These amendments are not sellable as orders in council or regulation changes. These proposed changes merit their own introduction and their own debate.

As the Liberal critic for crown corporations, I would like to focus on part 15 of this omnibus bill. The Conservatives' steps taken toward the deregulation and the privatization of our crown corporations are vivid and they are clear. I quote from part 15:

The exclusive privilege referred to in subsection 14(1) does not apply to letters intended for delivery to an addressee outside Canada.

This would not be the first time that we have seen an amendment to the Canada Post Act. It is not even the second. It is the third time. Since 2007, the Conservative government has been unsuccessful in trying to pass the same bill that would eliminate Canada Post's exclusive privilege, the first step toward deregulation of an $80 million industry.

At least the first two times, the bills were given their fair share of independent debate, but never passed second reading. The unexpected election of 2008 put an end to Bill C-14. Six months into the next session the government introduced Bill C-44, with the exact same wording. The unexpected prorogation put an end to that bill as well. Once in 2007, again in 2009 and now most recently in 2010, the Conservatives seem transfixed on the road to deregulation.

My colleagues from Hamilton Mountain and Elmwood—Transcona have misspoken the facts. My party has never introduced legislation on remailers. They should do their homework and stop misleading Canadians. They have misinformed Canadians on at least two occasions and I want to correct the record.

The Conservatives, however, continue to fight dirty with trickery, chicanery and underhanded tactics probably hoping people will not notice. Well people have noticed. Canadians have noticed. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers, CUPW, has noticed. It too knows the drill. When such a large and omnibus bill is tabled, there are many issues that do not get a full and proper debate. I quote from a CUPW release:

It appears that the federal government has grown impatient with the democratic debate that accompanied earlier bills and is attempting to ram deregulation of international letters through Parliament by attaching it to a budgetary bill.

That sums it up. The federal government has grown impatient. It is ignoring the democratic debate process and ramming the deregulation of our crown corporations down the throats of Canadians. The government has lost touch with Canadians.

As the Conservative agenda continues to push for deregulation and privatization, it threatens Canada Post's ability to provide affordable, accessible and universal services for residents across Canada. In 2004 the Ontario Superior Court ruled that Canada Post had the legal right to exclusive privilege of both domestic and international mail.

Canadians still value a stamped and sealed envelope which carries strong sentimental messages for their most special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, funerals or other holiday occasions. Canadians value the affordability as well of our postal system. Our country has one of the lowest basic letter rates, at 54¢ per stamp, whereas the U.K., Japan and Germany charge 70¢, 80¢ and 90¢ respectively.

What do the countries with the higher rates have in common? Each one of those countries have deregulated its postal industries.

As the Conservatives continue to push for privatizing parts of Canada Post, they also threaten the delivery to higher cost regions, such as remote and rural areas. With the one price policy, Canadians know that sending a basic letter from Ottawa to Montreal is the same as sending a letter from Halifax to Vancouver, from Iqaluit to Point Pelee.

However, Canada Post reports that the reserve market of letter mail, representing nearly half the company's revenue, is steadily declining. The parcel industry alone reached $10 billion. Canada Post holds 12% of that market. Canada Post boasts the capacity to be a major leader in direct marketing, but now it only maintains close to 10% of this growing industry.

Even in the international remailing market, Canada Post stands to lose $40 million to $80 million. This lost opportunity is one the government should not give up on. However, with the Conservatives when trouble looms, privatize. Privatization is their motto.

In July 2006 the minister responsible for Canada Post at the time stated in a letter to CUPW:

The activities of international remailers cost Canada Post millions of dollars each year and erodes the Corporation's ability to maintain a healthy national postal service and provide universal service to all Canadians.

Since then, that has changed. In 2007 the Conservatives tabled Bill C-14 to modify the exclusive privilege of Canada Post Corporation so as to permit letter exporters to collect letters for transmittal and delivery outside Canada. Inserting an amendment to Canada Post Act in the budget is underhanded and blatant trickery. This is another example of the Conservative Party's iron curtain of transparency at its best. The week Bill C-9 was introduced was a bad week for Canada Post and a bad week for Canadians.

The Conservatives' attempts to deregulate and privatization did not stop with this sneaky Canada Post amendment. In the same week they announced the slashing of 300 Canadian jobs in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Antigonish, Fredericton and Ottawa. The jobs come at the expense of privatizing Canada Post's call centres. The call centres will obviously be outsourced to overseas markets. This guarantees 300 Canadian jobs lost as a result of this announcement.

Union after union complains that the Conservatives do not care. Again, when trouble looms, they privatize. Public Service Alliance of Canada spokeswoman Janet May told CBC News that “the changes are part of a broader effort by Canada Post management to move the company further toward complete privatization”.

In a press release the other week, PSAC, the largest union of its kind said:

Canada Post is in its 15th year of profit...“So to an average Canadian, does it make sense that part of your postal system is getting privatized?”

No, it does not and PSAC is correct. It goes on:

The union said it also worries about the loss of people's privacy if they have to offer up personal information to a private company—especially if the call-centre work is outsourced to a U.S. company.

The list of opponents to the deregulation and privatization goes further. There are other groups that are impacted as well. Organizations representing the blind are concerned. Right now Canada Post offers free mailing of Braille documents and sound recordings. Opening up the market to unfair and unlevel competition would inevitably result in slashing services in order to compete. Senior citizens on fixed incomes need to know that they have reliable access to affordable mail services to suit their needs. Canadians everywhere depend on universal access to reliable postal service.

If it is necessary to radically alter a fundamentally Canadian industry owned by our taxpayers our, citizens deserve a full committee analysis before the current government potentially deprives so many residents. Canada Post can rightfully claim to be one of Canada's most trusted brands in Canada and its services have connected our expansive land. Canada Post must serve all Canadians, regardless of economic ability or geographic location, ensuring that all citizens are valued and have an equal opportunity to the services that the state provides.

The Conservatives have created a slippery slope that threatens this very premise.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to hear the Liberal member is firmly onside in opposing the deregulation of Canada Post. I do take issue with the fact that she suggested that I had said the Liberals introduced a bill to do the same thing. I said no such thing yesterday. I did suggest that the notion of starting down this partial deregulation did start with the Liberal caucus when it was in government, and I stand by those comments.

The Liberal member for Mississauga—Streetsville spoke about her opposition to the changes to Canada Post. Could she assure me that she and all of her Liberal caucus colleagues will be here when we vote against the budget? The only way to stand up against something in the House is to be in our seats to vote against it.

The three opposition parties obviously have enough members to defeat this budget. If she really believes the changes to Canada Post must be defeated, could she tell the House today that she and all of her Liberal colleagues will be here on the day of the budget vote to defeat it?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am quite certain I was present for the debate when the member for Hamilton Mountain stated correctly into the record that a previous Liberal minister had introduced the bill on remailers. I wanted to correct that statement.

I am in no position to take any lectures from the member on voting against a budget that I oppose. Certainly, the NDP was responsible for bringing down the Paul Martin government. As a result, we do not have national child care. We do not have the initiatives on Kelowna or Kyoto because the NDP did not support the Paul Martin government.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I applaud my colleague's intervention and the very clear and eloquent fashion in which she pointed out some of the deficiencies of the bill. It goes beyond sneaky that the government would place its agenda in a bill that is 880 pages long and not its vision, as my colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville has rightly pointed out.

There is no vision, no sense of purpose and no sense of direction. There is no purpose to government in that 880 page document. It is a cut and slash, privatize, eliminate government from the life of Canadians type of document. There is very little there that one could say represents a step toward the future or a step toward a more expansive Canada, one where citizens and communities take care of each other and develop a format or procedure whereby individuals and government interact. There is none of that at all.

However, we are immediately going to have government members saying that we voted for this, that it is in the budget, that it is in the book. Remember that humourous little skit “It's in the book? I do not know whether it can tell us where it sees a vision of Canada in those 880 pages. What line would it refer to? Where in that book do we find protection for Canadian jobs, for stimulating Canadian jobs and for providing a future for Canadians?

Maybe my colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville can tell us whether that is empty rhetoric and garbage in that 880 pages or whether it is a document worthy of any consideration.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Bonnie Crombie Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would concur. It is absolutely 880 pages of empty rhetoric. There is no investment in jobs. There are no jobs, no job creation, no protection for the jobs of today and no creation of the jobs of tomorrow. There are no investments in education, national child care, R and D, innovation or employment insurance. There is no lasting vision or legacy.

We will have nothing to show for $50 billion in infrastructure spending that is lasting. That is even if we are certain that $50 billion will have been invested at the end of the day. We all know the stories about the lapsed money, the money that is committed but is never actually spent or sent out.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I have two points of order. First, I will go to the chief government whip on his point of order.

Business of the House
Government Orders

April 13th, 2010 / 4:35 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practices of the House, during the debate tonight on the motion to concur in the first report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, the Chair shall not receive any quorum calls, dilatory motions, or requests for unanimous consent; at the end of the time remaining for the debate, or when no member rises to speak, all questions necessary to dispose of the motion be deemed put and a recorded division be deemed requested.

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Eglinton--Lawrence on a point of order.

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, members in this place often get carried away with the intensity of debate, but I know that my colleague from Mississauga—Streetsville probably wanted to put a cap on everything that she said by saying that this is a government of squandering and spending and tax--

Business of the House
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The hon. member has been a member of this House longer than I have and I know that is not a point of order, but a continuance of debate.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant.