House of Commons Hansard #56 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was post.

Topics

Fishing Industry
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Madam Speaker, the second petition is also from dozens of Canadians right across Canada who draw the attention of the House of Commons to the fact that nine million sockeye salmon have disappeared during the summer's migration to the Fraser River, the lowest return in 50 years; that this crisis is similar in magnitude to the collapse of the Atlantic cod stocks; and that the Conservative Party promised in its 2006 platform to establish an independent judicial inquiry to determine the cause of the collapse of the sockeye salmon stocks on the Fraser River and has not yet delivered on its promise.

The petitioners urgently call upon the government to establish an independent judicial inquiry under the federal Inquiries Act that would fully explore all the facts, consult with scientists and stakeholders to determine what went wrong with this year's sockeye run and present a public report with findings and solutions within six months.

Guaranteed Income Supplement
Petitions
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to present a petition signed by people in Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie who feel that Bill C-516, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (application for supplement, retroactive payments and other amendments), which was introduced in the House of Commons on April 22, 2010, would correct the many problems associated with the guaranteed income supplement by increasing the amount of the supplement by $110 a month.

This is an important issue for seniors in my riding, and I am happy to present this petition.

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

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

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Ms. Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Questions on the Order Paper
Routine Proceedings

12:10 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 2.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker Denise Savoie

The parliamentary secretary had been speaking. Questions and comments. The hon. member for Mississauga South.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, Bill C-9 includes provisions that would change the laws of the land with regard to the environment.

Bill C-9 would pre-empt the five-year review that we were going to do of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It also would allow the minister to dictate the scope of environmental assessments rather than allowing for the normal assessment process. It also would weaken the participation of the public in efforts to protect our environment.

Would the hon. member advise the House why he believes this weakening of our environmental laws in Canada is in the public interest?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Madam Speaker, obviously this government has worked very effectively on strengthening Canada's environmental protection.

I was part of the environment committee that completed a review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The member may not be aware of this, but that bill, under the previous Liberal government, was completely ineffective because of all the red tape and it was refined.

I am told now that President Obama is looking at the effective regulation in this country as a way to build environmental protection in the United States. That is our record.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, going around northern Ontario the past week or two, it is very clear that the mining sector is pleased with what this government is doing. They are concerned that they are not getting the support from MPs in other parts of northern Ontario.

I just want to ask the parliamentary secretary, who I co-chair the mining caucus with, if he can tell us what some of the specific things in this great bill would do for that mining sector and how we can help that important sector out in northern Ontario despite the lack of support from the members of Parliament across northern Ontario outside the great Kenora riding.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:10 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

That is a great question. Obviously, Madam Speaker, we have done an awful lot for the mining sector, more than any government in recent history.

Of course, we have stimulated the mining industry by extending the mining exploration tax credit. We brought in a CCA writedown so they can depreciate their equipment faster. We have reduced the corporate tax rates, which are a tax on jobs. We have extended the super flow through for prospecting and developing across this country. We have eliminated tariffs on the importation of equipment needed for the mining sector.

The government is standing four-square behind the mining sector, and the NDP members, especially the ones from northern Ontario, which has some of the premier mining constituencies in the world, are holding up the bill, a bill that helps the mining sector. I cannot square it. It does not make a lot of sense.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate at third reading on Bill C-9.

This is the budget implementation bill. Canadians would think that the budget implementation bill deals with items that were in the budget and in the throne speech. That is not exactly true. In fact, it is the basis of concern of a lot of parliamentarians and Canadians that buried in the budget implementation bill are a substantial number of significant items that have just been added to it. What the government has done, in fact, is to avoid its obligation to be accountable, to be open, to be transparent.

I remember giving a speech to a parliamentary forum in which I tried to define accountability. I try to apply this in most of the work that I see in the House, to see whether accountability has been achieved. I define accountability to say that one is accountable when one has explained or justified one's decisions or actions in a manner that is true, full and plain.

I do not believe the government has been accountable in Bill C-9. The budget implementation bill is really an omnibus bill, because it includes in it changes to an awful lot of pieces of legislation and acts in Canada that were never included in the throne speech, the budget speech, or in fact, in the budget document itself.

Why would the government do that? In my view, it is to seek to be unaccountable, to be less than transparent, to be less than open--

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

An hon. member

Do you remember how to do it?

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Paul Szabo Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, the member knows I am the runner-up this year, so I am going to get a chance to get my speech.

But I congratulate him on the honour that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance received this week. He has a good speaking voice, too.

In any event, in this bill we know there are some items that were not pre-disclosed. It is an 880-page bill.

That bill went to committee, but if that bill includes a number of items that are not included or not part of the mandate or the discipline of the members who are at that committee, how could they possibly give it the due diligence? How could they possibly give it the attention? It is like having a dozen serious, detailed pieces of legislation all put into one bill and treating it as if it were one. That means the whole process of second reading, referral to committee and hearing of witnesses, report stage, third reading, all of these things, are done once. Yet in the budget implementation bill, there are items that in themselves could have been a separate bill and would have required substantial debate within the House at second reading, substantial review and due diligence activity at committee to ask the tough questions of the government, as well as the making of amendments at report stage, and then, of course, the rest of the legislative process.

The government has preempted that. It has preempted that process by including these pieces of legislation.

One of the big changes we have, as I referred to in a question earlier, is significant changes to the rules, the laws of Canada, as they relate to environmental assessments. Our environment committee would have liked to have had an opportunity to call experts and Canadians and to promote public participation in terms of significant environmental issues. Buried in Bill C-9 are provisions that would preempt the five-year review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

That is a legislative review. It is something that we do very often.

As a matter fact, I have one coming to my ethics committee, hopefully early in the fall. It is a legislated, mandated review of the Lobbying Act.

These are important pieces of legislation and they are to be reviewed to ensure that they continue to provide the representation of the public interest.

Bill C-9 also allows the minister to dictate the scope of environmental assessments. It leaves it up to the minister, delegated authority, effectively, that the minister can truncate the scope of work that would be done. Environmental assessments are done because Canadians have said we need to know what will be the consequences of a variety of initiatives or projects that may take place.

This now gives the authority to the minister to limit the scope and the number of environmental assessments that will take place. Does it paint a picture? It is going to weaken the public participation.

We always talk about the importance of representing our constituents. Yet the government, through this ploy of an omnibus bill and throwing this in and not allowing the full amount of debate, has destroyed the opportunities that Canadians have to deal with important issues such as the environment.

The government does not have the environment as a priority. It thought that Kyoto was a socialist plot trying to transfer money from the rich to the poor. It embarrassed us at Copenhagen. It has no priorities and no plan on the environment, yet it is going further to weaken the legislative tools and the rights of Canadians with regard the provisions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

That is not accountable. By burying it in this bill, it is not transparent. It is not plain, it is not open, it is not clear, it is not concise, it is not correct. It is wrong. The government boasts about accountability but does it with its fingers crossed behind its back. It does not want to be accountable.

As a matter of fact, the government is even ordering witnesses not to appear before committees, who have been summoned under the law to appear before those committees. It is telling them not to appear, because it does not want the committee and Canadians to hear what witnesses have to say about the obstruction of the Government of Canada in terms of the release of public information under the Access to Information Act.

Is that accountability? No. It is not accountable. In fact, it is promoting secrecy. It is promoting, “I'm doing it our way and we are not going to tell anybody anything”. This is the kind of attitude that the government has shown.

There are many other examples. We have Canada Post Corporation. One of the changes that is going to happen as a consequence of Bill C-9 is that buried in it is a little clause that is going to change the Canada Post Corporation Act to say that the exclusive privilege referred to in subsection 14(1), which is the privilege of Canada Post to collect and deliver the mail, does not apply to letters intended for delivery to an addressee outside of Canada.

Can we imagine the impact of that? Can we fathom the reason that the government would bury this amendment in a budget implementation bill?

Is there more? Of course there is.

How about Atomic Energy of Canada Limited? Its offices are located in the Sheridan Park research centre, a couple of hundred yards behind my home. It employs a very large number of engineers, technicians and experts. They work on projects, whether they be related to Candu or other reactors where we are dealing with the production of medical isotopes or whatever. Somehow the government believes it can take pieces out of AECL; it can privatize it; it can sell it off.

We do not have the confidence. The government is saying by this bill and how it has handled AECL that it does not care about AECL anymore. It does not care about how we are going to provide for medical isotopes. It does not care about the reputation of the extraordinary technological knowledge, experience and expertise we have in Candu reactors and AECL's future.

All the government cares about is that it can sell off an asset and get some capital injected by someone else, not by the government. Why? It is because it has destroyed the fiscal position of the country.

The Conservative government inherited a $13 billion surplus from the prior government in 2006, and now it has driven it down to a $50 billion deficit. It is going to go higher and unemployment is still going to go higher, notwithstanding the recent reports.

This is a government that is scrambling with the lamest of approaches to try to capitalize on asset sales or on disposing of other rights or authorities of the government, passing on future profits for cash today so that it can say it is getting the deficit down.

The bill should be defeated because the government has not been accountable.

Jobs and Economic Growth Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I thank the House for allowing me the opportunity to show my shock at some of the comments, as I stated in the House earlier today, that are completely fact-free.

I know the hon. member is very active on committees, and I congratulate him on being elected by his colleagues in this House as the second hardest working member of Parliament, but he does not have the privilege of sitting on the finance committee where we heard from over 50 witnesses who talked about the benefits that are in this legislation.

However, I do know that he has had the privilege of sitting in many Parliaments before, so I would assume that he supported many budgets because his government put them forward. One example is Bill C-43 in 2005. It actually impacted more federal acts than this legislation, such as the Auditor General Act, the Asia-Pacific act, the Broadcasting Act, additional payments to the maritime provinces and Canadian environmental protection. I am sorry but there are just too many to mention them all.

I have a list of budget bills that the member sat through that were far deeper and far more omnibus, if he wants to use that word, so how does he justify complaining about this bill?