House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

I would ask hon. members to keep their questions and comments to one minute so that all members get a chance to raise their points.

The hon. government House leader.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, it is important to understand that what we are discussing in the bill before us is the pooled registered pension plan. There may be many other issues surrounding retirement that are worthy of discussion. Our government is interested in discussing some of those to make sure that we have a sustainable system for the long term that supports people in their retirement.

However, the issue before us is the pooled registered pension plan. We think that there is a real obligation on a political party that makes a commitment to Canadians to deliver on something to actually do that when that party is elected. We were elected to do that and we are carrying through on that commitment.

Why is it that Canadians endorse the concept of the pooled registered pension plan? Because it creates new options for people to save for their retirement. People who previously have been denied the opportunity, who perhaps do not have large employers or access to private pension plans, would now like to be able to do this.

We have often heard about problems with portability, being able to move pensions when people move from employer to employer. The pooled registered pension plan creates that portability. Even if someone goes from being self-employed to being with a small employer, there are all kinds of options. That is why this is such a tremendous vehicle for workers.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I am really disappointed. The hon. member across the way said democracy was elections. Elections are absolutely a part of a democratic process, but he forgot to mention that the other part of parliamentary democracy is for Parliament to debate. That does not mean that the governing side gets to decide on time allocation over and over again.

This is a fundamental issue that deserves a fulsome debate. Once again, the Conservatives are using bullying tactics to silence the voice of the opposition. They are using bullying tactics to silence debate in the House once again.

What are they afraid of? They have a majority and they can pass this legislation. My appeal to my colleague across the way is let the debate continue.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, we are almost halfway through this question period. I have answered a number of questions already. We are dealing with the question of the pooled registered pension plan. We are hearing about the importance of the debate. Yet not one speaker from the opposition has raised one issue, one question or referred in any substantial way to what pooled registered pension plans are and what they will do for Canadians.

The only person who is doing that right now is me. Why is it important for us to deal with this bill now? Because Canadians need those retirement options. They want them. They asked us to deliver them in the last election as soon as possible. We made that commitment to them. This is a vehicle that offers tremendous opportunities, as I said, for people who are looking to save for their retirement.

There are several different pillars. There is the Canada pension plan. There is old age security. There is the GIS. There are private pensions. The problem is that fewer and fewer Canadians have access to private pensions. That is why we need to create more opportunities for them. That is why we want to see this bill become law.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I have news for the government House leader. The reason we are not dealing with the issues of the bill itself is that the government has chosen to once again bring in time allocation, preventing members in the House to participate in the debate and ask questions relevant to this particular bill. We are witnessing a government that uses closure through time allocation to prevent legitimate, healthy debate on important issues that are facing Canadians today. That includes dealing with the issue of pensions, which affects every Canadian across this land.

When will the government House leader do his job and start negotiating with the opposition and third party House leaders so we can have a better approach to dealing with legislation that is supposed to be debated as opposed to being rammed down the throats of Canadians?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, we talked about this in the last election. We talked about it with all Canadians. We had a debate. Canadians had an opportunity to hear what the different parties had to say and they decided to endorse the Conservative government with a majority mandate to work with our provincial and territorial partners to implement the pooled retirement pension plan as soon as possible in our next term of office. That is exactly what we are doing.

There is great support from the public, not just for the concept but for moving quickly. I can read comments by Dan Kelly with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. What did he say about the pooled registered pension plans? He said, “This can't come soon enough from our perspective. We think this has great potential”. Why does the Canadian Federation of Independent Business think that? Because it represents small businesses, businesses that would love to be able to provide pensions for their employees but, due to the difficulties of large private pensions, cannot do it. This would provide them the opportunity to finally give their workers the opportunity for private pensions.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

January 31st, 2012 / 10:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, it is ironic to listen to the House leader on the government side stand in the chamber and accuse one of my colleagues of not understanding procedure. This debate is about time allocation and closure. It is not about Bill C-25. He should understand that.

With regard to that, he also stands in the House and repeatedly says that this is what Canadians voted for. The Conservatives promised repeatedly, in every single election since they have been both a minority government and in the run up to this majority government, that they would clean up the democratic process in the House. What have we seen? Fourteen times now they have invoked either closure or time allocation. What about those promises? Are they going to honour those or are they going to break those promises to the Canadian people to clean up the democracy in the House?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, it takes a highly academic approach to say that debating the process for dealing with the bill has nothing at all to do with the bill, that we should not talk about the bill or worry about the substance of it. Actually, the substance of the bill is the reason we need to move forward with it.

The fact is that we made a commitment to deliver. I do not understand why the New Democratic Party says, as the House leader says, that we should deny for every day possible the opportunity of this vehicle to Canadians. Why would it want to delay giving Canadians, self-employed and small businesses, the opportunity for their own private pension plan options? What benefit is there to Canadians in delaying that one day further? I do not understand the benefit of delaying that device for Canadians and yet this is exactly what the opposition is seeking to do.

He says that Canadians might understand it better. Apparently, he has contempt for what Canadians do when they decide how to vote in an election. We have a high regard for the intellect of Canadians. We think that when they made choices in the last election, they did so in an informed and intelligent fashion and we are delivering on the commitments we made to them.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, the thing that surprises me today is not the fact that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and his government are moving closure in this Parliament for the 14th time. That does not surprise me because they have already made such a mockery of democracy here in this House. I am surprised that the Conservative government has not decided to shut down Parliament. The government House leader keeps saying they were given a mandate in the last election. They did indeed win that election, but does that give the Conservative government a blank cheque? Get real.

Roughly 38% of the people voted for the Conservative Party, but many others did not. We are meant to have discussions in Parliament. We are meant to have discussions and hold debates in committees. We represent the entire population, those who voted and those who did not, and those who were not in Canada during the election. Regardless of what they did, whether they voted for the Conservatives or not, we owe it to the public to hold debates on important matters here in Parliament. I wonder where the government House leader gets the idea that they were given a blank cheque during the last election. He is misleading the House and the public when he says that.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, it is not a blank cheque that Canadians gave us. They gave us a mandate to deliver on the commitments we made to them and to do what we said we would do.

There is enthusiastic support for it in the case of this pooled registered pension plan. For example, this is what the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said about pooled registered pension plans:

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce believes PRPPs...will give many businesses the flexibility and tools they need to help their employees save for retirement. PRPPs will also provide individuals and the self-employed with additional retirement savings options.

The opposition is making the case right now that we should delay them having those options. It is saying that we should not allow those pooled registered pension plans to be put in place and that we need to put that decision off for another day even further. I am saying that we should decide on that in principle this Wednesday with a vote.

I would like to know from the opposition what the case is for delaying pooled registered pension plans. Why is the opposition so determined to keep Canadians from having that option?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to remind the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons that this debate is about adjournment and time allocation. We could certainly discuss the bill, but it does not even require the employer to contribute to this pooled plan.

People are calling my office to tell me that they do not have a pension plan where they work. They are wondering what they will end up with if the employer does not contribute and who they will guarantee them a viable pension fund when they retire. Once again, the companies will grab the profits and go elsewhere. We never ensure that our workers receive what they are owed after working all their lives.

I would like to pose the following question to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons: what is the point of democracy if we are unable to talk to the people who elected us as their representatives in the House?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, while my friend says that employers might pocket the proceeds, under the pooled registered pensions plans, that is not a possibility. It simply cannot happen. That is the nature of a pooled registered pension plan. It is important that we provide this vehicle for those who are in small businesses or who are self-employed so they will be able to have access to it.

I do not hear any compelling argument from the members opposite for why this must be delayed. Why do we need to delay offering this option to Canadians? What we hear from a broad sector, the business sector, small businesses and even from provinces is that this is a good vehicle that they want us to get in place.

Why would we want to delay it any further? What is the benefit of delay and of not making a decision? This is something I have not yet heard articulated.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, as a small businessman before I came here and knowing many back home who are still small businessmen, the pooled registered pension plan allows small business to do something it might otherwise not be able to do, which is provide a pension vehicle for employees and employers in small businesses.

The expertise in small business is incredible in Canada but not all small business owners are experts as far as pension planning goes. Many of them are very busy being the director of operations, the director of marketing, the snow shoveller or the trainer of their employees. This would allow those small businessmen and women to, through an expert administrator, put together a pension plan for employees who might otherwise not have one.

What I am being asked by small businessmen and employees in small businesses back home is why do we not get this done.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London is quite right in that the ability to create a pension plan right now depends on a tremendous amount of resources. That is why only those who have worked for very large corporations and businesses in the past have had the opportunity to enjoy private pensions.

We are trying to create a device where, by pooling or putting resources together, small businesses or self-employed individuals will be able to establish the same opportunities to save for their retirement and enjoy a private pension. It is a very reasonable thing.

When we look at how our economy has changed, we see that more and more people are self-employed today than in the past. Again, more and more people are employed in smaller businesses and fewer are employed in those larger businesses. That is how the economy has changed.

We need to create devices that respond to those changes so that people have options to save for their retirement, those who are self-employed and those who are employed in small businesses. What is more, we want to do it in a way that they can also respond to the other change, that people often change employers many times. With portability, there is that option with the pooled registered pension plans.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation Motion
Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act
Government Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, one thing that is for certain under this particular regime, the House of Commons is becoming the house of closure, no question about it.

What is the real compelling reason that the House leader is invoking closure or time allocation? This chamber is always public but the track record of the government in committee is that when bills get to committee they are put in camera and the government tries to prevent a number of witnesses coming forward from the opposition members. Is that part of the reason, to take the debate out of the public arena and shove it to committee? Just in case that might be the case, would the House leader answer whether he would allow all the hearings in committee to be in public?