House of Commons Hansard #172 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-45.

Topics

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I waited eight minutes into his speech to raise a point of order. I am 60 seconds in on setting the general tone of the economy as the context for the budget measures, which will continue to improve economic growth. The member should at least allow me seven more minutes.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

As I have indicated in the past and again today on the relevancy issue, which I think is the point being raised, there certainly was not anywhere near enough time given to the member for Essex to get to that.

The member is welcomed to proceed.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member. I take it in the good spirit that the member intended it of course. It is very collegial in the House and Canadians who are watching at home should understand that is how we do business in the House.

I would just like to finish my thought on the economy. If we exclude the quantitative easing measures, the recent second stimulus of the U.S., its growth failed to meet expectations in the last quarter. We are watching that economic development and responding to it. We understand there is more work to do and that is why we are doing it.

Bill C-45 continues our low tax trajectory. The extension of the EI hiring credit, for example, is a measure specifically against taxes incurred by small businesses. We continue on that low tax trajectory for creating jobs and growth.

Contrast that with the opposition. Those members like a high tax trajectory. Their plan is full of it. The member for Nickel Belt, on October 25, lamented that the government was not collecting enough taxes from Canadians. They support a much different approach, but it is one that would kill jobs, not expand economic growth. We cannot increase the cost of doing business as significantly as those members have proposed and expect that businesses will somehow create jobs.

We support many measures in Bill C-45 and I wish opposition members could bring themselves to stand on their feet and support them.

One measure is our attempt to extend the EI hiring credit for small business another year. It benefited over half a million businesses last year and stands the prospect of doing similarly in this current context as well.

I would think the NDP would oppose our shift from oil and gas tax preferences to bio-energy, but that does not seem to be the case.

There are two major issues I want to talk about with respect to Bill C-45, which I wish the NDP would support.

The first issue is the changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. I have been a member of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities since 2007. We looked at this issue extensively for many months back in 2008. We are seeking to clarify the intent of the bill first of all. It is about protecting navigation. It was that way in 1882 when the bill was brought in and it was, quite frankly, that way up until the mid-1990s. It is a series of court interventions that have broadened the definition of a navigable water to the point where it is no longer useful. If a canoe or a kayak can be floated in four inches of water for a small distance that is considered a navigable water even if one has to portage that canoe or kayak five times over the course of a kilometre. They consider that a navigable water. Most of us in terms of applying common sense would know that is actually not the case.

We are looking to clarify that act, and that is important for a number of reasons. One is the infrastructure projects that roll out across the country, building critical infrastructure. We need to have a regulatory environment that focuses on allowing those projects to move forward. We are applying scrutiny where we need to apply scrutiny, which is where navigation has a serious likelihood of impairment. Our approach does that.

We had to consider two options. One is do we narrow the definition of a navigable water or do we take an exemption approach or a list approach as to which waterways we look at and which ones a navigation permit will not apply.

Witness after witness for weeks could not come up with the definition of a navigable water. It is incredibly complex and the nature of waterways across the country are exceedingly complex. That makes it difficult to come up with a workable definition of what a navigable water is. We had the municipalities come before committee. Representatives of seven provinces and two territories were at committee. They agreed with the approach that we are taking, which is to look at which waters we apply this to and which ones we do not.

Where are navigational interests to be protected and navigational rights to have that additional scrutiny, and where will they not? When we debated it back then, we had three parties supporting that approach. Sadly, that is not the case as we debate this measure today.

I gave the example earlier when asking the member for Prince George—Peace River about a forestry company going into an area where navigability is not an issue. If one were to take a kayak somewhere, according to the way the courts have defined navigable water, it would take one, in some cases, hundreds of kilometres to get to that particular area, if one even dared to go there. These are areas where logging companies go in and cut on a regular basis. However, for every temporary bridge across a creek, even if it were an intermittent creek, there would have to be a separate application to get a navigable waters permit. If there are 200 temporary bridges, it would take 200 applications. If an inspector from Transport Canada has to go there and do a site inspection, we can imagine how unwieldy and difficult it would be for one to develop a plan when navigability is not even a remote issue at all. We are moving to a risk-based approach and one that makes a tremendous amount of sense.

The second item I want to talk to is the bridge to strengthen trade, DRIC. The new Detroit River international crossing is this government's single most important infrastructure priority. We have not only said so here but have consistently proven it in this place, whether via the establishment of the borders and gateways fund in 2006, or the International Bridges and Tunnels Act in 2006, or the budgetary measures to support the parkway and the DRIC in 2007 and beyond. This act would insulate the DRIC from frivolous lawsuits. We already have 10, including three NAFTA challenges, aimed not at ensuring that the project is compliant with Canadian laws but to slow it down and kill it. The opposition stands for that delay and it should not. Its members should get behind this and Bill C-45 so that we can get jobs going.

Some 10,000 construction jobs and thousands more will be created from the necessary long-term business investment that will come because we have predictability at that corridor. Our trucks can move our goods across the border. Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are waiting for this to go ahead. Opposition members stand for delay. Shame on that party. The members should instead stand up for it.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's fine statement was very interesting to hear, but the problem is when the government's only priority is to export Canada's raw materials as quickly as possible without any processing, and when, in order to do so, it destroys environmental laws.

The following question comes to mind: does the government really believe that the models used by some third world countries, that is, exporting only raw materials, have helped those countries develop?

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member should have been here in 2008 to attend these committee hearings, because when we were looking at the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the kind of regulatory regime that stakeholders were looking for, we were not talking about a third world regulatory regime. We were and are talking about applying approaches, for example, that are in other major jurisdictions like the United States. We are not far off the mark in that. We are looking for efficiency in the regulatory environment.

We have other laws and other means of capturing environmental concerns, for example, if those are the concerns of the member opposite. However, for navigation on particular waterways, we are applying a common sense approach to whether or not an issue should be granted a navigable waters permit or not.

I would encourage the member to support the approach of the government and vote yes to Bill C-45.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the member's comments regarding employment insurance. At the end of the day, the reality is that the Auditor General of Canada is the one who recommended that EI funds go into general revenues. The government might not necessarily have liked that or support the Auditor General on that, but that is the reality of it. The other reality that the member needs to be aware of is that under Liberal administrations, we saw employment insurance premiums reduced on those working from over $3 for every $100 of earnings, virtually every year, whether it was under Jean Chrétien or Paul Martin.

When we now see the Conservatives in power, their understanding of the benefits and the need to use those benefits to support industries has been prompted best by my colleagues from the Atlantic caucus who, day after day, have had to hammer the government to try to make improvements to some of the changes it has made to the system. Fortunately, from the pressure of members from the Atlantic caucus of the Liberal Party, there were some changes made but not enough.

Why has the government not treated unemployed workers with the respect necessary to allow them to sustain themselves during difficult times in industries that really are dependent on the provision of some sort of assistance?

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Essex, ON

Mr.Speaker, of course nothing could be further from the truth. We have demonstrated time and again through our measures that we have not only been able to support those who are unemployed and have lost their job through no fault of their own, but also that we have been working as quickly as possible with a low-tax plan to try to create the jobs so they can get back to work in the long range.

However, while we are talking about employment insurance and Bill C-45, I would point the member to page 272 of Bill C-45, division 15, dealing with the Employment Insurance Act and the extension of the small-business hiring credit. Can the member say today whether he will stand in this place in just a few minutes and vote yes to Bill C-45 so that small businesses can get the relief they need to hire more workers and get them back to work? Or does he want them on employment insurance as well?

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

October 30th, 2012 / 4:40 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that with Bill C-45, our colleagues on the other side of the house are leading us into another series of tragedies like the one that occurred in Walkerton, from the economic, social and environmental standpoints. For those who are unaware of what happened, Walkerton is a small village in Ontario whose water system was tainted because the municipal employees did not know how to conduct water purity tests. Government services at the time had been cut by a Conservative government. We are headed in that direction once again.

Economically speaking, we are headed towards a tragedy like the one in Walkerton. The current situation is bleak. In the manufacturing sector, 500,000 good jobs and good salaries have been lost. The number of unemployed workers is now 1.4 million, which is 300,000 more than in 2008. Employment has not improved, and we have suffered a major setback.

We also have a trade deficit of $50 billion. It is not difficult to figure out. We export low-cost raw materials and import high-cost finished goods. That is not how to go about improving the balance of payments. Household debt is currently 163%. People are stretched to the limit. We also learned recently that 842,000 people had to ask for help from food banks. That is the current situation, and it needs to be fixed. Budgets are supposed to solve problems, not make them worse. The current government is doing the very opposite. It is not solving any of the problems mentioned, and it is creating new ones.

This monster bill is not doing anything to get the economy back on its feet. It does not include any tangible industrial policies to boost the economy, create jobs—good jobs not Mcjobs—or to recover the jobs that were lost. That is why people are now much poorer than they used to be. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has pointed out that this budget will cause 43,000 jobs to be lost. Some estimate that as many as 125,000 jobs will be lost. A budget that creates unemployment is not what Canada needs.

The Conservatives have decided to make cuts everywhere. Nothing is exempt: the tax credits that once encouraged investment, business modernization, and research and development. There is nothing left for Canadians when everything is given to cronies.

From the social standpoint, it is a fiasco. They showed no mercy. In this International Year of Cooperatives, not one housing cooperative was established. Everything has been slashed, even old age security. I will not bother to mention the wrecking of employment insurance because everyone has spoken about it. In the sacking and pillaging department, Attila the Hun could not have done better. And I have not even mentioned the budget cuts for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which helps people keep afloat. They too have been cut. I would, however, like to mention the lack of any concrete measures to support aboriginal communities. The Conservatives have made some fine speeches, but in the gap between what they say and their track record on keeping promises, there ought to be a budget. But that budget does not exist. Bill C-45 certainly is not that budget.

This is also an environmental fiasco. Previously, the Kyoto protocol and the Copenhagen accord were tossed out. The Conservatives did not want to hear about them. Now they are attacking the Navigable Waters Protection Act. So now it is possible to build a bridge or a dam anywhere, no problem, because people no longer have to worry about that act.

Greedy big businesses think nothing of charging us high prices for gasoline. The price of gasoline has risen like never before. Even if the price of oil does not go up, the price of gasoline at the pump does. And it is consumers who pay the price.

In fact, in our society the rich are getting richer while everyone else is getting poorer. That is what is called a plutocracy. For those who do not know, a plutocracy is a political system in which power is held by the rich and the owners.

The vast majority of Canadians are currently growing poor, while a few are getting ridiculously rich. That is a poorly planned economy.

Are we going to sacrifice our fisheries and our health? XL Foods is a prime example, but there will be others. We are handing regulatory oversight over to private businesses and saying we trust them, but if certain people decide to take shortcuts, Canadians as a whole pay the price, rarely the Conservatives and their friends. It is Canadians who wind up poisoned. It is Canadians who lose their jobs. It is Canadians who can no longer sell their livestock at a good price.

That is the penalty. This kind of budgetary campaign is a chainsaw massacre of all public services, and it is the public who will suffer.

Allow me here to paraphrase Albert Einstein, who said that two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. In this case, it is the Conservatives' stupidity in public administration that is infinite. I am not so sure about the universe yet.

Canadians are afraid, and rightly so. Services are declining, their savings are disappearing, and their pension funds are at risk. Everything is going down, and this government has an obligation to achieve results when it brings down a budget. After 10 years of poor economic policies, where do we stand? Corporations are sitting on $600 billion in savings, and that money is not being reinvested.

After 10 years of bad results, the government should start thinking about its good-for-nothing policies. The unemployment rate is up: the number of unemployed has increased from 1.1 million to 1.4 million. At the time, household debt was 115% and now it is 163%. It is time for the government to wake up and table a budget that will stimulate economic growth. Instead, it has tabled a mammoth budget that is anything but a tool for economic recovery. It is a tool that will make some Canadians rich. As for the others, they will have to rely on divine intervention.

That is a Conservative budget. It is a budget worthy of Reagan or Bush, people who led their countries into debt. This government is like the one in Britain, where government measures have pushed the country into a recession. And this recession is especially hard on the people who need jobs. These people do not want to use food banks, but they have no choice. They are looking for affordable housing, but there is no more social housing. As was the case in Walkerton, catastrophes take place, but nothing is done about them.

With this budget there will be major problems down the road. Just like in Walkerton, people will have to pay the political price. It is unfortunate that the people who pay the political price will not be the ones who suffer the consequences.

This government is gutless, heartless and, above all, devoid of economic competence. After 10 years of bad management, it should wake up and realize that Canadians' lives have deteriorated.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my distinguished colleague for his speech. In a week, I will join my constituents in participating in a food drive for food banks in the region, in particular those in Saint-Jérôme.

I have been listening to all of the comments on the budget. I hear about navigable waters. We are not living on the same planet. I am being asked to support this budget; meanwhile, I am collecting food for people who have to use food banks. This year, 882,000 people visited food banks and there is nothing in this budget to support food banks.

I would like my colleague to comment on this situation. How can we pass a budget like this?

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, the problem with food banks is that they exist at all.

Canada is an extraordinarily and fabulously rich country: rich in industry, raw materials, knowledge and education. But in Canada, people are going hungry. This indecency is on you. It is your responsibility to ensure that Canadians are not going hungry.

As long as you continue to support your friends instead of the people who are hungry, these individuals will always be forced to use food banks.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Joe Comartin

Once again, I remind members to address the Chair and not other members of Parliament.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the previous Conservative speaker challenged me, saying why not vote in favour of one aspect of the budget.

When the Prime Minister was in opposition, back in 1994, he raised a question on voting on the omnibus bill. That was a 21-page document, back in the 90s. He stated:

Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.

He asked government members in particular to worry about the implications of an omnibus bill for democracy and the functionality of Parliament.

I believe that those words are true today when we look at a bill that has hundreds of pages, compared to 21 pages back then. The Prime Minister of today has changed considerably since he was in opposition back in the 90s. I wonder if the member might provide comment on that particular change in the Prime Minister's attitude.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have nothing but respect for the member for Winnipeg North, but I am not sure where he gets the idea that this budget is for Canadians. That was never the case.

This budget was designed to ravage this country. This budget was designed to make Canadians poorer. This budget does not address any of the needs Canadians have. This budget only satisfies the financial community and the foreign friends of the oil companies. That is it.

With all due respect, I would say that this budget has nothing to do with Canada. It aims to destroy the country that we have spent generations building.

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Brandon—Souris, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to talk about the budget implementation bill and to put a few comments on the record about how I see it and how people in the constituency I represent see it.

I often refer to Brandon—Souris as the heart of Canada. I think many would agree that if something will sell in Brandon, it will probably sell in either the eastern part or the western part of Canada. It just seems to be the kind of community and the kind of region where we understand a lot of the little intricacies of each province and each part of the country. I am very proud to represent the people of Brandon—Souris.

When I look at the budget implementation bill, it is obvious that a lot of the information has been put before the House in a previous bill. This is basically the implementation part, which looks after the acts and updates the current acts so that they can actually apply to what was stated in the previous budget.

I see a couple of things. Obviously, I see a very challenged situation, not only for our country but for countries around the world. We know that many countries are struggling to get their financial feet under them again. They have had to make many difficult decisions. In some cases, I might suggest, they are not making enough of them and are not making them in a timely fashion.

I want to congratulate our government for taking the hard steps they have. Everybody would know that when faced with a tough financial situation, be it in one's home or in one's business, in our provinces or in our country, one has to make decisions and resolve to continue along that path. I think that is what this budget and what this implementation bill does for Canadians.

We have known for quite a while that other parts of the world are working and are working hard. They hold Canada up as an example of how things can and may be done to improve the lives of the people in the countries they represent.

The Prime Minister, cabinet and our government have listened to what people are saying. I do not think I would be underestimating by saying that hundreds of consultations have taken place across Canada. I know that I have been fortunate to participate in many of them with ministers and with members of communities to find out their needs and concerns.

One of the issues we heard, particularly in the communities I represent, was the benefit of the hiring credit for small businesses. It is a measure that provides an incentive for small businesses to hire new workers. What we want to do is create that opportunity, that first job, that first position where people can get their feet wet and get an understanding of what lies ahead of them.

The one thing I heard from my communities was that the credit is applied automatically. I think everybody here who has ever filled out a form of any kind finds that the paperwork continues to be burdensome. Every time a person finishes one page and thinks it is finished, another page is presented. That is not what we did. Businesses like it. They like the fact that it is simple and straightforward.

One of the other things I believe has benefited my communities and Canadians is the fact that every member of the government is committed to developing and signing free trade deals. We are fortunate to have ministers who understand the need, be it in agriculture or trade, to go out there and look for the opportunities. People in retail know that the situation is that nothing ever comes to them. They have to go out and find the opportunities. If they go out and find them and create those opportunities, not only do Canadians benefit but the people in countries we actually do business with benefit. The intent is to improve their quality of life as well. Both countries will benefit from that.

We know that jobs are not automatically created. There has be an investment in the people, in the Canadians, who will fill these jobs.

I know there has been a lot of discussion about employment insurance. It is a very difficult challenge. Yet, if we talk to, say, the old timers, my father's generation and friends of his, they would suggest that employment insurance, at one time unemployment insurance, was merely a fund to provide a person with an opportunity until his or her next job.

I know there has been a lot of discussion about where jobs and opportunities are. I do not think any government or any person should suggest that because people do not have a job today where they want to live, they should stop looking for work. Opportunity presents itself in many forms and in many varieties. Sometimes if we close our minds to just one item or one opportunity, we miss many of the opportunities that might present themselves. I think it is important for Canadians to open their minds.

Yes, we have challenges. No one is denying that. However, I think what we want to do is to try to create the opportunity where if someone is unemployed and an opportunity presents itself, they can take that step. It is a first step and it could be a step into a far better opportunity.

We are a government in Canada, the federal government, that has said to people that the way we create the opportunity is, one, to not raise taxes on people and, two, to find ways to reduce taxes to allow them to put more money in their pockets and more opportunity to spend that money as they see fit. I think that is the right way to go. If we give people $500 and tell them to spend it as they see fit, they are going to spend it on their needs. If we tax them and give them $250, they are not going to be quite as happy and they will not invest in the economy, which we are trying to continue to keep going and keep growing.

There are a couple of things that I do want to highlight about the implementation bill. One that I know my colleague spoke about is navigable waters. In reality, most of the changes that we are now talking about were implemented in 2009, when they were first introduced, so it is not a shock to people.

However, I can tell members and I can give examples. Having served as a municipal councillor and a provincial member, I know that provinces and small communities were being crushed by the burden of paper, the burden of rules and regulations. I am not saying they are not important, but I will give members the example of a small community that had a rock bridge washed out. All they ever wanted to do was to replace the rock and the culvert that washed out. It took them five years to get that done. How they got it done was that they waited until the flood last year, when pretty much no rules applied and they could actually do it with approval.

I know we have heard it before, but I think it is important to continue to mention that we believe we are on the right track. We believe that we have created the environment. Governments do not create jobs. They create environments so that businesses and investment want to come to our country and create those opportunities.

When we talk about the 820,000 net new jobs. We did not create them. The government did not create them. We created the opportunity for it to happen and businesses have stepped up. For that, I am very proud.

What happens is, first, they do a study. Then they say, “This is not right. You have to meet this challenge”. They do that, and then there is a next one and a next one. It is extremely burdensome. Just look at the projects in Canada that were up for infrastructure dollars, that were up for infrastructure investment in their communities. Many of them could not go forward because of the time constraint that was imposed upon them, because we were trying to stimulate the economy. However, many of them could not go ahead because of the burdensome regulations that were imposed upon them.

I think it is important to note that, as everyone else has, we all often talk about our own programs. I think that is the best way to sell what we are trying to do. I have heard about the $20 billion carbon tax, maybe. What I am saying is that the intention of what we are doing is for the good of all Canadians. We are trying to move the ball forward in a very difficult economic time and I think it is important that we all do.

One of the members from further down suggested that he can find things that he likes about the budget. I encourage members to do the same and perhaps instead of focusing on the negative, focus on the positive. There are good things in every budget that we like or do not like. I think at this particular time, in this particular economy, it is important that we focus on the positive things that would help our communities and help Canadians in general

Jobs and Growth, 2012
Government Orders

5:05 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, when speaking to the bill, I started by concentrating on a positive thing, which was that all sides of the House agreed by unanimous consent to pull out the parts that we thought needed immediate action, the reforming of the pensions of members of Parliament. That was a very positive thing and I would like to see more of it in this place.

It is not being unnecessarily negative to notice when a piece of legislation that has been fundamental to protecting navigation rights in this country since 1882 is blown apart in a way that seems to show no reason or consideration. National heritage rivers are excluded. In percentage terms, over 99% of the internal waterways of Canada will no longer have a right to protect navigation unless the individual concerned goes to court.

There is an economic impact to this. I do not know if the hon. member is familiar with it, but many companies make their living bringing Canadians to remote areas of the country, for instance, for rafting excursions on Yukon rivers and in the Northwest Territories. Throughout Canada, there are companies whose livelihoods depend on these rivers being navigable and now they are being removed as though they do not exist. How does my hon. friend suggest we fix this in committee?