House of Commons Hansard #188 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was asbestos.

Topics

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I would like to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of Her Excellency Maria Antonieta De Bogran, Vice President of the Republic of Honduras.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear!

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I know you look forward to this with some expectations.

I am honoured to rise on behalf of the official opposition to ask the government what it has planned for the House for the rest of this week and for next week.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the government House leader appealed to you to reject the idea of allowing separate votes on separate questions facing this House. He did so on the grounds that the amendments would not be accepted by the government anyway. What is the point of us trying to fix bad Conservative bills? According to the Conservative government, reviewing and amending bills is some sort of annoyance that it wants to do away with entirely.

However, the truth is that the government has had a terrible record of getting its own legislation right. It is a bit like trying to unpack a Russian Matryoshka nesting doll. Let us review.

Bill C-4 was panned by so many critics that we lost count. It was left to die on the order paper by the Conservatives.

Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, was panned by the opposition. We tried to amend it but the Conservatives rejected the amendments. They then tried to make those very same changes later on, which you, Mr. Speaker, had to reject. The changes finally got made in the unelected and unaccountable Senate down the way.

Bill C-30, the Internet snooping bill, was so bad that, once explained by the Minister of Public Safety to Canadians, the Conservatives refused to even acknowledge that it was ever in existence. That was some bit of political spin, “You're either with us or you're with the other folks”.

Bill C-31 was panned by the opposition and others. The Conservatives had to amend it at the committee themselves.

Bill C-45, the monster budget bill and the second omnibus bill, actually includes many provisions to fix the first monster omnibus bill in the spring.

This would all be funny if it were not so serious and would have such an impact on the lives of Canadians.

Lastly, I want to say how disappointing it is that the government chose to be partisan instead of saving lives in the developing world, when it voted against Bill C-388 yesterday. This bill would have made it easier for Canada to send generic medications to those who need them most. What an unacceptable decision on the part of the Conservative government.

What does the undemocratic leaning Conservative government have in store for Canadians next?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

November 29th, 2012 / 3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, I will first wish my former Liberal counterpart, the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie, well on his newest mission.

Yesterday was probably an auspicious day for the former astronaut to launch a Liberal leadership campaign. A member of my staff has told me that November 28 was Red Planet Day. While the member's ideas and proposals will no doubt be well suited for the red party, it is yet to be determined whether they will actually be better suited for Mars or for Earth. We will wait and see.

The hon. member for Papineau might want to be aware of the House leader bump. My first NDP counterpart after the election now resides in Stornoway. Meanwhile, I want to welcome and congratulate the new Liberal House leader, the hon. member for Beauséjour. I look forward to continuing the very positive relationship that I enjoyed working together with his predecessor. I genuinely and sincerely wish his predecessor the best of luck.

I am sure that the new House leader will be keen to hear that we will resume the report stage debate on Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act, 2012, this afternoon.

After almost 4,600 votes in the House and committee on our 2012 economic action plan, I am pleased to say that we are in the home stretch of implementing our budget for this year.

Canadians will soon see important measures such the hiring credit for small business extended, greater tax relief for investing in clean energy, and strengthened registered disability savings plan rules.

To the great chagrin of the New Democrats no doubt, Canadians will still not see within that budget a $21.5 billion job killing carbon tax or the $6 billion GST tax grab that I know they wish to see implemented. It does not matter how many hundreds of amendments they put forward, we simply will not accede to their tax and spend initiatives.

The House will consider Bill C-45 on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

We will resume second reading debate on Bill S-9, the Nuclear Terrorism Act, tomorrow. We will get back to second reading of Bill C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act, if we have time.

On Thursday and Friday next week, we will work through a number of bills before the House, including: Bill C-43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, which was reported back from committee this morning; Bill C-37, the Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act; Bill S-7, the Combating Terrorism Act, should it be reported back from committee; and the other bills I have mentioned, if we have not had a chance to wrap up those debates.

Finally, for the benefit of the House and particularly committees meeting on the supplementary estimates, I am planning for the last supply day of this fall to be on Monday, December 10. I expect that I will get back to the House next week at some point to designate that date formally.

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sean Casey Charlottetown, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order arising from an order paper question that I submitted. The question that I posed was quite simple and, for the record, I will read the question and the answer provided in their original parliamentary form. The question reads:

With regard to websites accessed on the personal departmental desktop computers, laptop computers, mobile phones, tablet computers, or other internet-enabled devices issued to the Minister of Justice and to the Minister of Public Safety: (a) what are the URLs of all websites accessed on said devices between 12:01 a.m. on February 1, 2012, and 12:01 a.m. on February 14, 2012 (all dates and times inclusive), listed by ministry; and (b) at what times were those websites accessed, listed by ministry?

The answer, as provided by the Conservative government, reads:

Bill C-30 does not modify the fact that such information would have to be obtained pursuant to a court order or other lawful authority. Therefore, the information requested will not be provided.

However, as an example, under the proposed legislation, Bill C-30, the following is what would be available to law-enforcement officers.

It then proceeds to list the name of the Minister of Public Safety and the member of Parliament for Provencher, his address, his email address, his telephone number, his IP address and his service provider, Public Works and Government Services Canada.

The response given by the ministers has no link to the question asked. In fact, I was provided answers to questions which I did not pose. I made no mention of Bill C-30 in my question. I did not ask for the IP address or the email addresses of the ministers. I certainly did not request their phone number, mailing address or the name of their service provider. What I did ask for was specific information related to websites accessed by the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety from their government issued laptops, desktop computers, tablets and other devices provided and paid for by the taxpayers of Canada. These are not personal instruments of communication. They are the property of the government, paid for by taxpayers. They are not exempt from disclosure.

On this point, we know from media reports that regular accountability audits are conducted by the Government of Canada with respect to the computer usage of public servants, the same public servants who work for ministers. These audits are done to ensure public and government business is being conducted properly and that the websites accessed by public servants are material and relevant to their work. If that type of accountability is necessary for public servants, why not for ministers? It would be difficult to imagine what specific national security provisions would need to be invoked, or should I say invented, that would prevent the public from knowing if ministers access, for example, websites like CNN or even, one can imagine, the CBC?

The government does not have the right to decide which questions to answer and which ones to ignore without explicit legislative authority. Such authority does not exist in this instance.

The failure of the Conservative ministers to answer my question posed under the rules of the House of Commons is a matter of great concern. When I posed my question I was direct and specific. The ministers in question completely avoided answering my direct question and t instead chose to provide answers that had nothing to do with my question. The answers provided are, to be frank, bizarre.

The right of a member of Parliament to ask questions to hold the government to account is fundamental to the very notion of accountability in democracy. I, therefore, request that the Speaker check into this matter and consider providing me with an extra question while the minister revisits and prepares a new accurate answer.

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I appreciate the hon. member for Charlottetown raising this matter with me. I will look into the situation he has described.

The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader.

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre
Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, as you well know, in response to a similar question yesterday, you made a ruling about the appropriateness of answers from the government to written questions. I will point out to my hon. colleague that if he wishes to engage in debate on this issue he has opportunities to do so. There are proceedings in the House, late shows as an example, where he can ask a question and get a more detailed answer if he feels that the one provided to him on the order paper question was inadequate.

However, in terms of the general answers provided, Mr. Speaker, you have provided guidance to the House on that and you did so yesterday. I would encourage the member opposite to perhaps check the blues.

If you care to reiterate your comments of yesterday, Mr. Speaker, I think my hon. colleague opposite would find them very useful.

Questions on the Order Paper
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. parliamentary secretary, and I will get back to the House with a response.

The House resumed consideration of Bill C-45, A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to the Conservatives' latest omnibus budget legislation, Bill C-45, at report stage.

I will focus my remarks today on: one, how the New Democrats worked closely with and supported, helped, aided and abetted the Conservatives in their ramming of this omnibus bill through committee; two, a very dangerous precedent that was set at finance committee during the study of Bill C-45; and, three, some of the flaws in Bill C-45 that were identified by Canadians during the committee's study.

As members know, Bill C-45 is a mammoth bill. It is over 400 pages long and would amend over 60 different laws. It includes a large number of provisions that simply do not belong in a budget bill: rewriting the laws protecting Canada's waterways; redefining aboriginal fisheries, without even consulting first nations peoples; and eliminating the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission. These are just a few examples of what is in Bill C-45 and examples of measures that would really have nothing to do with the fiscal situation of the country.

Canadians overwhelmingly disapprove of the Conservatives' use of omnibus budget bills to ram a large number of unrelated measures through Parliament without sufficient study or debate. A recent poll by Forum Research shows that 64% of Canadians oppose the Conservatives' omnibus legislative approach. Even a majority of Conservative supporters oppose the Conservatives' use, overuse and abuse of omnibus bills.

The Prime Minister once opposed the use of omnibus bills, but under his watch we have seen a clear trend toward the use of omnibus legislation. In fact, Bill C-13 in 2006 was 198 pages; Bill C-28 in 2007 was 378 pages; Bill C-10 in 2009 was 552 pages; Bill C-9 in 2010 was 904 pages; Bill C-13 in 2011 was 658 pages; and Bill C-38 earlier this year was 452 pages.

To put this in context, the largest Liberal budget bill was Bill C-28 in 2003, which was 144 pages in length, and it focused on fiscal measures, not on unrelated measures.

I will also speak about the NDP in this case. The NDP actually helped the Conservatives in passing Bill C-45 as quickly as possible through committee. The New Democrats say that they oppose Bill C-45 and they say that they oppose closure. However, their actions speak louder than their words. While they talk the talk, they do not walk the walk when it comes to actually standing up to the Conservatives and their abuse of Parliament. Instead of standing up to the Conservatives and providing any real opposition to Bill C-45, the New Democrats have actually been helping the Conservatives.

Here are a few examples. The New Democrats voted with the Conservatives to impose time allocation to limit the debate on Bill C-45 at committee. The New Democrats voted with the Conservatives to overrule the finance committee chair, the member for Edmonton—Leduc, a chair who is respected by all members of the House for his judgment. To have him rebuked by his own colleagues was bad and it was terrible to see the New Democrats gang up with the Conservatives against the member for Edmonton—Leduc. The New Democrats voted with the Conservatives to throw out the rules at committee and to shut down opposition to Bill C-45. The New Democrats then gave up one of their votes at finance committee and worked out a schedule with the Conservatives so the finance committee could get through Bill C-45 as quickly as possible. The New Democrats voted with the Conservatives almost 2,000 times at the finance committee to oppose measures that could have delayed certain parts of Bill C-45.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

A coalition.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Right, it could be considered a coalition.

It is not clear what the New Democrats were thinking, or whether they were thinking. It is either a question of gross incompetence, benign neglect or absolute complicity with the Conservatives. We have three choices—

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

A combination of all of them.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

—or a combination.

They opposed both measures in the bill as well as the amendments that would have delayed those measures in the bill. How incoherent could that be? Normally if we oppose a piece of legislation, then logically we would also support measures to delay that legislation. The New Democrats voted in favour of the Conservatives' time allocation motion at committee, but this week they have been rising on points of order to complain to the Speaker about the very time allocation motion they supported at the finance committee: go figure.

For the life of me I cannot understand why the NDP would ever join with the Conservatives in overruling the member for Edmonton—Leduc, a friend of mine, a great fellow and someone whose judgment is extremely good at committee. It is just a travesty.

In terms of Liberal amendments, Canadians have told us loud and clear that they oppose the Conservative omnibus budget bills. They want us to, as much as we can and within the rules, every legislative and parliamentary tool we have to fight this abuse of Parliament.

The Liberals listened. We introduced just over 3,000 amendments to Bill C-45 at the finance committee. These amendments would: stop the hidden Conservative tax grab on small businesses by expanding the hiring credit in Bill C-45; stop or delay the drastic cuts to SR and ED tax credits that support job creation in Canada and are key to Canada's international competitiveness; improve the definition of “aboriginal fisheries” to ensure that it includes the right to earn a moderate livelihood, as set out in the 1999 Supreme Court of Canada decision R. v. Marshall; delay the foreign affiliate dumping provisions that risk Canada's global reputation in finance and mining; and add almost 1,000 lakes to the list of protected waterways under the new Navigations Protections Act in Bill C-45.

I want to speak to the dangerous precedent we saw at finance committee. The time allocation motion that the Conservatives and the NDP both supported to limit debate on Bill C-45 at committee prevented me from properly moving my amendments there. When the Conservatives realized that their time allocation motion would have allowed us to move most of these amendments in the House during report stage, they did the unthinkable. Instead of amending the time allocation motion, they overruled the committee chair, the member for Edmonton—Leduc, and used their majority to interpret the time allocation motion as meaning the opposite of what the motion actually stated. Bizarrely, the Conservatives were joined by the NDP in overturning the chair and throwing out the rules. It is a dangerous precedent that was set at finance committee. Essentially, the Conservatives can now use their majority to challenge any chair in any committee, say that the rules are black instead of white and have their way without any debate whatsoever.

As a result of this dangerous precedent at the finance committee, all the motions I put on notice were retroactively deemed to have been moved without my consent. We protested this dangerous precedent by insisting on recording votes for most of the motions. However, the NDP again helped speed up the passage of Bill C-45 at committee by giving up one of their votes at committee and agreeing with the Conservatives to a schedule to pass Bill C-45 as quickly and easily as possible.

It is really quite shocking how complicit the NDP members have been in helping the Conservatives pass this budget bill. They say that they oppose both the measures in the omnibus budget bill and the abuse of Parliament implicit in the omnibus budget bill. However, at the end of the day, when it comes down to brass tacks they have been supporting the Conservatives legislatively, ensuring passage of this bill as quickly as possible.

There are some very good reasons to oppose the bill. There are many serious flaws. The so-called hiring credit for SMEs is so badly designed that it will actually punish certain small businesses that hire new workers or give existing workers a wage increase. It includes a hidden 7¢ EI premium hike for small businesses that qualify this year and up to a 14¢ EI premium hike for small businesses that qualified last year but do not qualify this year.

We have tried to fix these design flaws with amendments that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business actually supports. However, the Conservatives refuse to do the right thing, which was to listen and fix the bill.

In terms of the foreign affiliate dumping issue and provisions, we have heard from the Toronto Stock Exchange and the mining industry, PDAC, about how foreign affiliate dumping provisions will put Canada's finance and mining sectors at risk. It is important to consider that 80% of mining transactions or financing in the world over the last five years were transacted in Toronto.

Both on the finance side and on the actual development of mines, Canada is a global leader. There are measures in the bill that will compromise our capacity to create jobs in the mining sector both in Canada and for Canadians around the world.

These are some of the concerns, along with SR and ED. Canada's innovators, manufacturers and exporters are telling us that these changes to SR and ED are going to imperil Canada's innovation and research and development. The Conservatives are not listening and they are going ahead with these changes.

In conclusion, Bill C-45 includes measures to correct the mistakes that were in the spring omnibus budget legislation in Bill C-38. The Conservatives should have learned from ramming that through that they made some mistakes. They should have listened to Canadians, listened to opposition members, respected Parliament and not introduced another egregious omnibus bill such as Bill C-45.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Hoang Mai Brossard—La Prairie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech.

We agree with our colleagues that Bill C-45 is an omnibus bill. However, I would like to set the record straight. The Conservatives tabled in committee a motion to limit debate. In fact, the hon. member is well aware of that since he sits on the Standing Committee on Finance. So, we were allowed to debate until midnight, but afterwards we could no longer discuss the legislation or the amendments. We had to vote.

The hon. member and the Liberals proposed 3,000 amendments. Quite frankly—and my colleague must acknowledge this—these amendments were not all substantial. A number of them were even very superficial. Yet, even those minor amendments were rejected. Later on, the hon. member voted in favour of the clause in question.

He claims we are saying one thing and doing another. However, it should be noted that the Liberals voted 114 times in support of the Conservatives on a confidence vote, and they supported three budgets after rising in the House to voice their opposition.