House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Business of Supply
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The 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 Supply
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of Supply
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

(Motion agreed to)

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives told Canadians in one election after another that they would come to Ottawa and change Canadian politics and be more accountable, more democratic and more transparent. Instead, they have undertaken a sustained attack on centuries of parliamentary tradition, the most serious attack, I honestly think, we have seen in the history of our country and Parliament.

The procedural guillotine, the use of time allocation and closure motions to shut down debate in this chamber, was designed to be used as an extraordinary mechanism in extraordinary circumstances, not as a routine measure. That is what it has become, a routine measure.

There is a word for the abuse of power to change laws and muzzle the opposition: tyranny. Yes, the tyranny of the majority. I do not know if the member is aware that misuse of closure is a radical departure from the traditions of this House and of other British parliamentary systems around the world. I do not know if the Conservatives believe that their majority gives them the right to act without the opposition and without debate in which views differing from their own are expressed.

I finish with this question. Will the government House leader commit to the House to cease using this measure? He has used it repeatedly, a record majority of times now. Will he cease using it and stop using the anti-democratic process he has used over 15 times now?

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by re-extending my invitation to the opposition House leader to actually move forward on some of the most non-controversial bills before the House. For example, Bill C-28, the Financial Literacy Leader Act, will help to promote and enhance the financial literacy of Canadians. I know this is an issue that the NDP has often raised in the past, especially the member for Sudbury. I look forward to hearing a proposal from the NDP on how much debate it would like to see on that non-controversial bill before moving it to committee.

What will disappoint Canadians is what we saw this morning when the NDP rejected a responsible work plan based on the views actually expressed by all parties right here in debate last week to pass Bill S-5, the Financial System Review Act, before Canada's banking laws expire in mid-April. Again, the NDP House leader is apparently blocking the will of the members of his own party, who are responsible for the legislation, on how it should be dealt with in the House.

Nevertheless, we will give the NDP another chance. We have asked for a debate on this bill next Tuesday. I hope that we will be able to move forward then and refer the bill to committee.

When we returned to Parliament last month, I laid out our government's plan for a productive, hard-working and orderly House of Commons. We are going to continue in that direction. Unfortunately, we have also seen the NDP lay out its own plans for the House. It wants to force the government to resort to time allocation in every case possible in the hope of running up the score. It wants to be able to quote the number of times the government has been forced to resort to time allocation to get bills advanced in Parliament. For this, it has refused to agree to processing even the most non-controversial bills, or in the case of the copyright bill, one that had only seven hours of debate before we all agreed to send it to committee in the last Parliament. This time, even after 75 speeches on the identical bill, it refuses to let it go to committee for detailed examination.

While the NDP hopes that this statistic, the running up of the score that it is forcing, will somehow help it in the next election, what the number actually stands as proof of is the NDP's commitment to paralyze Parliament, to obstruct and delay to the maximum and to refuse to co-operate on even the simplest, most straightforward and broadly supported legislation.

We demonstrated that yesterday with Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act. We had to take action once we realized that a co-operative solution was not viable. Seventy-five speeches later, the end was still not in sight. During the previous session, an identical bill was sent to committee after just seven hours of debate, as I said.

Tomorrow, we will have the eighth and final day of debate on second reading of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, which would protect high-quality jobs in the digital and creative sectors. This bill is important to Canada's economy. Today, we will complete debate on the New Democrats' opposition day motion.

I am pleased to inform the House that on Monday and Wednesday we will deal with third reading of Bill C-19, Ending the Long-gun Registry Act. Next Wednesday night, we will have a momentous vote to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry once and for all.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I can advise that I will be scheduling Friday, February 17, as the day, pursuant to Standing Order 51, on which the House will hold a day of debate taking note of the Standing Orders and the rules of this House and its committees. I also want to say that Thursday, February 16, will be the third allotted day.

Canada's economic stability and advantage in these uncertain times depends on political stability and strong leadership. That is why we will continue to manage the country's business in a productive, hard-working and orderly fashion.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a question of privilege. Upon further investigation, the station in La Ronge is open. There was a retirement in March of 2010 and then a rehire in the spring of 2011. That person is in the office as we speak. I would ask the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages to check his facts.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

It sounds to me like a continuation of debate and not a question of privilege. I am sure the member for Jeanne-Le Ber will have other opportunities to pursue this matter in future question periods perhaps.

Comments by the Member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order relating to the apology offered by the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound for two references to Hitler.

While the House heard an apology and, through you, Mr. Speaker, accepted it, the member has since said, “just in order to take the buzz off and what have you, I partially retracted the statement in the house”, adding, “what I said was the truth” and adding also “the similarities between the gun registry and what Adolph Hitler did to perpetrate his crimes are very clear and obvious”.

I realize that points of order are not used for points of debate and, as such, I will confine myself to the merits of the matter in the parliamentary context.

First, Mr. Speaker, I believe that you must find the language unparliamentary, to say the least, in several respects, something which has not yet happened but must be done, lest such references be seen as acceptable conduct in this place. Language is what we are all about and offensive language must be sanctioned.

I draw the attention of all members to a ruling given on December 11, 1991, and found at pages at 6141 and 6142 of the Debates, wherein Mr. Speaker Fraser, as paraphrased by your predecessor. Mr. Speaker Milliken, reminded members that “offensive remark linger and have a suffocating effect on the fair exchange of ideas and points of view. Anything said in this place receives wide and instant dissemination and leaves a lasting impression. Offending words may be withdrawn, denied, explained away, or apologize for, but the impression created is not always as easily erased”.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, while the matter might have been seen as laid to rest, as you yourself put it, the member's subsequent retraction of his apology and, indeed, with even more odious language, reignites the issue and, I submit, warrants sanction.

Indeed, as O'Brien and Bosc clearly note on page 619, the withdrawal of unparliamentary language must be done, and this is the key point, “unequivocally”. It has not only not been withdrawn unequivocally, it has been reaffirmed in all its incendiary language and comparisons. Indeed, the unparliamentary nature of the language is evident in several respects.

First and foremost is the actual language used, in particular, the odious and obscene comparisons to Hitler, the paradigm of radical evil.

I draw to your attention the extensive list in the sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada wherein terms such as “Nazi” were found to be unparliamentary in this place as early as 1962, and the comparisons here, Mr. Speaker, go beyond that.

I believe all members of the House would be in agreement that references to other persons, such as the former minister of justice or the senator in the other place, as being Hitler, or acting as Hitler might have, or thinking as he might have, are as unacceptable as they are offensive.

Indeed, in 2007, in a point of order regarding comments by the member for Winnipeg Centre comparing a minister to Mussolini, the then chief government whip even said, somewhat prophetically one might say:

Let us just imagine if this is allowed to stand. What will be next? There will be people in this place compared to Adolf Hitler. That is where this is headed. The hon. member knows that.

That is from Hansard.

In ruling on that incident, Mr. Speaker Milliken recalled for the House that, as per Marleau and Montpetit, one of the most basic principles of parliamentary procedures and proceedings in the House be conducted in terms of a free and civil discourse.

It is clear that such references to Hitler thereby trivializing and demeaning the Holocaust and attributing or ascribing what has become a metaphor for radical evil to those who comment on or conduct matters that have no relation or comparison to Hitler's crimes of mass atrocity are as odious as they are ignorant and have no place in the House.

On this point, let there be no mistake about it: Hitler did not take away guns from Jews, Mr. Speaker, Hitler murdered Jews, who had no guns. Any suggestion otherwise is odious and obscene.

Beyond the Hitler references, the member referenced two individuals, the former minister of justice and a former member of the other place. I would note that O'Brien and Bosc clearly states, on page 617:

Members have a responsibility to protect the innocent, not only from outright slander, but from any slur directly or indirectly implied, and that Members avoid as much as possible mentioning by name people from outside of the House who are unable to reply in their own defence.

Clearly, the member's implied slur is beyond the pale and neither of the two individuals so maligned have the opportunity to rise in this place and defend themselves.

Moreover, what the member said about the former member of the other place was unparliamentary as per O'Brien and Bosc, at page 615, “it is out of order the question of Senator's integrity, honesty or character”. While that senator is no longer serving, the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound referenced actions of that senator while she served and thus I believe the protection hereto must be extended.

Mr. Speaker, you said, during discussion of this point when first raised that “it is the practice of the House that once a member withdraws a comment or apologizes it is left at that”. I believe the practice of the House is also that a member cannot say he or she apologizes in here and then retracts the apology or undermines it and indeed in fact repeats the odious reference outside this place.

In essence, the member did just that by offering an apology that was insincere, by his own admission offered only “to take the buzz off” and, per his own clarification, is only a partial retraction.

The House will recall again that should the Speaker find language to be unparliamentary, as per page 619 of O'Brien and Bosc, the member “will be requested to rise in his or her place and to withdraw the unparliamentary word or phrase unequivocally”. Thus, Mr. Speaker, while you cannot change the member's mind, you can ask that he withdraw the remarks, something which he did not do.

Furthermore, with respect to the retraction of his apology, I believe stronger sanction is warranted and urge you, Mr. Speaker, to, in line with the precedence outlined in the sixth edition of Beauchesne's Parliamentary Rules and Forms of the House of Commons of Canada, name the member or inform him that he will not be seen by the Chair until he appears at the bar of the House to apologize for these obscene and odious remarks and comparisons.

Simply put, the member has not sincerely and completely apologized for his remarks. Indeed, he has even reaffirmed them in a more hateful form and they remain as he did not withdraw them. This cannot be an acceptable practice or precedent that we can allow to stand in the House. Redress and sanction are warranted. I implore you, Mr. Speaker, to exercise your necessary authority in this regard so that the integrity of the House and its members be protected so that those who are maligned outside the House would also be protected and, indeed, that the memory and meaning of the Holocaust be protected and preserved.

Comments by the Member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:25 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, I thank my hon. colleague from Mount Royal for his intervention. I would simply ask that should you determine that you wish to respond to the point of order, that you give the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound an opportunity to respond to this point of order that was made today.

I anticipate that should the member wish to make certain responses, it will be done in the next few days.

Comments by the Member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Given the request to allow the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound time to at least speak to this issue, I would point the House to O'Brien and Bosc, at page 614, which states:

The Speaker has no authority to rule on statements made outside the House by one Member against another.

We know that outside the chamber, when a member or anyone may say something that would offend or call into question someone's character, there are remedies that are not available inside the chamber. That is usually why the authority of the Speaker does not extend outside the chamber for things that are said.

Therefore, given the intervention by the parliamentary secretary, we will hear the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound.

Does the member for Mount Royal have a follow-up statement he would like to make?

Comments by the Member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, in respect to what you just said, the remarks made outside the House were in reference to and expanded upon the remarks that he made in the House and were in reference to the alleged apology which the hon. member retracted and, as I said, added to those hateful remarks. They are inextricably bound up, one with the other. One cannot abstractly separate what happened outside the House from that which occurred inside the House and which gave expression to that which occurred outside the House. They are both bound up together. They form one set of odious remarks.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for British Columbia Southern Interior for sharing his time with me.

I am rising today to speak to the motion that was proposed by the member for London—Fanshawe, which reads:

That this House condemn the decision of Caterpillar Inc. to close its Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ontario, with a loss of 450 jobs, and that of Papiers White Birch to close its Quebec City plant, with a loss of 600 jobs, and call on the government to table, within 90 days, draft amendments to the Investment Canada Act to ensure that foreign buyers are held to public and enforceable commitments on the 'net benefit' to Canada and on the protection of Canadian jobs.

The member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, who is the NDP industry critic, stated:

Foreign investment in Canadian companies can be a good thing. But companies must establish how this investment will have a net benefit to Canada and local communities. The law calls for this, but never defines what this means. The Act must be changed to better protect our communities.

It is not just the NDP members who have been raising concerns about the Investment Canada Act. An article entitled, “Investment Review in Canada--We Can Do Better”, raised a couple of points that I want to touch on, because it reinforces what New Democrats have been calling for.

I want to focus on the net benefit test. The article states that the net benefit test has broadly objective factors set out in the statute. Some factors remain not adequately defined or sufficiently precise. The task is to make those factors much better defined and more specific and less arbitrary and open-ended.

In addition there was a 2008 competition policy review panel report which had a number of recommendations. I want to touch on two aspects. The review panel report is an element for discussion in this process. The report indicated that the government might want to replace the net benefit test with a contrary to Canada's national interest test. I might point out that these recommendations were not followed. This was a policy report and absolutely nothing has happened with it.

Another recommendation that was not followed was to reverse the onus in applying the test so that the industry minister would have to demonstrate that a proposed investment would not be in Canada's national interest.

The question becomes, why should we modify the net benefit test? Again, the article, “Investment Review in Canada--We Can Do Better”, states:

How Canada balances an open foreign investment policy with the objectives of ensuring net economic benefit to the country and meeting national security concerns will continue to be a major policy challenge.

Currently, section 20 of the Investment Canada Act is unclear. For example, paragraph (a) refers to the effect of the investment on the level and nature of economic activity in Canada. What exactly do we mean by economic activity? How is that economic activity measured? Also under the act, the approvals and rejections themselves are full of mystery. The industry minister has too much discretion in making these decisions, most of which is outside the public eye. No public details are provided in applications for approval of reviewable investments.

The article mentioned that consequently, “the task ahead is to recalibrate the legislation to make the process more open and predictable, both for the application of the net benefit test and for determinations of national security issues”.

One of the things that could happen is where net benefit approvals are given subject to undertakings, the content of these should be made public and metrics provided so as to monitor the fulfillment of these objections.

We have a couple of sources that are calling for some improvements in the net benefit test.

The 2011 Council of the Federation report echoed some of these recommendations:

They noted the importance of transparent, timely and stable rules to evaluate responsible foreign investments in Canada. Premiers agreed on the priority of ensuring that commitments made by foreign investors through the review process are effectively enforced.They also agreed on the importance of public dialogue on proposed foreign investments. Provincial and territorial participation in determining what constitutes a net benefit to Canada is essential.

I want to turn to some matters in Nanaimo—Cowichan. My riding has been becoming more diversified over the years, but we still have significant forestry and forestry-related activities in Nanaimo—Cowichan.

The headline of an article in the Cowichan News Leader on February 2 reads, “Crofton status has Cowichan on high alert”. Some of the conditions that are outlined in the Crofton mill are eerily similar to those pertaining to White Birch. I must add that the Crofton mill is still open and operating. The White Birch mill was sold to a U.S. asset management company. The union was pressured to make concessions and eventually the White Birch plant was shut down. What is happening at the Crofton mill is a little different. The article states:

Life without the struggling Crofton pulp mill isn't a pretty picture to many Cowichanians--or to Catalyst's brass.

But that stark possibility came into sharp focus this week when the B.C. Supreme Court approved creditor protection for the mill's debt-ridden parent company, Catalyst Paper.

Catalyst is a company which over the last several years has gone through various changes in ownership. Progressively the company has become more and more debt laden. The Catalyst mill in Crofton is actually profitable, but because of the company's structure, there are other mills involved.

The article goes on to quote Duncan-Cowichan Chamber of Commerce boss, Ranjit Dhami, as saying:

“I'm worried for my community. People are used to living certain lifestyles--imagine if they lose their jobs.”

That's a terrible thought to valley millwright Bruce Carter.

“It would affect me tremendously--85 per cent of my business is through Catalyst Paper,” he said. He echoed Dhami's ideas of local unemployment shock.

“If Crofton goes under, it'll be cold turkey,” Carter said of Cowichan's economic fallout.

Further on the article mentions that they are not just talking about those good paying jobs at the mill; they are also talking about the direct and indirect jobs that result from it. A number of years ago when the mill was on strike for nine months, we actually saw a ripple effect throughout the community which lasted far beyond those nine months. Many small businesses suffered as a result of not having the workers with those good paying jobs.

We are seeing a pattern of pressure for workers to make concessions to these companies without any consideration of the impact that would have on our local communities. The article goes on to state:

But Dave Coles, CEP's president, chastised the federal Conservatives for not acting to help forest workers and their communities.

“Our repeated requests for temporary loan guarantees to assist the forest industry have been ignored,” he says in a press release, noting that governments have helped other industries in similar situations.

“Forestry was once a cornerstone of the Canadian economy and--with the political will--could be again. But the [Conservative] government has never even acknowledged our request for a summit of stakeholders to study renewal”.

We have heard in this House many times about the job loss in the manufacturing sector in this country. We need a job creation strategy that looks at maintaining and preserving the manufacturing and value-added sectors in this country so we continue to have those good paying jobs.

There are other models out there. I want to touch on one. There is a model in Nanaimo called Harmac Pacific. A number of years ago that mill was in trouble. The employees said they wanted to protect and save their jobs and ensure that the mill continued to be a viable contributor to their community. There was an employee-backed purchase of the Harmac Pacific mill site. This has created a diversified industrial site centred around a highly competitive, low cost northern bleached softwood kraft pulp production facility. The shared focus of all owners is to maximize the profit potential of the Harmac Pacific pulp mill and associated property facilities. It is another model the government could look toward in terms of investing in our communities.

We need a strategy that looks at things like raw log exports. That is an example of explicitly exporting our jobs south and overseas. We have examples in Gold River where the mill had to close again. It was bought by another company. It refused to ride out the economic downturn and decided that it did not want to run a pulp business. It sold off the assets and the community was left high and dry. This pattern is repeated time and time again across this country.

I urge all members to support this NDP motion to protect our communities and protect those good paying jobs.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Guy Caron Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her presentation. The Investment Canada Act needs to be reviewed. As we all know, in November 2011, Parliament adopted a unanimous motion to review the Investment Canada Act. Several flaws were identified, such as the fact that since the act was created, only two decisions have been overturned, both of them much more for political than economic reasons.

Does my colleague think that such a motion would be unanimously adopted under this government? Does she still believe that Parliament should have the support of all parties to review the Investment Canada Act?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada Act
Business of Supply
Government Orders

February 9th, 2012 / 3:35 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques for his very good work on this file.

I hope that all members in the House will support this motion. This is at the heart of a robust job creation strategy that should be front and centre for all sides of the House. We are seeing continuing high unemployment rates and, despite the rhetoric we hear from the government in terms of the number of jobs created, what we do not hear in those statements is any deconstruction of what those jobs look like. We have an increasing number of seasonal, part-time, contract, low wage employment, and that simply cannot sustain our communities.

A former MLA from Port Alberni, Gerard Janssen, who is quite well-known in British Columbia, used to say, as did Henry Ford, the capitalist from the early 1900s, that what we want are workers with good paying jobs because, at the end of the day, after the workers have paid their mortgage, put aside something for education and paid their food bills, with the money left in their pockets they support local businesses. They support restaurants, jewellery stores and clothing stores. That kind of industrial strategy is important for the well-being of our communities.