House of Commons Hansard #113 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was cuts.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, we have heard this all before from the members opposite. We have heard it time and time again.

However, the reality of the matter is that the largest cuts to health and social programs in this country's history came from that government. The largest cuts to the military in this country came from that government. Cuts to health and safety and food inspection came from that government. The worst provincial government in the history of the province of Ontario, which made cuts to all manner of programs, all manner of departments, after having spent so much money that it was spending $1 million more an hour than it was taking in, was that NDP government. A number of those people are still on the front benches of this party. The only unfortunate thing for the Liberals is that the worst premier in the province's history is now the Liberal leader.

Will the Liberals finally confess to all of the damage they have done to this country? Will they look at this budget and see the investments we are making across the board in health and safety and in agriculture, and will they do the right thing, not like what they did with H1N1, which was to make Canadians afraid? Then what we saw was the best response in the world to H1N1, probably, after months and months of listening to hysterical Liberals tell us that the world was coming to an end.

This government gets the job done constantly—

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please.

The hon. member for Guelph.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Well, Mr. Speaker, my good friend is certainly full of bravado today. I hear him speak about all these cuts, but I recall that no one died on the watch of any Liberal government in Ontario or in Canada. He has failed to tell Canadians that.

What we are doing right now is this. We are repeating all of the same mistakes that were made by Mr. Harris. We are repeating—

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please.

Is the hon. parliamentary secretary rising on a point of order?

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, the federal Liberal government that was in power in 1999 in Canada—

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order, please.

That is not a point of order. It is a point of debate.

The hon. member for Guelph.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, Walkerton was the jurisdiction, of course, of the provincial Conservative government at the time. That is the point I made. He well knows that.

What he is afraid to do is stand and admit that his ideology is now compelling them to make the very same mistakes now that they made then, which they continue to make, refusing to learn from history, refusing to learn from the listeriosis outbreak—

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Etobicoke North.

Opposition Motion—Health and safety of Canadians
Business of Supply
Government Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in May 2000, 2,300 people fell ill after E. coli bacteria contaminated the water supply of Walkerton, Ontario. Sweeping Conservative cutbacks to the Ontario Ministry of Environment contributed to the tragedy, the most serious case of water contamination in Canadian history.

For a first example of the impact of the cutbacks, the Conservative government discontinued laboratory testing services for municipalities in 1996 and failed to put in place a regulation making the reporting of contamination mandatory. Had the government done this, hundreds of illnesses would have been prevented.

For a second example, Conservative cuts to the Ministry of the Environment made the ministry less capable of identifying and dealing with problems at Walkerton's water utility. The ministry's inspections program should have detected the improper treatment and monitoring practices and ensured that those practices were corrected.

In January 2002, Premier Mike Harris accepted responsibility for the shortcomings of the Conservative government. He said:

I am truly sorry for the pain and suffering you have experienced.

I, as premier, must ultimately accept responsibility for any shortcomings of the Government of Ontario.

I deeply regret any factors leading to the events of May 2000 that were the responsibility of the Government of Ontario....

History teaches hard lessons, reminding us that prevention is the best line of defence and that worst-case scenarios do happen.

In examining past disasters such as when the Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound in 1989 and when the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, causing the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, we see that key decisions were frequently made without assessing the risks, and sufficient prevention measures were not always taken. When extreme cases did occur, responses were often delayed and opportunities to reduce damage were lost. Most recently, the lesson to prepare for worst-case scenarios was repeated with the double disaster of the east Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

It has been said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Unfortunately, economic action plan 2012, or the inaction plan for the environment, and Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill, show a complete failure to learn from the past, namely that past cuts to the environment have resulted in dire consequences and that worst-case scenarios do occur.

Instead, the budget implementation bill continues the Conservative government's war on the environment. An astonishing 150 pages of the 400-plus-page budget are focused on streamlining or gutting environmental oversight. The government is absolutely trying to avoid public scrutiny by jamming such major changes into Bill C-38, thereby avoiding specific study of the changes at individual parliamentary committees. Critics have called it an affront to democracy. As a result, on Friday I called upon the government to hive off changes to environmental protection and then send them to the relevant committee for a thorough clause-by-clause study.

Bill C-38 is an attack on our best means of defence, namely environmental protection monitoring and emergency response. The budget severely cuts Environment Canada, reduces our number of scientists, eliminates the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the independent think tank with a direct mandate from Parliament, silences the government's critics and guts environmental legislation.

Environment Canada will lose 200 positions. Last summer, the government announced cuts of 700 positions and a 43% cut to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Key research and monitoring initiatives, which sample air pollution, industrial emissions, water quality, waste water et cetera, and partnerships for a greener economy will be cut $7.5 million.

It is important that parliamentarians have the opportunity to do due diligence and to identify all areas of scientific research and partnerships to be cut and to see how each identified cut is projected to impact decision-making and the development of public policy.

Critics of the government are being silenced through changes to the Canada Revenue Agency and attempts to seize control of the university research agenda. Critics are also being silenced through exclusion of concerned groups and citizens from the environmental review process for pipelines.

Bill C-38 effectively dismantles Canada's environmental laws as we know them, by the repeal of the Kyoto Implementation Act and the wholesale repeal of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and its replacement with a new law that allows the federal government to avoid environmental reviews of many potentially harmful projects and to do less-comprehensive reviews where they still occur. What are the impacts of the repeal of CEAA on regulatory decision-making and the risk of project-specific and cumulative environmental impacts? What is the adequacy of the environmental assessment process in each province and territory and the impacts of industrial projects that cross provincial borders? The weakening of several environmental laws including species at risk in water and near elimination of fish habitat protection in the Fisheries Act puts species from coast to coast to coast at increased risk of habitat loss and population decline. The authority of the federal cabinet to approve new pipeline projects is now above the National Energy Board.

Astoundingly, as the government guts environmental legislation to fast-track development of major projects such as the Northern Gateway Pipeline and to allow oil tankers in northern British Columbia waters, it is cutting $3.8 million from emergency disaster response and consolidating the unit that responds to oil spill emergencies in central Canada, namely Gatineau and Montreal. Key questions regarding the government's preparation for and ability to respond to environmental emergencies should include how many positions in the unit will be slashed; how consolidating the unit in Quebec will impact operations and the predicted response time to travel from the new location to the oil spill; whether the unit will have the financial and technical resources necessary to respond to oil spill emergencies, including those emergencies involving diluted bitumen on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and along the proposed route of the Northern Gateway Pipeline project; and what action the government has undertaken regarding risk assessment and worst-case scenarios related to the navigation of oil tankers and potential diluted bitumen oil spills.

With independent science squashed, environmental legislation gutted and critics silenced, what stands in the way of environmental disaster? The government must stop its war on the environment, science and indeed anyone who threatens to stand in its way of fast-tracking development. Canada needs robust environmental legislation to protect ecosystems, the health and safety of Canadians, the communities in which we live, the economy and our livelihoods.

I will finish by saying that I spent years of my career undertaking disaster prevention, response and recovery, helping organizations across North America prepare for extreme events resulting from climate change and preparing for pandemics, as well as designing the full disaster preparedness program for the university. The United Nations development program has recently asked me to be on the steering committee for international parliamentarians regarding disaster reduction.

Finally, in the wake of disasters, people often wonder whether there was a way to protect both people and property from such devastating losses. The answer is a resounding “yes, by taking action to prevent future damage before a problem occurs”. In order to prevent another tragedy, the government must ensure that Environment Canada's programs and scientists are fully funded to support scientific excellence in prevention, monitoring and emergency response and hive off the environmental protection sections from Bill C-38 and allow public scrutiny of the bill through clause-by-clause study at the appropriate committee.

Ted Rogers School of Management
Statements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Daniel Don Valley East, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to inform the House that the Ted Rogers School of Management of Ryerson University in Toronto was recently presented with its Certificate of Accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The awarding of this accreditation is a tremendous accomplishment for the Ted Rogers School of Management, for Ryerson University and for Canada.

The attainment of this accreditation by the Ted Rogers School of Management is a very prestigious honour that attests to Canada's success in developing outstanding business schools and to the importance of the role that our business schools play in helping to create an economically vibrant and prosperous society from which all Canadians can benefit.

It must be noted that this will help Canada stay competitive in the global market, and that many students from Don Valley East attend Ryerson University.

I invite all members of the House to join me in warmly congratulating the Ted Rogers School of Management, in particular, its dean, Dr. Ken Jones, and the president, Sheldon Levy, on this outstanding accomplishment.

Rail Service
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Yvon Godin Acadie—Bathurst, NB

Mr. Speaker, since 1876, people from northern New Brunswick have been taking the train to go on vacation, get to medical appointments and travel to university.

VIA Rail currently uses tracks operated by Canadian National. Now CN is planning to stop operating the section of track between Campbellton and Moncton because it is not profitable. If that happens, people from northern New Brunswick will become more isolated and our region's economic recovery will be hindered.

As an independent crown corporation established in 1977, VIA Rail Canada provides passenger rail services on behalf of the Government of Canada. I sincerely hope that the Government of Canada will not abandon the people of northern New Brunswick and that it will do whatever it takes to maintain rail service, which is essential to our communities.

Khalsa Day Parade
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to share with the House the incredible celebrations that took place in Toronto this past weekend. The Khalsa Day parade showcased our country's rich diversity, cultural traditions and unity.

What is so special about this annual event is that it brings us all together, regardless of faith, to share in the Sikh religion's values of service to others, harmony and equality. These are principles that our nation holds dear. These are the same principles that Canadians build their families on and that our government defends at home and abroad.

The strength of the Sikh community emanates across Canada. The Khalsa Day parade is a time to celebrate and also a time that reminds us all about enriching Canada through participation, peace and togetherness.

I would like to thank all of the organizers and volunteers who made this celebration a wonderful experience for everyone.

Volunteerism
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a young woman from St. George's in the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.

In 2009, while a student at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Laura Chubb was part of a group that travelled to Tanzania in Africa to teach men and women in the HIV and AIDS ravaged Pemba Island.

She was so affected by the suffering she witnessed, she later returned to Africa on her own, this time to Kenya, intent on documenting the suffering she witnessed, but also to show the world the beauty of East Africa and to share a message of hope. While in Kenya, Laura volunteered with Kwacha Africa, helping in some of the worst famine-affected areas of the country.

Although Laura is busy working on a Master's Degree in Kinesiology, she is also preparing for her next trip. In May she will leave for Peru and spend 50 days assisting residents with the new farming techniques and helping build a new community centre.

Laura Chubb sees the world as a place in which we are responsible for the well-being of each other. I ask all members of the House to join me in recognizing this compassionate young women who is doing her part to make a difference.

Agriculture
Statements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Del Mastro Peterborough, ON

Mr. Speaker, spring has firmly entrenched itself once again in Peterborough county and this spring, as has been the case for generations, local farm families are gearing up to once again sow the seeds that will lead to the fall harvest.

As a person fortunate to have been born and raised on the farm, I understand the hard work that goes into producing the food we eat and export to the world.

Just this past weekend, one could pretty much watch as the wheat planted last fall stretched from the ground, while farm equipment hastily went to work tilling the fertile soil of Peterborough county, making way for the planting of corn and bean crops that will support everything from livestock to five star restaurants.

As the federal representative, I could not be more proud of our agricultural producers and farm families, regardless of whether they are operating in the supply managed sectors such as poultry and dairy or producers of beef, pork, lamb or grain and oilseeds. All of them are doing their part and they are all contributing to the strength of our country and to our county.

I am proud that our government stands with our farmers. We are opening markets and we are growing forward together. I cannot predict the weather, but I can predict that our agricultural sector will continue to grow in Canada. One more thing I know, nothing runs like a Deere.

21st Québec Entrepreneurship Contest—South West Division
Statements by Members

April 30th, 2012 / 2:05 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Mr. Speaker, on April 11, I attended the awards ceremony for the 21st edition of the south west division of the Québec Entrepreneurship Contest, which was held in my riding.

This year, nearly 70 applications were submitted to the contest. That is a record number of new entrepreneurs. The jury conferred 11 awards in seven categories, and I am very proud to announce that nine of the winners are from my riding.

I wish to congratulate Bluespace, Eau Matelo, Atrium 64, Centre la Tienda-d'ici à Compostelle, Logiciels Héritage, Opera VMana, Panoplie, So Food and Zandel Media on their projects.

I am also proud to celebrate the creation of new small and medium-sized businesses in my riding. They help to create stable, innovative, high quality jobs and contribute to the prosperity of our nation.