House of Commons Hansard #121 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was years.

Topics

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that the government does not want to listen to Canadians, does not respect parliamentary conventions, and does not want to split Bill C-38, the Trojan Horse.

This bill will gut environmental protections, take money out of the hands of pensioners and further reduce the powers of the Auditor General.

I am wondering what else the government has in store for Canadians.

Business of the House
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe
Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, our government's priority is, of course, the economy. We are committed to job creation and economic growth.

As a result, this afternoon we will continue debate on Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act. This bill implements the budget, Canada's economic action plan 2012, to ensure certainty for the economy.

For the benefit of Canadians and parliamentarians, when we introduced the bill, we said we would vote on it on May 14. The second reading vote on the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act will be on May 14.

After tomorrow, which will be the final day of debate on this bill, we will have had the longest second reading debate on a budget bill in at least the last two decades.

On Monday and Tuesday we will continue with another bill that will support the Canadian economy and job creation, especially in the digital and creative sectors.

We will have report stage and third reading debate on Bill C-11, the Copyright Modernization Act.

This bill puts forth a balanced, common sense plan to modernize our copyright laws. Committees have met for over 60 hours and heard from almost 200 witnesses. All of this is in addition to the second reading debate on Bill C-11 of 10 sitting days.

After all that debate and study, it is time for the measures to be fully implemented so Canadians can take advantage of the updated rules and create new high-quality digital jobs.

Should the opposition agree that we have already had ample debate on Bill C-11, we will debate Bill C-25, the pooled registered pension plans act; Bill C-23, the Canada–Jordan free trade act; and Bill C-15, the strengthening military justice in the defence of Canada act in the remaining time on Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday, May 16, will be the next allotted day.

On Thursday morning, May 17, we will debate the pooled registered pension plans act. This bill will help Canadians who are self-employed or who work for a small business to secure a stable retirement.

In the last election, we committed to Canadians that we would implement these plans as soon as possible. This is what Canadians voted for and this is what we will do.

If it has been reported back from committee, we will call Bill C-31, the protecting Canada's immigration system act, for report stage debate on Thursday afternoon.

Committee of the Whole
Points of Order
Oral Questions

May 10th, 2012 / 3:10 p.m.

Central Nova
Nova Scotia

Conservative

Peter MacKay Minister of National Defence

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order to clarify an answer given last night in the committee of the whole.

In my enthusiasm to talk about the medical system, in particular the mental health system that we have in place in the Canadian Forces, I referenced the Canadian Forces health care budget as having “ongoing capital” of $439.6 million as opposed to saying “including capital”. Therefore, I am simply correcting the record.

To be clear, I should have said, “This brings the ongoing budget to $439.6 million for the Canadian Forces health care system.”

Committee of the Whole
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. The House appreciates the clarification.

Statements by Members
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to bring to your attention that prior to question period the member for Kootenay—Columbia used his Standing Order 31 statement to launch a personal attack on me, no less on a completely baseless and false matter.

This is the second time this has happened, and I raised a point of order two months ago on this very point.

You have repeatedly ruled that is an inappropriate use of Standing Order 31 for members to attack other members of this House.

Ironically, just today the government House leader stood up in question period and decried the use of personal attacks on those who want to serve the public, which I presume includes members of Parliament, yet the current government continues to do that very thing with Standing Order 31 statements every day.

I ask that you uphold your own ruling of this House and require the member for Kootenay—Columbia to withdraw his comments forthwith.

Statements by Members
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Order. I will certainly take a look at what was said and come back to the House after reviewing the matter.

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

Before statements by members, we were on questions and comments for the hon. member for Vegreville—Wainwright. Questions and comments.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Garry Breitkreuz Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speech that my colleague delivered just before question period. He was making some excellent points.

I would really appreciate it if the member would take a little more time to elaborate on some of the environmental implications of what he was saying. I think the House would appreciate hearing what they are.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question from my colleague.

One of the comments that I have heard most often from the opposition in response to our budget is that because the time government spends on the environmental process would be shortened, the process would somehow not be as thorough.

I mentioned in my comments that just the opposite is true. If the members opposite are really serious about doing their job of critiquing this legislation, they should probably read the legislation, tie the legislation in with other legislation that is in place and think about the consequences.

The opposition would find that we are proposing a streamlining that would allow the federal government to work with the provinces, to work with first nations, to work with municipalities, to work with the private sector and individuals who have an interest, and to work through a process side by side, together, whereby all of the information can be put together. We will end up with a better result.

This is just the opposite of what the opposition members are saying is true. I wish they would take a serious look at that and come to the realization that such is the case.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member needs to recognize that the government is actually using the budget debate, Bill C-38, as a back door for passing significant pieces of legislation, which is a precedent in itself.

Over 400 pages are in the budget bill, a bill that should have had 20 pages. There are well over 400 pages, of which 120 deal with the environment. This will have a profound impact on generations of Canadians during the years ahead. It should have been brought in as separate legislation. That approach would have afforded the House the opportunity to debate the legislation, take it to committee on its own, have experts from across Canada come and contribute to the debate, and then bring it back to the House for third reading. That would have been due diligence. That would have been the right way to do it.

Why has the government used a back door for so many piece of legislation that should have been brought in separately?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member must really have very little to complain about when it comes to this legislation, because he focuses on the process, as do so many others opposite.

Quite frankly, Canadians do not care about process; what they care about is what the end result will be. What they care about is having ample time for debate, and there has been a record amount of time for debate on a budget bill.

The member is quite correct in saying that this is a substantial budget. There are a lot of really important components of the budget, but the important thing is not how we arrive at scrutinizing it and ending up with a good product; it is that everyone is involved, and sincerely involved, instead of complaining about the amount of time they have had. It is a record amount, and one member from the official opposition took 11 hours to filibuster, which would have allowed 44 members to give speeches on the budget.

Instead of complaining about process, members should get engaged, do their homework, read the bill, tie it in with other legislation and give some constructive input. That would be a much more productive way to go.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, that last comment from my colleague across the way about Canadians not being concerned about process is a keeper. Democracy is all about process and the opportunity for the public to engage in their political process.

However, today I take great pleasure in rising to speak to Bill C-38, the Trojan Horse bill.

My riding of Beaches—East York is an urban riding, and it is through that lens of urban reality, not exclusively but primarily, that my constituents look at Bill C-38, which is before the House today.

This is not just true of my riding. In our mind's eye this is a country of great lakes, rocky mountains, craggy coastlines and broad expanses, but about 80% of Canadians live in urban centres. We are an urban nation. This is important to recognize, because it is this reality, not some romanticized mythical or historical place, that the Conservatives have been elected to govern. However, the urban fact of this country is something not at all recognized by the government, as evidenced by this and successive budgets and this budget implementation bill. Simply speaking, cities and the urban experience do not seem to form any part of the government's understanding of our country or its citizens. Cities have been left out of this budget and this bill, as have those who live in them.

We all know by now the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' estimate of the urban infrastructure deficit. It is about $120 billion. That is an old number now, and surely an underestimate, because so little has been done to address this deficit and so few investments have been made in our cities. Another year comes, another budget comes; another year goes and another budget goes, with nothing done that can be considered remotely meaningful to address the matter.

There is no commitment to urban transit, even though many studies by many credible organizations—including the OECD, the Toronto Board of Trade in my own city and Statistics Canada—tell us that at least in Toronto, our lives are wasting away in traffic jams and on inadequate public transit. Our economy is losing billions of dollars annually in lost productivity because of that.

There is no commitment to affordable housing, even though in Toronto 70,000 households—about 200,000 people in all—wait interminably on a waiting list for affordable housing. Last week a constituent of mine, Paul Dowling, took me on a tour of 40 Oaks, a new 87-unit affordable housing project in downtown Toronto. The project has been much celebrated in the media and the community, not just because of its architectural and design features, which are wonderful and spiritual, but also because new affordable housing is so very rare. It is so hard to get built and yet of such tremendous value. It took Paul and the Toronto Christian Resource Centre eight long years and countless hours of volunteer time and fundraising to build a home for people who needed a home and a community hub for people who needed a place to be with others. There could be, should be and need to be many such buildings in our cities, but of course the current government is not a government to respond to these needs, because it is a government that creates these needs.

Blame for the state of our cities cannot be laid entirely at the feet of the government. It is following a path set out by its predecessors of both Liberal and Conservative persuasion. It has all been quantified by the OECD. Canada has the seventh-greatest level of income disparity among 29 advanced countries. The richest 1% of Canadians saw their share of total income increase by 65% from 1980 to 2007, and the richest 0.1% of Canadians saw their total income more than double over the same period, as successive Liberal and Conservative federal governments took down the very barriers we had once erected to offset income disparity.

Toronto, my city, had for a long time been known as a city of neighbourhoods. It was an apt description, at one time, of a Toronto largely made up of mixed-income neighbourhoods. In 1970, two-thirds of Toronto's neighbourhoods were middle income. In just over a generation, our city of neighbourhoods has become, as David Hulchanski describes in his “The Three Cities Within Toronto” study, “a city of disparities”. The middle has been, and continues to be, hollowed out. If we continue down this path, less than 10% of our neighbourhoods will be middle income in just a decade or so.

A number of factors are responsible for what has become of Toronto. In large part, it is the result of a dramatic change in both the number and quality of jobs available to Torontonians.

Toronto has lost about 100,000 manufacturing jobs in less than a decade. The broader economic region of southern Ontario has lost about 300,000 manufacturing jobs. Many of these jobs have been lost as the result of a trade policy that establishes bilateral trade agreements with low-wage economies. The outcome, alongside the creation of a ballooning current account deficit, is the destruction of good manufacturing jobs and an expansive middle class that goes along with them. The government's commitment to pursue more vigorously such trade agreements will only hasten the decline of good jobs in Toronto and the demise of the middle class.

A recent study lays out about half of these job losses at the feet of so-called Dutch disease; that is the decline in the manufacturing sector caused by increased development of natural resources and corresponding currency escalation. This bill's savaging of environmental protections will only again hasten the demise of good jobs in Toronto and the demise of the middle class.

In place of good jobs are jobs that all too often leave workers in poverty. According to a recent Metcalf Foundation study, as of 2005, nearly one in ten workers in our city are living in poverty, but too many more cannot find work, especially Toronto's youth, with an unemployment rate creeping up on 20%.

Finally, and most offensively, it is into such a labour market the government proposes to force our seniors. With this budget, the government has at last decoded for us the Prime Minister's remarks in Switzerland in January about transforming our pension system. With Bill C-38, the government is about to implement these changes. Effective 2023, all Canadians not yet 65 years old can anticipate having to work longer before receiving their old age security and corresponding guaranteed income supplement.

As the federal budget and its implementation bill reveal, the government cannot imagine Canada as anything other than resource dependent. Most Canadians, certainly the 80% of us who live in cities, have been hoping for a different and more promising future for a long time. This lack of vision will be felt across urban Canada and in Toronto, most certainly.

There are ways to unwind the vicious spiral that has gripped our city, but our course will not change without adequate leadership from the federal government. In other G8 countries, governments have become major players in the financial, economic and cultural life of their cities. It is well past time for ours to do the same.

Canada's cities await the chance to be great. We await a federal government that finally understands that a city must be organized and its resources must be marshalled for the benefit of all of us who share the space. None of us succeed, much less thrive, as citizens of Canadian cities if we do not build cities that serve us all well. With this federal budget, we are forced to wait longer for cities and their citizens to fulfill their great potential.

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have seen that the government does not really believe in facts and figures. The crime bill illustrates that. There has been much research that has indicated this is not the direction we should go.

We see it with this omnibus bill. The government is trying to take money away from seniors. The PBO's research and the government's own research indicate that these draconian measures are not needed for our OAS to be sustained.

The government is taking money away from seniors, yet it is putting it somewhere else. Could the hon. member highlight where the money is going?

Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is an interesting question. It is not entirely clear to me.

We certainly see a high level of hypocrisy on the issue of financial management and public administration.

I am very familiar with the F-35 file, where the government has disclosed a $15 billion life cycle cost for those planes and yet has books that claim the life cycle cost will be $20 billion. We still have not heard the actual life cycle cost, the cost of ownership.

What we find from the government is, frankly, an attack on accountability. We see attacks on the offices of auditors and on the Parliamentary Budget Officer. In fact, just about every independent agent of the House has been attacked. We have even heard attacks on the environment commissioner in recent days, since the release of his report.