House of Commons Hansard #124 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Citizenship and Immigration
Adjournment Proceedings

8:55 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, last fall the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism announced, effective immediately, a moratorium on new applications to sponsor parents and grandparents to immigrate to Canada. This unfair punishment for new Canadians and Canadian permanent residents is compounded by new measures recently introduced in the punishing refugees act, also known as Bill C-31, which will place a mandatory five-year wait time for refugees to become permanent residents and apply to reunite with their families.

The last time I asked the minister about this issue, he blamed the problem of the backlog of applications on the Liberals. We continue to hear the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism claim that his department is increasing and speeding up the reunification for family members, but with this moratorium on family reunification and a five-year bar for refugees, the Conservative government is making it harder for families to stay together. The Conservative government has to take responsibility for that.

Parents and grandparents wait an average of seven years to come to Canada. One family in my riding has waited over 16 years. Now, people will have to wait an additional five years on top of an already lengthy separation. But wait, this excruciatingly long countdown for parents to see their children, and grandparents to see their grandchildren will not begin until 2014. The government will not be accepting new applications to sponsor parents and grandparents until 2014, if at all. While we know there is a substantial backlog for family class applicants, refusing to reunify families is not the way to deal with the backlog.

Working as the member of Parliament for Scarborough—Rouge River, I have spoken with many families who have been waiting years and years to have their parents and grandparents join them here in Canada. We all know the benefits of having our parents and grandparents here with us. We understand the value of reuniting families. I am lucky enough to have had my grandparents join me here in Canada from Sri Lanka. They have added so much value to my life.

We need to address the existing inequities in the system and develop a balanced and equitable approach to dealing with the backlog. This includes raising the overall level of immigration and the number of immigrants that we accept each year to approach approximately 1% of the population.

When will the Conservative government start putting families first and help those who have waited so long to be reunited with their loved ones?

Citizenship and Immigration
Adjournment Proceedings

9 p.m.

St. Catharines
Ontario

Conservative

Rick Dykstra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Mr. Speaker, certainly with the response the minister gave to the member's question and the position that our government has taken on this issue, the member either has not been listening very closely or she does not respect the fact that we have taken huge strides when it comes to family reunification and, in fact, when it comes to the immigration system overall.

The member shows a lack of respect for the 30-plus hours of witness testimony which brought the issues to our attention. Bill C-31 is going to change the way the refugee system in this country works for the positive in the sense that it will do more for those who are true refugees. It will also ensure that those who are not true refugees will not clog up our system, which hurts those who truly need assistance, and has a huge impact on the Immigration and Refugee Board and the immigration system as a whole.

Specifically, the one thing the member did not respond to, and which her party said it supported, as did the third party, is how we have dealt with the issue of the family class with respect to parents and grandparents.

We implemented the super visa program late in the fall of 2011 and it can only be described as a tremendous success. In fact, the super visa does something no other visa did before. It allows parents and grandparents who would like to visit their children and grandchildren to apply for a 10-year visa to come to this country. The super visa allows parents and grandparents to come to Canada for up to two years to stay and visit with their family and assist with the upbringing of children if that is their wish.

The fact is, that program had to be implemented because there was a backlog of over 165,000 applications which started way before we formed government. In fact, it was never dealt with by the previous administration and it put us in a position of having to act.

In 2011, to work through that backlog, we increased by 60% the number of parents and grandparents who are allowed to come into this country. We implemented the super visa which has put families and parents in a position to come here faster and to stay for a period of up to two years. The only requirement is that they get their own health insurance so that when they are here, they do not put a burden on Canada's health care system.

Citizenship and Immigration
Adjournment Proceedings

9:05 p.m.

NDP

Rathika Sitsabaiesan Scarborough—Rouge River, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is sad that the parliamentary secretary thinks that refugees clog up our system when these are people who are fleeing situations of persecution or oppression from wherever they are coming. They are asylum seekers.

The parliamentary secretary needs to stop blaming the backlog on the previous Liberal government. I agree that the Liberals handled it poorly, but for the last six years, the government has not done much to make the situation any better. It has actually made it worse.

Family reunification and family support are extremely important factors for healthy and effective integration of our newer immigrants in Canada. People who have faced war, who have faced traumatic experiences beyond our imagination will no longer have access to this vital support system, and thanks to the amendments to our immigration laws, including Bill C-31, they will now be revictimized.

When will the government understand the importance of family reunification and immediately reverse the moratorium on parent and grandparent class applications within the family class?

Citizenship and Immigration
Adjournment Proceedings

9:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Dykstra St. Catharines, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat in response to the point being made by the member that we actually have a refugee system that is broken. Over 60% of the applicants are actually denied their applications to become permanent residents or to achieve asylum here.

We have a system in which more than 60% of those who apply are actually not deemed to be true refugees. Those are the people I am speaking about in terms of clogging up our system and putting us in a position of not being able to help those who are truly in need.

With respect to the family class, I have said we have a system that is broken. Having to wait eight, nine, or ten years to come to this country with the program that was in place is not acceptable. We have put in place a moratorium that will allow us to work through the backlog. The super visa program allows parents to get here to see their children and grandchildren much, much quicker.

Natural Resources
Adjournment Proceedings

9:05 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I asked a question of the Minister of Natural Resources on the development of our natural resources. I said that the Conservatives are not listening to the public. I would like to expand on that.

We figure that the Conservatives' approach to natural resources management is unbalanced. We have to change that approach to natural resources to make it more profitable for Canadians. How would we do this? First, we need a made for Canada national energy strategy that prioritizes the Canadian interest. What the Conservatives are trying to do right now is export all of our oil to other countries. If we had a strategy that looked after the interests of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast, it would be profitable not only for Canadians, but also for the oil industry.

When we are exporting our oil overseas, we are also exporting jobs. For some reason, the Conservatives are more interested in creating jobs in the U.S. and China.

During some meetings of the natural resources committee, we heard expert testimony from CEP that for every 400,000 barrels of oil exported, we exported at the same time 18,000 jobs. That is a lot of jobs to export to other countries. If we want to save these jobs, we should upgrade our refineries in Canada and refine our oil right here in Canada.

At committee we often hear the Conservatives say that we have no market for Canadian oil. If we transfer the oil to China, Japan or the U.S.A., they will find a market for the oil that they refine. Saying that we do not have a market is no excuse.

If we were to have an energy strategy, we would have security throughout the country. What the Conservatives are doing right now is exporting our oil, yet on the east coast we are importing oil from unstable countries like Saudi Arabia. What is wrong with shipping oil from western Canada to eastern Canada where it could heat Canadian homes?

Natural Resources
Adjournment Proceedings

9:10 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands
Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, I am actually very encouraged to hear the member opposite say that he supports the reversal of the line to eastern Canada because I am not sure that is his party's position.

The NDP's Canada energy strategy, as near as I can tell, would mean sitting in the dark eating veggies and we are not prepared to do that just yet.

I will begin by talking about the refining sector, which he mentioned. We are proud of Canada's refining sector. Through responsible and market-based policies, which are foreign to the NDP, we refine more oil than can be used in Canada. He did not mention that. We refine more crude oil than we can consume, with exports of refined petroleum products to the United States of over 400,000 barrels per day. That makes us a major player in the United States.

It is disappointing that my colleague opposite, from what is rapidly becoming known as the no development party, did not learn anything from our committee's study of refining capacity in Canada. Perhaps he should go back and read the report. In the meantime, I will take a couple of minutes to remind him of some of the testimony.

We heard that Canadian refineries face some economic challenges. They are operating at an 80% to 84% utilization rate when, to be fully profitable, they need to be at over 90%. Building more refineries when the current refineries are not even operating at full capacity is just the type of economics the NDP is famous for.

North America's demand for gasoline is actually declining. He did not mention that either. He also did not mention that refining is a capital-intensive business. The cost of building a new refinery is $5 billion to $10 billion, with a 40 year return on investment.

We believe the decisions about increasing refining capacity is a private-sector decision.

What I would like the member opposite to explain is the NDP's contradiction on subsidies to oil companies. It says on one hand that it is opposed to all subsidies but on the other hand it wants more refineries built.

The private sector has told us that it is not building more refineries. So I guess, as the member opposite knows, the only other way to do that is through massive subsidization. It may come as a shock to him but the refineries to this point have been owned by the oil companies. Is he suggesting that the government and the taxpayers should be building and owning new refineries in Canada?

Does the member want to subsidize refineries or not? He says, yes. That is interesting. I think Canadians would be interested in hearing that he wants them to buy into an industry that is already overcapacity in this country. As I have seen in my home province of Saskatchewan, that is how NDP economics work and, in the end, they do not work well for the people.

We have heard at committee that pipelines are the safest and most efficient means of transporting large quantities of crude oil and natural gas over land. I would not be surprised if my colleague opposite is ignoring that testimony as well because he was one of the NDP members who travelled to Washington, to our largest trading partner, to try to get it to reject Canadian oil and the Canadian pipeline.

The NDP takes the puzzling position of supporting job creation by opposing all job creating projects in our natural resources sector. Our government is taking a different approach.

I have tried to find a job creating project that the NDP actually supports but I have not been able to do so.

Every time the member opposite and members in his party stand in the House, it is to rant against the economic opportunities that are creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in economic growth across this country. They criticize everything. They praise nothing.

Natural Resources
Adjournment Proceedings

9:10 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources has been here too long because he certainly did not understand what I said.

I said that we wanted to develop natural resources in Canada. What would that do? It would upgrade our refineries. We never said anything about building new refineries. We said that we wanted to upgrade refineries. What happens when we upgrade refineries? We create jobs.

Why are the Conservatives killing jobs by exporting our crude oil?

We need to upgrade our refineries. In his province of Alberta, we could upgrade the refineries and create thousands of jobs, instead of building pipelines where the jobs for building a pipeline last two years. If we were to build refineries, we could create long-lasting, good paying Alberta jobs.

Natural Resources
Adjournment Proceedings

9:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

It is a tragedy, Mr. Speaker, but I am actually from Saskatchewan where the refineries have just been upgraded, which is good news for the member opposite.

First, the NDP wants to build refineries when the current refineries are not even fully utilized due to lack of demand. That is the type of make-work voodoo economics that the NDP is famous for.

Second, it wants to massively subsidize more refineries owned by oil companies, or perhaps the government, when it opposes all subsidies, supposedly, to oil companies.

Third, it wants to build refineries but it opposes all pipelines. Pipelines are required to transport the oil. I guess that means that we will refine the oil and then what? Let it sit at the refinery?

Fourth, while the resource sector employs hundreds of thousands of Canadians, the NDP seems to also believe that these jobs are a disease. While the NDP has said that it supports some energy projects, we cannot find one that it actually supports.

It is time for the no development party to stop its baseless criticism of Canada's resource sector.

Transport
Adjournment Proceedings

May 15th, 2012 / 9:15 p.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in this House once again to address the problematic Neuville airport file, because the Minister of Transport continues to ignore it and has tried to sweep it under the carpet from the outset.

Since the very beginning of the project, the constituents have been opposed to the airport being built. They are deeply worried about losing their quality of life and about the deterioration of their health and that of their children.

I am now going to explain the file more clearly to the hon. members opposite, who do not seem concerned in the slightest. The runway in Neuville is approximately 200 feet from houses where people live. So planes would fly over the houses of people who have lived there for years. Those people were there long before the promoters came. There are also other residences in the area.

Even though he has never set foot there, the Minister says that Canadians' safety is not at stake, that everything is fine and dandy, that everything is safe. This shows that he clearly does not know what he is talking about.

Speaking of ignorance, I would also like to remind the Minister of Transport that the municipal council and the constituents have been against the airport project right from the outset.

The minister constantly hides behind the memorandum of understanding to justify his failure to take action on this issue. The memorandum was signed between the city and the developers to protect the citizens, and that is what the Minister of Transport is refusing to do right now.

The sole purpose of the memorandum of understanding that we have been hearing so much about is to regulate operations that will take place at the airport in order to minimize the negative consequences of increased air traffic over the town. The parties came up with this solution because the government had nothing to offer.

If the Minister of Transport had taken the time to sit down and talk to Bernard Gaudreau, the mayor of Neuville, as it happens—I wanted to mention that to give the minister some context—he would know that the memorandum does not mean the city has agreed to the project. It is a last resort in response to the government’s lack of support.

The root of the problem is the fact that, under the current Aeronautics Act, private developers who want to build an airport can do so wherever in Canada they want to, as long as they obey basic safety rules established by Transport Canada. Developers do not even have to notify anyone of the existence of their runway on the land. They do not have to register their airport if they do not want to. Verifications will not necessarily be done. This poses a problem, because municipalities have no way of becoming involved in the process in order to have their say and be consulted.

The provinces and municipalities have their own areas of jurisdiction that are guaranteed by the Constitution, including, for instance, land use, municipal planning and the protection of agricultural land. These jurisdictions are not being respected in the context of the Aeronautics Act.

On the one hand, the federal government refuses to take full responsibility in its exclusive jurisdiction and, on the other hand, it also refuses to allow the provinces and municipalities to legislate in their own areas of jurisdiction.

The airport problem is a direct result of the legislative gap that exists in the Aeronautics Act. This situation needs to be rectified because it could affect every Canadian municipality.

Moreover, I think that the minister was wrong to claim today that the Neuville file is settled. Section 4.9 of the Aeronautics Act stipulates, among other things, that the minister has the authority to legislate concerning the location and operation of airports.

With all this information, how can the minister still justify his inaction? How can he categorically refuse to meet with the mayor of Neuville?

When the Minister of Transport was a reeve and a mayor, I strongly doubt that he tolerated the same degree of intransigence and contempt on the part of the sitting Minister of Transport. So why is the minister refusing to act to preserve the quality of life of the residents of Neuville?

Transport
Adjournment Proceedings

9:20 p.m.

Nepean—Carleton
Ontario

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by stating that the role of Transport Canada is to promote the establishment of a safe, secure, effective and environmentally friendly transportation network in Canada. I am aware that a request for an injunction to halt activities at the airport was filed in the Superior Court of Quebec, and the minister's officials are keeping a close eye on the situation.

Although the placement of airports is exclusively a federal area of jurisdiction, Transport Canada is encouraging stakeholders in the aeronautics community to respect relevant and applicable provincial and municipal regulations, and to listen to the public in order to promote aeronautical activities that are respectful of the community.

In this particular case, the site chosen by the developer is outside a residential area. The minister's policy in this regard is therefore to encourage the management and resolution of potential conflicts at the local level by the parties concerned—that is, issues that are likely to affect the whole municipality when an airport project is on the drawing board.

The minister is in favour of solutions that strike a balance between the development of the aviation sector and disturbances that may be caused by aeronautical activities. Transport Canada is going to great lengths within the scope of its mandate, and in collaboration with community and industry partners, to mitigate impacts on the public.

Moreover, the memorandum of understanding signed by the City of Neuville and the developer of the Neuville airport, formally demonstrates the intention of the parties concerned to collaborate harmoniously. The restrictions on airport operating hours contained in the memorandum are concrete evidence that there is a willingness on both sides to work together in a harmonious fashion, and we hope that there will be an effort made, in this spirit, to look for solutions.

A liaison committee will also be struck in order to promote and maintain this spirit of collaboration between the airport and the residents of the community. This is a further indication of the willingness of the parties concerned to work together to find a common and appropriate solution, and I salute this initiative.

Transport
Adjournment Proceedings

9:20 p.m.

NDP

Élaine Michaud Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I think the hon. member did not hear anything I said or did not listen; we will need to see what choice he has made. I repeat: the airport is built in an inhabited area. There are houses and the flight path passes directly above those houses. The people were there long before the airport was built. It is not because it is a rural area that is not inhabited. The houses are simply farther apart.

The parliamentary secretary tells me that they want to find a solution that respects the community, but what is going on in Neuville right now does not respect the community or what it wants. The municipal council was against the airport, and the citizens have spoken out against it many times. So, how can we provide a balance in this entire situation if the minister refuses to even talk to the mayor? He is refusing to speak to the people who are experiencing the negative consequences of the airport directly. I live in Neuville and I hear the airplanes flying over the city.

Of course, a memorandum of understanding exists, and its clauses specify that air traffic should be reduced to a minimum over the city. But when I was there last week, I heard at least 30 airplanes. So how is the memorandum of understanding satisfactory? Why is the department not getting involved in this situation, which is not regulated by the existing legislation?

Transport
Adjournment Proceedings

9:25 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Nepean—Carleton, ON

Madam Speaker, the hon. member mentioned wanting to change the law to give the municipalities the power to refuse to permit an airport. That might be popular in an isolated case.

It is also true that all Canadians want airports to be in another municipality. If we allow every municipality to refuse to permit an airport or an airfield, there would not be any in the country. What the hon. member is proposing will never happen, regardless of the government or its political stripes.

I suggest that she work with the municipalities, the other partners and the government in order to find a solution that suits the local population and our national aviation system, a system that is necessary and essential.

Transport
Adjournment Proceedings

9:25 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker Denise Savoie

Pursuant to Standing Order 81(4) the motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been withdrawn. The House will now resolve itself into committee of the whole for the purpose of considering all votes under Environment in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.

I do now leave the chair for the House to resolve itself into committee of the whole.

[For continuation of proceedings see part B]

[Continuation of proceedings from part A]

(Consideration in committee of the whole of all votes under Environment in the main estimates, Ms. Denise Savoie in the chair)

Environment—Main Estimates, 2012-13
Business of Supply
Government Orders

9:25 p.m.

NDP

The Chair Denise Savoie

I will put out a few rules around tonight's debate.

Tonight's debate is a general one on all of the votes under Environment. The first round will begin with the usual rotation, with the official opposition followed by the government and the Liberal Party. After that, we will follow the usual proportional rotation

Each member will be allocated 15 minutes at a time, which may be used both for a debate and for posing questions. Should members wish to use this time to make a speech, it can last a maximum of 10 minutes, leaving at least 5 minutes for questions to the minister.

When a member is recognized, he or she should indicate to the Chair how the 15 minute period will be used. Members should also note that they will need the unanimous consent of the committee if they wish to split their time with another member. Members need not be in their own seats to be recognized.

When the time is to be used for questions and answers, the Chair will expect that the minister's response will reflect approximately the time taken by the question, since this time will be counted in the time originally allotted to the member.

I also wish to indicate that in committee of the whole, all remarks should be addressed through the Chair, and I ask for everyone's co-operation in upholding the standards of parliamentary language and behaviour.

At the conclusion of tonight's debate, the committee will rise, the estimates under Environment will be deemed reported and the House will adjourn immediately until tomorrow.

We will now begin tonight's session of the House in committee of the whole pursuant to Standing Order 81(4)(a), the second appointed day, consideration in committee of the whole of all votes under Environment in the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.

The hon. member for Halifax.