House of Commons Hansard #125 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environment.

Topics

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

May 16th, 2012 / 4:10 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, the member needs to stop making assumptions and claiming certain things. We are not talking about a carbon tax here. We are talking about a Conservative bill that eliminates a number of environmental regulations.

If, as he claims, economic and environmental principles are not necessarily mutually exclusive, he will have to agree that, in addition, protecting the environment and creating jobs are not mutually exclusive either.

How does eliminating the protection of fish habitat create jobs? Will it create jobs? Can the member tell us how many jobs will be created by completely wiping out all fish habitat protection? How many jobs will be created by this policy?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, those of us in Saskatchewan understand this because we had to experience it for so may years. However, it is extremely unfortunate that the NDP thinks we have to take from one group in order to give to another group. We heard its leader talk about how we had to basically shut down the economy in western Canada in order to try to create something in eastern Canada, failing to understand that the two of them are tied together and that prosperity in one part of the country generates prosperity in another part. It also fails to understand that we can have a balanced economy and environmental protection at the same time.

The NDP will consistently take the extreme position that we need to stop the economy, stop development in the country and try to make people more dependent on government, so government can continue to grow in order to protect the environment. We can find the balance between economic growth and environmental protection, and the budget bill does that.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Calgary Southeast
Alberta

Conservative

Jason Kenney Minister of Citizenship

Mr. Speaker, a few moments ago the member for Winnipeg North characterized as heartless and cruel the efforts to finally move toward a fast immigration system which will allow us to admit qualified applicants for immigration within a matter of months rather than years, ensuring they have better employment prospects and get higher incomes, better linking newcomers to our labour market.

Would the member for Cypress Hills—Grasslands not agree with me that if anything was cruel, it was the former Liberal government's incompetent mismanagement of our immigration system, which left to this government in 2006 a backlog of nearly one million people waiting for up to eight years to immigrate to Canada? Would he not agree with me that was an example of terrible neglect of the immigration system on the part of the previous Liberal government?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would have to agree with the minister, probably the best minister of citizenship and immigration we have had in our country for many decades. It was imperative that something be done to change the system that was in place when the Liberals were finally removed from power. As he pointed out, there were huge backlogs. Hundreds of thousands of people were waiting to get into our country. We are trying to establish an immigration system where people can come to Canada and get good-paying jobs and we can deal with some of the inequality that we have seen in the past with which immigrants have had to deal.

I have to congratulate the minister for his great work on this file. He has dealt with this tough file in a way that is fair to immigrants and Canadians and makes a huge difference for Canadians.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am interested in hearing the minister try to address this issue, in a somewhat fictitious way, I must say. The government, in fact, caused the backlog to hit the one million point. What the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism is doing is hitting the delete button, literally telling 100,000 people abroad that they can no longer come to Canada. Bill C-38 would do that. It is a cruel way of dealing with would-be immigrants.

The member is trying to play the politics of that being a great minister when reality shows us quite differently. We have never seen a minister hit a delete button on backlogs. We have never seen a minister put an absolute two-year freeze on being able to sponsor parents. How is that fair? Why has the government has chosen this budget, Bill C-38, to go through the back door and—

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. There needs to be time left for the hon. parliamentary secretary to give his response.

The hon. parliamentary secretary.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is very typical of the Liberal Party. It did nothing for 13 years and allowed the backlog to grow from 500,000 to 600,000 to 700,000 to 800,000 to 840,000. We were elected and we tried to straighten out the system. Now he says that we should not have done that. Had Liberals been in power, by now that backlog would be 1.5 million and the wait list would not be 8 years but probably 12 to 14 years. How does that serve immigrants?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest, Employment; the hon. member for Québec, Veterans Affairs; the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway, Citizenship and Immigration.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleagues who have debated and engaged in this today. I particularly appreciated my close colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board, for his remarks.

I welcome this opportunity to speak about our government's plan for responsible resource development. I do that not just as a member of Parliament who represents a region of Saskatchewan, both urban and rural, which depends heavily on resource development, but as someone who has worked in these industries over the years.

As have many Canadians, I paid my way through university by planting trees in our forestry sector, a good physical job that paid well, rewarded initiative and paid not per hour but per tree, something which many university students could appreciate. At the end of the day, the harder we worked, the more effort we put in, the more we appreciated our university education. That university education allowed me to become a geophysicist, someone who got to practise in northern Quebec, in Nunavut, in Yukon, in the Northwest Territories, in Manitoba and in my beloved home province of Saskatchewan. Therefore, I had the privilege of understanding, not just in the theoretical or the abstract but actually very practical to my own bottom line, the bottom line of my constituents and my personal life, the value of natural resources to us as a country.

Our government's top priority has always been to support jobs and growth and to sustain the Canadian economy. Since we introduced the economic action plan to respond to the global recession, Canada has recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession. In fact, in less than three years since 2009, employment has increased by more than three-quarters of a million, achieving the strongest job growth among the G7 countries, and our natural resource sector is a large part of that extraordinary job growth.

The natural resources sectors have supported the development of communities large and small throughout our nation and they have helped us to build a quality of life that is second to none in the world. Today, Canada's natural resource sector employs 760,000 Canadians. Furthermore, the resources sectors also generate billions of dollars worth of tax revenues and royalties annually to help pay for government programs and services for Canadians. We can see this future wealth being capitalized and becoming a reality now.

Over the next decade, Canada could have as many as 500 new projects and $500 billion in investments in energy and mining sectors alone. I will give just one basic example of how this can affect our country.

In my constituency a potash mine is being developed. When it is developed, as looks very likely to happen, it will be the world's largest potash mine. This project in and of itself is worth over $10 billion.

We see that resource development is not just isolated in Canada to Fort McMurray, to the oil sands, to the region up north. This is something that affects all Canadians. The development of this mine does not just boost economic activity in the riding of Saskatoon—Humboldt in the city of Saskatoon. Much of the engineering for this project is being done in Ontario and Quebec, employing highly skilled engineers in the service industry in eastern Canada. With these projects creating an estimated 700,000 jobs across Canada, they will continue to increase our country's economic prosperity.

However, we have seen, via the leader of the party, the NDP disagrees. Its leader said that the natural resources were a disease that would destroy the manufacturing sector. In the NDP's world, all of economic growth is a zero-sum game. Good high-paying jobs are all at the expense of the east. Instead of embracing economic growth, the leader of the NDP has chosen to pit one region of the country against another.

To be perfectly fair, that is not completely accurate because natural resources are an integral part of the entire Canadian economy and when people begin to attack natural resources as damaging other parts of the Canadian economy and other regions of the economy, they attack natural resources industries all across the country. I think of the diamond mines in the Northwest Territories and in Ontario, oil production off the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador. I think of the Plan Nord going forward in northern Quebec. When they attack natural resources, they attack northern Quebec, Newfoundland, the Northwest Territories, the entirety of the prairie regions and in effect they attack one of the largest economic growth engines of Canada for all 10 provinces.

As has been stated earlier, economic growth in one region, the west, does not disadvantage another region, eastern Canada. It is quite the opposite. The economic growth of the west requires manufactured products of all types, from machinery to pipelines to construction material.

Hundreds of companies in the east are benefiting in a large way from resource development, not just in the west, but in Canada in its entirety. Just listen to what Jayson Meyers, CEO and president of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, said about resource development:

In total, CME estimates that energy and resource companies invested more than $85 billion in major capital projects in 2011, and is expecting investments to double over the next three years.... These investments in major capital projects will drive new business for Canadian manufacturers in a variety of sectors ranging from equipment, structural steel, and metal fabricating to construction materials and parts suppliers. They will provide opportunities for engineering and construction companies, processing and environmental technology companies, and services ranging from accommodation, food, environmental, and resource services, through to land management, trucking, and distribution as well.

Far from destroying our manufacturing sector, our resource sector is helping to provide jobs to the manufacturing sector.

Canadians understand full well what the government is trying to achieve here. They understand the massive economic potential of our resources. They also know that when it comes to resource development and the environment, it is not an either/or situation. Canadians realize that it is possible to have both. We can responsibly develop Canada's resources and protect the environment as we modernize the regulatory system. In fact, a recent public opinion survey from the chamber of commerce showed 65% of the people asked agreed that it is possible to increase energy production while protecting the environment. This is very true.

With responsible resource development, we will not only maintain Canada's world-class environmental protection programs, we also intend to strengthen them. This would be achieved by focusing federal environmental assessment efforts on major projects that can have adverse effects on the environment.

Let me add a personal note here. I have worked in mining resource exploration. The people of Canada need to know that companies themselves take a very tough line on environmental standards.

When I did exploration in the north, we actually left behind less of an ecological imprint than most of the tour organizers and tourists who were going through northern Canada. Mining exploration was less of an impact than canoe trips and people going through the north. That is not to say that they were causing a major negative ecological impact on northern Canada. It just shows how absolutely serious we were. We picked up everything we put down. Absolutely everything that flew in, flew out. We were very strict on environmental standards.

Our government will take steps to strengthen compliance and introduce stronger enforcement tools. We will do this in several ways: by introducing new, enforceable environmental assessment decisions that ensure project proponents comply with required environmental protection measures; by introducing new penalties for contraventions of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act; by authorizing the use of administrative monetary penalties for violations of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the National Energy Board Act. We will also strengthen compliance by making conditions attached to the Fisheries Act authorizations enforceable.

These are not the actions of a government that is scared to stand up for the environment, but a government that cares greatly about the environment and understands that the environment and natural resources work together.

I spent much of my career before arriving in Parliament travelling across Canada seeing how our natural resources create jobs and prosperity in every region of the country.

Canadians from coast to coast realize how important resource sectors are to their communities, livelihood and well-being. The natural resources industry is our endowment. It is a high-tech industry. It is something we need to unleash, this resource potential, to create jobs, not just in western Canada, not just in northern Canada, not just in eastern Canada, but in Canada in its entirety. There is vast potential for all regions of our country to benefit from the responsible development of our resources.

I entirely reject the NDP premise that what is good for one part of the country is bad for the rest. All of Canada can prosper as a united, free country.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Paulina Ayala Honoré-Mercier, QC

Mr. Speaker, our Conservative colleague talked about the responsible development of resource projects in the mining sector. In order to achieve that, thorough environmental assessments are needed before a project of that scope can begin.

How can this be achieved if restrictive delays are imposed on environmental assessments and if, on top of that, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's budget is cut?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, it goes back to the underlying premise that more hurdles create better results.

I would invite the hon. member to look back to some of the things that this government did prior to the last election. We developed an economic plan to get infrastructure out faster.

When we did call officials and other people back to testify before the transportation and infrastructure committee, which I was a part of at the time, they testified that as things were done faster there was more focus and more people had responsibility. Rather than passing the buck, authority was taken, answers were delivered, people knew who was responsible. More expenditures, more hurdles, more regulations do not necessarily provide a better outcome.

We are interested first and foremost in the outcome when it comes to the environment and developing our natural resources.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, I agree with the hon. member that resources are important to communities across Canada but I disagree about how we are developing them.

Before 2000, Canada made progress in moving away from being hewers of wood, drawers of water, and miners and exporters of raw bitumen and crude oil. Yesterday's Globe and Mail had some interesting statistics about how the clock has been turned back and how the economy is reverting back to a raw materials industry. In 1999, manufactured goods constituted almost 60% of all exports out of Canada. In 2011, unprocessed and semi-processed resources constituted two-thirds of total exports, the highest in decades.

Do we not really need a new, or maybe it is renewed, industrial strategy which would constitute more than tax cuts to banks and big oil companies, hasty so-called free trade agreements and irresponsible resource exploitation?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will respond to my hon. colleague's question in two respects.

The first thing I would note is, yes, we could lower the percentage of our natural resource exports. We would do that by cutting the prices. I do not know why any government would encourage its citizens to lower the price for the goods that they are selling. That does not make sense. One of the reasons that the percentage of raw materials has gone up in our trade is because their value has gone up. More money is flowing into Canada for the same barrel of oil and for the same tonne of potash.

The second thing I would note, which I am sure my hon. colleague understands coming from this region, is that the natural resources industry is a high-tech industry. Drilling for oil or developing a new mine needs vast amounts of engineering intellectual capital, be it with computer science design, mine design or various other technologies.

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

David Sweet Ancaster—Dundas—Flamborough—Westdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question is on research and development and the importance of that in the future economy. McMaster University and McMaster Innovation Park are in my riding. They have sent letters to the government heralding the budget. We have had many discussions and workshops around the importance of research, development and venture capital to get rid of the gap between the research lab and the shop floor to create tomorrow's jobs.

Is that really important in Saskatchewan like it is in Ontario?

Opposition Motion--Budget Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Light Source, a very high-tech, large project physics development centre is in Saskatoon. It is an excellent example of R and D. I have personally gone to bat for it to make sure it gets funding. Among other things such as pharmaceuticals and other research, it does environmental and natural resource research for mining companies to help them develop. We see that R and D, supported by this government, is integrated with natural resources in high-tech, urban areas.

Canadians are all in this together, regardless of where they come from. Our industries are interlinked.