House of Commons Hansard #116 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for LaSalle—Émard for a brief answer.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. Once again, my colleague mentioned another issue—the bill is a brick and covers all sorts of things—that the Standing Committee on Industry should have studied.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
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5 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this House today to oppose both the form and the substance of Bill C-38.

This bill is a jumble of dangerous legislation rolled up into an omnibus bill. In the time allotted to me, it will be impossible to identify the multitude of problems this bill contains, but I will nonetheless try to address as many of them as possible, because these legislative changes will hit my constituents in d'Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel hard.

Among other things, this bill raises the eligibility age for old age security and guaranteed income supplement benefits; repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act; weakens the environmental assessment system and the measures to protect fish habitats, to expedite approval of large projects; changes the definition of interested parties, to narrow the scope of public participation in the environmental decision-making process; eliminates the Auditor General’s oversight of a number of agencies; repeals the Fair Wages and Hours of Work Act, which will allow employers to circumvent the wage rates set by unions for construction workers hired on projects funded by the federal government; amends the Employment Equity Act so it does not apply to federal contracts, which is a direct attack on women, aboriginal people, persons with a disability and visible minorities; and amends the Seeds Act so that private businesses can then be allowed to perform food inspections.

This bill does a lot of other things, but these aspects in particular are really going to hurt my constituents in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

I want to talk in greater detail about the fact that Bill C-38 repeals the Fair Wages and Hours of Work Act. That act has protected construction workers who work on federal projects since 1930. It guarantees them reasonable hours and a decent wage. But the government is now attacking these workers and their fair and equitable wages. Without that protection, we will be going back to the standards that were in effect in the 1930s.

As well, the Employment Equity Act will no longer apply to federal contracts. The role of that law is to protect the rights of women, minorities, aboriginal people and persons with a disability. Even with that legislation, those groups continued to suffer discrimination. And now, the government wants to take away what little protection there is.

I very much hope for the day when we live in a world where that act is no longer needed, but that is absolutely not the case. In 2002, in fact, it was recommended that this House strengthen the act, not narrow its reach.

These changes to the rules governing government subcontractors can be based in nothing other than the Conservative ideology that wants to demolish Canadians’ rights by allowing discrimination and unfair wages.

The federal government should be an exemplary employer. How can Canadians trust a government that attacks the rights of workers and its subcontractors when it comes time to protect them from the abuses of faceless megacorporations?

The current government loses on all fronts when it attacks its own employees and does nothing to protect others from brutal layoffs by companies chasing huge profits overseas.

This omnibus bill is not only dangerous for our institutions and for workers, but it also attacks the health and safety of all Canadians. Environmental deregulation and cuts to food safety are similar in their impact and, accordingly, the entire food production chain will be affected.

With environmental deregulation, we will no longer be able to protect our air, our water and our soil. Opening the door to privatizing the Canadian Food Inspection Agency will open the door to having seed inspections done by a subcontractor. That means less control and less information for the government, which could always deny knowing anything if things go wrong. This could also apply to food inspection. The government keeps offloading its responsibilities.

Ultimately, this deregulation and whittling away of checks and balances could have an effect on the health of Canadians. What is more, the government is weakening transparency and responsibility within government in the area of health.

This bill is bad for the Canadians in my riding. From Oka to Montpellier, Canadians want environmental regulations that protect them. From Mirabel to Ripon, farmers want to be able to count on the government to have regulations and inspections that are solid, fair and meaningful. From Morin Heights to Thurso, Canadians are fed up with this government, which has shamed us by withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol and is now waging a full-blown war on all the sectors of government that are responsible for providing a healthy environment for all Quebeckers and Canadians.

And just when we thought that the government could not stoop any lower, in the same bill it is attacking pensions by raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. As elected representatives, we cannot reduce the deficit by stealing Canadians' pensions. The OAS and the GIS are crucial to our public system because they help to fight poverty. The Conservatives are stealing two years of Canadians' pensions for reasons that do not make sense. There is no old age security funding crisis in Canada.

The government's most recent actuarial report indicates that the OAS and the GIS accounted for 2.37% of GDP last year, in 2011. This percentage will rise modestly to 3.16% in 2030, but will then fall below the current level to 2.35% of GDP in 2060. Clearly, there is no problem with long-term viability, and yet the Conservatives are trying to fool us by saying that these changes are intended to ensure the long-term viability of the program. However, these programs are efficient and economically sound, and the government's statements are unfounded.

In closing, the Conservatives are claiming that this budget focuses on job creation. In reality, however, a third of this bill is dedicated to scrapping regulations that protect the environment. Moreover, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has indicated that the legislation will result in the loss of 43,000 Canadian jobs. And on top of all that, we are going to have to vote on a bill without having an opportunity to engage in a proper debate on it.

I would like to draw the House's attention to what Hélène Buzzetti wrote in Le Devoir on April 27:

Yesterday the Conservative government introduced a mammoth budget implementation bill.... Everything will be examined as quickly as possible by a committee that specializes in finance.

Each of these issues could have been dealt with in a separate bill and analyzed by the appropriate parliamentary committee. Instead, the government lumped them all together in one document that will be studied all at once...

A mammoth bill, that is what the media is calling it. I would remind the Conservatives that the mammoth is an extinct species. I hope the members across the floor realize that this omnibus bill should suffer the same fate and die when it comes time to vote.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
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5:10 p.m.

Mégantic—L'Érable
Québec

Conservative

Christian Paradis Minister of Industry and Minister of State (Agriculture)

Mr. Speaker, I heard the member talking about her riding.

I also travelled around her riding and saw young people in Mirabel who were very happy with the support we are providing, particularly for the aerospace industry, and with the fact that we are funding research and development, innovation, and science and technology, in order to be able to stand out and market innovative ideas, in other words, to create wealth.

In order to provide quality services, we need to create wealth. This means reducing red tape, helping our industries and stimulating the economy, as we did during the recession. We were able to create 700,000 net new jobs. The member's party voted against all of those initiatives at the time.

Frankly, if we had followed the NDP way of thinking, the recession would have hit Canada much harder. We would be facing a debt crisis, just as the rest of the world is right now.

I do not understand how she can talk about people in her riding when we have a positive record, particularly in the Mirabel area in the aerospace industry.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
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5:10 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to quote my colleague from Hamilton.

My colleague from Hamilton just said that if the government were so proud of it, why did it not send it to the industry committee?

I live in Saint-Augustin-de-Mirabel, and I spend a lot of time talking to the people of Mirabel. The issue that the people of Mirabel are most concerned about is the environment. In fact, at least one-third of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, is about environmental deregulation. The government is implementing everything it said it would and more. My constituents had already completely lost faith in the government for attacking the environment, doing nothing and withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol. Now things are even worse.

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5:15 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. I would like to talk to her about a specific issue.

We are both members of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. The member for Burlington, Ontario, spoke in committee a little while ago. He must be in the lobby. He must understand.

I know that the Standing Orders prevent me from saying where a member is, so I apologize. Still, I know he is there.

During a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, the member mentioned that the budget will help aboriginal communities. Fortunately, a professor from First Nations University of Canada in Alberta told us that, among other things, the budget was cut by 100%. I hardly dare say it.

If that is what they call helping aboriginal communities, what more could they do to hurt them?

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5:15 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, this gives me another chance to talk about my riding.

The community of Kanesatake in my riding is concerned about the consultation that is being done with first nations when it comes to a wide variety of things, but especially the environment. Bill C-38 would cut back on the community's ability to be consulted with respect to its concerns on environmental issues.

I would remind the member that Kanesatake is on the St. Lawrence River near the Ottawa River and on Lac-des-Deux-Montagnes. Those waterways have wide implications for federal waters and things like that, yet up until now there has not been enough consultation and not enough has been done to protect those waterways. Now the people who really care about them will not be consulted as much.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
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5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Fredericton.

It is my honour to be here today to speak to the budget and budget implementation. It is something that is actually very easy to speak to, because it makes so much sense and it actually sets Canada up for a future that will be very strong.

We will not raise taxes. We will not be balancing our books on the backs of the provinces. We actually have a game plan that will create a Canada that we will love into the future, a Canada that will be prosperous into the future and a Canada that we all can be proud of.

We will have low taxes, growth and proper prudent fiscal management, which will, as I said, bring about strong economic growth. I see a bright future not just for us sitting here today, but for our kids, our grandkids and our great-grandkids. It will be a great time to be a Canadian, and we should all be proud of it. We should compliment the Prime Minister, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of State for Finance on how great a job they have done on the budget.

In the past two years, our government has already cut Canada's temporary planned deficit from the recession in half, a deficit that all members of Parliament agreed was necessary to stimulate the economy through investment in infrastructure. Since then, our economy has created some 700,000 net new jobs, placing Canada in one of the strongest fiscal positions in the G7.

Thanks to the government's strong fiscal management, Canada's budgetary balance will not be reached through the type of harsh fiscal and economic shocks now being implemented in parts of Europe, but through a building of Canada's successes by implementing moderate restraint in government spending. The majority of savings in spending will come from eliminating waste in internal government operations. We will make government leaner and more efficient. By doing this, we will be able to stay on track to balance Canada's budget by 2015.

The economic action plan 2012 will also not cut transfers to the provinces or senior levels of government. We will not balance our books on the backs of seniors and we will not balance our books on the backs of the municipalities or the provinces. We will balance the books through a combination of growth and finding efficiencies within the federal government that are there right now and that we can find with the departments. Unlike the Liberal government, which balanced its books on the backs of seniors and the provinces and created incredibly long wait-lists for medical attention and doctors' treatments, we will actually be increasing the transfers for health care and education. This budget is doing something that the Liberals never could do: it is taking responsibility for its own spending and ensuring that the use of taxpayer money is done in a proper fashion.

My province, Saskatchewan, will receive close to $1.3 billion in transfers in 2012-13. This long-term, growing support helps ensure that Saskatchewan will have the resources required to provide essential public services and contributes to the shared national objectives, including health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada's social programs.

Saskatchewan will also benefit from continued direct targeted support in 2012-13. It includes $14 million for labour market training as part of a commitment of $500 million a year in new funding to the provinces and territories, which began in 2008-09, and $8 million for the wait times reduction funds, part of the 10-year plan to strengthen health care across Canada.

We are working to strengthen the financial strength of workers, businesses and families to help create good jobs and long-term prosperity from coast to coast to coast. To help do this, for instance, we will extend by one year the hiring credit for small businesses, a measure we already know works to encourage employers to hire more workers. Furthermore, we will increase our funding for skills training for students, older workers and those Canadians with disabilities.

In Saskatchewan, our unemployment has been staying around that 4% to 5% range. It is actually a province that is doing very well. It is a province that came from an NDP background where we were shipping our kids to Alberta and everywhere else across Canada to get jobs. All of a sudden, we changed to a government that actually knew how to embrace the economy and let business do what business does, which is create jobs. This budget also does that.

When we look at the results in Saskatchewan, with a 4% to 5% unemployment rate, there is growth. We are looking for trades, skills and people. It is such an amazing success story. That is something we want to see continue right across Canada. We can never let the NDP get a foothold here in Ottawa because it would do what it did in Saskatchewan and it would actually break the country.

Another part of our plans for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity includes investing in innovation and world-class research. In response to the Jenkins report, economic action plan 2012 includes substantial funding to help create value-added jobs through innovation. We will better support the National Research Council and the industrial research and development internship program. We are also committed to additional funding to support advanced research at universities and other research institutions. We are making Canada the best place to invest.

We need to ensure that Canada is the place in which businesses want to invest in the long term. In the next 10 years, more than 500 economic projects representing $500 billion in new investments are planned across our country. In Saskatchewan, natural resources, from potash to oil, gold, coal, diamonds and uranium, offer huge potential and create even more jobs and growth.

To reach our country's full economic potential, we will implement reasonable, responsible development and smart regulations for major economic projects, respecting provincial jurisdictions and maintaining the highest standards of environmental protection. We will also streamline the review process for such projects according to the following principles: one project, one review, completed in a clearly defined time period, which will ensure that Canada has the infrastructure we need to move our exports to new markets.

That is very important for the province of Saskatchewan, because we have so many resources that are in the process of being developed. These guys go out, stake their claim, develop a mine and prove that it is financially viable, and then they sit there and wait, and it is not one year, not two years, not three years, not four years: they are waiting five or six years in order to get the environmental process completed, an environmental process that is stacked upon province and federal.

If we look at the situation now, these projects will get completed in two years, or three years at the most. They will have some bankability and know that when they invest big dollars, millions and millions of dollars, it will have a huge impact in ensuring the project is viable and can become a mine. However, what is very important, and something that we have stressed throughout, is that we will not shortchange or short-cheat the environment. We are ensuring that all the environmental requirements are met and we are working with the provinces to ensure those environmental standards are up to a standard that Canadians expect and deserve. We are not taking any shortcuts. Again, we are just getting rid of duplication, waste and bureaucracy.

One thing this government has done very well over the last few years is on international trade, and I congratulate the Minister of International Trade for the work he has done on this file. We will have a low corporate tax rate of around 15%. We have a market already through NAFTA that has roughly 300 million consumers, and then, with the Canadian-European trade agreement that we are working on, we will have another 500 million consumers.

Canada will be the only country in the world that will have market access to not only of the U.S., Mexico and other trading partners that we have agreements with already, but we will have market access to the European Union once the Canadian-European trade agreement is done. I cannot tell members how huge this is will be for Canada. It will create so many jobs it is unreal. We will have access to 500 million more consumers. We will have access for companies that would have low tax rates to locate here in Canada. They will know that just by locating here, they will have 800 million consumers they can trade with, and that is not counting the other trade agreements we have with Chile and Peru and the possibility of the Trans-Pacific partnership that we are working on and hopefully will be involved with in the future. Canada gets it. The Minister of International Tradegets it. We are an exporting country.

I come from a province of agriculture producers. We make our money from trading. We need to ensure we have market access. Our minister understands that and is doing everything he can to ensure that we have it. That is one of the things that will make this country a bright country in the future.

There are so many things we can talk about in the budget and how it will impact families, pensioners and long-term prosperity. However, I cannot stress enough that when we combine low tax rates, we create jobs.

When companies have a low tax rate, they create jobs. I know the NDP thinks that companies are these huge multinationals, but there are companies like Ted Matheson Men’s Wear in Prince Albert. When his tax rate is a little lower, he can hire another employee to work in his store. It is the manufacturers that we see out in St. Brieux, like Bourgault Industries, which is not a small manufacturer by any means, but when they have low tax rates, they are reinvesting in that small town of St. Brieux and in the areas of Melfort, Tisdale and Humboldt. That is what happens when we have low tax rates. It is better to leave that money with the companies and have them invest it in their communities than to send it to Ottawa and have it wasted somewhere else.

I think that if businesses are wondering where they should set up a business to manufacture and grow, it is right here in Canada. This budget helps implement and put in place the solid rooting for proper businesses to grow in the future throughout the world.

It is an amazing budget and one that I am proud to support. I cannot imagine how somebody could not support this budget. If they do not support this budget, then they do not have Canada's long-term interests at heart.

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May 3rd, 2012 / 5:25 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for that information.

Bill C-38 contains many provisions, in particular, division 49 of part 4.

Why eliminate the First Nations Statistical Institute? By doing so, I believe the government is eliminating an independent source of statistics on first nations. In my riding of Joliette, there is the Manawan Atikamekw community.

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5:25 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, it is classic NDP spending priorities. We can take that money, put it on statistics and hire people who will study and study more things, or we can actually take that money and put into more education for aboriginal students, because that is what they are asking for in my riding. They are asking for more spaces to go to school, to take on a trade or get a university degree. They are asking for better funding for their elementary schools and high schools.

When we have a dollar to spend, I know the NDP would rather spend it on some theory or some professor doing some theoretical work. The member should not get me wrong; I am sure the statistical work is very important work, but if we only have a dollar to spend in a lot of situations, we need to ensure that dollar is used in the most effective way. I think it is more effectively used getting direct impact help to the aboriginal kids and students who require it than going to some other areas.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
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5:25 p.m.

Conservative

James Bezan Selkirk—Interlake, MB

Mr. Speaker, I know the hon. member for Prince Albert has been working hard in his riding representing the agricultural community. A lot that is in the budget really does help out agriculture. It helps out our municipalities. It really does address a lot of the concerns and needs that we have in rural Canada.

I was wondering if the member wanted to talk about some of the changes that we are making to the way we are handling the permit process for clean ditches, drains, municipal projects and helping farmers deal with excess water.

In my riding of Selkirk—Interlake, we have dealt with excess moisture for three out of the last five years. There have been delays in getting permits from DFO to do something as simple as cleaning out a culvert or building some drains on some farmland. We are backlogged because of DFO as well as the Manitoban government's permit processes. I would like him to talk about how important that is for his agriculture producers to deal with issues in a real time situation so that they can get a crop into the ground and develop better opportunities to advance their productivity.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
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5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I know the member for Selkirk—Interlake had a lot of input in this budget because, if we look at his situation, these are areas where he had a lot of concern for his constituents. He wanted to ensure they had the tools and resources they needed to get the job done on their farms and ensure they can produce a good, healthy crop and have a good lifestyle.

What we were seeing in Saskatchewan with my riding and in the municipalities was just silliness. People would go to put in a culvert and all of a sudden DFO representatives would come and say that they could not do it. They would actually say, “You've got to park that backhoe for three weeks until we come back and look at where you're going to put that culvert. You're going to have to maybe change it by two feet or three feet or you're going to have to put a whole pile of stuff in there.”

What was interesting was that in a lot of these waterways, there was no water. They were waterways where maybe for three weeks water would flow during the spring runoff, and then there would be no water in them for the rest of the year unless we had a torrential downpour. There was silliness going on on the Prairies in terms of DFO, the navigable waters and Fisheries and Oceans.

That is one thing the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans got correct. He understands what is important to maintain a proper vibrant fishery. He also understands the balance of ensuring that what is represented and what is done on the Prairies is actually taking care of the fisheries and also taking care of the needs of farmers and the rural municipalities that work in the area.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
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5:30 p.m.

NDP

Hélène LeBlanc LaSalle—Émard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened attentively to the hon. member's remarks.

I would like to ask him how this budget will promote employment or the type of industry that will add value to our natural resources. This is a problem. The government wants to take our primary resources and export them. We do a lot of trade with many partners. But how does this budget add value to our natural resources to ensure that we have many high paying jobs?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
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5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, I could go on for hours on what the response will be from the manufacturing sector and the resource development sector on this budget because of what we have done. Right off the bat I can say that having a low corporate income tax rate is an incentive for companies to locate for value-added here on the Prairies, and that is in the budget. The ability to have markets to sell their products to is something that we are working on through the Minister of International Trade and the trade agreements. Setting the stage so business can go out and employ people and locate here in Canada is important.

That is what we are doing in this budget. We are making it so that government is not creating jobs, business is creating jobs. They will create thousands of jobs, perhaps millions of jobs, based on the good foundations that are being set in this budget.

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5:30 p.m.

Fredericton
New Brunswick

Conservative

Keith Ashfield Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway

Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to address some vital and sensible changes proposed by the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act.

I would like to first acknowledge and thank my colleague, the Minister of Finance, for putting together a visionary, thoughtful and thorough budget.

I am proud to be part of a government that is taking much-needed steps to help Canadians address the challenges of today's global economy. Our government recognizes that Canada is lucky to be the steward of a vast and abundant array of natural resources. We want to ensure they can contribute to our economic growth and job creation in a sustainable and responsible way now and for future generations.

One of Canada's traditional resources is our fishery. As part of our government's commitment to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, we have introduced changes to the Fisheries Act that would put a focus on protecting Canadian fisheries. These proposed changes to the Fisheries Act would shift the Department of Fisheries and Oceans from managing all impacts on all fish and all habitat to focusing on protecting Canada's fisheries and the habitat that supports it.

The current Fisheries Act's provisions are indiscriminate. They require that all projects and all waters, regardless of the fish species present or their contribution to fisheries, be considered in the same way.

Under the current rules, an irrigation canal on a farmer's field is valued the same way as the Great Lakes. We frankly do not think that makes a lot of sense.

The role and responsibility of Fisheries and Oceans Canada is indeed to protect this marvellous historic important resource, our fishery. We believe that Canadians want their government to make good, common-sense changes to the system so we can minimize or eliminate restrictions on routine activities on non-protected waterways and, at the same time, maintain appropriate, reasonable and responsible protection for Canada's fisheries.

In short, our government believes that fish protection policies should focus on Canada's fisheries, not on farmers' fields and flood plains.

Contrary to what some opposition members have been saying, the habitat that supports Canada's fisheries includes areas where these fish live, grow and reproduce along with the fish they eat.

We are in good company in our belief that Canada's fish protection policies should focus on fisheries instead of non-productive areas like drainage ditches or irrigation channels.

Berry Vrbanovic, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has said that the changes “...will allow governments to spend less time processing paperwork for small, low-risk public works...”.

This is good common sense, and a very conservative approach to boot.

He went on to say that:

These reforms will make it easier for governments to set clear, sensible priorities for protecting fish habitats. Currently the Fisheries Act applies the same protections to rivers and streams as municipal drains and farmers' irrigation canals. That doesn't make sense.

We agree with him and the countless other municipal leaders who have been calling for these types of reforms for many years.

Opposition parties should spend more time listening to Canadians about the countless tales of the current rules protecting ditches, man-made reservoirs and flood plains while they should be protecting rivers, lakes and oceans that are home to our fisheries.

Unlike the opposition, we are listening to Canadians. This government will ensure that decisions regarding Canada's vital waterways are made by Canadians in the interest of Canadians.

These proposed amendments would allow us to manage a range of threats, including the killing of fish, the permanent alteration and destruction of fish habitat, and aquatic invasive species.

To manage the threats to the fisheries, we would be able to identify ecologically significant areas for fisheries and ensure higher levels of protection for these areas. We would be able to enforce conditions through the Fisheries Act authorizations. Currently, DFO can set conditions but, believe it or not, cannot enforce them.

These changes would allow us to crack down on those who break the rules and they would align penalties under the Fisheries Act with those in the Environmental Enforcement Act, resulting in much stiffer penalties.

Now that we have set the direction, we will consult with interested groups, conservationists with expertise in protecting waterways, fishermen who benefit from the resource, aboriginals, provinces and territories and municipalities.

These consultations would inform us as we develop the regulatory and policy framework that would support and better define the changes. We will continue to build partnerships with those committed to preserving and protecting fisheries, with the hope that they can play an even larger role in the future.

In fact, we want to enhance partnerships with provinces and territories, industry and conservation groups. Where provinces and territories have laws or regulations for fisheries protection that are at least equivalent to our own, we would now recognize the provincial laws to avoid an unnecessarily duplicative process. We would now be able to incorporate best practices fisheries protection standards established by provinces or industry. The amendments would enable the government to allow other regulators to issue authorizations under the Fisheries Act, such as a province or a federal agency.

We would also be able to enter into agreements with third parties, such as conservation groups or professional organizations, to carry out and further the protection of our fisheries and the habitat that supports it. We want to work better and smarter with our partners and we want the rules to work more sensibly and practically for Canadians.

We would clarify situations where development poses the highest risk to fish and fish habitat and those areas of limited risk. We would establish a new framework, in conjunction with stakeholders, to make it easier for people to comply with the Fisheries Act while working in or near water. This would include identifying classes of low-risk work, such as installing a cottage dock, and classes of water where project reviews would not be required. For medium-risk projects, standards would be established allowing Canadians much-needed clarity while they carry out those projects.

Federal pollution protection laws would continue to protect Canada's waterways as they have in the past. We do not believe it is sensible or practical to treat all bodies of water the same way, and our government is making long-overdue changes to our rules to focus DFO on what is important to Canadians. It makes good common sense that the government should be able to minimize or eliminate restrictions on commonplace activities that pose little or no threat and, at the same time, maintain appropriate, reasonable and responsible protection for Canada's fisheries.

Other Canadians also believe that the Fisheries Act is in need of an update. Ducks Unlimited, for example, has noted that:

...the [Conservative] government announced that it commits to the responsible protection and conservation of Canada’s fisheries. Ducks Unlimited...supports this direction and understands that laws and regulations must be updated at interval to ensure that they address evolving social, economic and environmental systems, as well as support efficient process to achieve desired outcomes.

It went on to say:

DUC supports the federal government in updating the federal fisheries legislation and taking a targeted approach that would support the conservation and sustainable use of our fisheries resources. Also, the proposed changes will make it easier for the fisheries legislation and regulations to be enforced.

Let us take a look at what these changes can mean for Canadians. For anglers, the proposed changes would provide specific protection for recreational fisheries and support their ongoing productivity. For conservation groups, the proposed changes would enable the identification and protection of ecologically significant areas. Under the new rules, we would also be able to enter into agreements with these and other groups to undertake enhanced fisheries protection. This could include innovative approaches to protect habitat, support for aquatic invasive species outreach and development of standards for fish protection or other matters.

These proposed changes also include enhanced compliance and enforcement tools such as enforceable conditions, duty for proponents to notify in the event of serious harm to fisheries and penalties aligned with the Environmental Enforcement Act.

In conclusion, our recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries are important to Canadians. We want our rules that protect this resource to be sensible, clear and practical, and we want to ensure that they focus on the priorities of Canadians.