House of Commons Hansard #117 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was housing.

Topics

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

The Acting Speaker Mr. Bruce Stanton

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns
Routine Proceedings

12:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

When we last left this matter, the hon. member for Winnipeg North had five minutes remaining for questions and comments.

Questions and comments. The hon. member for Kingston and the Islands.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Ted Hsu Kingston and the Islands, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we look at all the acts that would be affected by the budget implementation bill, and with maybe one or two days set aside for debate on each one, how many days of debate would the member come up with as a reasonable number for the bill?

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Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, this particular budget has hundreds of pages, many of which have little if anything to do with implementing the budget. The government is using the budget in an attempt to introduce new legislation through the back door, legislation that should be stand-alone legislation.

By doing that, the government is disallowing possibly thousands of hours of debate, whether inside the House or in committee. It is also denying hundreds of witnesses from across the country the opportunity to participate in decisions on important legislation that will pass as a direct result of the government using this back door. It is unprecedented. Canadians need to be aware that this is more than just a typical budget debate. It is unacceptable behaviour by the Government of Canada.

We call upon the Government of Canada to recognize the importance of democracy and the role that this chamber plays by taking out the 70-plus acts that would be changed by using the back door.

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12:15 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, there are many parts of the budget that are troublesome to me.

I would like to ask my hon. colleague a question about the changes to the environmental assessment and review processes that are proposed in what the government is calling a budget bill. Why is the government calling this a budget bill? Does the member think the government is trying to hide the huge changes that would be made to the environmental assessment process?

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12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the critic for that member's party and the Liberal Party critic have talked about how devastating the bill would be on the environment. The bill would change legislation with respect to the environment which t would ultimately have a negative impact on Canada's environment.

That is the point I am trying to make when I say that this is supposed to be a budget debate. We should be talking about priorities. The government is cutting over 15,000 civil servants in the same year that it made the decision to increase the number of politicians. We will have more MPs, more political spin doctors. At the same time the government is telling Canadians that 10,000-plus jobs will be cut from the very important and vulnerable services that Canadians need.

This debate should be about those kinds of priorities. That is what the bill is supposed to be about. Unfortunately, because of the 70-plus acts, we have to talk about many other issues, such as the bill's impact on environmental legislation, which is a great case in point.

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May 4th, 2012 / 12:20 p.m.

Oak Ridges—Markham
Ontario

Conservative

Paul Calandra Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage

Mr. Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in the House but it is a particularly big honour to rise and talk about the next phase of Canada's economic action plan.

It is also important for us to give some thought to how we came about this next phase of the economic action plan. We were elected on a promise to focus on jobs and the economy. We were elected on the promise to bring our budget back into balance.

Since we were elected, members on this side of the House have been engaging in their local communities. We have talked to members of the Chambers of Commerce. We have talked to our neighbours and our friends. We have held round tables, not only in our ridings but in ridings across this country. We asked Canadians how they thought the government should proceed toward guaranteeing the future economic stability and prosperity of this country and how we should bring our budget back into balance to guarantee that long-term stability and economic growth.

Canadians were very clear in saying that they wanted the government to look at ways of reducing waste. They wanted government to continue to look at ways of reducing duplication. They wanted to ensure their government kept in mind that they wanted their taxes lower and that the government offered hope and opportunity for future generations of Canadians, and that is what the next phase of Canada's economic action plan offers.

However, it is also important for us to look back to see how we came to this particular point. When this government was elected, it began almost immediately to focus on renewing and restoring faith and pride in the institutions of this country. It began to focus exclusively on how we could improve the economy, not just on that day but for future generations of Canadians. We also knew at that time that there would be some difficult times and difficult choices that would need to be made in the years ahead.

I remember an interview that the Prime Minister gave in, I believe, 2007, in which he talked about the years ahead and that there would be some difficult choices that would need to be made and that there were some troubling signs that the global economy was headed for some difficult waters. Therefore, we made some very clear choices back then to ensure that the Canadian economy had all the tools it needed to continue long-term growth and prosperity. We campaigned on that.

That is why, after we were elected, we immediately set out to stimulate the Canadian economy and to leave more money in the hands of Canadians. How did we do that? We did that by reducing taxes for families. We cut the GST from 7% to 6% and then down to 5% because we recognized that the way we could stimulate the economy was by leaving more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians so that they could invest in themselves, in their families and in their businesses.

However, then we did more. We introduced the national infrastructure program at the time, which was one of the largest infrastructure programs in Canadian history. The building Canada fund, which went across this country to reinvest in our infrastructure, be it roads or bridges. We started down that road.

We looked at our small businesses to see how we could help them to succeed, not only locally but so they could compete and succeed internationally. That is why we reduced taxes for our small businesses. We reduced taxes for our manufacturers. We set out a very aggressive agenda to open up new markets for our small businesses, our medium-sized businesses and our large businesses. We set out to create and open new markets so that those people who generate wealth and create jobs in this country had every opportunity to do that going forward.

In advance of the global economic downturn, we paid down some $40 billion worth of debt, recognizing that there could be some troubled waters ahead.

I remember the time when that discussion was taking place. I had not yet been elected but I remember being at home and listening to how some of the other parties suggested that the $40 billion that had been used to pay down the debt should have been spent in other areas of government. However, we resisted that because we knew that the best thing for the Canadians economy and for Canadians was to start to pay down our debt.

When the global economy did eventually turn, as it did in late 2008 and in 2009, we were in an extraordinary position to meet that challenge and to actually succeed in ensuring that Canadian prosperity and Canadian families could enjoy future economic opportunities.

What did we do in 2008 and 2009 when the global economy started to shift? We started to invest. We again sought the advice of Canadians. We asked Canadian businesses, Canadian families and our partners at the provincial and municipal levels what we needed to do to make sure that hope that opportunity continued in this country. We asked what we needed to do to guarantee that our health care system and the social programs that Canadians rely on could be guaranteed for future generations.

That is when we brought forward Canada's first economic action plan. It was an incredible document that sought advice from all kinds of Canadians. In the first phase of that economic action plan, we set out a very aggressive agenda to reinvest in our country, to make a very large investment with our provincial and municipal partners in roads, sewers and hospitals, as well as massive investments in our colleges and universities and in our recreation and sporting facilities.

We did all of the things that we needed to do in order to give the economy and our small businesses—our wealth generators, and the people who create jobs—the opportunity to succeed as we came out of the global economic downturn.

The results are quite clear. Despite the global economic downturn, this government has created over 700,000 net new jobs. These are predominantly full-time jobs and very well-paying jobs. Canada is leading the G7 in terms of economic prosperity. It is leading the G7 in terms of economic growth.

We know that the first phase of Canada's economic action plan was an incredible and resounding success, and through the last election we said that it was now time for us to move forward. It is time for us to move forward to continue to guarantee long-term growth in this country.

We asked what we needed to do that, and Canadians told us to continue to move forward by reducing taxes but to also start to bring the budget back into balance. That is what this government has been doing for the last year, after consulting Canadians.

The economic action plan introduced by the award-winning Minister of Finance outlines a clear course, a clear path to a balanced budget, but it does even more than that. It continues to reduce taxes for Canadians. It continues to reduce taxes for our small businesses. It gets out of the way of people who want to create wealth and jobs and opportunity.

As part of the consultations for the economic action plan, the red tape commission was formed. That red tape commission criss-crossed this country and asked people how government could assist them and how government could get out of the way.

Part of the economic action plan going forward is a recognition that when government brings in a regulation, another regulation should be removed, so that we do not handcuff the people who want to create jobs in this country. I think that is an extraordinarily important initiative.

The Minister of Finance, along with the Minister of Health, announced a long-term strategy to guarantee that we have sufficient resources and some record funding for health care in this country. We have said to our provincial partners and to our friends at the municipal level that we will continue to work with them and not against them, that the days of unilateral cuts, as we saw from previous Liberal governments, are over, and that this government was going to work with them in the best interests of all Canadians.

We have moved forward with trade agreements with the European Union. We are expanding markets for our manufacturers. We are doing more with respect to environmental assessment to make sure that we not only protect Canadian jobs but also open up new markets. For the manufacturers in southern Ontario, this is an extraordinary benefit. It is the manufacturers of southern Ontario that support the wealth that is being created in the west through our oil and natural resources, so they are very excited by the opportunity.

When we look more closely at the department that I have the honour of working with, Canadian Heritage, we can see the opportunities we are creating there by protecting the investments we have made. This government, throughout the global economic downturn, was one of the only governments that did not just maintain funding for arts and culture but actually increased funding for arts and culture. We did that because we understand that arts and culture are very important to the Canadian economy. They are the source of thousands of jobs and the source of an incredible amount of revenue generated across the country.

We have guaranteed and maintained the highest level of funding for the Canada Council for the Arts in this budget. When we came to office, our museums were struggling; this government increased funding to our national museums. We have created two new national museums in Halifax and Winnipeg and we have guaranteed the funding to those national museums. We are investing record amounts in youth programs across the country.

The future is very bright indeed for this country. Through the continued efforts of the Minister of Finance and all of the members on this side of the House to guarantee that future through this economic action plan by voting with it, we can ensure a very prosperous and happy future for Canadians for generations to come.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. parliamentary secretary talks about future generations, and that is one of our primary concerns in looking at this legislation: the failure to look to future generations, to think about what we owe future generations, both in terms of our fiscal performance and in terms of the ecological deficit we will leave.

One of the pieces of legislation repealed in this act spoke specifically to the question of intergenerational equity through the concept of sustainable development. The Minister of the Environment has put forward the idea that we can eliminate the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy because we now have the Internet.

I would like to tell the hon. parliamentary secretary that no technological gizmo can replace getting CEOs of Canada's leading industries in the same room with trade union leaders, in the same room with environmental experts and in the same room with first nations to come to better decisions for future generations.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, of course the environment is extraordinarily important to the members on this side of the House. My family was one of the first families to donate a conservation easement across 60 acres of 100 acres of land that we owned just north of Markham. That easement was given to the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust to preserve significant amounts of natural heritage.

This government has continued to do that. Before I was elected and before that member was elected, we worked with our partners, the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Ducks Unlimited, and put significant investments into securing our natural heritage across this country. I know that in my riding we have announced the creation of a new park, the Rouge Park. We are doing a lot of things.

Some can talk about environmental protection; we chose a different path. What we chose to do is to actually act on protecting our environment. That is why greenhouse gases are coming down. That is why we are creating new parks. That is why this government has decided to get out of programs and services that do not work and to focus on those that actually do work for the environment and the Canadian economy.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is difficult to say that the environment is being protected when regulations are being dismantled and scientists are being fired.

My colleague said that the government is very careful not to spend too much on politicians and to protect services to people. In fact, the Conservatives are cutting 55,000 jobs in the public service, but they will increase the size of this House by 10%. They will increase the number of seats to 338 when there is no need to do that. We are able to address the imbalance between the provinces by keeping this House at the caucus it has today with 308 seats.

What kind of scandal is this, when politicians are thinking about themselves and cutting people?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Paul Calandra Oak Ridges—Markham, ON

Mr. Speaker, clearly the hon. member does not know that I actually represent the largest riding in the country. There are 228,000 people who call my riding home. Why should the vote of the people in my riding count for significantly less than the vote of people in the ridings of other members of the House? I represent more people than Prince Edward Island.

I think that the good, hard-working people of Oak Ridges—Markham deserve equal representation. That is why the minister of democratic reform has finally sought to balance that representation here in the House. I am very proud of what the minister has done. I am very proud that this government has actually had the courage to look at how we are represented. I am extraordinarily excited for the people of my region, because their vote will finally equal the votes of people in other parts of this country.

I know that I represent the 228,000 people in my riding very well, but they deserve to have their vote count as much as anybody else's does.