House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

The Environment
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Thornhill
Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her question.

What this report fails to tackle is that this program addresses only the most contaminated sites across Canada. In that regard, the commissioner notes that almost half, 42%, of the sites in the inventory were cleaned up by February of this year.

This plan has worked well to date. It will continue to work well as we work our way to address the most serious contaminated sites.

Oral Questions
Points of Order
Oral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Lévis—Bellechasse
Québec

Conservative

Steven Blaney Minister of Veterans Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a document entitled Privacy Action Plan, version 2.0.

It is the same document I made reference to in question period.

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

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke has six minutes left to conclude her speech.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, to help workers who may become disabled, we have implemented our wage earner protection plan, requiring federally-regulated private sector employers to ensure, on a go-forward basis, any long-term disability plans they offer to their employees. We are also improving the registered disability savings plan.

Our government is committed to extending support for families, students, seniors, pensioners and persons with disabilities. I am pleased to report that, without exception, Canadians in my riding of Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, which includes CFB Petawawa, like the support our government has provided to Canada's armed forces, people like Robert Little, who wrote, “As an ex serviceman who served 20 years less a day for my country our service personnel should have the utmost protection when in the field or at home. This government and you have shown that you have great respect for providing all Canadians with a proud and excellent fighting force when needed”.

John Dixon wrote, “Our military is very important and must be maintained. Don't let the purchase of new equipment fall behind as the Liberals did”.

Mack from Pembroke wrote, “One American aircraft carrier has more planes than Canada proposes to purchase. For years our military has had to do with less than other countries in the UN and we lost some lives because of that, especially in Afghanistan, that is unacceptable. We need a decent and well equipped military in today's world”.

In response to my question about taxes, Tom Peckett from Braeside said, “Good. Any time more money is put back into the tax payer hand is much better for our economy”.

Peter from Westmeath wrote, “Thank you for not raising taxes. Like your household and mine, if we haven't got the money, we can't have it, period. Government should take a lesson from the people and not from the lobbyists. Take away the ability of able bodied non-working people to have anything but the basics, no booze, no snack food, no big screen TVs, etc. I already pay for non-working people to have families. Why should I have to pay for 'breakfast programs' in schools as well?“

Unlike the old government, which relied heavily on lobbyists, we passed the Lobbyists Registration Act. This was our response to abuses like the sponsorship scandal.

Jim O'Brien had this to say about our budget, “No tax increases, no cuts to health and education are a welcome relief. All the other cuts in the budget e.g. public service were necessary to get the country back on course after the recession”.

We recognize the need to build and maintain infrastructure in our communities and to provide relief to our municipalities and relieve the burden placed on ratepayers through property taxes by permanently providing the federal gas tax revenue as a stable source of infrastructure funding. The 17 municipalities in my riding welcomed this commitment to our federal government. Unfortunately, in the province of Ontario rural municipalities are denied the provincial gas tax rebate. Providing the right climate for business, particularly small business, to grow and create employment is the role of government.

The need for dependable, affordable high speed Internet throughout rural Ontario is great. Access to better bandwidth and connectivity is essential to the future prosperity of eastern Ontario. As MP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, together with my Conservative eastern Ontario colleagues, $55 million in federal funding was provided to get the job done and much of this funding was provided during the stimulus phase of our action plan. There were $255 million provided through Industry Canada over three years to develop and extend broadband coverage to as many under-serviced households as possible.

Our government is implementing specific measures to ensure that Canadians living in rural Canada are able to receive the same high-quality services available to most other Canadians. When the job is completed in March of 2014, 95% of the population of eastern Ontario will have access to affordable high speed Internet.

Our Conservative government is focused on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. In 2010 Canada's natural resource sectors employed more than 760,000 workers, many of them in Renfrew county. The mining and energy sectors alone represent 10% of the Canadian economy and 40% of our exports. In the next 10 years, more than 500 new projects, representing $500 billion in new investment, will be proposed for Canada. The potential for job growth is enormous.

With the passing of Bill C-38, Canadians will benefit from system-wide legislative improvements to the review process for major economic development projects. One project, one review, in a clearly defined time period makes common sense. The people in my riding get that fact, as evidenced from the comments I received, “The only thing that bothers me is the pressure from the environmental extremist groups to delay us from getting our natural resources to the marketplace. We are natural resource rich and that alone could solve most of the current economy problems”.

Our forestry sector still needs our assistance. Too many forestry workers are without work, too many mills and plants are still idle. The challenge for eastern Ontario is that the province controls the wood supply. In eight short years, thanks to the anti-national resource extraction policy of Queen's Park, Ontario is now an importer of wood. The decision by our federal Minister of Natural Resources to call out some of the lobby groups that are writing policy for the provincial government to come clean on where they get their funding brings hope that rational policies that benefit Ontario will return to the forestry sector.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Andrew Cash Davenport, ON

Mr. Speaker, if I heard the member right, in her reading of comments from her riding, one individual asked why he should have to pay for breakfast programs for children. I find this line of thinking on the part of the government most egregious. The member opposite has to vet her speech, so she has put that in intentionally. This is exactly what the Conservatives do on a day to day basis. They pick the most vulnerable and then they go after them.

I invite the member opposite to reconsider including a comment like that in Parliament. Does the member not understand that breakfast programs in schools produce better students, better adults, create a climate, a society and a culture that are more welcoming and safer? That kind of comment does not belong in the House. Would the member opposite care to comment on that?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the no-development party, the no-defence party, does not listen to the people. I am relaying the comments and concerns of the people of my riding. We listen to all comments, whether we like them or not. The House of Commons is the place to have the concerns of Canadians across the country heard.

Since 2006, our government has been working on this part to streamline the review process for major economic projects. It is through growing the economy that we improve social programs, the best social program being a job.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to system-wide legislative changes, which caught my ear. As members will know, the current government more than any other government, likely in the history of Parliament, has brought in substantial changes to legislation that go far beyond this budget. We have suggested and will continue to say that the government has used the budget as a back door in order to pass legislation that should have been stand-alone legislation.

In order to achieve her system-wide legislative changes that the member is so proud of, why is the government choosing to use the back door of the budget as opposed to bringing in a legislative agenda that would have allowed for more debate inside this chamber? It would have allowed for professionals and stakeholders from across the country to attend as witnesses in committee, literally hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of debates and discussions that should have happened, given the important legislation to be passed through the back door of this budget. Why this anti-democratic move that is being incorporated into the Conservative budget?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, a question like that simply demonstrates how unfit the Liberal Party of Canada is to ever be government again. Liberal members do not recognize that it is all the parts of the economy working together that helps us to achieve a healthy economy, creating jobs, long-term prosperity and growth for all Canadians.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member on her comments and her speech. I would like to get a bit more clarification on the responsible resource development portion of the budget.

Does it in any way reduce the stringency, environmentally? We have been accused of that. I just want the member to clarify where we are at with the environment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, currently companies undertaking major projects must navigate a complex maze of regulatory requirements, processes and approvals. They are long and unpredictable.

Responsible resource development streamlines the review process to create good, skilled, well-paying jobs while maintaining the highest possible standards for protecting the environment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, my question to the hon. member is about the government that allegedly believes in economic development.

Today in Bloomberg, out of New York, there is the title, “Canada Is World's Biggest Oil Loser With Price Spread”.

It talks about rushing oil off to China in low value-added form, instead of to eastern Canada where we need it. Jim Prentice added that it:

....highlights the importance and potentially the value of pipelines in Canada that move our oil on an east-west axis.... That's lost corporate revenue, government income tax, government royalties.

My question to the member is simple. Instead of rushing oil in low value-added form off to the west and China, does the member not agree that the government needs to start putting Canada's energy security and jobs first, and build the pipeline to the east?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, Canada does have secure energy for its provinces across the nation. We are not in threat of not having enough energy.

There are simply not the economies of scale in Canada to make it viable to have the refineries built here. If the business were available here, if it were viable here, if it would create jobs and sustainable growth, the companies would build refineries in Canada.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Jasbir Sandhu Surrey North, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-38, the omnibus budget bill of more than 450 pages. Not only is the bill's content an affront to the democratic process, but so is the way in which the government intends to ram it through without proper examination. The Conservatives know it is inappropriate to make so many sweeping changes to so many different areas in a budget bill.

They know it is inappropriate to include a series of previously unannounced measures in a budget bill, like the measures that contribute to a less transparent and more secretive environment, including a massive gutting of the powers of the Auditor General.

They know it is inappropriate to give themselves the power to change employment insurance rules without the approval of Parliament. They know it is inappropriate to gut environmental protection and rewrite Canada's fisheries laws in a budget bill. But they do not care.

The Conservative government members have made it very clear over and over again that they do not respect this House and, by extension, they do not respect the very people we were all elected to represent in this House.

I was elected to represent the people of my constituency and my community. They expect more from the current government, which does not even blink while undermining this Parliament by tabling a massive bill that goes far beyond the budget. Clearly, its objective is to ram through its radical Conservative agenda while hiding from oversight and avoiding accountability.

In an attempt to restore some sanity to this House and ensure a proper review of this bill, which is mostly made up of non-financial elements, the New Democrats have asked the government to work with us. That is why yesterday we asked Parliament to split the bill in order to allow for an appropriate review of it, which must include relevant committees hearing from experts about these sweeping changes being proposed.

Instead, what the Conservatives have proposed is to create a monster subcommittee to study all the changes, which is just another way to avoid accountability for measures they are hiding in this Trojan Horse budget bill, a budget bill that does not help our economy or get people back to work. It most certainly does not represent the priorities of the people in Surrey North or people across this country.

Last month, I held a public forum on the budget in my riding to ask my constituents what their concerns and priorities were. They said they did not understand why the government would add two more years before they could qualify for the OAS, when the program has been proven to be sustainable. Both the PBO and the government's own research team has shown that the program is sustainable.

They could not comprehend why the Conservatives would cancel the long gun registry when it helps to save lives. They thought that the government's insistence on destroying the registry records is ridiculous and reckless.

My constituents further told me that they did not understand why the government is paying lip service to the problem of foreign credential assessment and recognition, and not addressing the real shortage of doctors, nurses and medical professionals in our hospitals.

They want a national transit strategy and effective transit to facilitate economic growth in our region. They do not understand why the government would not make that a priority when every other G8 country but Canada has a national transit strategy.

They were very concerned about the protection of salmon habitat and the small and medium-size fishing industry in coastal British Columbia.

They want the government to protect our food security and implement the labelling of GMO foods.

They also do not understand why the Conservatives would dismantle the Wheat Board that was protecting our farmers.

They further told me that they do not want the gutting of environmental protection and removal of accountability that we see in Bill C-38.

However, the Conservatives are not listening to Canadians; they certainly are not listening to the people of my community or the full 80% of the British Columbians who opposed the northern gateway pipeline.

Instead, the Conservatives have done exactly what we have come to expect from the government, exactly what they want with no regard or respect for the people of the country or the democratic process by which they should be governed.

We all know that, when Conservatives do not like rules, they either break them or they undermine Parliament to change them, like changing the rules to undermine an entire environmental review and oversight so they could ram through a reckless pipeline project that puts the coastline of B.C., communities and local economies in peril; or like changing the rules so they could attack charities that target the organizations that are standing up to protect our coasts; or like gutting the office of the Auditor General so we will not know when they break the rules.

Those are just a few of the highlights of what we see in the bill. It is clear that the priorities of the people in my community are not represented by the government and they are most certainly not represented by the contents of the bill.

The Conservatives claim that budget 2012 is about job creation, but the PBO says the budget will cost 43,000 Canadian jobs. In fact, the budget actually plans for unemployment to rise. When the PBO's estimate of 43,000 lost jobs is combined with previous rounds of cuts, this number is closer to 102,000 jobs lost. Still the Conservatives stand in the House day after day, blustering about how the bill is about job creation. It is truly unbelievable.

One-third of the bill is actually dedicated to gutting important environmental protection regulations, so I would humbly suggest to the members across that they cool it on their talking points and admit what the bill is really about: ignoring the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who peacefully protested on Earth Day to show their support for expanding environmental safeguards; showing contempt for Canadians by taking this country backward when it comes to environmental protection; and creating a less transparent and more secretive government so they can lurk in the shadows and get away with their dirty tricks.

Proper oversight is a cornerstone of our parliamentary democracy, of any democracy, and New Democrats will fight for proper oversight and accountability. We will not allow the Conservatives to quietly sneak through these far-reaching changes. Trojan Horse budget bills cannot become the new norm, so if the government is not afraid of being held accountable, it should agree to work with us to split the bill into proper committees.

Separating the bill makes sense. It would allow for a full study with proper expertise at the table, and we would be able to make decisions that would benefit our country. It would allow opposition members to do their job and provide proper oversight. It would also help the backbenchers in the Conservative government to have input into this budget bill.

My sincere hope is that the Conservatives will take a step back and think about the consequences of undermining Parliament and removing oversight and accountability from our democracy.

I hope they will consider the consequences of seriously eroding the trust Canadians have in this House, which is precisely what they are doing with the bill.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I have argued in the past, and I will pose it in the form of a question to the member, that if he looks at what the priorities of the government have been over the last number of months, we have to recognize that one of the most significant cuts will be to our civil service.

Well over 19,000 jobs will be lost. That means we will have issues of service delivery, whether it is someone who is unemployed or individuals who protect our environment, a wide spectrum. When we cut 19,000 jobs, it will have an impact on quality of service to Canadians.

Earlier this year the government made the decision to increase the size of the House of Commons. By increasing the size, more politicians for Canadians, that means additional staff for those politicians at a time when the Conservatives are cutting back on services but increasing the number of politicians.

I wonder if the member could provide a comment on what I would class as a misplaced priority.