House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-38.

Topics

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, our party is the party that cut the GST. The member's party is the party that proposed we increase the GST.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

What about EI?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

I will get to all that, but I want to start by pointing out that the member's party is the party of tax cuts for the elite and our party is the party of tax cuts for ordinary hard-working Canadians.

As to the reforms to employment insurance, I am proud to say that, yes, I was a member who was consulted by the minister. These are comprehensive reform packages that I believe will connect the unemployed with jobs that are available in their area. These are modest reforms that will lead to a better labour market. I do not believe there will be a negative adverse impact that the opposition continues to fear-monger about. These are--

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I will just stop the hon. member there to allow for some more questions and comments.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar
Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, that was an excellent presentation on what our government proposes to do for Canadians and what the opposition, with its left wing, very socialist ideology, is presenting to Canadians. I think it is very evident what Canadians have chosen.

Could my hon. colleague comment on the fact that the Liberals have moved so far to the left? In fact, I think they have talked about standing shoulder to shoulder with their union bosses. We know that members of the NDP are socially incredibly ideological and, in some cases, some of them are separatists and Communists.

Could my hon. colleague talk about the Liberals and their extreme move to the left, what danger that has to the Canadian public and what the alternative is as far as our Conservative government?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I do not like to speak ill of the third party. In the past, it has offered great leadership to this country at times but I do worry about its future given that its presumptive leader finds himself in a difficult situation. On one hand, when he is questioned by the official opposition, he is forced to defend the Liberal measures in the mid-1990s, which involved restraint and balancing the budget, measures that, I would concede, helped Canada through the downturn and measures we have built on and improved on.

At the same time, with the same measures, the leader of the third party is also rightly criticized for his record as the former and, I believe, failed premier of Ontario, which is a very difficult position to be in because Canadian taxpayers can never be sure which policy the member would champion, that of taxpayers or, more likely, that of failed policies, which were on display today when he called for a bailout of European banks.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-38, the 425 page omnibus budget implementation act. It would, among other things, gut Canada's environmental laws; break the Conservatives' election promise by raising the age of eligibility for OAS from 65 to 67; create uncertainty for businesses, workers and seasonal industries with changes to EI that attack rural Canada, Atlantic Canada and the provinces; and that would hurt Canada's international brand by tearing up 100,000 immigration applications.

Bill C-38 imposes the Conservatives' unilateral decision to reduce health transfers to the provinces and territories. It allows the Conservatives to target charitable organizations they disagree with.

It would wipe out groups such as the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Rights & Democracy and the National Council on Welfare. All of these groups have one thing in common. Over the last 30 years, and in some cases more, these groups were independent. They were funded through the government but they took independent positions based on evidence that was sometimes contrary to the governing party, which was, in some cases, Liberal governments, in other cases, Progressive Conservative governments. However, the current Conservative government is the first government that actually de-funded these groups simply because they disagreed with the governing party.

Bill C-38 would reduce the Auditor General's oversight on a number of government agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Northern Pipeline Agency. It would reduce oversight on Canada's spy agency by abolishing the office of the Inspector General. It would repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. It would eliminate a number of the government's reporting requirements on climate change and public service jobs. It would make changes that experts warn are unconstitutional to parole hearings.

The finance committee spent a few days studying the legislation since the House last debated the bill. A finance subcommittee was struck to examine part 3 of the bill, which was focused on environmental measures. However, this study took place while the environment committee was travelling to Alberta and Nova Scotia, which limited the ability of key MPs with expertise on the environment to participate in the Bill C-38 study.

The subcommittee's report on Bill C-38 was a disgraceful whitewash. The main report did not include any reference to public opposition to the bill, with the exception of a single reference that completely misrepresented the testimony of former Progressive Conservative fisheries minister, Tom Siddon. Mr. Siddon, who was the fisheries minister from 1985 to 1990 in the Mulroney government, said:

They are totally watering down and emasculating the Fisheries Act.

They are really taking the guts out of the Fisheries Act and it’s in devious little ways if you read all the fine print...they are making a Swiss cheese out of [it].

That was said by a former minister of fisheries, a Progressive Conservative activist and minister.

Mr. Siddon was part of a group of four former fisheries ministers, two Liberal and two Progressive Conservatives, who wrote a letter warning the government of the disastrous effect the bill would have on our fisheries.

The subcommittee's report endorsed the changes made to the National Energy Board despite having heard from witnesses who were overwhelmingly opposed to these changes.

Today, Barrie McKenna's article in the The Globe and Mail argues that Bill C-38 undermines:

...the NEB’s authority and independence [and] turns back the clock on five decades of credible resource regulation.... The omnibus bill gives Ottawa carte blanche over as many as 750 decisions a year. That is a lot of authority for Canadians with their X mark in the voting booth to grant a cabinet dominated by one man. It delegitimizes the NEB and injects needless uncertainty into the process.

Furthermore, industry was not calling for a lot of these changes. In fact, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, CAPP, stated that the NEB plays “a very important role in ensuring that we’ve got [a] secure, reliable, affordable energy supply for Canadians, and sustainably develop our abundant energy resources”.

The main finance committee studied parts 1, 2 and 4 of the bill. We heard from officials and a total of 57 witnesses on the 636 clauses contained in parts 1, 2 and 4. To be blunt, the study was a farce. The committee's timeline was rushed, leaving us unable to examine many aspects of the legislation.

We were not given the chance to hear from a single witness outside of the government on a large number of the issues. For instance, we did not hear from any municipal leaders, despite the impact of Bill C-38 on communities.

The main finance committee did not hear from any witnesses from aboriginal groups, even though this bill proposes a number of changes that will impact them directly, such as changes to the First Nations Land Management Act. Parliament has a responsibility to consult with Canada's aboriginal peoples before making these changes.

National Chief Shawn Atleo did appear before the subcommittee. He said:

To date, first nations have not been engaged or consulted on any of the changes to the environmental and resource development regime proposed within Bill C-38....In its current form, part 3 of C-38 clearly represents a derogation of established and asserted first nations rights. If enacted, it will increase the time, costs, and effort for all parties and governments, as first nations will take every opportunity to challenge these provisions.

That testimony, by the way, before the subcommittee was expunged from the subcommittee's report, which the government of course controlled and basically wrote at the committee level.

We did not hear from any railway companies, even though Bill C-38 would increase their share of costs for railway crossings by 500%. The government did not allow us enough time to conduct a proper study of this bill.

The finance committee heard from only one witness on the issue of the changes to the oversight of Canada's spy agency, outside of government officials. That was Paul Kennedy, a former senior assistant deputy minister at public safety, responsible for national security activities and former chief counsel to CSIS, who called these changes to CSIS “sheer insanity”.

The finance committee only heard from one witness on the changes to parole hearings who described the changes as unconstitutional. The Canadian Bar Association also wrote to the finance committee to warn us that these changes in Bill C-38 were unconstitutional.

Many of the witnesses we did hear from were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the changes in the bill. Tyler Sommers of Democracy Watch told the committee:

I don't think that anyone, to the best of their abilities, could represent their constituents when there's a 500-page bill that affects virtually every aspect of Canadian society.

The issue here is not just the length of the bill; it is the breadth of the bill and the number of sweeping changes that are totally unrelated. The reality is we have an environment committee with members of Parliament, with expertise in the environment. We have an aboriginal northern affairs committee with members of Parliament, with an expertise in that area.

If we broke down this bill and not only enabled individual legislators at the committee to study the changes and the legislation in separate bills, but ultimately to vote on them, we would actually be respecting democracy and we would be respecting Parliament. However, the Prime Minister is not interested in that.

In terms of some of the changes on old age security and EI, the government is targeting some of the most vulnerable Canadians. Old age security changes are being rushed through. The Conservatives are saying that we should not to worry, that they will not take effect for 11 years and that if people are 53 years old, they can start saving more money. For goodness sake, 40% of Canadians make less than $20,000 per year. How are they supposed to save money on that? Who gets OAS? The reality is that 40% of the people getting OAS make $20,000 a year or less and 53% make less than $25,000 a year.

This is targeting Canada's most vulnerable. It is an affront to democracy and it is an affront to Canada's most vulnerable who will pay a price for this neo-conservative agenda, which is not well thought out and is an attack on some of Canada's lowest income people, an attack on rural Canada and an attack on Atlantic Canada.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 11th, 2012 / 9:05 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question about division 19 of part 4 of Bill C-38, which reduces government transparency when it comes to food safety by giving the minister the power to get around the law.

I would like to know how Canadians can be sure that what they eat will be monitored, checked and compliant so that they do not get sick and they do not have to sue certain companies because they or their children get sick.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, I appreciate that question very much.

I share the hon. member's concerns. A reduction in government accountability for food safety is a very serious issue. This is another case where the government is making potentially very significant, negative or dangerous changes without involving experts or hearing their testimony.

I agree completely with my colleague on that.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague recently wrote an excellent article in the Halifax Chronicle Herald about the issue of income disparity across Canada. How does he feel the bill will effect that problem, which is a real problem across the country?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, that is an important question because income inequality is a growing issue in Canada. It is important to say that this is not a partisan issue. It has grown over the last 30 years under different governments of different political stripes. Provincially, governments from the Parti Québécois to NDP, Liberal and Conservative, the issue of income inequality is not a partisan issue and we ought not approach it as such. I am concerned about certain measures in the budget, particularly around OAS, because they will hurt some of Canada's most vulnerable citizens, the lowest income citizens.

There have been some measures over the years which both Liberal and Conservative governments have put in place that have actually helped on the issue of income inequality, helping people get over the welfare wall. I will cite one.

In the fall of 2005, in the last mini budget of the Liberal government, we introduced something called the working income tax benefit. We were defeated a few months later, in January. However, the Conservatives brought the working income tax benefit back. I believe that tax benefit helps people get over the welfare wall. That is an example where two governments of different political stripes both believed in the working income tax benefit. That tax benefit can actually help address the issue of income inequality and barriers to progress faced by low income Canadians. That is an example of the kind of best practice where we can work together across party lines in the House.

On Wednesday night, I believe we are looking at 5:30 p.m. for the vote on my private member's motion on income inequality. It simply calls for the House of Commons finance committee to study the issue and report back to the House on not only the causes of income inequality, but also some of the measures that can potentially help it, including best practice models and policy ideas from other countries, to address the issue. I certainly hope we see a good level of support from all parties for the bill. It is a good opportunity for us to work together on an important issue.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, to speak on behalf of the people of my riding to Bill C-38, the budget implementation act, which speaks to the economic action plan for 2012, Canada's blueprint for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

As has been stated elsewhere, under our current Prime Minister, Canada can fairly claim to be the best governed country among advanced democracies in the world. This year's federal budget would lock up Canada's lead.

I have listened very carefully to the comments made by the official opposition with regard to the legislation. What I found, and this is reflected in the comments I have received from my constituents who have followed the debate around the legislation, is that Canadians support the legislation, the efforts of our government to provide steady leadership on the economy.

There is a difference between questions about legislation, as opposed to opposition just for the sake of opposing.

As a member of this government, I am pleased to respond with facts. The fact is that Canada is the envy of the world during this time of turbulence in international markets. As an example, the budget comments put forth by the radical left-wing leader of the opposition is the disingenuous argument that Canada should not be exporting energy in the form of unrefined hydrocarbons. Confusingly, the other members of the opposition coalition suggest we should be refining bitumen from the oil sands here in Canada.

Therefore, quite apart from their real position in that they oppose any resource extraction whatsoever, they know that under the current regulatory regime the likelihood that environmental approval within a reasonable time frame occurring is absolutely nil.

The proper role of government is to allow for science-based decision making that is based upon facts. Bill C-38 would restore the balance to a regulatory bureaucracy that has become counterproductive to the environment and to the interests of all Canadians.

Canadians will never accept the opposition inspired left-wing voodoo economics precisely because what it proposes for the environment will destroy Canada's economy.

We believe that we can help the environment without destroying jobs. This is why I absolutely believe that Parliament needs to pass the legislation as quickly as possible so the Government of Canada can get on with the business of providing jobs, growth and economic prosperity to all Canadians.

What the opposition needs to focus on are the benefits the legislation would bring to our economy. Nowhere is that more important than in my home province of Ontario. The province of Ontario was once the undisputed economic engine of Canada. This is now disputed because the manufacturing sector in Ontario is suffering, not because of some ill-conceived NDP notion about some disease that is intended to confuse and divide, but because of the policies of the Liberal Party of Ontario that have taken away one of the primary advantages that built Ontario: economic, affordable power.

The province of Ontario has siphoned off tens of millions of dollars out of the pockets of Ontario energy users, particularly from households and our manufacturing base, resulting in a hollowing out of Ontario's once vibrant manufacturing sector. This is causing severe economic hardship among seniors and anyone else on a fixed income. It is causing the decline of Ontario's manufacturing sector and the jobs in that sector, not of some disease theory that has no relevance to our made in Canada experiences.

In the Ottawa Valley, which is a net exporter of energy, we have first-hand knowledge of Ontario's controversial so-called green energy act. Rather than generate clean hydroelectricity, we watched the province of Ontario spill water over the Ottawa River power damns.

Ontario taxpayers pay American states millions of dollars to take our power. The province calls this negative wholesale electricity pricing. Most terrible of all, this situation is expected to get much worse as more hugely expensive, heavily taxpayer subsidized industrial wind turbines are being forced onto rural Ontario residents every day.

The time has come to stop this environmental madness.

In the last election, Canadians voted for our vision of Canada as a clean energy superpower. Building an economic strategy on a natural resources foundation is good for our economy and good for jobs. This strategy was good for Ontario in the past and is good for Ontario now and in the future. The time has come to move forward and take advantage of Canada's economic action plan.

Canada's economic action plan will provide $107 million over the next two years to maintain safe and reliable operations at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Chalk River Laboratories . The Chalk River Laboratories of AECL, in collaboration with the National Research Council, have been actively involved in the development of clean, safe energy.

There is a strategic overlap between nuclear science and hydrogen technologies. Hydrogen and electricity are the only known forms of energy that offer zero emissions from motor vehicles. The challenge with using hydrogen as a fuel is not the burning of the fuel, as it burns very cleanly, with pure water as a byproduct, but the process to produce the hydrogen. A next generation nuclear reactor is one that generates electricity and processes heat with hydrogen as a byproduct.

Hydrogen can be generated from energy supplied in the form of heat electricity through high temperature electrolysis, HTE. Since some of the energy in HTE is supplied in the form of heat, less of the energy must be converted from heat to electricity and then to chemical form, so potentially far less energy is required per kilogram of hydrogen produced. While nuclear-generated electricity could be used for electrolysis, nuclear heat can be directly applied to split the hydrogen from water. Working at 950ºC to 1000ºC, high temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors have the potential to split hydrogen from water by thermochemical means, using nuclear heat. Research by Chalk River Laboratories into high temperature nuclear reactors will eventually lead to a hydrogen supply that is cost-competitive as well as reliable.

Rather than paying other jurisdictions to take electricity or spilling water over the hydro dams, Ontario could be producing low-cost hydrogen today to power public transit. The Ottawa Valley has all the building blocks to start the hydrogen economy and the green energy jobs that go with it. The New Flyer bus company, with its maintenance facilities in Arnprior, is currently involved in a hydrogen-powered bus pilot project with financial assistance from the Government of Canada in British Columbia.

Ontario, with our natural advantages to develop the hydrogen economy, should be undertaking a similar pilot project in this province. Ottawa River power dams can provide electricity to power electrolysis as a cost-effective method to make hydrogen.

The Chalk River nuclear research labs are involved in cutting-edge activities such as developing hydrogen storage applications that are safe, reliable and economical. Nuclear energy is currently the only large-scale zero greenhouse gas-emitting source of electricity in Ontario that is not limited by geography or weather. Nuclear energy has helped Ontario reduce greenhouse gas emissions safely and competitively for over four decades. CANDU reactors have a unique Canadian design and an excellent safety record, and they can fuel with uranium or thorium. Nuclear energy could provide us decades, if not centuries, of time to find ways to generate more of our energy needs from affordable renewable sources or perhaps nuclear fusion at some point in the future.

According to the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, using nuclear generation to back up the variability of wind generation is uniquely available to Ontario because 55% of Ontario's power requirements are supplied by nuclear power plants.

Ontario needs Bill C-38 passed now so that we can start to deliver on the benefits of this legislation to the people of this province, and in doing so we help the rest of Canada.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, we wonder whether this is about natural resources or Bill C-38. That said, tonight we have heard some rather alarming things. I heard two Conservative members go after both the Liberal and NDP opposition leaders. We were called communists and leftists and were accused of being a left-wing party. I just heard a speech that had more to do with natural resources than with Bill C-38. What is going on here?

I have a question for the member about Bill C-38, a bill that destroys everything in its path.

If the government is going after seasonal workers, as well as fisheries, agriculture, the forestry industry and tourism, what can provinces that make a living off these industries do to survive in the Canada of the future?

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I will answer the first part of that convoluted, non-directional question, which was how Bill C-38 and my speech relate to the subject at hand.

As power costs increase, the manufacturing sector moves out of Canada, and with it move jobs. Bill C-38 is all about jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The Government of Canada has put the requirements in place so that the entire country can take advantage of it.

Report Stage
Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

9:20 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, at the beginning of her speech, my hon. colleague talked about the government's economic record. I wonder if it bothers her that the government took office with the largest surplus of any government coming into office in Canadian history, a $13 billion surplus; increased spending by 20%, three times the rate of inflation, over the next three years; and put Canada into deficit by April and May of 2008, six months before the recession began.

Second, how does she feel about the government's failure to commit to take any steps toward a new research reactor at Chalk River?