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

11:35 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar Ottawa Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, we heard the parliamentary secretary talk about the national round table. I wonder if he could comment on Bob Mills, the former Conservative environment critic, who had very critical things to say about shutting down the round table. What does the member think of the Conservative's comment about the Conservatives' budget being rammed through and killing the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy?

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

11:40 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. It was not just Bob Mills but former fisheries ministers John Fraser and Tom Siddon who both said what the government was doing was completely and utterly wrong-headed, that it was trying to hide the changes from Canadians and it needed to back off and put this matter under proper review to make sure we come out at the end of the day not only with a good product but a product that people understand and have some confidence in.

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

11:40 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak tonight about the opposition's intransigence with respect to the passage of Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, and to speak against the opposition's attempts to delay and defeat this important economic legislation.

The NDP and its opposition cohorts are engaging in all sorts of games to hijack this important piece of legislation. In response, I would like to remind them that Canadians do not care for procedural games. They want their elected representatives focused on what matters to them: jobs and the economy. This is especially true in a period of such volatile global economic turbulence.

Unfortunately it does not seem that the NDP and the other opposition parties are willing to do that. Canadians are noticing and they are shaking their heads. For the benefit of the NDP, let me quote a recent Toronto Sun editorial. I am going to quote extensively.

As Europe stands poised on the brink of a disastrous economic wildfire that could blacken the world, the [NDP leader's] hypocrisy and self-obsession is in full flame...vowing to delay the passing of [economic action plan 2012] by playing silly...with amendments and procedure....This is nothing but grandstanding....This is a budget designed to create jobs and inspire economic growth, and it comes to the House of Commons at a moment that can only be described as the 11th hour of a global economic conflagration....Right now, there is only one enemy in our fight to protect Canada from the repercussions of Europe's burning. And it's...[the NDP leader]. This is inarguable.

The quote describes the NDP as the enemy of our efforts to protect Canada and protect our economy. I could not agree more. Why? Because I understand that Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, is in the best interests of all Canadians. By implementing key elements of economic action plan 2012, this bill would equip Canadians, regardless of whether they are workers, business owners or retirees, with the tools that they need to address the challenges that lie ahead, and to succeed for the long term.

It would include measures that would leverage the enormous economic potential of Canada's increasingly important energy and natural resources sectors. Natural resources, including energy, mining and minerals, processing and forestry, already represent almost 10% of our economy, and provide nearly 800,000 Canadians with employment and income.

My riding of Wild Rose is extremely diverse. It is home to people from all walks of life, engaged in practically every sector of our economy, all striving to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities, whether they are working in agriculture, tourism, forestry, oil and gas, or the manufacturing and service industries that rely on those sectors' products. They rely on responsible development of the natural resources that we are blessed to share.

From growing up and working on the family farm near Olds, I know how important it is to be a good steward of our environment. It does not matter if one is driving a combine near Didsbury, checking a gas well near Cochrane or running a bed and breakfast in Banff, people make their living directly from the environment. There is a vested interest in making sure their children and grandchildren have the same opportunity.

I am proud to support our government's plan for responsible resource development that is within the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act. Through this act, we would be able to streamline the review process for these types of projects while protecting the environment under an effective and efficient regime based on the principle of one project, one review, and within a clearly defined time period. In the past, these delays could kill potential jobs and stall economic growth by putting valuable investments at risk.

We would also be adopting strong new measures to protect the environment, including making environmental impact decisions enforceable with the full weight of the law, adding stiff new penalties for non-compliance with those decisions, and adding new funding to enhance marine shipping and pipeline safety.

Furthermore, we would also extend the temporary 15% mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors for an additional year to support mineral exploration.

These actions are fundamental to maximizing Canada's long-term economic potential at a time when this objective has never been more important.

It is estimated that energy and other major resource projects could generate more than $500 billion in new investment in Canada over the next 10 years, and that scale of investment could make a real difference in insulating Canadians from the sort of economic problems making headlines elsewhere in the world.

Bill C-38 would also improve Canada's employment insurance program, with a focus on promoting job creation, removing disincentives to work, supporting unemployed Canadians and quickly connecting people to available jobs. At the same time, it would ensure stable, predictable EI premium rates by eliminating premium rate increases to 5¢ each year until the EI operating account is in balance and then moving to a seven year break-even rate. It would help build a fast and flexible economic immigration system to meet Canada's labour market needs. It would also make gradual adjustments to the old age security program to put it on a sustainable path for future generations.

At the same time, the bill would legislate our government's commitment to sustainable and predictable transfers to provinces and territories in support of health care, education and other social programs and services that are among Canadians' highest priorities. This includes extending total transfer protection to 2012-13 to ensure that a province's total major transfers in that year are no lower than in a prior year, representing $680 million in support to affected provinces.

The jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act would modernize Canada's currency by gradually eliminating the penny from Canada's coinage system.

It would modernize the back office of government, refocusing programs and services to make them more effective and efficient and making it easier for Canadians and businesses to access them.

For families, including some of the most vulnerable, the bill would expand health related tax relief and income tax systems to better meet the health care needs of Canadians while also helping Canadians with severe disabilities and their families by improving the registered disability savings plan.

Last but not least, Bill C-38 would help ensure Canada's housing market remains strong and stable by enhancing the governance and oversight framework for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to ensure its commercial activities are managed in a manner that promote the stability of the financial system.

As part of these improvements in mortgage oversight, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions, or OSFI, would be given a role in assessing CMHC's commercial activities, particularly its mortgage insurance and securitization programs. These changes would contribute to improving governance and oversight of mortgage lending practices in Canada, contributing to the stability of the housing market, which will benefit all Canadians.

Those are just a few of the specific measures in Bill C-38 that we would like to enact for the benefit of Canadians. However, for that to happen, we need to get the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act through Parliament. If the opposition wants to debate these measures on substance, the government has shown it is more than willing to respond.

In fact, Bill C-38 has already received the longest House of Commons debate at second reading and finance committee consideration of any budget in at least over two decades. A special subcommittee was struck to review and further debate the responsible resource development section as well. At the finance committee there were nearly 70 hours of hearings and literally hundreds of individuals who spoke to the legislation and its importance, for example, groups like the Canadian Federation of Independent Business that called economic action plan 2012 “positive news for small business”.

Coming out of the global recession, Canada finds itself on remarkably stable footing. We have relatively low debt levels as compared to other industrialized nations and a plan to eliminate the federal deficit. As a result of this, we have a tremendous opportunity. Out of the fires of this current economic crisis, a stronger Canadian future is being forged. With continued economic and trade growth, we can continue to develop our country's role as a true leader on the global stage. That is what this federal budget is all about.

Our government intends to continue moving in a direction of strong economic growth, low taxes and long-term prosperity that will benefit all Canadians.

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

11:50 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to my colleague's speech and I must admit I am troubled by his closing comments.

I want to believe in the dream he is selling, but the problem is that Canada will become increasingly intertwined in the global context and will be at the mercy of what is happening around the world.

When we develop natural resources, which is not bad in and of itself—on the contrary, it is a great Canadian tradition—when we give these natural resources such a important place in our economy and, when they fuel our trade with other countries, then we need not be surprised if there is some backlash.

Considering the economic downturn in Europe, the slow economic recovery in the United States and the fact that the four BRIC countries are having problems of their own, how can my colleague believe in such a rosy future for our natural resources?

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

11:50 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that my opposition colleague across the way spoke about being troubled. Let me tell members that I am also troubled. I am troubled by the fact that when we bring forward measures to try to make sure our economy continues to be one of the strongest in the entire world, to make sure we are insulated from some of the problems in Europe and other countries to the best degree we can, when we look at measures to ensure we can continue to grow our economy and develop our resources but do so while respecting the environment, when we look at improving trade opportunities for Canadians through new trade deals and expanding trade deals, when we try to do all of these for the best interests of the Canadian economy to make sure Canadian businesses continue to thrive and create jobs for Canadians, and I certainly look at our record of more than 700,000 net new jobs created over the past few years, certainly we have been doing all this for the benefit of Canadians to ensure that our economy continues to thrive and grow.

However, the NDP members continue to vote against it and try to delay and deter all this from happening for the benefit of all Canadians. That is what troubles me.

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

11:50 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague from Wild Rose.

The government members like to say that the opposition is fearmongering. However, there is so much of a void out there, such a lack of information on so many aspects of the pieces of legislation that are impacted by this particular budget bill, and EI is one that has certainly caused a great deal of concern. Perhaps at this late hour, we could help clear up one aspect of it. This is a specific question that I got from a member of the building trades council. Coming from Alberta, the member knows that the building trades have helped build that province and contributed to building this country. Many of the trades travel from project to project during shutdowns. There is a large number of workers needed for a short period of time. Here is the question.

Once an electrician finishes up with one particular project and he comes back and is waiting for the next project to go, if he gets an offer to go and work at the fish plant, will he have to take that position outside the union, not on the union books or anything like that? An electrician is an electrician I guess in the eyes of this legislation. Will he have to take that or risk not being able to garner his benefits? It is a very direct question.

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

11:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, simply put, the member was obviously talking about some of the changes to employment insurance, but he also talked about feeling that we were accusing him, his party and the other opposition members of fearmongering. They have certainly been talking about not having an opportunity to debate. Here we are near midnight debating this bill and will be doing so over the next couple of weeks. We have had more debate on this bill at second reading and at the finance committee than there has been with any other budget over the past 20 years, and possibly more.

However, the member asked about employment insurance reform. What we are simply trying to do there is make sure we are connecting Canadians who want to work with available work. We are making sure that when businesses are looking at options such as temporary foreign workers, and he mentioned Alberta, my province, where we do have labour shortages, we are trying to make sure we connect Canadians to the available jobs so that they can get back to work.

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

11:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Before I give the hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel the floor, I must inform her that I will have to interrupt her at midnight when the time provided for government business expires.

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel.

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

11:55 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you, and I will wish you good night in advance because I am the last to speak and I have only five minutes.

During my last speech on this subject, I provided a virtually endless list of the acts that will be changed for the worse by this bill. These changes will be especially bad for the most vulnerable Canadians.

I rise in the House this evening to say that this bill is an assault on democracy. This massive omnibus bill goes way too far, well beyond what was announced in the budget. In fact, many of these measures are contrary to what the Conservatives promised during the last election campaign.

It does not address development or prosperity. The Conservatives claim that this budget is about job creation, but the Parliamentary Budget Officer said that it would result in the loss of 43,000 Canadian jobs.

The truth is that a third of this bill is about eliminating environmental protection regulations. After much consideration, I am convinced that the real theme of this legislation is a massive attack on government transparency.

Not only does the introduction of such an all-encompassing bill harm the public institutions that Canadians count on, but it is also an assault on democracy, as evidenced by the fact that the government simply does not care about the impact of the changes in this bill.

What do members expect from a government that was found in contempt of Parliament only a little over a year ago? The Conservatives have not changed their tune and are only strengthening the powers of the executive in their ability to evade the scrutiny of Parliament and that of their constituents. Before the last election, the Conservatives were frustrated that they could not get away with their agenda because of democratic debate, which led to amendments and compromise that helped government work for all Canadians. How terrible. Now, they no longer have that problem. If we do not like it, they have a majority and they do not feel any obligation to listen to us despite their democratic duty to do so.

We have seen this before in the House with a truly extravagant number of time allocation motions. We have seen it in committee where in camera is used by the Conservative members to cut off public debate and ram through their agenda. Now we see it with this bill, which only continues to show their disdain for democracy and for the Canadian electorate.

With this bill, the government is showing its utter contempt for Parliament and democracy. It is concentrating power in the hands of the executive in an incredible way, and yet it is telling us, “Do not worry; trust us.”

I will continue my speech tomorrow.

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

11:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel will have six and a half minutes for her speech and five minutes for questions and comments when the House resumes debate on this motion.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

Canada Revenue Agency
Adjournment Proceedings

June 12th, 2012 / midnight

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, in March, we heard ominous noises from the government. Some people hinted that the Shawinigan-Sud Tax Centre, which employs as many as 1,500 people at certain times of the year, might close.

When my colleague from Trois-Rivières and I asked the minister about this, we did not get a straight answer. There are persistent rumours and fears. The employees of the centre are understandably worried. What we are asking for today are clear answers.

When I asked the hon. Minister of National Revenue if there were any studies or reports on the economic and social impacts of closing the centre or keeping it open, I got no answer. When I asked what the results of the latest performance evaluation of the centre were, again I got no answer. When I asked when a final decision would be made, again I got no answer.

Even when we first raised the issue, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and the Minister of Labour referred to the automation of employment insurance claims. The Shawinigan-Sud Tax Centre does not process employment insurance claims. The parliamentary secretary does not have a good handle on this matter and has confused employment insurance and taxation. Even more disturbing is the fact that she is not denying these rumours. The government is not dispelling doubt. The people in my riding count on these jobs.

Since the 2012 budget was tabled, public servants have been nervous, and rightly so. They do not know what will happen to their jobs. The government is allowing rumours to swirl and, in the meantime, thousands of families are experiencing the stress of uncertainty. That is not humane. Federal government cuts will reduce services and swell the ranks of the unemployed across the country.

I am worried and it is my duty as an elected member to again raise this matter. I have not been reassured and I am afraid of how these cuts will affect the people of my riding. Not only could people lose their jobs, but the reduction in services to the public could also have consequences.

Canada Revenue Agency
Adjournment Proceedings

June 12th, Midnight

Calgary Centre-North
Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, it is my great privilege to address my colleague for the first time in the House. I want to congratulate her on her fortitude in staying here until this late hour. I know she has a family and it speaks to the courage of some of the women parliamentarians in the House.

At this point in time, especially with the debt crisis in Europe, it behooves our government to look at ways to ensure that our financial house is in order. We are doing so in large part with budget 2012 and part of the bill that we debating tonight, Bill C-38. The goal of the bill is to ensure balanced finances, while spurring job creation and economic growth. We have the made in Canada approach to ensuring the long-term prosperity of our country.

With that, we need to ensure that core services are still delivered and that the responsibilities of government are maintained and carried out. On my colleague's question about her specific riding and the tax centre therein, I am certainly not in a position to comment on rumours or speculation. However, our government will ensure that core services are delivered and that we are wise stewards of taxpayer funds.

She made some good comments about looking at job creation and ensuring long-term growth in the country. I would ask her to look at some of the policies we have put in place over the last few years since we became government. Since July of 2009, our economy has created over 760,000 net new jobs across the country, over 90% of which are full time and many of them in Quebec. It is that track record that we seek to improve upon, while delivering core services and ensuring the stability of our social program funding for Canada's long-term prosperity.

Canada Revenue Agency
Adjournment Proceedings

June 12th, 12:05 a.m.

NDP

Ruth Ellen Brosseau Berthier—Maskinongé, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. No, it is not easy. It is midnight. I am sure everyone here is tired. We are working hard these days. As I said, it is midnight, yet I am here and, like my colleagues, I want some answers.

The government is not being clear. I want to know what impact these cuts will have. The government cannot refute these allegations, so I remain concerned. On June 8, 2012, the Canada Revenue Agency and the Union of Taxation Employees met, but the answers are always the same. The agency maintains that the decisions are confidential. This is bad news.

Can the member tell us when the government will set the record straight regarding cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency?

Canada Revenue Agency
Adjournment Proceedings

June 12th, 12:05 a.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Calgary Centre-North, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, to speak to some of my colleague's concerns, across government we are seeking to ensure that we are delivering core services with excellence and to the level of standards that Canadians expect.

However, while we are doing that, we are also being wise stewards of taxpayer funding and promoting a plan to ensure the long-term growth and prosperity of our country.