House of Commons Hansard #142 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was changes.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

Noon

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I wish a belated happy Father's Day to you and everyone else in the House.

It is my absolute pleasure to kick off third and final reading of the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act. This is a very good measure that the government has put forward which will help Canadians across the country secure jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

Before I speak to the bill, I will take a brief moment to thank my fellow members of the finance committee and the special subcommittee that was created specifically to study the bill. Together, both committees held nearly 70 hours of hearings on the legislation, making it the longest committee study of a budget implementation bill in over two decades.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of witnesses we heard at committee, including government officials, business leaders, union representatives, economists, industry associations and many others. Their words and testimony made clear that we need this legislation to keep our economy strong, especially when events in Europe remind us that the global economic outlook remains fragile.

We heard from witnesses such as University of Guelph Professor Jane Londerville and Carleton University Professor Ian Lee. Both applauded this bill for the increased oversight it brings to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which will strengthen Canada's housing sector.

The Mining Association of Canada explained how the mineral exploration tax credit would help northern and remote communities to grow.

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities voiced its approval for the measures taken by this bill to increase the availability of registered disability savings plans.

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters praised our government's focus on more efficient and responsible resource development because it believes our plan will “maximize our economic opportunities while maintaining the right balance between environmental protection and economic growth”.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business gave its approval to reforms to employment insurance that would better assist and encourage Canadians looking for work.

Witnesses such as the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association and Consumer Health Products Canada were pleased to see the elimination of bureaucratic red tape that delayed new products already approved by Health Canada from coming to market for years on end.

The Canadian Museums Association noted that amendments contained in this bill would mean that Canadians right across the country would get to see more and more of the world's finest art in our museums.

We heard from witnesses such as the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and the Rotman International Centre for Pension Management, which commended the government for common sense reforms to old age security, which will ensure that the program remains sustainable for generations to come.

Windsor Police Service and the RCMP explained how provisions contained in this legislation would allow them to better partner with American law enforcement to keep Canada's border with the United States safe and open for business.

There were many more witnesses who provided countless hours of testimony and spoke to the great importance of this bill and the positive impact it would have on Canada's economy. I encourage Canadians to visit the finance committee's website and read about all of this first hand.

At times like these, Canadian families want their government and elected officials to stay focused on the economy, not on partisanship or procedural games. Canadians see the headlines about Greece and Spain. They read about how those economies have hit hard times. They know that European governments have been unable to effectively deal with their economic crisis.

While it should be clear to everyone in this Parliament, sometimes it does not seem that way, so I will say it anyway. Canadians do not want economic uncertainty. Canadians do not want their politicians to play procedural games while the economy teeters. Canadians want a government with a plan to grow Canada's economy and create jobs in their communities so they can continue to focus on what matters to them, such as raising their families, saving for their retirement and continuing to live in the very best country on Earth. That is exactly what our Conservative government has committed to do since being elected in 2006.

Despite what the NDP and Liberals would have us believe with their constant talking down of the Canadian economy, our Conservative government's plan to grow the Canadian economy has worked and it has worked very well. It is a plan that has included record investments in research and development, record investments in infrastructure, over 140 tax cuts leaving over $3,100 in the pockets of an average Canadian family, lower business taxes, investments in skills, training and education, and so very much more.

We know that our plan has been effective but members do not have to take my word for it because the facts speak for themselves. Let us look at the facts.

Fact, since we took office in January 2006, Canada has created nearly 1.3 million net new jobs, which is the best job growth record in the G7.

Fact, Forbes magazine, one of the world's leading business publications, has ranked Canada as the best country in the world to do business.

Fact, the World Economic Forum, a respected independent financial leader, has declared Canada's banks to be the soundest in the world for four straight years in a row.

Fact, both the OECD and the IMF have forecast that Canada's economic growth will be among the strongest in the industrialized world in the coming years.

Fact, Canada's net debt to GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G7 by far.

Fact, all three of the world's major credit rating agencies, Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch, have recently renewed Canada's top credit rating.

When Conservative members point out these facts, the NDP and Liberals are quick to attack them, dismissing undisputed international praise of Canada's economy as somehow having nothing to do with our government's economic policy since 2006. Naturally, as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, I do not agree with that statement at all.

Canadians might expect some bias in my assessment, so I do not want them to just take my word for it. This is what the OECD said only a few short days ago about Canada's economy, “overall, Canada's...performance has been very good in recent years. We attribute that to good macro policy settings, good structural policy”.

When Canadians watching at home hear the NDP and Liberal speakers stand up bashing Canada's economy and our government's economic policies, I urge them to consider all of the facts.

Despite our careful stewardship to grow and protect Canada's economy, we cannot be complacent and rely on our past achievements to carry us forward. That is something almost every Canadian can relate to, be it a small business owner who is hoping to grow, an employee looking for a promotion, a high school student applying to college, or a family trying to pay the bills while also trying to save enough for retirement.

To succeed we must look forward and be prepared for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Both today's legislation and economic action plan 2012 would do exactly that and are unapologetic in their comprehensiveness and ambition. The challenges we face are equally multifaceted and wide-ranging.

There are many challenges and uncertainties still confronting the economy. The recovery is not complete and too many Canadians are still looking for work. The global economy remains fragile and any potential setbacks would have an impact on Canada. Canadian businesses face ever-increasing competition from emerging fast-growth countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Our aging population will put pressure on public finances and social programs. Let us not kid ourselves: it will not be easy during this particularly intense time, but we know that we have the leadership that it takes to get things done.

Economic action plan 2012 takes important steps to address these structural challenges and ensure the sustainability of public finances and social programs for future generations.

International experience shows the importance of taking action now, rather than delaying.

Economic action plan 2012 focuses on the drivers of growth and job creation—innovation, investment, education, skills and communities.

Underpinning these actions is the ongoing commitment to keeping taxes low, which is central to the government’s long-term economic plan. I am pleased to announce that since its release nearly four months ago, economic action plan 2012 has received some extremely positive reactions.

As the Quebec Employers Council said, the economic action plan contains “measures to support economic development and job creation in Canada”.

These are the words of the Vancouver Board of Trade:

This budget reflects the type of long-term thinking that needs to be shown in a global context of the need for more free trade, particularly with Asia, South America and Europe.

The St. John's Board of Trade said that budget 2012 “focuses on the future and on future generations. It's a focus on high-quality job creation. We have a focus on innovation that is going to help us diversify the economy, which is going to be critical for future success”.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said:

The 2012 federal budget presents a plan for long-term economic growth that builds on Canada’s economic fiscal advantages.

Finally, a recent Waterloo region editorial in the The Record stated that budget 2012 was an:

...intelligent and visionary plan to preserve a progressive, prosperous Canada in a global landscape filled with both upheaval and promise.

And for this reason it is the most ambitious and important federal budget in a generation.

Underlying it all is an astute recognition of how this nation and the world around it are changing. Canada is aging. The growth in its workforce has slowed to a crawl. New economic superpowers — China, India, Brazil — that have emerged or are emerging offer new markets yet greater competition.

This budget tackles these challenges head-on....

What do all those third party assessments of economic action plan 2012 have in common? They recognize that our Conservative government's plan is forward looking and focused squarely on Canadians' long-term economic prosperity.

We contrast that with members of the NDP who continue to push their failed high tax, anti-globalization, anti-trade agenda and the ever-expanding government bureaucracies of the 1970s that go with it. Or, the LIberals who also want higher taxes and who are guided by the belief that every aspect of Canadian life should be managed by a government program run by an endless stream of bureaucrats. Or, let us consider the radicalism of the Green Party which wants to shut down huge sectors of the Canadian economy, punish Canadians with a new tax on the energy they use and labels Canada's natural resource industry and the people it employs a “disease”.

None of the oppositions' proposals are based on facts, like how Canada's population is aging or the continued fragility of the global economy. Instead, the oppositions' plans are based on a rigid ideological belief that government must always grow larger, control more and leave less in the pockets of its citizens through higher taxes. That is why they have been so vocal in their opposition to economic action plan 2012.

I want Canadians at home to know that today's bill is a solid plan for our economy that will bring jobs today and prosperity for tomorrow. With today's act, we are encouraging business to invest and create jobs in Canada by making the review process for major economic projects more timely and transparent while protecting the environment under the principle of one project, one review; extending the mineral exploration tax credit to support junior mineral exploration; and getting rid of dated foreign investment restrictions that prevent Canadian telecommunications companies from growing their operations.

We are improving training by making employment insurance more efficient and focused on job creation by removing disincentives to work while continuing to support unemployed Canadians. We are bolstering Canada's immigration system to better meet our economic needs by ensuring that skilled immigrants can come to Canada and apply their skills where they are needed most.

We are supporting families and communities by guaranteeing the increase of health and social transfers well into the next decade, expanding tax relief to better meet the health care needs of Canadians, expanding accessibility to the registered disability savings plan, requiring that federally regulated long-term disability plans be insured, and ensuring wider access to OAS and GIS through proactive enrolment.

That is a lot in one paragraph and there is so much more covered in this bill.

We are also better managing taxpayer dollars and getting back to balanced budgets by refocusing government programs, including completely eliminating dated and ineffective programs that are duplicative or no longer serve the needs of Canadians.

Before closing, allow me to say that our government's economic policies have made Canada a model of stability in a struggling global economy. We are one step closer to passing this important piece of legislation, which will support job creation, the responsible development of our resources, small business and vital sectors of our economy.

This bill has had the longest debate in the House of Commons and the most extensive study in committee of any other budget implementation bill in over 20 years.

Canadians want their government to concentrate on what is most important: jobs, growth and economic prosperity.

That is exactly what we are doing by implementing economic action plan 2012.

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Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, how can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance present such a rosy picture of this omnibus bill when we see our trade deficit worsening, our employment rate sluggish and our personal debt rate at an all-time high?

We have heard expert testimony, including from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, at the finance committee that this budget implementation bill will worsen unemployment and be a drag on our economic growth. It will cut services, cut jobs and cut growth. At a time of such global economic uncertainty, why would we backtrack on our international environmental commitments? Why would we backtrack on developing growth and our economy?

If the hon. parliamentary secretary is so confident in what the government is doing in this omnibus bill, why does the government not have the courtesy and honesty to break it up and allow for a full and honest debate throughout this country?

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12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague across the way for the question but, unfortunately, I do not agree with much of anything that she said.

In fact, as I made perfectly clear in my speech, Canada is seen by many countries across this world as being the leader when it comes to job creation following a recession that hit us all.

When my colleagues across the way talks about a sluggish employment record, that is absolutely not true. We have the strongest economic growth and the strongest employment growth as a result. In fact, we have seen over 760,000 jobs created since 2009, thanks to the economic policies and thanks to the environment that was produced so that economic growth could continue.

When we talk about the measures in the budget implementation act, all of the things mentioned by my learned colleague are actually false. We have protected the environment. We have taken some measure to move forward to protect the safety and security of Canadians. We have moved forward to ensure that there are health measures that protect generations to come.

There is more and more to see in the budget. I wish the member would take the time to actually read it and not continue to argue about process.

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12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to working with the hon. member as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and, as such, a member of the finance committee as we undertake our work on the study of income inequality now that the House of Commons has overwhelmingly supported my motion on income inequality. I do look forward to working with her , and with members of all parties on the finance committee to address this important issue.

My question for the parliamentary secretary is about the issue of accountability, transparency and respect of Parliament. This morning, the Parliamentary Budget Officer came forward with a legal opinion, which had been sought, that actually says that the government is breaking section 79.3 of the Parliament of Canada Act in its refusal to provide detailed information on the impact on the fiscal situation of the cuts that the government is proposing to make.

The government is refusing to give members of Parliament and the Parliamentary Budget Officer the detailed impacts of the legislation we are passing on the fiscal situation, such the impacts of spending initiatives and the impacts of cuts.

Today we have an unprecedented situation where the Parliamentary Budget Officer has attained a legal opinion that the government is actually breaking section 79.3 of the Parliament of Canada Act.

Why is the parliamentary secretary not actively defending the interests of Parliament to have this information before we vote on this kind of legislation? Why are the Conservative members of Parliament complacent and comfortable voting blindly without knowing the impacts of this legislation on Canada's fiscal situation?

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12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to continuing my work in the finance committee with the hon. member of the Liberal Party as well.

With regard to the budget implementation bill and savings measures, I clearly remember hosting a briefing for all parliamentarians, which included House of Commons members, senators and anyone belonging to their staff. A four and a half hour session was held to educate members and to answer any questions they had about those savings. A number of questions were asked about savings in different ministries that were answered at that time. Unfortunately, a number of people were missing and they may not have received the information, but the information was nevertheless provided when asked for.

When it comes to the deficit reduction action plan, we have been clear. Thanks to the work done by this government, by cabinet, $5.2 billion in savings will be found in the area of ineffectiveness and waste in ministries.

We also have to be clear that we have collective agreements that also have to be honoured. We will not disregard the rights of union members to know upfront some of the situations that they will face. Our ministers are diligent about ensuring that they allow for those processes to take place.

We will continue to provide the information and continue to respect all aspects of the rollout of the deficit reduction action plan in time.

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12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. friend for her great work as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

I have listened to members opposite, especially members of the NDP. They have never talked about how to create wealth, but they are good at talking about how to spend money. Their solution to every problem in government is to spend more and more money. We have seen how that particular approach has taken the European economies, especially Greece, Italy, Spain and so on.

Could the parliamentary secretary please inform the House why it is so important for Canada to not only keep its financial house in order, but to make its financial position even stronger?

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12:20 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, I enjoy working with my colleague, who is chair of our Manitoba caucus. It has been a thrill to work with him since he was elected in the past election. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

With regard to our economic fiscal advantage, Canada is seen as a leader because of the record we have with regard to our economy. However, we are not alone in this world. We are affected by outside sources. We are affected by things like what goes on in Europe and in the United States. We must remain diligent to ensure that our economy is protected from outside forces as much as possible. We do not want to be in a position like we see in Greece or Spain, where there has been some devastating economic news. They have had a heck of a time trying to secure the future for their citizens.

It is absolutely imperative that we deal with the economy in a very prioritized way, which is what the BIA and economic action plan 2012 would do. It focuses on jobs, growth and economic prosperity, along with other prosperity measures, for all Canadians.

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12:25 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls Vaudreuil-Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member across often mentions that she is basing things on fact, however, she tends to cherry-pick the facts. She has mentioned the OECD report as a fact that Canada is doing well. Yet this report states that Canada is going through a mild case of Dutch disease. Total employment numbers since 2006 are lower than pre-2006 figures. When we say sluggish job growth, that is what we are talking about. We are not growing jobs.

Would the hon. member agree with the facts in the OECD that state that Canada is going through Dutch disease? Would she agree with the fact that total employment numbers are lower than pre-2006 numbers?

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12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, once again, Canada has the strongest job creation record in the G7, which is over 760,000 jobs. That is a fact.

When we look at measures with regard to the OECD report, I wish the hon. member would have read it. Here is a quote directly from the OECD report, “Canada weathered the global economic crisis well” and “thanks to a timely macroeconomic policy response and a solid banking sector...Canada enjoys strong institutions and policy credibility”.

The head of the European Financial Stability Board, who is also our Governor of the Bank of Canada, said just the other day, “It's too simple” what the NDP has said. “The factors influencing our currency are more complex than one price or another” and “He rejects completely the argument of Dutch disease put forward by the NDP” completely.

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12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to make it clear that NDP objects, in the strongest possible terms, to Bill C-38, what we call the Trojan Horse bill. Here we are, regrettably, at third reading of this massive omnibus bill, consisting of 425 pages and 753 clauses. Let me be clear about what this bill would do.

One-third of the bill is dedicated to gutting environmental protection and turning back the clock on it. It would make sweeping changes to old age security and employment insurance, vital programs on which Canadian families rely. It would press the delete button on over 300,000 federal skilled worker applications for people who have been playing by the rules and waiting their turn. It would open the door to the privatization of our food safety system and would roll back the clock on government transparency and accountability for the future by concentrating powers in the hands of ministers and reducing oversight and reporting requirements. These are just a few of the measures contained in the bill, everything but the kitchen sink, all bound up in one massive package.

There is growing national consensus that this is the wrong way to make significant changes to government policies and programs. Matthew Carroll of Leadnow confirmed that “Canadians are hungry for a truly participatory democracy that works. The majority are outraged at the direction the current government is dragging our country”.

Even those who agree with some of the proposed changes are decrying the lack of proper oversight and study of the bill. Conservative commentator Andrew Coyne wrote about this Trojan Horse and stated:

We've no idea whether MPs supported or opposed any particular bill in the bunch, only that they voted for the legislation that contained them. There is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent not a single act of policy, but a sort of compulsory buffet... there is something quite alarming about Parliament being obliged to rubber-stamp the government’s whole legislative agenda at one go.

We have tried from the outset to reach out to the government and work with it to find an acceptable way to divide this bill into manageable parts for a more effective and democratic study. Our attempts were thwarted. We tried to offer amendments at the finance committee, but not one of the 53 amendments was accepted, this even in the face of testimony that seriously cautioned the government on several of its proposed changes.

Will Amos of Ecojustice testified. He stated:

There is no law that we can recall that has ever, in such a broad and structural manner, changed the federal environmental governance regime....Canadians are not ready for this. Parliament is not ready for this. There has been inadequate process to consider the transformative changes that are being proposed.

Professor Marjorie Griffin Cohen cautioned, as follows:

What we don't often understand or look at is how various portions of the budget will interact with each other. For example, when you change the OAS and you then change the employment insurance, you're going to see that older people who are over 65 are probably going to be doing part-time and temporary work; they're not going to be able to qualify for a pension, nor are they going to be able to qualify for EI, if they aren't employed. We may be pushing a lot of people in specific kinds of groups into positions of poverty...

On the removal of the Inspector General's oversight from CSIS, and that is also in this bill, Paul Kennedy told the commons committee the following:

The cost associated with the Office of the Inspector General is a small price to pay if one wants to maintain a covert intelligence agency in Canada. The elimination of the Eyes and Ears of the Minister, if that is the course that you chose to adopt, should be accompanied by a common recommendation that future missteps by the intelligence service will be accompanied by the resignation of the Public Safety Minister. Wilful blindness as to potential problems at CSIS must carry a price. After all, responsibility ultimately rests with the Minister.

Mr. Kennedy is a former senior assistant deputy minister of public safety with 20 years of experience in national security. The Conservatives dismissed his testimony as simply wrong.

Finally, after time allocation in the committee, which left us with about four minutes of study per clause and further time allocations in the House, we were left with attempts to delete and amend the bill at report stage and every amendment was voted down by the government.

We urged the government to consult with Canadians about some of these massive changes, to hold hearings to meet with political and community leaders. However, the Atlantic premiers were not consulted about the impact of the proposed EI changes on their provinces and key environmental organizations were not consulted about the impact of gutting environmental laws.

National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations testified at the subcommittee. He said:

Part 3 of Bill C-38 needs to be withdrawn to take the time to work with first nations to ensure their rights and interests are reflected and will not be compromised through such legislation.

New Democrats did our best to open up the process by holding hearings across the country and encouraging Canadians to contact us by email, mail and social media, and thousands did. However, just as Canadians are realizing what is at stake, the government is determined to ram this bill through. We can only believe that the Conservatives' original intent was to pass this massive bill without most Canadians even knowing what was in it. It is abundantly clear that the Conservatives are determined to shut down debate and shut Canadians out of the plans they have for our country.

We believe we have made the process somewhat democratic, but it is still unacceptable that such major changes are being implemented without consultation or adequate oversight. Unfortunately, the impact of this so-called budget bill will be felt not just for a few years, but for decades. If the government is so confident about the measures it is implementing, why did it not promote them in last year's election campaign? Why is it so afraid of a public debate today? Why does it not want Canadians to find out what impact the proposed changes will have on them and their families? When did the Conservatives begin to fear accountability?

I must also emphasize that the short title of this bill, “jobs prosperity and long-term growth”, more than misses the mark. The vast majority of these 425 pages have nothing to do with the budget or economic growth. In fact, some measures would create downward pressure on the income of Canadians. The proposed EI changes would quickly move unemployed workers to lower paying jobs or else right off EI and onto welfare.

We see other measures such as the temporary foreign workers provisions already announced by the Conservative government that would require an employer to only search for a Canadian to fill a job for two weeks before bringing in temporary foreign workers who, now for the first time, can be paid 15% less than the average wage.

Economist Jim Stanford testified before the finance committee. He said:

It is an enormous shortage of jobs, not a lack of workers and not a lack of work ethic, that explains the decline in the employment rate...policies should be designed not to compel more labour supply but rather to support Canadian families in an era where there's a chronic shortage of jobs that dominates the outlook for our labour market moving forward.

We are already living in volatile economic times. Personal debt is at an all-time high of 152% of household income and yet there are nine times more in cuts than in job creation measures in budget 2012. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has cautioned that these changes will have a negative drag on our economy and, overall, unemployment would likely rise. Our trade deficit is high and growing.

To continue with Jim Stanford, he says:

There’s a big difference, however, between signing free-trade pacts and actually doing something about trade. Canada’s trade performance deteriorated badly over the past decade. The quantity of goods and services shipped abroad is seven percentage points lower than when the [Conservative] government took office, lower even than back in 2000....Our once-impressive trade surplus has melted into deficit.

Yet irresponsible, no strings attached budget cuts and tax cuts to the largest corporations have reduced the government's capacity for flexibility in these times. This omnibus budget bill does not address these problems. Instead, it makes them worse.

I look at my own community of Parkdale—High Park. There are people who are desperate to find jobs to support themselves and their families. People work hard, sometimes at two or three jobs, yet they cannot get their heads above the poverty line.

It is a sad fact that in the city of Toronto, with all its wealth and opportunity, one in three children lives in poverty. I see other families who are making a higher income but who are paying exorbitant child care fees, many thousands of dollars on top of an increasing cost of living on everything from housing to food, but their incomes are not rising accordingly. These families see nothing in the budget to provide more affordable housing, nothing in child care, nothing to create jobs and improve their incomes in Toronto.

I see young people who would love the chance to have a decent future and to be part of the economy of tomorrow, but there is almost nothing here in skills development and apprenticeship training.

Young people now have twice the national unemployment rate. If they lose hope, our country will pay the price in years to come. If we invest at the front end, in job skills training and child care and better housing, we will all reap the benefits for years to come.

Regrettably, the government's determination to grow the prison population and purchase fighter jets at the expense of these measures takes Canada in the wrong direction. It is not just morally and socially wrong. It is economically unsustainable.

We believe that it is wrong to attempt to sneak measures past Canadians and to ram them through Parliament as quickly as possible. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said repeatedly that MPs are not getting the information they need in order to reasonably be able to exercise their power of oversight. And today, the Parliamentary Budget Officer has come forward with a legal opinion that backs his battle to obtain information about the proposed cuts.

We are living in uncertain times, and forces beyond our borders will likely continue to have a significant impact for some time to go.

We will have a jobs crisis, likely to get worse. We have an environmental record that has plummeted, among the worst under the Conservatives, and we have a government that repeatedly misleads Canadians to serve its agenda.

Canadians need a government committed to job creation in a meaningful way, not just talking points. We need a government that understands that economic growth and environmental protection must go hand in hand. And we need a government that not only sets up a Parliamentary Budget Office but that provides that office with the information it needs to provide real accountability for Canadians.

That is why New Democrats have been standing firmly against this undemocratic Trojan Horse bill every step of the way and that is why, today, I would like to introduce the following reasoned amendment. My reasoned amendment is as follows:

That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following:

“this House declines to give third reading to Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, because this House:

a) does not know the full implications of the budget cuts given that the government has kept the details of the $5.2 billion in spending cuts from the Parliamentary Budget Officer whose lawyer Joseph Magnet says the government is violating the Federal Accountability Act law and should turn the information over to the Parliamentary Budget Officer;

b) is concerned with the impact of the changes in the Bill on Canadian society such as:

i. making it more difficult for Canadians to access Employment Insurance when they need it and forcing them to accept jobs at 70% of what they previously earned or lose their EI;

ii. raising the age of eligibility for Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement from 65 to 67 years and thus driving thousands of Canadians into poverty while downloading spending to the provinces;

iii. cutting back the federal health transfers to the provinces from 2017 on, which will result in a loss of $31 billion to the health care system; and

iv. gutting the federal environmental assessment regime and weakening fish habitat protection which will adversely affect Canada's environmental sustainability for generations to come; and

c) is opposed to the removal of critical oversight powers of the Auditor General over a dozen agencies and the systematic concentration of powers in the hands of Government ministers over agencies such as the National Energy Board which weakens Canadians' confidence in the work of Parliament, decreases transparency and erodes fundamental democratic institutions by systematically eroding institutional checks and balances to the government's ideologically driven agenda.

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12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

The amendment appears to be in order.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.

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12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, even though the member's amendment points out a number of flaws within Bill C-38, unfortunately the amendment might defer the ultimate passage by, let us say, nine minutes or something of that nature.

It is unfortunate in a sense because the government has put into place a time allocation, which will in essence prevent any real, thorough, healthy debate, whether it is on this amendment or other amendments. The best example I could cite is that the Liberal Party introduced more than 500 amendments, which has to be a record inside this House, and the government chose only to debate a few of those 500 amendments.

Because of time allocation, the hundreds of Liberal amendments were never really debated. Yes, they were voted on. Yes, it did prolong the passage. Unfortunately, the government has not seen the error of its ways and made the changes that are necessary in order to satisfy Canadians. Those changes are that Bill C-38 needs to be thrown out and a new budget bill brought and put into place.

Would the member not agree with that simple statement?

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12:45 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question and for his support for my reasoned amendment.

I would just reach out to other members of the House. I have heard some members on the Conservative side argue that in order to prevent the mega quarry being built in Melancthon township in southern Ontario, they are calling for an environmental assessment, an environmental assessment that would be deleted by Bill C-38.

I would like to reach out to members on the other side, to think about their constituents, to think about their families, to think about the future of their communities and to vote their conscience to understand what the bill would mean for all Canadians, not now alone but for decades going forward, and all it takes is 13 members on the other side to vote their conscience and then we could win this amendment, break up the bill and have a proper debate going forward. The government has the power to do that. These individual members have the power to do that, and I would urge them to do so.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

June 18th, 2012 / 12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Komarnicki Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member talks about environmental protection. Obviously everyone is concerned about that. Responsible resource development is important.

However, I would put this fact to the member. In 2010, natural resource sectors employed 760,000 workers in communities throughout the country, and in the next 10 years more than 500 major economic projects representing over $5 billion in new investments are planned across Canada.

By opposing the budget with rhetoric and delay tactics, which we have seen here, what does the member have to say to groups like the Saskatchewan Mining Association and Cameco? They provide a lot of jobs in northern Saskatchewan and are concerned about eliminating duplication between the provinces and the federal government. They are concerned about overlap between the provincial and federal processes. It has cost them time, resources, money and jobs. They say the budget needs to be passed to ensure that is rectified.

Why will the member not encourage her members to get behind the budget and pass it so that we can eliminate this duplication and address the concerns of many in the industry?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. However, I disagree with the implication that somehow we are opposed to any debate or discussion about the environmental regulations. Absolutely not.

Of course we are happy to open up the process to consult with those affected, but not just the mining businesses. Let us talk to first nations and the people who work in the mines about workplace protection and communities that are affected. Let us talk to the broader public so that we are not just catering to one group or one region.

It is important that we have sustainable development of our natural resources. I think most Canadians would agree, but goodness gracious, let us not destroy fish habitat or run roughshod over sensitive wilderness within Canada of which we are all so proud.

Let us not run roughshod over our democratic institutions. Let us have a fair, open debate, consult broadly and then make a reasoned decision. That is what we are asking for.