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

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand today. I have not spoken as much as I used to. I remember a time, a couple of years ago, and I can always count on my own colleagues to applaud that. However, I do remember just over a year ago that we had an opportunity to speak up for constituents across the country. I heard the NDP member across the way talk about standing up for infrastructure. I do not remember any NDP members standing up for infrastructure when we brought in Canada's economic action plan.

In fact, I remember the exact opposite. Opposition members sat for that and did not vote. They did not vote for the bridges, the tunnels, all the road work that we brought in for the country. They did not vote for the jobs, the infrastructure investment and multiplexes and other measures we voted for at that time. Although they talked a lot about the need for infrastructure, when it came time to vote for it, they even voted against the water and waste water projects across the country.

I know in my constituency in northern Alberta that waste water and water projects are very necessary because of the expanding growth, but also because some of these projects were put in 30 or 40 years ago and are wasting away, which, as is the case with all infrastructure, actually depletes its purpose.

I heard the member say that she and the NDP spoke up for infrastructure, but I could not help to bring forward the fact that when it came time for the infrastructure investment to combat the economic decline in our great country, as well as that which the rest of the world had seen, and still sees, it took this Conservative government to stand up for Canadians and those infrastructure investments. I will never apologize for that because they were some of the best initiatives we could have taken for our country. It also was the best action taken in probably a 50-year period by any government.

Being from western Canada and northern Alberta, I have seen some things happen with which I am not very happy. One is that we have run out of people to take the jobs in western Canada, jobs that have been available for many years. I am proud to be from the constituency of Fort McMurray—Athabasca, which I consider to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

During the period of time I have been there, I have been a business owner, a lawyer and owned and operated some 10 different family businesses for some 45 years. For the last 20 years, I have been active in my own businesses there. I can assure members that we have had real problems employing Canadians. We have had to resort to outside agencies so to speak. We have had to resort to temporary foreign workers. In some parts of the country that is a dirty word, but in my area it is a necessary word. Without temporary foreign workers and the programs of the federal government in co-operation with the provinces that have been brought into play, we would have nobody manning any of restaurants or hotels.

In fact, I can tell stories of hotels having to close down in my constituency and even further abreast than that in Alberta, and now in Saskatchewan. Some hotels have to close entire floors because they do not have staff to clean rooms. It sounds like a trivial matter until one sees that those people who work in those jobs, like in my area of northern Alberta and Fort McMurray, work 12 to 14 hour days, 20 or 25 days straight. That might sound absolutely atrocious, and I believe it is because the quality of life of my constituencies is affected, but the truth is our economy is such that these people not only work because they need to but also because they come from many different places in Canada.

Economic action plan 2012 focuses somewhat on employment issues. I am proud to say that I think the government has addressed these issues very well.

These employment insurance initiatives will encourage people to take long-term employment, to come from other parts of Canada and to be employed not only in northern Alberta hopefully, but also in Newfoundland. I do not know if members are aware, but I hear clearly from my constituents, and I have about 30,000 to 35,000 constituents who are from Newfoundland, that they and many of their relatives think the growth in unemployment is such in Newfoundland that they will return there.

I see from my notes that I also missed a very important part, but I was passionate about the issue of infrastructure and the vote that this Conservative government took on it. I forgot to mention that I would be splitting my time with the member for Don Valley West. I apologize for forgetting that. However, I would like to continue on with some of the employment insurance initiatives that this budget would put in place.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that you may have a problem with me splitting my time, but clearly as many—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I do not mean to interject. I advise the hon. member that in fact we are past the five hour mark so there really is no need to split one's time.

I do not know if the hon. member is asking for unanimous consent to split the time that he has in front of him right now. I do not think perhaps that was his intention.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, everybody likes that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The hon. member will then take the 10 minutes and five minutes that one would normally take for this time slot. Is that correct?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Yes.

The hon. member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, like all things in life, we follow instructions, and that is what I did.

I am very happy with what this government has brought in as far as employment insurance program initiatives, and I will leave it for the general public to understand that. People can visit the website of the federal government to understand specifically what is happening. There are some great initiatives, and I hope to see more in the future.

Because I do not have a lot of time left, I want to talk specifically about what took place when we passed this budget through committee. Many people have talked about how we are ramrodding it through and how we have done many things that have not been done before. The truth is that omnibus bills are nothing new. They have been done by many previous governments, and I am sure they will continue to be done by many governments in the future, notwithstanding what political stripe they may be.

I want to talk about public consultation. I sat on the finance committee and I even sat on the subcommittee for finance sometimes when I was still awake, and I say that with no jest. Many times we sat into the night, eight o'clock, nine o'clock, and with the subcommittee up until midnight and 1:30 in the morning one particular day.

We heard from many witnesses. In fact, during the period of time we studied this, we heard 70 hours of testimony. That may not seem very important when we consider the work week, but when we consider all the other things MPs do, 70 hours of study, especially considering that most hours of study for me, when I go into an hour of committee time, I take an hour or two hours outside of committee to study and prepare for that period of time, the 70 hours can easily be 150 to 200 hours for any member of Parliament.

We did that in particular in relation to Bill C-38 to ensure that Canada's economy was strong, but we also listened to opposition parties and heard testimony from many individuals across the regime, including government officials. These government officials have been working, contrary to what the opposition says, on these files, these issues and these items for many years. In fact, as a parliamentary secretary involved in some aspects of it, these people were more up-to-date in relation to policy of governments than I will ever be and certainly provided a lot of opportunity. Therefore, I can assure members that they dealt with and understood those issues long before any of us came to this place.

We also heard from industry associations. I know we heard from them, because I heard from many of them. They called for the same things. They said, “Let us have some changes”.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, of which I have been a member through my businesses in the past, do a great job. I continue to get the surveys and the input from their members and write those members back to confirm what we do as a government. It said, “With respect to employment insurance, 22% of our members told us they feel they're competing against EI for workers”. They are competing against an insurance program for jobs. It does not really make a lot of sense. It goes on to say, “and 16% of our members said they have been asked by employees to lay them off so they can collect employment insurance. The need for change is very clear”.

Those were not my words. Those were the words of the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the voice of business for Canada, had this to say. I would consider it to be a very good voice because it petitions the people who create jobs in our country and pay the most taxes as far as percentage to gross income and personal income. It said:

For decades we've understood that the EI system can be a double-edged sword, protecting workers who lose their jobs, yes, but also creating enduring dependencies and marginalizing thousands of workers....Canada can’t continue to pay the cost of an underutilized workforce.

Those are not my words. That is the business community of Canada coming forward and saying we need change.

There are labour inefficiencies from coast to coast. I am clearly in support of this budget. It would do great things for Canada. It would do great things for Canadian families. More important, it would do great things for Canadian families in the future. A budget today is what affects us in years and years to come.

Business of the House
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Carleton—Mississippi Mills
Ontario

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Minister of State and Chief Government Whip

Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties for the following motion. I move:

That, notwithstanding any Standing or Special Order, or usual practice of the House, when the proceedings are interrupted later this day, pursuant to the order made Tuesday, June 12, 2012, under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), with respect to the third reading stage of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures:

(a) all questions necessary to dispose of third reading stage of the said bill shall be deemed put and a recorded division shall be deemed requested;

(b) the bells to call in the members shall ring for not longer than 30 minutes;

(c) following the disposal of Bill C-38, the House shall then proceed immediately to the taking of the deferred recorded divisions respecting the third reading stage of Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, and the motion to concur in the third report of the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates; and

(d) after the taking of the recorded divisions provided for in this order, the House shall stand adjourned to the next sitting day.

Business of the House
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

Does the Chief Government Whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Business of the House
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Business of the House
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Bruce Stanton

(Motion agreed to)

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

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, QC

Mr. Speaker, the New Democratic Party organized extensive consultations on Bill C-38. I heard a lot of concerns about this legislation. I myself just used the term “heard” when I should have said “listened”.

The member said he heard a number of witnesses, but did he really listen to them?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, did I really listen to them? That is a bit insulting.

I am trained to listen and to speak, but clearly I am not trained to speak as the NDP member opposite is. I heard those members speak for years about infrastructure investments and when they had the opportunity to vote for them, they voted against them. They voted against the bridges in Quebec and the bridges and roads across the country. They voted against water and sewer infrastructure. I assure the member that I listened to the committee members and to the witnesses who came forward, and not just the witnesses whom this member heard from. We heard from hundreds, including witnesses from aboriginal bands and environmental consultations.

I have been here for eight years now. It is not a very long time, but I have been on the environment committee. I have been the parliamentary secretary for infrastructure and transportation when that member's party voted against all those infrastructure investments. I have heard clearly from many witnesses over the years and I assure that member that all the proposed changes in Bill C-38 would be excellent for the country, today and tomorrow.