Budget Implementation Act, 2009

An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in December 2009.

Sponsor

Jim Flaherty  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

Part 1 implements income tax measures proposed in the January 27, 2009 Budget. In particular, it

(a) increases by 7.5% above their 2008 levels the basic personal amount and the upper limits for the two lowest personal income tax brackets, thereby also increasing the income levels at which income testing begins for the base benefit under the Canada Child Tax Credit and the National Child Benefit supplement;

(b) increases by $1,000 the amount on which the Age Credit is calculated;

(c) increases to $25,000 the maximum amount eligible for withdrawal under the Home Buyers’ Plan;

(d) introduces amendments to the rules related to Registered Retirement Savings Plans and Registered Retirement Income Funds to allow for recognition of losses in accounts between the time of the annuitant’s death and final distribution of property from the account;

(e) repeals the interest deductibility constraints in section 18.2 of the Income Tax Act;

(f) extends the mineral exploration tax credit for one year;

(g) increases to $500,000 the annual amount of active business income eligible for the 11% small business income tax rate and makes related amendments;

(h) clarifies rules relating to timing of acquisition of control of a corporation; and

(i) creates cost savings through electronic filing of tax information.

In addition, Part 1 implements income tax measures that were referenced in the January 27, 2009 Budget and that were originally proposed in the February 26, 2008 Budget but not included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2008. In particular, it

(a) clarifies the application of the excess corporate holdings rules for private foundations;

(b) increases the amount that corporations will be able to pay as “eligible dividends”;

(c) enacts several regulatory amendments that complement and complete measures enacted in the Budget Implementation Act, 2008;

(d) introduces minor adjustments to the Tax-Free Savings Account rules and the scientific research and experimental development investment tax credit rules included in the Budget Implementation Act, 2008;

(e) implements rules in respect of donations of medicines; and

(f) reduces the paper burden on businesses by allowing a larger number of government entities to share Business Number-related information in connection with government programs and services.

Part 1 also implements other income tax measures referred to in the January 27, 2009 Budget that either were themselves previously announced or flow directly from previously announced measures. In particular, it

(a) implements technical changes relating to specified investment flow-through trusts and partnerships and new tax rules to facilitate the conversion of these entities into corporations;

(b) contains amendments to take into account financial institution accounting changes;

(c) extends the general treatment of capital gains and losses on an acquisition of control of a corporation to gains and losses that result from fluctuations in foreign exchange rates in respect of debt denominated in foreign currency;

(d) enhances the carry-forward for investment tax credits;

(e) implements amendments relating to the computation of income, gains and losses of a foreign affiliate;

(f) implements amendments to the functional currency tax reporting rules;

(g) implements minor tax amendments relating to interprovincial allocation of corporate taxable income, the Wage Earner Protection Program and the Canada-United States tax treaty’s rules for cross-border pensions;

(h) provides for an extension of time for income tax assessments that are consequential to provincial reassessments;

(i) ensures the appropriate application of the Income Tax Act’s trust rules to certain arrangements and institutions under Quebec civil law;

(j) enacts regulatory amendments relating to prescribed amounts for automobile expenses and benefits, eligible medical expenses, and the tax treatment of foreign affiliate active business income earned in a jurisdiction with which Canada has concluded a tax information exchange agreement;

(k) introduces rules to reduce the required minimum amount that must be withdrawn from a Registered Retirement Income Fund or from a variable benefit money purchase pension plan by 25% for 2008, and allows related re-contributions;

(l) extends the deadline for Registered Disability Savings Plan contributions; and

(m) modifies the provisions relating to amateur athletic trusts.

Part 2 amends the Excise Act, 2001 and the Excise Tax Act to implement measures to reduce the paper burden on businesses by allowing a larger number of government entities to share Business Number-related information in connection with government programs and services.

Part 3 amends the Customs Tariff to implement measures announced in the January 27, 2009 Budget to

(a) reduce Most-Favoured-Nation rates of duty and, if applicable, rates of duty under other tariff treatments on a number of tariff items relating to machinery and equipment imported on or after January 28, 2009;

(b) divide tariff item 9801.10.00 into two separate tariff items pertaining to conveyances and containers, respectively, and make two technical corrections, effective January 28, 2009; and

(c) modify the tariff treatment of milk protein substances, effective September 8, 2008.

Part 4 amends the Employment Insurance Act until September 11, 2010 to extend regular benefit entitlements by five weeks. It also provides that a pilot project ceases to have effect. In addition, it amends that Act to provide that the cost of benefit enhancement measures under that Act, provided for in the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009, are not to be charged to the Employment Insurance Account. Finally, it sets the premium rate provided for under that Act for the years 2002, 2003, 2005 and 2010.

Division 1 of Part 5 amends the Financial Administration Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to take, subject to certain conditions, a number of measures intended to promote the stability or maintain the efficiency of the financial system, including financial markets, in Canada.

Division 2 of Part 5 amends the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act to provide the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation with greater flexibility to enhance its ability to safeguard financial stability in Canada. The Division also adds Tax-Free Saving Accounts as a distinct category for the purposes of deposit insurance. It also makes consequential amendments to other acts.

Division 3 of Part 5 amends the Export Development Act to, among other things, expand the Export Development Corporation’s mandate to include the support and development of domestic trade and business opportunities for a period of two years. The period may be extended by the Governor in Council. Division 3 also increases the Corporation’s authorized capital.

Division 4 of Part 5 amends the Business Development Bank of Canada Act to increase the maximum amount of the paid-in capital of the Business Development Bank of Canada.

Division 5 of Part 5 amends the Canada Small Business Financing Act to increase the maximum outstanding loan amount in relation to a borrower. It also increases individual lenders’ cap on claims. These amendments will apply to new loans made after March 31, 2009.

Division 6 of Part 5 amends a number of Acts governing federal financial institutions to improve access to credit and strengthen the financial system in Canada, including amendments that will

(a) provide new authority for further safeguards to promote the stability of the financial system;

(b) enhance consumer protection by establishing new measures to help consumers of financial products; and

(c) implement other technical measures to strengthen the financial sector framework in Canada.

Division 7 of Part 5 provides for payments to be made to provinces and territories, provides authority to the Minister of Finance to enter into agreements respecting securities regulation with provinces and territories and enacts the Canadian Securities Regulation Regime Transition Office Act.

Part 6 authorizes payments to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund for various purposes, including infrastructure and housing.

Part 7 amends Part I of the Navigable Waters Protection Act to create a tiered approval process for works in order to streamline the approval process and to exclude certain classes of works and works on certain classes of navigable waters from the approval process. This Part further amends Part I of the Act to clarify the scope of the application of that Part to works owned or previously owned by the Crown, to provide for the application of the Act to bridges over the St. Lawrence River and to add certain regulation-making powers.

Part 7 also amends the Act to clarify the provisions related to obstacles and obstructions to navigation. The Act is also amended by adding administration and enforcement powers, consolidating all offence provisions, increasing fines and requiring a review of the Act within five years of the amendments coming into force.

Division 1 of Part 8 amends the Wage Earner Protection Program Act and the Wage Earner Protection Program Regulations to provide that unpaid wages for which an individual may receive payment under the Wage Earner Protection Program include unpaid severance pay and termination pay.

Division 2 of Part 8 amends the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to, among other things,

(a) require the Chief Actuary of the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions to report on financial assistance provided under that Act; and

(b) authorize the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to suspend or deny financial assistance to all those who are qualifying students in respect of a designated educational institution.

Division 2 of Part 8 also amends both the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act and the Canada Student Loans Act to, among other things,

(a) terminate all obligations of a borrower with respect to risk-shared loans and guaranteed loans if the borrower dies;

(b) authorize the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development to require any person who has received financial assistance or a guaranteed student loan to provide that Minister with documents or information for the purpose of verifying compliance with those Acts; and

(c) authorize that Minister to terminate or deny financial assistance in certain circumstances.

Division 3 of Part 8 amends the Financial Administration Act to provide express authority for agent Crown corporations to lease their property, restrict the appointment of employees of a Crown corporation to its board of directors, require Crown corporations to hold annual public meetings, clarify Treasury Board’s duties to indemnify Crown corporation directors and officers, permit more flexibility in the frequency of special examinations of Crown corporations, and require the reports of special examinations to be submitted to the appropriate Minister and Treasury Board and made public. This Division also makes consequential amendments to other Acts.

Part 9 amends the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act to set out the amount of the fiscal equalization payments to the provinces for the fiscal year beginning on April 1, 2009 and amends the method by which fiscal equalization payments will be calculated for subsequent fiscal years. It also amends the method by which the Canada Health Transfer is calculated for each fiscal year in the period beginning on April 1, 2009 and ending on March 31, 2014.

Part 10 enacts the Expenditure Restraint Act. The purpose of that Act is to put in place a reasonable and an affordable approach to compensation across the federal public sector in support of responsible fiscal management in a difficult economic environment.

It sets out rules governing economic increases to the rates of pay of unionized and non-unionized employees for periods that begin during the period that begins on April 1, 2006 and ends on March 31, 2011. It also continues certain other terms and conditions at their current levels. It preserves the right of collective bargaining with regard to other matters and it does not affect the right to strike.

The Act does not preclude the continued development of workplace improvements by employers and employees’ bargaining agents through the National Joint Council or other bodies that they may agree on. It also permits bargaining agents and employers to agree to the amendment of certain terms and conditions of collective agreements or arbitral awards.

Part 11 enacts the Public Sector Equitable Compensation Act and makes consequential amendments to other Acts. The purpose of the Act is to ensure that proactive measures are taken to provide employees in female predominant job groups with equitable compensation.

It requires public sector employers that have non-unionized employees to determine periodically whether any equitable compensation matters exist in the workplace and, if so, to prepare a plan to resolve them. With respect to public sector employers that have unionized employees, the employers and the bargaining agents are to resolve those matters through the collective bargaining process.

It sets out the procedure for informing employees as to whether an equitable compensation assessment was required to be conducted and, if so, how it was conducted, and how any equitable compensation matters were resolved. It also establishes a recourse process for employees if the Act is not complied with.

Finally, since the Act puts in place a comprehensive equitable compensation scheme for public sector employees, this Part amends the Canadian Human Rights Act so that the provisions of that Act dealing with gender-based wage discrimination no longer apply to public sector employers. It extends the mandate of the Public Service Labour Relations Board to allow it to hear equitable compensation complaints and to provide other services related to equitable compensation in the public sector.

Part 12 amends the Competition Act. The amendments include

(a) introducing a dual-track approach to agreements between competitors, with a limited criminal anti-cartel provision and a civil provision to address other agreements that substantially lessen or prevent competition;

(b) providing that bid-rigging includes agreements or arrangements to withdraw bids or tenders;

(c) repealing the provisions dealing with price discrimination and predatory pricing, replacing the criminal resale price maintenance provision with a new civil provision to address price maintenance practices that have an adverse effect on competition, and repealing all provisions dealing specifically with the airline industry;

(d) introducing an administrative monetary penalty for cases of abuse of dominant position, increasing the maximum amount of administrative monetary penalties for deceptive marketing cases, and increasing the maximum fines or terms of imprisonment, or both, for agreements or arrangements between competitors, bid-rigging, criminal false or misleading representations, deceptive telemarketing, deceptive notice of winning a prize, obstruction of Competition Bureau investigations and failure to comply with prohibition orders or production orders;

(e) clarifying that, in proceedings under section 52, 74.01 or 74.02, it is not necessary to establish that false or misleading representations are made to the public in Canada or are made in a place to which the public has access, and clarifying that the “general impression test” applies to all deceptive marketing practices in sections 74.01 and 74.02;

(f) providing that the court may make an order in respect of cases of false or misleading representations to require the person who engaged in the conduct to compensate persons affected by the conduct, and may issue an interim injunction to freeze assets if the Commissioner of Competition intends to ask for such a compensation order; and

(g) introducing a two-stage merger review process for notifiable transactions, increased merger pre-notification thresholds and a reduced merger review limitation period.

Part 13 amends the Investment Canada Act so that the review of an investment will be applied only to the more significant investments. It also amends the Act to allow more information to be made public. This Part also provides for the review of foreign investments in Canada that could threaten national security and allows the Governor in Council to take any measures that the Governor in Council considers advisable to protect national security, such as prohibiting a non-Canadian from implementing an investment.

Part 14 amends the Canada Transportation Act to provide the Governor in Council with flexibility to increase the foreign ownership limit from the existing levels to a maximum of 49%.

Part 15 amends the Air Canada Public Participation Act in relation to the mandatory provisions in the articles of Air Canada regarding constraints imposed on the issue, transfer and ownership of shares. It provides for the repeal of the provisions requiring that the articles of Air Canada contain provisions imposing limits on non-resident share ownership and the repeal of the provisions requiring that the articles of Air Canada contain provisions respecting the enforcement of these constraints.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

March 4, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
March 4, 2009 Passed That this question be now put.
March 3, 2009 Passed That Bill C-10, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on January 27, 2009 and related fiscal measures, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 394.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 383.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 358.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 317.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 445.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 295.
March 3, 2009 Failed That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 6.
Feb. 12, 2009 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Finance.
Feb. 12, 2009 Passed That this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from the Okanagan, a beautiful part of this country. I envy where he lives. I thank him for his support.

In answer to the first question, when we talk about dollars going out, the important thing is that the five week extension to EI will be available to people the moment the budget passes this House.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise for the last time on the subject of Bill C-10 As I have said a number of times, the Liberal party will vote in favour of this bill, despite its significant weaknesses, for the simple reason that the economy is in a full blown crisis. Despite its weaknesses in a number of areas, we have made it clear that the top priority for the Canadian economy and for Canadians is to support the economy during this crisis. This is why we decided to vote in favour, and we have not changed our mind. I think we have probably spent enough time on this bill, and it is not my intention to repeat all of its weaknesses, all the bad things it should not contain and all the good things it should contain.

I do not want to be repeating myself and, in this speech, I would like to address two issues. First, the fact that the government is on probation and, second, the issue of this blank cheque for $3 billion the government wants us to support.

Both the fact that the government is on probation and is subject to a number of reports, and the matter of the $3 billion fund go to the heart of the question of accountability, especially since the Prime Minister rode to office under a banner of accountability. The government ought to pay attention both to a serious approach to its quarterly reports and to resolving in a satisfactory way this matter of the $3 billion so-called slush fund.

On the question of probation, the Liberal Party is voting for the budget, but the Liberal Party, as members know, has put forward a detailed amendment that requires the government to make regular reports. I would like to indicate in the next few minutes how we propose that the government do this in a way that is accountable and transparent.

There are four items in our amendment, which was accepted by the government.

First, the government is to provide ongoing economic and fiscal updates.

Since the time of the budget, with the terrible economic news that we have had, it should be abundantly clear to all in this chamber that we have a need for fiscal and economic updates. We have had a terrible drop in GDP of 3.4% in the last quarter of 2008, the worst since 1991. We have had big job losses. We have had record bankruptcies in the personal sector. We have had big drops in housing starts.

For all those reasons, the first point, which requires ongoing economic and fiscal updates, will clearly be necessary for the reports that the government has undertaken to provide to this House.

The second point is to detail the actual implementation of the budget. That is to say, is the money actually flowing the way that the government has said it will flow? Is it flowing fast enough? Are there delays?

I would emphasize the infrastructure funding, which has been talked about frequently, but also the funding from the Business Development Bank of Canada and EDC. The government has committed some $8 billion in small business lending. We know that credit is at the core of our problems and we had a very unsatisfactory meeting in the finance committee this morning with the president of BDC, who was entirely unable or unwilling to give us any idea of the speed with which these billions of dollars in credit would get out the door.

Just as infrastructure funding is of no value if it sits under a mattress in Ottawa, neither is credit to small business of any value if it stays in the vault of a bank rather than getting out the door to the business customers who are desperately in need of credit.

Therefore, to detail the actual implementation of the budget is the second point. In this regard, the Parliamentary Budget Officer will be playing an important role. He has provided what I thought was a good report as to how he plans to proceed to help parliamentarians, to provide these economic and fiscal updates, and to detail the implementation of the budget.

The Liberal Party certainly expects the government to co-operate fully with the requests of the Parliamentary Budget Officer for information in order to permit him to do his job for Parliament, which is to provide these economic and fiscal updates, as well as to detail the implementation of the budget.

The third item is that we expect the government, and indeed the government has agreed, to itemize the actual effects of the budget with respect to the five criteria, which our leader has set out: to protect the vulnerable, to protect the jobs of today, to protect the jobs of tomorrow, to ensure regional fairness, and to avoid permanent deficits.

In each of these categories, we expect the government, as it has committed to do, to set out the ways in which its actions and its future actions will impact Canadians in these five areas.

Finally, the fourth point is to provide details on any adjustments or new measures as may be required to benefit the Canadian economy.

As our party has said a number of times, as the finance minister has said, if the situation becomes distinctly worse, then it may be necessary for the government to take further action.

This would seem to be a matter of common sense in a crisis the likes of which none of us have seen in our lifetimes and nobody knows where the bottom is. It is impossible to say whether or not further government action will be needed. If we were to base our assessment on recent events, we certainly could not rule that out.

The only one who seems to be out of step on this is the Prime Minister himself, who has spoken ambiguously, on CNN yesterday and in previous times, where it becomes apparent that he does not really believe in fiscal stimulus in the first place, which was clearly reflected in his MA thesis.

I am not sure that he, unlike his finance minister, unlike the Liberal Party, subscribes to the notion that even if the Canadian economy gets substantially worse that he will or will not be willing to provide additional support. That is a question for the Prime Minister.

In the amendment to which the government agreed, the government agreed that it would provide details on new adjustments or new measures that may be required.

This is what we mean by the role of a government on probation. The government has agreed to it and we will hold it to account for co-operating fully and in a transparent manner on all of these four points of the amendment which was accepted by this Parliament.

I turn to my second and final subject, which is the matter of this $3 billion so-called blank cheque, as we tend to call, or slush fund as others tend to call it. It is a $3 billion fund which the Treasury Board seeks to appropriate and to spend in some fashion, as it sees fit.

If there is any doubt in the minds of anybody in this House as to the position of the Liberal Party, I will just read a headline from a Canadian Press story that came out about one hour ago. The headline is, “[Liberal leader] won't bend on $3-billion 'slush fund' despite election threat”. That is a verbatim statement of the headline, except that it uses his name which I cannot say here rather than “Liberal leader”.

He has said, as the headline says, clearly that our party will not bend on this $3 billion slush fund despite election threats. Let me just make it very clear, what is involved here. This has nothing to do with the vote on the budget. There has been some confusion on this issue. It is entirely a matter of the vote on the estimates. That vote will not take place for two to three weeks, which means that there is plenty of time to make some adjustments to what the government is proposing in order to restore at least a modicum of accountability to the government proposal which, so far, is entirely lacking in accountability.

It is possible to walk and chew gum at the same time. That is to say, we can get the money out the door with zero delay, with zero impact on the speed with which that money is out there to support the Canadian economy, and at the same time we can make some changes to what the government is proposing, so that it is not presented with a blank cheque that is absolutely and utterly blank.

The problem is that we have heard from Treasury Board officials that, contrary to statements by the Treasury Board President, this $3 billion would be limited to expenditures on budget measures. The Treasury Board officials have told us in writing that in fact the $3 billion could be spent on anything under the sun, including measures that the government has not even thought of yet.

Especially for a government and a Prime Minister that tells us, ad nauseam, about accountability and how much they subscribe to that, surely it is unacceptable to provide totally unrestricted rules for a government to spend taxpayers' hard-earned money with no accountability to Parliament, with no scrutiny, and with no barriers around the areas in which it is able to spend.

That is why, for the Liberal Party, it is a non-negotiable issue to come to some agreement on this which will maybe not establish maximum accountability but at least a modicum of accountability, whereas as matters stand today, none exists.

We have come almost to the end of our debate on this bill. All of us must be seized with the gravity of the situation facing our economy. All of us must be seized with the importance of providing support to the economy and that is why we in the Liberal Party, notwithstanding all the errors of omission and commission contained in this budget, will nevertheless support it at third reading.

However, we are not giving a blank cheque to the government in two respects. First, we are not giving it a blank cheque because we have put it on probation. We are requiring reports and demanding that the government behave in a transparent and co-operative way in providing the required information on these reports. Second, we are demanding that it display at least a substantial element of accountability in terms of the management of this $3 billion fund.

In conclusion, I move:

That this question be now put.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, I listened to my Liberal colleague's speech about Bill C-10, the budget implementation bill, which is at the third reading stage. He spoke to us about two major elements, the second being the $3 billion that the government wants to give itself. The member said he was not ready to give the government a blank cheque. He also spoke about accountability and the fact that minimal accountability, not maximum accountability, may be required.

I would like my colleague to explain exactly how he intends to show the government that it must demonstrate minimal accountability and to explain what he considers to be minimal accountability.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:10 p.m.
See context

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, I believe that I said we would require a significant and substantial amount, not a minimal amount, as if it were not important.

I believe the House leader is discussing the options with his counterpart. It is somewhat technical, but I believe that there are means to limit the government's flexibility in terms of what it wants to spend. We may have other means to come to a solution.

In my opinion, we have not yet come to a solution that both parties find acceptable, but I am relatively optimistic that we will be able to get there and reach an agreement. I hope that there will be an agreement. As I said, our leader is seeking a solution and we would prefer to have an agreement. Negotiations are ongoing and so I do not have an exact answer to the question.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:10 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Let me get this straight, Madam Speaker. After the Liberals bent over backward on pay equity and sold out the women of Canada on pay equity, after they sold out and bent over backward on employment insurance because they supposedly believe, as the NDP does, that half the workers not being able to access employment insurance is a fundamental crime, after they bent over backward on equalization in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Quebec, and after they bent over backward on virtually everything, now we are being told that this time the line in the sand that they have drawn is a very real line.

I just do not buy it because what we saw today, for the 60th consecutive time over two Parliaments, was Liberals propping up the Harper agenda, propping up the Conservative government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:15 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, I am actually referring to an agenda, kind of like Harper's Magazine and Harper's index. It describes something that is a reality, not referencing anybody in particular in the House.

However, what we have is systematic bending over backwards on everything, by the Liberals, for the Conservative agenda. We even saw the principle of the slush fund in the former sponsorship scandal. It was Liberal ingenuity, also most criminal ingenuity, that brought the sponsorship scandal to bear. We also saw with the softwood sellout, which the Liberals supported through every single stage, that the Bush softwood slush fund was supported by the Liberals.

The simple question is this: How could we possibly believe the Liberals this time?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, Liberals do not take any lessons from the NDP members either on economics or on morality. On economics, they do not understand it and they never will. On morality, they may accuse us of propping up the government, but everybody knows it is the NDP that created the government, because it is as a consequence of NDP action that the government came into being. Had it not been for those actions, Canadians would have child care, Kelowna, and pay equity. It is the NDP members and not the Liberals who are responsible for that.

Therefore, we take no lessons from the NDP either on the subjects that the hon. member raised or anything to do with economics.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Madam Speaker, during question period the finance critic for the official opposition posed a question to the finance minister, the gist of which was following the finance minister's statement admonishing the House that we have to pass the bill because until we pass it not one dollar can flow. The finance critic posed the question and reminded him that no money under the budget implementation legislation actually can flow until April 1. As a matter of fact, it is not legal.

Interestingly enough, I asked the same question of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance in commencing this debate. I asked the blunt and straightforward question, could he confirm to the House the date on which the first dollar of these monies under the budget implementation legislation can flow?

He did not answer the question, which says to me that the Conservatives will not answer straight questions because they know they have been implying and insinuating that everything is everybody else's fault, that it is a global financial crisis that has nothing to do with us, that it is synchronized somehow, that this is jingoism and it is not true.

I wonder if the member would care to comment on the accountability and the transparency that his party shows even in simple questions.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:15 p.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his good question. I believe he knows in part the answer to his question, which is that the money from the budget can legally flow as of April 1 of this year. When it will actually flow is a totally different matter.

If we were to make that assessment based on the government's past record in flowing infrastructure funding, and based on what we heard in committee this morning about the BDC's lack of concrete plans, I think we will be left to wonder whether this money will ever flow or whether it will take many months before any significant quantity of money does flow.

I think in a sense the practical question is more important than the legal question, and the monitoring function will be central for us in determining what the answer to that question will be.

The member refers to accountability. To repeat my speech, I will refer to the double elements of accountability that will be important to us going forward: first, to have the government accountable as a government under probation according to the four sets of criteria set out in the motion; and second, that the government must also be accountable in accepting substantive and significant changes in the management of the $3-billion fund.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, New Democrats believe passionately in pay equity. This budget trashes pay equity. New Democrats believe in respecting our public civil servants and the sanctity of negotiated contracts. This budget rolls back negotiated collective agreements, including rolling back pay to RCMP officers.

New Democrats believe in child care spaces. This budget does not create one child care space. New Democrats believe in a national housing plan, something that the Liberal Party promised to restore in 1993 and failed to deliver, despite being the government for 13 straight years.

What does the hon. member say to the children, the women, the affordable housing advocates and the civil servants of this country in terms of his supporting the bill?

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:20 p.m.
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Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Madam Speaker, the NDP can always be counted on to speak with sanctimony. The NDP never has to exercise responsibility, and that is the fundamental problem. I have said many times that this budget is far from perfect. It is reprehensible in many ways, but the NDP never considers the fundamental point that this is an economy in crisis. This is an economy where jobless rates are soaring. This is an economy where in my office I receive requests from—

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:20 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, I will begin by saying that it is very clear, as far as third reading of Bill C-10 is concerned, that the Bloc Québécois will be opposed, for a number of reasons. We have taken part in the debates at second reading, and proposed amendments, all of which were rejected. Both the Budget Implementation Act 2009 and the budget implementation plan create significant inequalities for Quebec. They have been strongly objected to in Quebec. In particular, the National Assembly passed an unanimous resolution in which all four parties in the Assembly took part.

These elements are of such importance to Quebec that they were the topic of a special session of the Quebec National Assembly. It came out unanimously against the government's intention to create, through this bill, a single securities commission, setting aside $150 million for the purpose. Quebec has always objected to this, and continues to do so. The Bloc Québécois members here will therefore continue to doggedly defend that position.

It is very clear that this is an area under Quebec jurisdiction. The Conservative government has been saying since 2006 that it absolutely wants to create this institution. We are totally opposed to this measure on constitutional grounds. What is more, we doubt that it will work.

Moreover, this morning, in the Standing Committee on Finance—which the Liberal colleague just referred to—we heard from specialists from the finance department. They told us that even if there is in the United States a commission for the entire country with a somewhat difficult to define role, it had not been up to dealing with the devastating effects of risk mortgages. These experts admitted that this type of mortgages were the source of the economic crisis we are experiencing. Even a single body in the U.S. was not able to offset the effects of a crisis everyone could see coming.

What is the real intention of the Conservative government in creating this single commission if not to be at cross-purposes with an existing process that is working very well? There are thirteen commissions working within an area that falls under the jurisdiction of their province or territory. A passport system enables communication between them. The International Monetary Fund has deemed this to be highly satisfactory and worthwhile for Canada and Quebec.

How can a government be trusted that is determined to flout one of Quebec’s clear desires and decisions? The Autorité des marchés financiers is the only remaining bulwark in Quebec protecting all securities, especially at the Montreal Exchange, which had to give up a number of functions when merged with the Toronto Stock Exchange. The government wants to deprive Quebec of a tool that is very important for its future development and concentrate it in Toronto, which paradoxically is located in the only province that refused to join the passport system because that province knew that its refusal would damage the system.

Ontario said to itself, therefore, that if a single securities commission were established, it would get it. We are totally opposed to this situation.

There is another major item that we tried to amend. That is the Conservative government’s intention in the budget implementation bill to unilaterally change the equalization system. They want to eliminate the planned $991 million increase in the 2009-10 financial year. This figure was confirmed by the Finance Minister’s people. Quebec will therefore be deprived of nearly $1 billion, which will prevent it from establishing programs and improving services in the areas of education, health and transportation. The people of Quebec will therefore once again experience this offloading of responsibilities that uses the economic crisis as an excuse, despite the fact that agreements had already been reached. Now the government says it is putting an end to all that and henceforth the provinces will have to pay, especially Quebec.

We totally disagree with this. I was talking a little while ago about the resolution unanimously adopted by the Quebec National Assembly in January 2009 that asked the Conservative government to review this issue, because it is totally unacceptable. In March 2007, our current Prime Minister wrote to the Premier of Quebec saying that transfer payments would henceforth be predictable and Quebec would be able to plan better knowing in advance how much equalization it would receive. In November, the government put an end to this agreement, all of a sudden and without warning anyone, and cut Quebec’s equalization by a billion dollars, not counting subsequent years.

Another major, totally incomprehensible item in the budget is the favourable treatment accorded Hydro One in Ontario in comparison with Hydro-Québec. Hydro One arranges and installs electric power lines and distributes power. Hydro-Québec does the same but also builds and operates electric power generating plants. Two-thirds of Hydro-Québec’s revenues come from transmission and distribution. The government is refusing now to give equal treatment to this two-thirds of what Hydro-Québec does.

That too is completely unfair to Quebec and deprives it of about $250 million that it would receive if the same formula were applied to it as to Ontario. Once again, this is totally unacceptable.

There is another major issue. Once again, pay equity amendments, among others, were not passed this afternoon. This budget implementation bill scoffs at the right to pay equity, women's right to receive the same pay as men for the same work. This bill makes pay equity a negotiable right. That is unacceptable. Conservative government representatives told us that they had modelled the amendment on Quebec legislation, but everyone knows that in Quebec, pay equity legislation is proactive because it researches and analyzes these problems in advance. However, the federal government is trying to make women in the public service take a significant step backward. They are being told that from now on, the matter will be negotiable and the government will have to see if it can be adapted.

The Conservative members' suggestion that their bill is similar to Quebec legislation is false, and we take exception to such statements.

The other issue is capping pay raises for federal employees. The government signed salary increase agreements with a number of groups, but the budget implementation bill is a big step backward for these people too. Their employer, the government, publicly gave them the shaft. These people work for all Canadians and Quebeckers, but they have just been denied the right to the fair, equitable, proper negotiations that resulted in agreements, agreements that the government has torn up. That, too, is completely unacceptable.

Another major issue—and I should note that I am only talking about major issues, because we could go on forever if we were to discuss the details of every significant irritant in this bill—is this bill's amendment of the Navigable Waters Act. Bill C-10 gives extraordinary powers to one person, the minister, no consultations required. From now on, the minister will have the power to define navigable waterways and structures that may be exempt from environmental assessment.

This is giving far too much power to the minister, without reference to consultation or environmental studies, justified simply by the statement that we must act quickly to see that the money set aside for infrastructure is spent quickly.

Generations will follow us and rap our knuckles. They will rap the knuckles of the Conservative government and of the Liberals who support it at the moment. They will say it is crazy to have given a minister powers in this bill to circumvent the necessary environmental studies. It is highly likely that, in some respects—especially at the pace they want to proceed—the government will end up with projects that will damage the environment. No one wants this, but the way is clear for this to happen.

We mentioned as well in the budget debate that there is a major imbalance—I will point it out again—in connection with the forestry sector. The budget implementation bill has done nothing to correct the imbalance we identified in the budget. There are measures worth $170 million for the forestry sector across Canada, when $2.7 billion was paid or planned as loan guarantees for car manufacturing, which is concentrated in Ontario. That means crumbs for the forestry sector, which has been in crisis for five years, while the government taps are being opened to pour billions of dollars into the automotive industry.

It is if they were saying the forestry sector counts for nothing. That is nonsense. In Quebec, there are 140 municipalities whose livelihood depends only on the forestry sector. The Conservative government does not care about these communities. People are going to lose their jobs. Businesses will close. The economy will collapse. And yet, the government does nothing. No loan guarantees have been provided for the companies with a chance of surviving. The government is not there to help them.

Finally, I would like to speak about the entire employment insurance system. The government told us it had improved the employment insurance system by adding five weeks of benefits, going from 45 to 50 weeks. However, very few of the unemployed will benefit from this measure because the real need is felt when workers first lose their jobs. The two weeks of the waiting period are the most difficult. During the election campaign and the holidays, I met hundreds of citizens. Unfortunately, many companies are working on a temporary basis and this is even the case for some government services.

We have been told that workers are seriously affected by the two week waiting period. This occurs year after year and they are never able to recover these amounts.

The Conservative government has stated that money has to be injected quickly. Before its November economic statement, we suggested a very specific plan to foster economic recovery. The unemployed would have had money in their pockets sooner. Now, however, they are impoverished constantly because they often have recurring periods of unemployment.

I reiterate that the Bloc Québécois will not support Bill C-10.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Madam Speaker, we were very interested in the speech by the hon. member for Saint-Maurice—Champlain, especially because he is opposed, like us, to the budget and Bill C-10.

The Liberal Party has actually spoken against the bill as well, while simultaneously saying it will vote in favour. This is the sixtieth straight time that the Liberals have supported the Conservative government in a vote of confidence in the House.

Can the hon. member tell me how he sees things? The Liberal Party says it opposes everything in the budget and Bill C-10 but ultimately will vote in favour of the bill.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Jean-Yves Laforest Bloc Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his question.

It is true that the Liberal Party has been contradicting itself over and over for the last year and a half. It effectively supports the Conservative government, often under false pretexts.

We have also heard the Liberals and been repeatedly dumbfounded by both their speeches and what they have asked in question period. They say something does not make sense and the Conservatives should have included something else in the budget, but then they go and vote in favour of it.

It is as if they were saying there are some very important things in this world but protecting women’s right to pay equity is not as important as all that. It is not so important for the Liberals because they are ultimately going to allow things to pass that they oppose. It is not all that important, in their view, that Quebec has been unanimously demanding the withdrawal of the new equalization formula and the cancellation of a single securities commission. This is not very important for Quebec. That is clearly what the Liberals think because they will vote with the government to impose measures on Quebec that are unacceptable to it.

I can only say to my colleague that, unfortunately, we have heard and seen the same inconsistencies coming from the Liberal Party.

Budget Implementation Act, 2009Government Orders

March 3rd, 2009 / 5:40 p.m.
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Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Madam Speaker, I listened intently to the hon. member from the Bloc Québécois speaking about all the problems he has determined with the economic action plan presented by our government.

I find it really strange and hard to imagine, since the budget would provide many billions of dollars to his province in various aspects, both in economic structure development and also in equalization.

My question to that member is this: why would he keep blocking the passage of Bill C-10?