Appropriation Act No. 2, 2014-15

An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2015

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Tony Clement  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

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

June 10, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
June 10, 2014 Passed That Bill C-38, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2015, {as amended}, be concurred in at report stage [with a further amendment/with further amendments] .
June 10, 2014 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Committee of the Whole.

Natural ResourcesAdjournment Proceedings

December 5th, 2017 / 7 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise this evening in adjournment proceedings to pursue a question that I asked on September 20. It was to the Minister of Natural Resources. As congenial as it was, I did not find the answer satisfactory, because it did not actually answer my question.

My question related to the changes made in the spring of 2012 to Canada's National Energy Board Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which had existed since the early 1990s, was repealed. That was a tragedy that I hope we will see reversed, but I am afraid that the train of the debate tonight will reveal my very diminishing hopes that we will see our laws restored to what they were in 2006.

One aspect of what the previous Conservative government did in its omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38, was to massively change the way environmental assessments were pursued. One part of that was to say—and this was never defended as a policy choice, and no rationale was ever offered—that we should treat certain energy projects as distinct from all other projects in terms of environmental review under federal law. Pipelines, for the first time, had environmental reviews done by the National Energy Board, offshore drilling had environmental reviews assigned to the offshore petroleum boards from Atlantic Canada, and changes to new projects that involved nuclear energy would have environmental reviews by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. This was unheard of.

What I pointed out in my question to the minister on September 20 was that the National Energy Board, in doing environmental reviews on pipelines, was showing a much greater willingness to approve a project that interfered with caribou habitat than when Environment Canada reviewed a mining project in the same region with the same caribou herd. Mining projects were given a much rougher ride than pipeline projects. My question to the minister was if he would confirm that the National Energy Board would get out of environmental assessments once and for all. That was the expert advice given to the new government by two different expert panels: one expert panel on the National Energy Board and another on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Both expert panels said that the National Energy Board should get out of environmental reviews.

The National Energy Board is not an institution that knows how to do environmental reviews. The National Energy Board expert panel said very clearly that the board should be renamed the Canadian energy transmission commission; its mandate should be clearer; and it should be doing more to explain what it means by “national interest” than it has in the way it has been operating for the last number of years. Under the topic of environmental assessment review, the environmental assessment expert panel recommended putting one agency in charge and giving it quasi-judicial status. The National Energy Board has quasi-judicial status and the Environmental Assessment Agency should have it.

To me, it has been devastating to watch the government ignore the reports of two different expert panels. I say it has ignored them because it has not responded to them. A discussion document pushed together four different reviews. The discussion document came out at the end of June, but it was very clear that the government had no intention of fixing environmental assessment and getting the National Energy Board out of environmental assessment, because the discussion document said that the National Energy Board, the offshore petroleum boards, and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission would be involved in environmental reviews, working alongside a revised Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.

Can the parliamentary secretary confirm that the government is interested in fixing this problem and getting the NEB out of environmental assessments?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 28th, 2017 / 4:55 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to review Bill C-63 at report stage. I lament that we have time allocation in place, but I am grateful that I was able to grab the slot that occurs every 34 slots for someone in a position like mine: being in a party with fewer than 12 MPs. Time allocation tends to be a real detriment to the principle that all MPs in this place are equal. That is the principle of Westminster parliamentary democracy. Of course, the increased power of party whips and the increased partisanship within the House means that all MPs are equal in the way that George Orwell described all animals as being equal in Animal Farm. Some are more equal than others.

Regarding the rules on recognized parties, I only recently discovered that Canada is the only Westminster parliamentary democracy that has the notion that a party needs a certain number of MPs before they get the same rights as their colleagues. It is unique to Canada. It is replicated in our provinces and is something I would like to see removed someday.

In the meantime, the bill has already made history. It is the first time the new rules for parliamentary procedure on omnibus bills have been applied. I appreciate that the Speaker accepted to look at this and separate out the sections that did not appear to be within the same theme of action.

Omnibus budget bills became, I have to say, horrific in the Harper era. We had two omnibus budget bills in 2012, Bill C-38 and Bill C-45, that had nothing to do with budgets and were omnibus bills of the most egregious kind. The term “omnibus budget bill” became, in the public mind, something to be absolutely rejected and condemned. However, there is such a thing as a legitimate omnibus bill; there is such a thing as a legitimate omnibus budget bill. This one came close, but there were sections I appreciated the Speaker separating out.

For the most part, the debate in this place has been misplaced in tending to be, from the opposition benches, primarily about the Minister of Finance's personal finances. We need answers to those questions, but not in the context of a debate on Bill C-63. Bill C-63 has much in it that I would urge colleagues to read closely, because I have read the bill closely, and there is much in the bill I like.

Although it did not go far enough, I certainly want to support the steps toward something the government promised. The Stephen Harper government promised to remove fossil fuel subsidies at the 2009 G20 summit. The promise has been on the books for some time that Canada would eliminate fossil fuel subsidies. It is, in that sense, a government promise that is not strictly a Liberal promise, but it is also a Liberal promise, and it was made in the platform and in the Speech from the Throne. We have seen very little done at the federal level to eliminate subsidies to fossil fuels. The accelerated capital cost allowance for oil sands investments was tapering off under the previous Conservative government. It remains in place for existing projects that are grandfathered under this very advantageous tax regime. It continues to amount to about $1 billion a year for oil sands companies, but it was once closer to $3 billion a year. People debate what is a subsidy and what is not, but a capital cost allowance is seen as pretty advantageous tax treatment that amounts to a subsidy.

The other one that has not been touched at all by the Liberals was one Stephen Harper brought in after he pledged to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies. That is the subsidy for the production of natural gas, particularly to assist liquified natural gas companies. It is hard to beat the one the former premier of B.C., Christy Clark, left in place for the Woodfibre LNG plant, which will amount to about $4,000 in public subsidies for every job created. Therefore, we are still subsidizing fossil fuels provincially and federally.

However, I was pleased to see what the bill would do on oil and gas drilling, in part one, although it would not go far enough. If a company had an unsuccessful oil and gas drilling experience, it used to get a 100% writeoff. Under Bill C-63, that would now be reduced to a 30% writeoff. That tax treatment would be better. It is a step in the right direction, but it does not go far enough.

The other piece in that same section that certainly is encouraging is better tax treatment for a real winner in renewable energy, and that is geothermal energy. We have known for a long time that we can do a lot with geothermal. We have seen countries around the world benefit from geothermal. The bill includes very good new tax treatment to encourage geothermal electricity.

There are also improvements in the bill on the donation of ecologically sensitive land. I was part of the national round table on the environment and the economy back in the day when the member for Ottawa South was the CEO. We took a real fight on to try to convince then minister of finance Paul Martin not to treat the donation of ecologically sensitive land as something that penalized the donor. People used to get dinged with a deemed capital gain, when they did not actually get anything; they were making a donation.

Over time, our tax code has moved consistently in the direction of better treatment. Bill C-63 would expand the kinds of land that could be donated and would improve the tax treatment. The ecologically sensitive land donations are quite welcome.

I also want to support the improvements in the tax treatment of nurse practitioners so that they would have some of the same tax treatment as other health professionals, which would improve their day-to-day lives.

Similarly, in division 10 of part 5, there are improvements to how the Energy Efficiency Act would operate. We definitely want to see more energy efficiency programming. It has been a big disappointment to me, and the Minister of Finance knows this, as I mentioned it to him recently, that we are not using the tools in the federal tool kit to approach climate change as if we take it seriously.

If we could go back and look at the current Minister of Public Safety's budget when he was minister of finance, in 2005, and pull all those measures out and decide that they were a top priority for the government to put in the 2018 budget, I would be one happy camper. That would include ecoenergy retrofits, which we do not have. It would include support for electric and hybrid vehicles and improvement of the east-west electricity grid.

Those are the things we do not have in the budget, but at least in Bill C-63 we have amendments to facilitate a lot of energy products to include harmonization of regulations to enhance energy efficiency. Those are very welcome.

What I tried to change the most in committee, through amendments, was something that is generally positive or a step in the right direction, which is to give people the right to time off work if they or members of their family are victims of violence. It is obvious to anyone who thinks about it or has gone through it. If a person has been a victim of a violent assault, or if someone in the family, particularly a child, has been the victim of a violent assault, it takes time. That child will have to be taken to therapy appointments. People will have to go to therapy appointments.

If people are going to recover from the trauma, they need time off work. This legislation is very welcome. It would give employees, by right, time off work. However, the bill operates in such a way that employers would have the option to say that someone could not take less than a full day. Employees could not say that they just wanted a couple of hours off, because that was all they needed. Employees would have to take a full day, and this would be time off work without pay. I am very disappointed that my amendments did not get through, because in committee, we said that this should be time off with pay.

The evidence we heard in committee was overwhelming, certainly from Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, who pointed out that 90% of domestic violence survivors experience financial control issues.

If a spouse has been violently assaulted by a spouse, and in most cases it is the male partner who violently assaults his wife, and the wife is, generally speaking, in a reduced financial situation of independence compared to her husband, how does she manage, if taking time off work means she might lose her right to raise her own children because of the financial duress? These are the parts of the bill I would have liked to see fixed.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 7th, 2017 / 10:50 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise today to give a speech on Bill C-63, a second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017 and other measures. This is an omnibus budget bill.

In speaking to this, I wanted to also start with the big picture. Most of the speeches in this place since we began the debate at second reading of Bill C-63 have not delved very much into Bill C-63 itself. I plan to go into it in some detail. Most of the speeches have dealt with the general question of how much we, depending on which side of the House we are on, like or dislike the budget itself. There are some big picture comments I also want to make.

In debates in this place, the Conservative official opposition members berate the government for spending too much and adding to the debt. It is as though we have forgotten how to distinguish between the deficit, which is rising, and debt. Debt is a more permanent condition, and unfortunately, it is very hard to eliminate debt once it has been added on. We have not reduced any of the $150-billion addition to the national debt accrued under former prime minister Stephen Harper. The debt increased quite a lot in that period, although in the final term, we saw a balanced budget. Deficit is an issue of concern, but not nearly as much as debt.

In looking at the deficit and deficit spending, this current Liberal government was elected promising to run a deficit, although a much smaller one than the one we now see.

Here is what concerns me on the subject of government spending and increasing deficits. We are actually in a situation in this country where we need more, not less, government spending. The strictures on spending the current government appears to feel constrained by on things that need to be addressed come from an unwillingness to spend more than the large spending announcements that have already been made, which were for needed spending.

We need spending on infrastructure across Canada. In a sense, we have been like a homeowner who has deferred maintenance on the home in order to afford the other things we need in our household budget. However, deferred maintenance adds up. When the deferred maintenance is on water works and sewage systems, bridges and roads, and social infrastructure, such as affordable housing, and those things come home to roost, we need to spend more.

At the same time, there is a deep aversion to raising taxes. There have been a lot of claims that the opposite side has raised taxes a great deal. The reality, which I support, and it was in the Green Party platform to reduce the tax on small business to 9%, is certainly applauded. However, we in the Green Party are urging the government to look at the need to raise taxes on large, profitable multinationals.

The tax on large business was, in the year 2000, 28%. It is now down to 14%. It certainly should be raised, because if we look at the percentage of our total government revenues that come from corporations versus individual citizens, the portion on individual citizens has gone up while the portion on large corporations has shrunk dramatically.

As the economy is recovering, and that is good, there certainly is no reason or excuse to not go after, as my hon. friend from South Okanagan—West Kootenay just pointed out, the big fish. The big fish are in offshore tax havens. The big fish are in large, profitable multinationals. Going after people who are seeking to avoid, or worse, criminally evade, taxes should be a top priority.

I note, and it is a personal story, but I think it is quite bizarre, that my daughter, who is a university student, reported to me that the CRA is wasting tax dollars asking for proof of various items on her income tax return. She is a student. She is not making enough money to pay much in taxes or anything in taxes, I think. However, she is being asked to provide proof of the cost of books. I said that it was bizarre, and she said that another friend of hers is doing the same thing.

I would suggest that CRA could adjust its sights on millionaires and billionaires as opposed to students. I think that would be something most Canadians would support.

Turning to Bill C-63, I have to say that I read it with a growing sense of happiness. No doubt it will surprise people that anyone on the opposition benches would. However, when I pick up an omnibus budget bill I still have a sense of, I guess, PTSD from having read the omnibus budget bills in the 41st Parliament, particularly Bill C-38, which destroyed our environmental assessment regime and wrecked the Fisheries Act; and Bill C-45, which devastated the Navigable Waters Protection Act, removed the inspector general for CSIS, and various other measures that had nothing to do with each other.

Reading Bill C-63 confirms in my mind the strong need to simplify our tax code. When we talk to tax accountants, they generally agree that it would be wonderful if the Minister of Finance went in for root-and-branch tax reform to simplify the tax code to remove so many boutique exemptions. I commend the Minister of Finance for removing a number of boutique exemptions, but the tax code, and therefore the omnibus bill we have before us, is very complex on very specific items, such as straddling tax years and figuring out how to deal with different derivatives and the use of various tax mechanisms, such as going through trusts or going through additional corporations and how we end up taxing.

For the most part, I actually find myself wondering if I am going to vote for this particular budget bill if we can make some amendments. I want to point out the areas I like in this bill and the areas I think would benefit from amendments.

As it is an omnibus budget bill, I am pleased to see that there has finally been a tepid move, although it could go much further, to eliminate some of the fossil fuel subsidies. This was a large-ticket commitment in the Liberal campaign platform. Most of the large fossil fuel subsidies remain in place, despite a pledge in the Liberal platform to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.

This would be a parallel and needed measure that would go along with eliminating the market distortions that are created by both subsidizing fossil fuels and failing to put a price on dumping waste into the atmosphere. That is equivalent to having a municipal waste dump where there is no tipping fee. People are not encouraged to avoid dumping if it is free. That is why a carbon price makes sense, but we need to move to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies.

The move that is happening here is in relation to changes to the Canadian exploration expense. This happens to be in part 1 of Bill C-63. It would change the tax treatment of Canadian exploration expenses to reduce the tax deductions that are available now from 100% to about 30%. By the way, the way this is structured has created an incentive for accelerated drilling prior to this kicking in in 2019. This could be an unintended but environmentally damaging period. I am holding in my hands advice from Bennett Jones to that corporate sector suggesting that if any oil and gas companies can hurry up and start exploration activities and get commitments in writing before 2019, they can continue to take advantage of the 100% deduction on capital expenses.

I also welcome the changes to the donation of ecologically sensitive lands. I worked on this, back in the day, on the now defunct National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, repealed in the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38. We worked to persuade the minister of finance of the day, the Right Hon. Paul Martin, to create special tax treatment for the donation of ecologically sensitive land. The revisions in Bill C-63 continue along that road to clarify and improve that system.

I am not at all unhappy to see the follow-through on the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is part of Canada's development portfolio. We still lag far behind the commitments made by previous governments, including every government back to Lester B. Pearson, Jean Chrétien, and the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, who all committed that Canada's development assistance should equal 0.7% of our GDP. We are nowhere near that, but certainly the provisions around the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are welcome.

There are a number of other provisions I was pleased to see, particularly those in the Canada Labour Code that would provide more flexible work arrangements and give Canadians prescribed statutory time off work to recover after experiencing family violence. I would like to see those sections amended. I would like to see that time off work as paid leave. I would like to see a single woman without children receive some assistance if she has been the victim of violence. There could be some tweaking of provisions in there.

I am very happy to see the new tax treatment for geothermal energy and an Energy Efficiency Act.

There are many provisions in a bill of 275 pages, but I will stop there and say that I am generally pleased with the contents of this bill.

Omnibus BillsPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

November 7th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will have an opportunity to address Bill C-63 in its substance very shortly in the speaking order in debate today, but I appreciate the opportunity to weigh in on the question of whether the bill is appropriately put before us. It is the first real test of Standing Order 69.1 on omnibus bills.

I made many attempts in points of order in the 41st Parliament to argue for the splitting of omnibus bills, for setting them aside. The Speaker at that point, currently the leader of the Conservative Party, ruled that was not for the Speaker to decide, and the House had to speak to the matter of whether a bill was properly an omnibus bill or not.

By way of background, there is nothing wrong with an omnibus bill. In tradition, all the Speakers in this place have said if a bill has a central and primary purpose, in order to achieve that purpose, amendments or repeals to other bills are acceptable. What was unacceptable in the 41st Parliament was randomly putting in so many bills. It was not only in the 41st Parliament. It happened in 2009 and 2010. When a bill is a budget bill, to defeat it is to bring down the government, so in a minority government it became political leverage to push through unpalatable bills all at once, with inadequate study. In a majority Parliament, it became a way for the government of the day to move through things expeditiously.

It put us in mind of the statement from Speaker Lucien Lamoureux years ago, who said he supposed there would come a day where the business of the House would be one omnibus bill that goes through all at once.

In this case, we now have guidance. I agree with previous speakers that it is lamentable that the Standing Order changes were brought in by majority rule as opposed to by consensus. However, Standing Order 69.1 is helpful. It gives us guidance, and it gives the Speaker the discretion to separate out those sections that are not properly within the bill.

I will be speaking to this in Bill C-63 in my second reading debate to say this kind of omnibus budget bill bears no relationship to the kind of egregious abuse of process that we saw in Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 in 2012. Those were bills that achieved things that had nothing to do with the budget, were not mentioned in the budget, and were egregious in their impact. This is of an order that is quite different.

I do not find Bill C-63, as an omnibus budget bill, objectionable, but it is quite right, as the hon. NDP House leader has pointed out, that where there are provisions that were not mentioned at all in the budget, if we are to uphold Standing Order 69.1, the Speaker has the discretion to move those parts out and allow separate debate and study of those portions only.

Standing Order 69.1 is an improvement over our previous Standing Orders. It does give guidance. However, I would hate to see the debate in this place misunderstood by anyone observing as representing an abuse of process, abuse of Parliament, and an affront to democracy that we saw in previous Parliaments under the previous government.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2Government Orders

November 6th, 2017 / 12:30 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring us to the topic of today's debate, which has been completely absent for the last half hour or so. That is Bill C-63, the omnibus budget bill.

This is my first chance to speak to this, so I would like to mention that I read it over the weekend. It is a bill of 275 pages, with 11 different divisions. As much as I am genuinely fond of my friend from Cariboo—Prince George, I was disappointed by his speech, because vacuous rhetoric around the Prime Minister's socks is not as valuable as actually diving in and discussing the bill.

I have read a lot of omnibus budget bills. As for the ones under the previous government, I can genuinely and honestly say that turning page after page of Bill C-38 I moved from anger to grief. I was crying by the time I finished reading it. I am very happy to say that having read Bill C-63, I was nearly very bored. That is a good sign when dealing with a budget bill.

I would like the member to tell me if he likes or does not like the amendments in division 8, part 5, which would allow for flexible work arrangements for employees, or further in that division, the part that would guarantee time off work for families who are victims of family violence.

Transport, Infrastructure and CommunitiesCommittees of the House

October 16th, 2017 / 4:50 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Banff—Airdrie's speech was premised on many things that he may believe to be true but that are not true. There was no plan to stop importing oil from Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, or Norway should energy east have gone ahead, because energy east was primarily an export pipeline. There is, in fact, no refinery in eastern Canada, in New Brunswick, that has the capacity to upgrade bitumen and refine it, which puts a bit of a problem to this idea that getting it to New Brunswick was somehow going to reduce the importation of 800,000 barrels of foreign oil a day.

I would agree with my friend that it would be far preferable to refine bitumen in Canada and use it domestically and therefore not be importing foreign oil, but energy east would not have accomplished that at all. The way to accomplish that is to look to Alberta and build upgraders and refineries in Alberta to end the divisive pipeline battles we see that do Canadians no good at all, pitting Albertans against British Columbians or against people from Quebec.

The other thing that is absolutely mistaken is the notion that TransCanada cancelled because of something that was done by the current Liberal government. I would congratulate the current Liberal government if it had lived up to its promise in the election campaign to make decisions based on evidence and to look at the absolutely disastrous mess created by Bill C-38 that put the National Energy Board, for the first time, in charge of environmental assessments of pipelines. It is not working. It has not worked since it started in 2012. We have pipeline reviews that have gone completely off the rails and have taken the NEB out of its usual regulatory role. As a former practising lawyer, I used to appear before the National Energy Board. It was a reliable agency. One could appear before it and expect procedural fairness under its quasi-judicial status. Throw in environmental reviews and we have a gong show of an agency that has lost respect from the public.

Back to my friend's point that this was Liberal interference in the review process, there is a very simple explanation. It is economics. It is that there are so many pipelines now approved, two of them that would affect TransCanada's delivery on the project. With Keystone being approved, energy east did not make economic sense anymore for TransCanada. That is understood by resource economists.

If my friend thinks I am wrong, could he name a refinery in New Brunswick that has the capacity to process bitumen?

Changes to the Standing OrdersGovernment Orders

June 19th, 2017 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

NDP

Murray Rankin NDP Victoria, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am not sure they do, because they seem to drip of cynicism and hypocrisy. To simply talk about prorogation but do nothing about it suggests that they really do not understand the abuses the Harper government brought to that process. Regarding omnibus bills, the big one was Bill C-38, the famous Harper budget implementation bill that included everything under the sun. This motion would not touch those budget measures; it would, rather, touch other measures.

Again, one wonders if they are cynical or are simply trying to check a box on some campaign program and say that they delivered. Meanwhile, the Liberals talk about things today that are not even there, such as the Prime Minister's question period, yet we are still supposed to take it on faith that they really mean it. I find it confusing.

Bill C-44—Time AllocationBudget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

May 9th, 2017 / 10:25 a.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, with respect to these debates about time allocation, I would have wished we could ask questions of the Government House Leader, because decisions about the way the government is proceeding and the increased use of time allocation is the House leader's area. The breakdown in relations between the House leaders of the largest three parties in this place is leading to an increased use of what I would call Harper tactics.

Although this is not an omnibus budget bill with the weight of the egregious misuse of power we saw in Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 in 2012, this is nonetheless an omnibus budget bill, and unfortunately so. While there is a connection to the parliamentary budget officer, because “budget” is in the title, the creation of a stand-alone parliamentary budget officer as an independent officer of Parliament, as promised in the Liberal platform, is a subject of such importance that it would have been preferable to have that discussion separate from the passage of budgetary measures.

Time allocation at this point has the effect of disadvantaging those members of Parliament who belong to parties with fewer than 12 members. Our constituents are equal. Our rights, in theory, are equal. It is disproportionately disadvantageous to members of smaller parties or independents when time allocation is used. In my view, it should be used extremely rarely. To say, as the Liberals now do, that they are using it less than Harper did is no excuse for adopting bad tactics and majority rule in a way that hurts the healthy functioning of this place.

I would urge the government to reconsider and not apply time allocation. The Minister of Finance will tell us that it must be done, but it must not be done.

Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment ActGovernment Orders

April 10th, 2017 / 4:25 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by accepting the gracious apology from my friend from Dauphin—Swan River—Neepawa and move to some of the topics that were a focus of his speech.

The member suggested that Bill C-38, the omnibus budget bill of spring 2012, merely amended the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It actually repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act as crafted and passed under the previous administration of former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and replaced it with an entirely new act, and that act did include timelines.

I am wondering if the member has read the recent expert assessment of the new act, which found that it completely failed to meet the objectives. The review committee was chaired by the former commissioner of the environment, Johanne Gélinas. The report was released last week, and tellingly, it said that Enbridge found that under the new act, the Harper-era environmental assessment act with timelines, the timelines worked against it and the process took longer.

November 23rd, 2016 / 4:15 p.m.
See context

Staff Counsel, West Coast Environmental Law

Linda Nowlan

Yes, I'd be happy to. Thank you.

The only case I could find that did interpret that section was a Federal Court case, where the Mikisew Cree First Nation objected to Bill C-38, the omnibus budget bill, which weakened habitat protection, on the basis that they weren't consulted. They were successful, but as the bill had already become law, there was no remedy for them, unfortunately. In that case, commenting on the impact on their aboriginal rights to fish, and the duty not to cause serious harm to fish, the new provision in the act, the Federal Court said that the amendments to the Fisheries Act removed the protection to fish habitat from subsection 35(1) of the act. In that, they also said that the amendment “clearly increases the risk of harm to fish”.

November 21st, 2016 / 3:50 p.m.
See context

Chief Robert Chamberlin Vice-President, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

[Witness speaks in Kwakwala]

I want to also acknowledge that I'm on Algonquin territory, the unceded territories, and I do not take this acknowledgement lightly. It is something that's very serious and dear to us as first nations people.

My traditional name is Owadi. I'm the elected chief councillor from the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis First Nation. Many of you may know our territories as the Broughton Archipelago, or ground zero of the fish farm fight in British Columbia. I've served as the elected chief councillor for 12 years, six consecutive terms. I am finishing my second three-year term as the vice-president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs. I am also the chair of the first nation wild salmon alliance, and I have a deep background in fisheries, especially as it relates to aquaculture, fish farms, and the Cohen commission. I'm really happy that I made some very brief summary notes of the presentation that I was planning on making, so I'll just go through this and touch on some of the other aspects.

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs has been in existence since 1969. We take a very strong view, perspective, and stance on aboriginal title and rights. We seek every opportunity to advance the recognition of the inherent right and authority that first nations have in Canada. We advocate at every level possible. That's why you find me sitting here at this table with all of you this afternoon.

In terms of the topic at hand, I want you to understand the background of my people. Wherever I travel, I'm always very proud to say that we are clam diggers and fish eaters, and very proud of both. When you consider that statement, clams are found below the ocean floor and the salmon are found in the watersheds of our territories, so we have environmental concerns that extend below the surface of the ocean to the very tops of the trees at the height of land in our traditional territories and everything in between. When the government takes steps to make changes that are going to affect various industries and activities found within our territories, we are going to demand that we have a great say in what is going to occur.

Of course, now, with the new Liberal government, first nations across Canada, including myself, have taken great hope in the statements of this new government wanting to redevelop a relationship with first nations people, and most importantly, to revisit any legislation, regulation, management practice, or policy that was not properly and adequately consulted with first nations to satisfy the honour of the crown. As first nations people, we live in a world of the Constitution and Supreme Court of Canada rulings, and we are forever pushing the government and reminding them as gently or as strongly as necessary of their very own laws that they choose to abrogate, disregard, or take on with the most minimal of views.

Certainly, this is very much true and what we're here to talk about today with those omnibus bills that changed no less than 70 different pieces of legislation and law within one bill. Certainly, I've read in the newspaper many times over about this being construed as a miscarriage of democracy within the Canadian government. I certainly heard that loud and clear from the opposition parties.

Here we are today looking to what Prime Minister Trudeau included in the DFO minister's letter, where he spoke very much about reinstating all of the things that were less than gloriously ripped out of the oceans act, such as the HADD permitting, making sure that there is habitat ready provide for the sustenance and abundance of wild fisheries across Canada. The omission at the minister's whim to remove tracts of water from this very protection is just unfathomable, when you think of it, from a country such as Canada that has enjoyed a great foundation built upon marine resources. The traditions of our people in British Columbia, coast-wide and well up into the very headwaters of the Fraser, the Skeena, and the Nass rivers, have provided fish for our people's sustenance.

As all of you are probably more aware than most Canadians, I've been privy to various reports on the state of first nations economy and the poverty that many of our communities live in. When this is true, and I know that it is true, then we rely our upon our traditional foods for the very survival of our people through the cold winters. It is not that we happen to enjoy barbequing a salmon or having clams in the winter; it is what we require to make it through life on a daily basis. This is heightened as you go into the most remote communities and as you learn the challenges that they face in terms of economy and of accessing foods to live.

I think about what's happened here with Bill C-38. It went through the phased approach, where it gets royal assent in the first go-round and then we leave the second phase up to the Governor General. Theoretically, the second phase would open up a door for some measure of consultation with first nations, but the problem is that the whole ball of wax has already gotten royal assent, so it's a meaningless consultation. This is not what I see as the crown's duty to uphold its honour.

When I think of this Canadian government now unequivocally embracing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, there are very significant portions of that which relate to the topic at hand today with regard to the environment, our traditions, our cultures, our values, and our traditional food sources. Canada, on one hand, is now embracing the UN declaration, and we are faced with the changes that came through the omnibus bill. All of the safeguards that were taken out of this act need to be reinstated, at minimum, right now. We need to turn our attention to the developing leading-edge science, which is becoming available through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and other sources, to further inform and guide the management practices of the DFO.

In British Columbia, my focus has always been on wild salmon, and I've learned that the outward migrating salmon are probably the least understood. That component of this sacred resource is not understood. How can we adequately develop management plans when this one very significant piece has no science to validate management decisions?

Of course, when I start to think about the changes in the definitions of aboriginal fisheries and commercial fisheries, it's really offensive to me that the Supreme Court of Canada has defined aboriginal rights and access to fish, yet this bill—taking in all the many components—attempts to limit that to a fishery, rather than a right to fish. The problem that I see with that is.... I think of my dear friend Grand Chief Ed John of the Carrier Sekani people and the early Stuart sockeye run of the Fraser River. They have not touched that run in decades. The reason is that it is so depleted, they can't fathom taking fish out of there for worry about the annihilation of the run. That portion of the Fraser River, conceivably, could be forgotten under this existing Bill C-38.

We have to really take a look at what is an aboriginal fish. We have to reinstate the HADD permitting. When I think about the portions that talk about the agreements with the province to take on pieces of this work in conjunction with DFO, I am appalled that there is no mention of the same arrangement with first nations people.

When it talks about the province being well suited to engage on the management of fisheries, there is nobody in this country who is better suited to participate in the active management of fisheries—certainly in British Columbia and, I would say, across Canada—than first nations people. We are born into this. It is part of our genetic makeup. We understand our lands. We know what's going wrong. What we have is a government that has turned a deaf ear to the things that we express and to what we see as a meaningful path forward to safeguard the resources that we rely upon. The government must pursue a co-management agreement with first nations.

In my experience as elected chief of the Kwikwasut'inuxw Haxwa'mis, I've learned about the HADD permitting in relationship to fish farms. What I found was appalling. There's this one company—I won't name the name—that was able to develop a marine bank, an area where they restored so many hundred thousand cubic metres of underwater environment. That was their bank, so they could destroy that same amount in our first nations territory. It made no sense. It would be like tearing down the arena here in Kenora and rebuilding a new one in Toronto as some sort of way to compensate. It does not make sense.

When I say that I want to see the reinstatement of the HADD permits, I want to know—and I want to advance to each of you—that when mitigation measures are going to be developed and there is going to be a permit, then they will be developed with the first nations who hold the title for the lands where the destruction is going to occur. Anything less is not going to be very successful to first nations.

We must really understand that this bill contemplates looking after fisheries rather than fish. If we're not going to take our greatest minds and learned execution of understanding into the protection of habitat, we are not going to have fish. If we don't have healthy and abundant ecosystems that will lay the groundwork for the fish to be able to produce and survive, then we will have nothing.

I want to impress upon you the catastrophe that I know has happened with the cod stocks in Newfoundland and on the east coast of Canada. We must embrace the principles of the Cohen commission in British Columbia. We must understand that there are a lot of holes in the science that guides management of fisheries in British Columbia, and we must expand on things such as the genome work that Dr. Kristi Miller is doing with DFO.

We must expand on the closed containment initiative of Kuterra, of the 'Namgis First Nation on the north end of Vancouver Island, and we must take the fish farms out of the ocean and put them on the land. If you think about it, we will then be able to provide a greater opportunity for economic development to a broader range of first nations that don't necessarily have to be coastal. It will meet many of the goals that the government has stated to close the socio-economic gap that first nations are faced with.

As we go down the road, it must be done hand in glove with first nations people. We must take a look at all the various sections from section 35, 37, and 38, and understand that we must revisit these with first nations, and I say re-engage, not consult and accommodate. We must re-engage with first nations, consistent with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, so we will accomplish what the Supreme Court of Canada has given direction to Canada to do, to uphold the crown's honour and to move toward true reconciliation of presumed crown title, with the underlying aboriginal title of first nations people in Canada.

I want to ensure that we move forward collectively with first nations and that we reinstate HADD, at a minimum, and build on that with current and emerging science, such as the Pacific Salmon Foundation and their Salish Sea marine survival project. These are wonderful examples of new tools that are consistent with the Liberal government's commitment to do so.

Thank you, Scott.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2Government Orders

November 1st, 2016 / 12:10 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-29. I have been listening to all the debate that has been taking place, and I note that we as members of Parliament seem to be debating lots of different things all at once, and not necessarily always Bill C-29, especially on a day such as today when we are eagerly awaiting the Minister of Finance's update.

Obviously today we are anticipating the fall update on the economy and the state of public finances. I look forward to that. Although I have the opportunity to deliver a speech now, I plan to take part in the lockup on the economic update.

We know that any minute now we will be getting additional financial information from the Minister of Finance, and some of the media reports that foreshadowed what we may see in that report have become part of this debate as if they were in Bill C-29. They are not, so we do not know much about what will be proposed. There are concerns, as many colleagues have raised, about what might be proposed around infrastructure, what might be proposed around specifics of an infrastructure bank. It is not in Bill C-29. We are also talking today about the budget document itself, and much of what is in the budget document is not in Bill C-29.

Let me just clarify for parliamentarians and those who may be watching us today across the country what Bill C-29 is.

I try to be as fair as possible in all circumstances, and I railed against the omnibus budget bills of the previous government such as the spring omnibus budget bill of 2012, Bill C-38, which changed more than 70 different laws and regulations and abolished important institutions of public policy such as the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy. It did many things that were never referenced in the budget. It extended itself well beyond what a budget should usually do. This was the spring omnibus bill of 2012. The fall omnibus bill was Bill C-45, and it completely gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act, while the spring omnibus bill gutted the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

I reflect on that just to say that there are different kinds of omnibus bills. There are illegitimate omnibus bills and there are bills that take into account many different measures but all flow from the budget. This is in the category of legitimate omnibus bills. There is nothing in here that is not required by what was in the budget document that we received last spring. Last spring's budget set out changes, particularly to the Canada child benefit. It set out changes to various aspects of the Income Tax Act. If Canadians were to pick up Bill C-29 and read it, I do not think I am making too much of a stretch to say that they would find nothing that would be alarming.

There are provisions to begin to understand how we measure carbon emissions in terms of emissions allowances, how taxpayers would account for that, and how Revenue Canada and the Department of Finance would account for that. There are certainly new rules for charities and extensions for what kinds of donations could be considered charitable donations. There are provisions that are purely to do with the tax code, as one would hope when one is looking at a budget bill.

It is not an illegitimate budget bill, but it does of course allow us to turn our attention to the budget and to reflect on what was there and what was not there in relation to the promises made in last year's campaign.

We are just about at the one-year mark for this new administration and it is fair to reflect at the one-year mark on policies related to budget matters today, so I will stay within the frame of budgetary matters in my presentation. However, I have to say, in providing commentary on Bill C-29, and I want to be honest with Canadians, there is nothing here that gets me worried or upset except for what is missing. I want to be clear about that.

What is missing is that the Liberal platform last year committed to getting rid of subsidies to fossil fuels. There were really only three bullet points under the Liberal platform commitment to climate action.

One bullet point was that they would attend at Paris and negotiate. The Liberals did that and they did it superbly. The second was that they would put in place a national carbon price, and that is a work in progress. I bemoan the fact that the starting price is $10 a tonne but the architecture of it is fair and will only top up those provinces that have failed to define how they want to price their emissions.

This missing piece really deserves much more attention.

The commitment was clear that subsidies for fossil fuels would come to an end. The 2016 budget on page 221 commits until the end of the period in which the previous government had already committed subsidies for a new class of subsidies for liquefied natural gas in 2015. Some may say that LNG, liquefied natural gas, is a fairly clean burning fossil fuel but when it comes from fracked gas, which the LNG industry in British Columbia is projected to come from, it has the same carbon footprint as coal. Seeing a provision in the legislation that would continue this well into the future is a concern. That should come to an end much sooner.

We also were promised a lot of spending on infrastructure but when we look at the actual budget figures, only one-tenth of what is promised on infrastructure will occur before the next election. I really am keen to hear what our finance minister is about to announce later today. If we are trying to stimulate the economy through investments in infrastructure, then we really have to make those investments in infrastructure and we have to do it sooner rather than later. We have only one chance of the money flowing to things like public transit, which we urgently need.

There is reference in the budget to a small amount of money over a two-year period for examining what we need to improve Canada's east-west electricity grid. We need that urgently. Canada is a big country and we tend to have far too many interprovincial barriers. We are familiar with talking about interprovincial barriers to trade but we do not think so much about the interprovincial barriers to electricity. Why is it that provinces struggling to go off coal are having trouble buying renewable energy from the province next door? We really do need to invest in what is a real nation building project. It would create jobs and the fastest root to de-carbonizing our electricity grid is to improve access across provincial boundaries.

We can look at the absurdity right now of what is going on in Newfoundland with respect to Muskrat Falls. Nalcor is building Muskrat Falls, and CEO Stan Marshall has already referred to Muskrat Falls as a boondoggle that should never have been built. Newfoundland will be coming cap in hand to the federal treasury to look for money to bail out that project but it will find that it is throwing good money after bad. Nova Scotia says it cannot shut down coal until it gets an underwater cable all the way from Muskrat Falls.

Hydro-Québec sits right next to the Atlantic provinces. Hydro-Québec's electricity could get exactly as far as Moncton, turn a switch, open up the electricity grid, and work out the financing. Part of the problem may be that Manitoba Hydro and Hydro-Québec prefer to sell south to the United States because sales to the U.S. do not affect their equalization payments. If we start thinking like a country, we might figure out how to maximize the benefit from electricity generated in one province and ease access in another.

Going off fossil fuels as quickly as possible should be a national goal, while at the same time ensuring that the fossil fuels we use in Canada are the ones manufactured and refined in Canada. We have the beginning of a made-in-Canada solution for our energy, for our workers, for the Alberta economy, if we are willing to invest in refineries instead of pipelines and take away the subsidies to fossil fuels as was promised.

September 20th, 2016 / 8:15 p.m.
See context

Alon D. Weinberg As an Individual

Thank you for having me speak here.

If you consider that the largest block controls the whole territory in every riding in Canada, what else works that way? Gangs work that way, where the largest block controls the whole territory. You can see the behaviour in question period over the last two decades. You can see the gangs are at play. Most Canadians are turned off by that, and I say it's the logic of the system that we currently have.

First past the post is a blank cheque for governments to dominate the other parties and Canadians through fake majoritarian rule. One need only look at the countless constructive amendments to the previous government's budget bill, Bill C-38, that were roundly voted down, one demoralizing whipped no vote after the other. You can watch the video of them sitting there all night. I know a few of you were there.

It's important to recall that less than a decade earlier the then leader of the opposition, Stephen Harper, also railed against such omnibus bills, which were then introduced under the Chrétien government and its own series of false majorities.

This bipolarity of decade-long swings between one party and another through our country's history is the direct result of an electoral system designed for two parties back in England a few centuries ago, and it's been toxic to the development of our democracy. This swing between one government with total control over Parliament and another breeds alienation, disempowerment, and disenfranchisement. It's an affront to the most noble visions that Canadians have for this country, the second-largest land mass on earth. We have a responsibility that is not being met by our democracy. It resembles instead the long heavyweight boxing match, with each trading decade-long blows, at one moment champ another moment vanquished. Heavyweight boxing often leaves the combatants bloodied, bruised, and brain damaged. That, I submit, is the state of Canadian democracy today.

What is the answer? The two dominant systems are majoritarian, represented by the alternative vote and various systems of proportional representation. I encourage everybody here to read carefully Fair Vote Canada's submission to the committee, which models three different models for a new electoral system, including a very innovative and new one that is rural-urban proportional. This is similar to what we had in Manitoba about 70 to 100 years ago, except with a proportional system in the rural area, which still would have a single member riding.

This is not a new process for Canada. In 2004, this was published by the Law Commission of Canada in Voting Counts: Electoral Reform for Canada, presided over by Irwin Cotler. I could go through all the meetings that were held in 2002, in Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Charlottetown, Montreal, London, Calgary, and on and on. This has already happened, and that commission recommended a mixed member proportional system.

I'll quickly read what it had to say about the alternative vote, and then I will finish.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

June 7th, 2016 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Longueuil—Saint-Hubert for his question.

I think that this budget implementation bill really is an omnibus bill. However, it is not at all like the omnibus budget bills introduced by the previous government. At least this bill does not contain changes to laws that have nothing to do with the budget, as was the case with omnibus Bill C-38 in the spring of 2012. It was really terrible and gutted certain laws meant to protect the environment.

I think the bill before us would be better if the government would examine certain projects, particularly the one that pertains to the Canadian Wheat Board. I would agree that it is an omnibus bill, but it is not all that terrible.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

June 7th, 2016 / 3:45 p.m.
See context

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I feel as though this budget suffered from the fact that, when input went into Finance Canada to draft this, ministers were just beginning to establish their staff, just getting briefed up.

I am hoping that this is like a budget with training wheels, and the Minister of Finance will get it better next year.

This does not meet the expectations of proper funding for infrastructure. For instance, having announced $100 million for infrastructure in the first 10 years, only 10% of that funding is in the first five years.

We are talking about the need for economic stimulus. The Liberal government got elected on a pledge to use deficit spending to stimulate our economy and specifically to help infrastructure. It does not adequately help infrastructure. It is too little.

Let us hope that 2017 really addresses the infrastructure crisis and removes fossil fuel subsidies and commits to a revised environmental assessment act, one similar to what we had up until Bill C-38 in the spring of 2012.