An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985

Sponsor

Bill Morneau  Liberal

Status

Second reading (House), as of Oct. 19, 2016

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-27.

Summary

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

This enactment amends the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 to provide a framework for the establishment, administration and supervision of target benefit plans. It also amends the Act to permit pension plan administrators to purchase immediate or deferred life annuities for former members or survivors so as to satisfy an obligation to provide pension benefits if the obligation arises from a defined benefit provision.

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.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 16th, 2019 / 10:20 a.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, today I have two petitions to table in the House.

The first is largely from the members of the Comox Valley, who call on the government to withdraw Bill C-27. The concern is that prior to the 2015 federal election, Canadians were clearly promised. in writing. that the defined benefits plans, which have already been paid for by employees and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed into target benefit plans.

The petitioners are very passionate about this and call on the government to do the right thing and withdraw Bill C-27.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 16th, 2019 / 10:15 a.m.
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NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, the people who signed this petition want to draw the government's attention to the fact that, before the 2015 election, the Liberals promised that the defined pension benefit plan that people had already contributed to would not be retroactively changed into a target benefit plan. However, that is exactly what the finance minister's Bill C-27 does.

The petitioners are calling on the government to withdraw this unfair bill.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 13th, 2019 / 3:15 p.m.
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NDP

Jenny Kwan NDP Vancouver East, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to present a petition on behalf of my constituents and other Canadians.

Petitioners are calling on the government to withdraw Bill C-27. They note that in the 2015 federal election, the Liberals promised Canadians in writing that defined benefit plans that have already been paid for by employees would not be retroactively changed into target benefit plans. Of course, after the election, the government changed that and Bill C-27 came into play.

Petitioners are calling on the government to withdraw the bill and to honour what it said it would do during the 2015 election.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 13th, 2019 / 3:15 p.m.
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Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond Centre, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise to present a petition to the House of Commons that calls for the withdrawal of Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

Bill C-27 tabled by the Minister of Finance precisely permits the change for defined benefits, therefore jeopardizing the retirement income security of Canadians who have negotiated defined benefit plans as a form of deferred wages.

The petitioners call on the government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 7th, 2019 / 10:05 a.m.
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NDP

Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions on the same subject.

The petitioners point out that before the 2015 federal election, Canadians were clearly promised in writing that defined benefit pension plans, which have already been paid for by employees and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed into target benefit plans.

They also point out that Bill C-27, tabled by the Minister of Finance, permits precisely this change, thereby jeopardizing the retirement income security of Canadians who have negotiated defined benefit plans as a form of deferred wages.

The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 6th, 2019 / 3:05 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a petition here recognizing that before the 2015 election, Canadians were clearly promised in writing that defined benefit plans, which have already been paid for by employees, employers and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed to target benefit plans.

Therefore, the petitioners are clearly calling on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, which was tabled by the Minister of Finance in this place.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 3rd, 2019 / 12:20 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present two petitions today. The first is from residents of the tri-cities of Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody in British Columbia, as well as the cities of Burnaby and Langley. These petitioners join their voices to those of thousands of Canadians who have already signed petitions that have been tabled in the House.

They are concerned about the promise that was made in the 2015 election that defined benefit pension plans would not be changed. Bill C-27, tabled by the Minister of Finance attacks directly the issue of defined benefit plans.

All of these petitioners—and I would say a big thanks to the BC Retired Teachers' Association and the National Association of Federal Retirees—are calling on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act. They are concerned about gutting defined benefit pensions.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 3rd, 2019 / 12:10 p.m.
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NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to table three petitions from very active members in my constituency.

The first petition is a call to withdraw Bill C-27. This is an important issue for many of my constituents, because before the 2015 federal election, Canadians were clearly promised, in writing, that defined benefit plans, which have already been paid for by employers and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed to target benefit plans. The petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 1st, 2019 / 3:35 p.m.
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NDP

Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Madam Speaker, it is my pleasure to add more petitioners to the thousands of Canadians who are demanding that the government withdraw Bill C-27.

I would like to pay tribute to JoAnne and Dale Lauber and all the activists involved from the BC Retired Teachers' Federation who have been approaching members of Parliament and collecting signatures. These teachers have given all their lives to the community and continue to give to better our country.

All these petitioners, the thousands who have signed thus far, are saying that given that the government actually promised that it would not gut defined benefit plans, Bill C-27 should be withdrawn, because it would jeopardize the retirement income security of Canadians who have negotiated defined benefit plans as a form of deferred wages.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 1st, 2019 / 3:35 p.m.
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NDP

Sheri Benson NDP Saskatoon West, SK

Madam Speaker, the second petition is from petitioners who are calling on the government to withdraw Bill C-27. They state that before the 2015 federal election Canadians were clearly promised, in writing, that defined benefit plans that have already been paid for by employees and pensioners should not be retroactively changed to target benefit plans.

The petitioners also state that Bill C-27, tabled by the Minister of Finance, would precisely permit this change, thereby jeopardizing the retirement income security of Canadians. Therefore, the petitioners are calling on the Government of Canada to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

PensionsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

May 1st, 2019 / 3:30 p.m.
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Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River—Northern Rockies, BC

Madam Speaker, this is a petition that was given to me by teachers in Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Charlie Lake and Taylor. It talks about Bill C-27 stating that before the 2015 election, Canadians were clearly promised in writing that defined benefit plans, which have already been paid for by employees and pensioners, should not be retroactively changed into target benefit plans. It also refers to Bill C-27, tabled by the Minister of Finance, which would precisely permit the change.

The petitioners call on the government to withdraw Bill C-27, an act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985.

Opposition Motion—Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2019 / 6:20 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, after listening to the member for Winnipeg North's speech, I would just like to remind my colleagues that this is only day one of the remaining seven weeks, so we should all pace ourselves.

As always, in these dying days of the 42nd Parliament, it is a great honour to stand in this place. It is a real privilege to be the voice of the amazing constituents of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford. I appreciated, as I am sure all members did, the previous two weeks, when I got to go to my riding on beautiful Vancouver Island, where spring actually arrived when it was supposed to. I enjoyed the sunshine, speaking with constituents and going to many community events.

I was really excited when I saw the notice of the motion we had picked to debate today. I think it goes to the heart of the kind of message that we, as a party, want to put out there to differentiate ourselves from the other parties in this place.

Before I got into politics as an elected member, I used to work for a former member of Parliament, Jean Crowder. I can remember going to an event at someone's house and seeing an old poster by the CCF. The tag of the poster was “People Before Profits”. That is one of the principles that has always guided me personally, that the people of our great country are key.

We can look at the staggering amount of wealth that corporations have. Some people may see a corporation's wealth by how big its bank account is, how well its executives are paid and how well its shareholders do with dividends. However, in this corner of the House, we prefer to see the wealth of a company in the workers, the services they provide and the things they build. It is ultimately the workers of the company who are on the front line, providing those services to people and giving the company its reputation. In all of our efforts, by all parties, it would serve us well to remember that.

The main thrust of this motion today is that given the experiences over the last three and a half years of this Parliament, we feel there have been some demonstrations quite clearly that corporate executives and their lobbyists have had far too much access to and influence on the Government of Canada.

The most recent example of this, which I think many Canadians still quite clearly remember, is the SNC-Lavalin affair. When that news story broke in the The Globe and Mail on February 7, it very much altered the political landscape. I remember the Liberals first reaction to that story was to deny it, to say that it was not true, that there was no pressure. However, their narrative kept on changing as more facts kept coming out. Ultimately, what it resulted in was the loss of two of their most capable ministers, the member for Vancouver Granville and the member for Markham—Stouffville, the loss of the Prime Minister's principal secretary and the loss of the former clerk of the Privy Council.

Why is that whole affair relevant to the motion today? Last year, unbeknown to parliamentarians and even the Canadian public, a small section was hidden in one of the budget omnibus bills, which even the Liberal backbenchers found out about, with surprise, when they were studying the bill at the standing committee on finance. Of course that was the provision in the budget bill to bring in an amendment to the Criminal Code that would allow for deferred prosecution agreements. I am not against deferred prosecution agreements per se. They can in some cases be a very legitimate tool. The important thing, though, is that it is not up to me to decide that. It is not up to anyone in this chamber to decide that. That role falls squarely on the shoulders of the director of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

That brings me to the next step in this whole sordid affair. We found out that it was SNC-Lavalin that lobbied hard to get such an amendment into the Criminal Code and it succeeded with that. Then it started this coordinated orchestrated campaign with the Prime Minister's Office to get the former attorney general, the member for Vancouver Granville, to basically overrule the director of public prosecutions.

When I sat on the justice committee, I was at Ms. Kathleen Roussel's confirmation hearing. She is a very accomplished lady who has immense qualifications for the job. However, when she was looking at the request for a deferred prosecution agreement, she had all the relevant facts of the case before her, she knew what the provisions of the law were and in her capacity, she made the decision that the company was not eligible for a DPA. Of course, she referenced this to the former attorney general of Canada who agreed with that assessment.

The lobbying of the Prime Minister's Office to get the independence of that decision overturned is very worrying. Yes, no laws were broken, but the irony is that no laws were broken because of the efforts of the former attorney general of Canada, who very much stood on her principles and decided she would stand against that pressure and not overrule the director of public prosecutions. Ultimately, she was shuffled out of her cabinet post and then had to resign, followed by her colleague, the member for Markham—Stouffville. The two of them could no longer in good conscience sit in the cabinet and defend the government day to day when they knew the truth of what had really happened behind the scene.

That is item number one of the most clear and recent examples of the awesome power of corporate lobbying and what it was able to achieve with the current government.

I will take members back to 2016 to another example. The government introduced Bill C-10, an amendment to the Air Canada Public Participation Act. This was in spite of the fact that many Liberal MPs represented ridings where aircraft maintenance workers lived and worked and in spite of the fact that in the 2015 election campaign, the Prime Minister was right there with Avios workers, saying that he was there in solidarity with them and that he supported them. However, what did that government bill do? It basically amended the act so that Air Canada, which had done extensive lobbying of the government, would now be free to move its aircraft maintenance work offshore. It would no longer be constrained by the provisions in the act where it had to have maintenance facilities in places like Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Again, this goes to the heart of where corporate lobbying led to a change in the law, which ultimately will and has hurt workers.

Of course, we have the Minister of Finance who brought in Bill C-27, which I am very happy to see remains in purgatory, stuck at first reading. The government has been far too timid to bring it forward for debate, because it knows the uproar that would happen. The Minister of Finance own company, Morneau Shepell, used to specialize in this kind of work of changing pension plans. The Liberals finally became aware of the uproar that would happen, and that bill has not proceeded any further, which I am glad to see. However, it did not stop the Minister of Finance who, in a clear conflict of interest, introduced that bill in the first place, showing what the Liberals' intent was all along.

Then, of course, I move to pharmacare. I was listening to the member for Winnipeg North as his volume got steadily higher and higher. We have short memories in this place. It was back in 1997, 22 years ago, when the old Liberal empire of the 1990s was at the height of its power. Members will remember that the Liberals won a majority in 1993, again in 1997 and again in 2000. This was a clear promise they made in 1997. They did not follow through with it then, they did not follow through with it in the 2000 government and here we are, three and a half years into the term of the current majority government, and what do we have? We have a paragraph in the budget, which is an intention to do more consultation. However, we can look at the lobbying records and the coordinated campaign that was brought about by the pharmaceutical industry. On average, pharmaceutical companies and their associations lobbied the government approximately 49 times, which is about the average over 11 years. However, in 2018 alone, it was 104 times.

The report by the Standing Committee on Health recommended a universal pharmacare plan, one that all Canadians can get behind, one that would save Canadian families $4.5 billion. On average, Canadian families would save about $550 and some families would save far more.

The proof is in the pudding, because instead of us being at a point where we could implement a national universal pharmacare plan, the lobbying has had its desired effect. What we are probably going to get from the Liberals, these masters of the long promise, the ones who like to tell people to re-elect them and they might get what they want, is that the lion's share of the national housing strategy is going to come after 2019, and the pharmacare plan is probably going to be some kind of a patchwork system. In other words, the pharmaceutical industry was able, through its lobbying efforts, to get what it wanted all along. It wanted to have a patchwork system where it still had that key role to play.

Finally, there is the Loblaws example. My friend from Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke had it perfectly in his intervention earlier when he asked why a company as wealthy as Loblaws is able to access $12 million, when it commands so much wealth and would have been able to do that itself, headed by a man who is worth more than $13 billion. For Mr. Weston, $12 million is pocket change. That is something he could lose in the blink of an eye, a rounding error for a billionaire.

The question is legitimate. Why is this money not being made available to the corner stores, to small businesses, which would use that $12 million to make significant upgrades to their bottom line to be energy-efficient. No one is arguing the fact that we need to take these steps. What we are trying to underline is the power of big corporations, the lobbying efforts they can employ with the government to get those kinds of corporate handouts, when small businesses, the ones that really need them, are being left behind far too often.

I appreciate this time to speak on behalf of the constituents of Cowichan—Malahat—Langford.

Opposition Motion—Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2019 / 5:50 p.m.
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NDP

Alistair MacGregor NDP Cowichan—Malahat—Langford, BC

Mr. Speaker, whether it is the legislation that was put in the 2018 budget bill that helped out SNC-Lavalin or whether it is Bill C-27 that the Minister of Finance introduced but did not advance any further, we see concrete examples of legislation being changed to suit corporate interests.

One bill that passed three years ago now was Bill C-10, direct lobbying from Air Canada, to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act so it had the freedom to move its maintenance facilities offshore. Lo and behold, Liberal MPs from ridings where those maintenance workers lived supported that legislation.

I would like my colleague to comment on that bill. Memories are short in this place and it would serve us all well to remind Canadians of that particularly egregious example back in 2016 and what the Liberal government was prepared to do for its corporate friends in Air Canada to the detriment of the maintenance workers.

Opposition Motion—Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2019 / 5:20 p.m.
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NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am so proud to rise for the New Democratic Party today. I will be sharing my time with the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques.

I rise to talk about the corrosive power of the 1% with the current Liberal government. We have a Prime Minister who won so much support from Canadians, because coming after the years of Stephen Harper and the ugly scandals with Nigel Wright and the dodgy senators the Conservatives appointed, such as Pamela Wallin and Mike Duffy, we had the present Prime Minister promise to do government a different way. What we saw quickly after the Liberals came to power was the same old grotty, rum-bottle politics on the Rideau that have been the mark of the Liberal Party for the last 150 years. It is always about the friends. It is always about corruption.

When I talk to people back home, they cannot for the life of them understand why this Prime Minister thought it was a good idea to give $12 million to a guy who lives in a gated community in Florida, who fought against giving his employees a living wage and whose company was found guilty of cheating Canadian families out of bread. These are the people who belong to the Laurier Club, and these are the people who are invited to hang out with the Prime Minister and with the senior staff of the environment minister because they give money to the Liberal Party. Canadians know that it is wrong.

The Canadians I represent in the north work hard. They play by the rules. Many of them do not have pensions. Many of them are facing increasingly perilous short-term and contract work. We see not just an attack on the traditional working class but on the new white-collar working class of people who are working as professors with short-term contract work or as health care workers with short-term contract work. They see a system that is moving increasingly against them, yet they have this Prime Minister who said that the Liberals were there to support the middle class and those wanting to join it. This Prime Minister made them believe, but what we have seen with the current government is that it is always about the super-rich and the policies that favour them.

When we saw the Stelco pensions being undermined, just as the Nortel pensions before them had been undermined, and we saw the Sears workers being ripped off by hedge-fund predators, and we asked day after day in this House that the government do something, the Liberals were not going to do anything to help those pensioners. They got up and cried crocodile tears and showed their emotion, but the family business of the finance minister, Morneau Shepell, is the company that got the contracts to wrap up those pensions.

It is about the power of lobbyists. In fact, the Liberals are so tightly in with lobbyists that we had the present finance minister, in 2013, talk about the need to change legislation so that it would be easier for Morneau Shepell to take over the defined pension benefits. In 2014, Morneau Shepell gave recommendations about changing the legislation to make it easier for its business model. Instead of having to have a lobbyist, the company just got its guy elected as finance minister, and the very first thing he did was Bill C-27, which would have made it easy for the privatized pension industry to retroactively go after pension benefits. They were not here to represent working-class people. They were here to represent the investors and the 1%, of which this finance minister is a part.

We have been going after the Liberals for their unwillingness to go after international tax cheats. We have just heard from them that they are taking tax fairness seriously. Really? Loblaws has been found to have set up a Barbados bank. It is claiming that it was just holding the money, but hundreds of millions of dollars of tax money Canadians should have received to improve the system of services for Canadians are not being paid because of this offshore tax haven.

In Canada, when ordinary workers do not pay their taxes, the government comes down on them with all the power it has. However, when Loblaws does not pay its taxes because it has set up an offshore tax haven, it gets a $12 million gift. Then we get told how great it is for the environment. Thank God for Galen Weston.

Canadians might think I am just picking on Galen because he lives in a gated community in Florida and rips families off for the price of bread and does not want to pay a half-decent wage. Canadians might think I am just being mean; it is the whole class-conscious NDP who do not understand how things are with their betters. However, it is the pattern.

It is the pattern we saw with KPMG that established an international tax fraud scheme for the millionaires and billionaires. When it was caught, not a single person was found guilty. Nobody. I go back to folks back home, and my God if they got an overpayment on their EI, there is no mercy. However, KPMG set up this offshore account for rich billionaires to not have to pay taxes, and no one was charged. In fact, not only were there no charges, but, lo and behold, the same month that the Prime Minister stopped the investigation into KPMG, the Liberal Party of Canada hired a KPMG director to oversee the finances of the Liberal Party. I guess if they can set up offshore tax havens, they probably have the moral backbone to represent the Liberal Party.

It is the same with SNC-Lavalin. The government does not understand why it is in trouble. It thinks that getting someone to call into the Prime Minister's office because they worked on the Trudeau Foundation or they go to the same country clubs that it is, “Hey, what is the problem? We were just trying to change the law.” The law on deferred prosecutions was actually rewritten for SNC-Lavalin, and it still did not meet the criteria.

They had a whole series of efforts to intervene and undermine, and get to the director of public prosecutions, which is why the OECD anti-bribery unit is investigating and watching Canada. It said that the government's actions have lit all the alarm bells. We could go on about the SNC issue all day.

However, what I thought was fascinating is that the SNC lawyer fighting Canada is Frank Iacobucci. Michael Wernick told the former attorney general that she had to be careful with this guy, that he was not a shrinking violet. He is also the same guy who was appointed by the Prime Minister to oversee the Trans Mountain consultations. It is the same little circle of friends who look after each other time and time again.

We have a situation here. We need to have a system where Canadians can trust that there is fairness. They cannot have belief and trust when what is being run in Ottawa are the phone calls into the Prime Minister's office to change laws, to do favours, because of who people know in the PMO. That is the fundamental rot that makes people not believe in the system.

We are looking at the environmental crisis we are facing. The government came back, after the Prime Minister showed off his Haida tattoo, and said they would make everything work. It decided that it would stick with Stephen Harper's greenhouse gas emission targets and with Stephen Harper's investments into the oil sector. Our greenhouse gas emissions, because of what is going on in the oil sands, are higher this year than they were last year, which was higher than it was the year before. Year in, year out, the gas keeps rising. Year in, year out, the government continues to subsidize.

The government tells us that if we give $12 million to Galen Weston to fix his fridges, it will show a whole new commitment to environmental change. What it is really showing is that those who are the super-rich, the super-powerful, those who can get invited to the Laurier Club, can get the lobbyists in to see the key ministers and the Prime Minister and go to cash-for-access events will get their way. That is the broken trust that the Prime Minister is going to have to explain to the Canadian people.

I am more than willing to take questions.

Opposition Motion—Government PoliciesBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

April 29th, 2019 / 12:05 p.m.
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NDP

Daniel Blaikie NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

moved:

That, in the opinion of the House, corporate executives and their lobbyists have had too much access to and influence over the Government of Canada, setting working Canadians and their families back by:

(a) encouraging attempts by the Prime Minister to undermine the independence of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada and the integrity of Canada’s rule of law;

(b) forcing Canadians to pay high prices for prescription drugs by blocking the establishment of a single, public and universal drug insurance plan;

(c) providing huge subsidies to large oil and gas companies, while putting corporate interests over the protection of Canada’s Pacific coastal waters in the Kinder Morgan pipeline approval process;

(d) motivating the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to give a handout of $12 million to a multi-billion-dollar corporation owned by one of Canada's wealthiest families;

(e) giving Canada's most profitable banks the chance to review and revise a report intended to shed light on anti-consumer banking practices; and

(f) leaving intact a host of tax loopholes that allow the richest Canadians to avoid paying their fair share for Canada’s public services like health care, pensions and housing;

and that therefore, as a first step toward addressing these failings, the government should immediately move to recover the $12 million given to Loblaws and reinvest it to the benefit of working Canadians and their families.

Mr. Speaker, there has been a fair bit of outrage across the country lately at examples of major corporations getting special treatment by the Liberal government.

We think, of course, of the many weeks of the SNC-Lavalin saga. Here the government stands accused of having interfered in what should be Canada's independent legal system on behalf of one particular corporation in an attempt to avoid having it face criminal charges for alleged international bribery. That is an example of a big ask by a corporation. It asked the government to pass a whole new body of legislation in order to create an exit ramp out of the criminal charges, and we saw the entire artifice of government jump to the pump to try to get it done. When some people in government stood up to that, said no and said that they thought it was wrong, they were shown the door. That was the case of a very big ask, and we saw just how willing the government was to try to make that happen for a large corporation.

On the other end of the spectrum, we had what appeared to be a relatively small ask, which was $12 million for Loblaws. The thing about Loblaws is that it is one of the biggest and most profitable corporations in the country. One of Canada's billionaires with one of the most profitable companies came cap in hand to the government and asked for $12 million to help upgrade fridges, and the government was all too happy to say yes. It did not say that the $12 million could be better used to leverage new investment from companies that do not already have the capital to green their infrastructure and operations. It did not say that it wanted to make sure public dollars were spent in the most efficient way possible to help those who otherwise would not have any investment at all and who would not otherwise be reducing their emissions at all. Instead, the government was quick to say that it sounded like a great announcement happening at Loblaws and wanted to know what it would cost to get to the podium. The government wanted to know how it could get a piece of that action and be part of a good-news story.

That is not the way to fight climate change. It might be the way to fight an election, but it is not the way to fight climate change. That is an example of just how prepared the Liberals are to accede to demands by corporate Canada, no matter how small. The big asks get the yes and the small asks get the yes, and it seems that everything in between gets a yes too.

What will it take? What is the threshold? What will it take for this government to say that the interests of large corporations are not in line with the interests of everyday working Canadians?

This will not come as an epiphany to anybody listening at home, but it may came as one to some members on the government bench, given their behaviour: Sometimes the interests of large corporations are not in line with the interests of everyday working Canadians. That happens, but we would not know it from looking at the activity of this government. When big companies come with an ask for the government, the answer is yes. Companies know it is going to be a yes, more and more, which is why the asks are getting more and more outrageous, right down a $12-million ask to supplement what Loblaws was already doing in order to upgrade and green its infrastructure.

That is where the sense of outrage comes from. What our motion today is trying to do is name the elephant in Ottawa, which is corporate influence. It is trying to draw what we believe is the very direct line between the influence those big corporations have here in Ottawa with the government and governments of the past and the pocketbooks of Canadians, as well as the effects this kind of friendly relationship between the Canadian government and corporate lobbyists have on the quality of life of everyday Canadians across the country.

To put that sense of outrage in context, it is because these big corporate asks and acquiescences by government are coming at a time when almost half of Canadians are within $200 of not being able to pay their bills and having to declare insolvency.

That is a real hardship. It is of course a hardship for people who have a loss of employment, a serious health issue, or other situations that mean they may not be able to report to work every day and make that extra $200, and therefore they end up in a financial catastrophe and have to declare bankruptcy. It also a real issue for those living with the stress and anxiety of knowing that if something takes a wrong turn or does not go quite right, they could end up there as well. Even if it does not happen to them, it could happen to their neighbour, friends or family, and they have to live with the stress of knowing that it may happen to them.

Therefore, in the NDP we believe that the goal of government activity and government policy should be to try to bring together people who are facing all of these common challenges, such as the common challenge of finding reasonably affordable child care close to home, the challenge of ensuring that everybody who is retiring from work has an adequate pension income to allow them to continue to live with dignity, and the common challenge of getting good access to health care services in their community.

In my community right now, the big battle is making sure that the provincial Conservative government does not close the Concordia emergency room, as it has promised to do and seems hell-bent on doing this June. That would mean that for the entirety of northeast Winnipeg, there would be no 24-7 access to the health care system close to home in their community. For Canadians across the country, there is the issue of the high cost of prescription drugs, because we know that Canadians pay among the highest costs for prescription drugs.

The NDP approach is to bring together people who are facing those common challenges, and the job of government is to implement solutions that bring those costs down and make life easier for Canadians through facing our challenges together. It is not to hobnob with corporate lobbyists at receptions in Ottawa and then change the law for their benefit. It is not to let them off the hook for their big tax bills, which are not measured in the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, but in the tens of millions and hundreds of millions of dollars. When we talk about the tax havens they use to hide their money so that they do not have pay their fair share, we are talking about tens of billions of dollars. It is not the job of government to look out for those guys and their interests, and that is what we are here to say today. That has been going on for far too long, and it is time that Canadians got to see this place act in their interests.

It is in this context that Canadians are rightly angry when they hear these stories, whether it is a big story like the SNC-Lavalin story or the smaller story like the money given to Loblaws to repair its fridges, which is a symbol. It is not just the amount of money; it is a symbol of government just never really being willing to say no when corporate Canada comes asking.

When it comes to Canada's effort to tackle climate change and reduce our carbon footprint, corporate interests once again get in the way, so much so that the government decided to spend over $4 billion of Canadians' money not to buy a new pipeline, not to build a new pipeline, but to buy an existing pipeline, just as a gift to Kinder Morgan for having come and tried but not being able to get it done. “Thanks for trying, so we will give you billions of dollars in taxpayers' money.”

That money could have been invested in other priorities. It could provide job training for workers in the energy sector to help their skills align better with the new energy economy that is already under way and already developing. It could also be used to invest in new infrastructure projects that would create more of those kinds of jobs and more opportunity for on-the-job training in that new sector and new economy.

However, we did not see that and we did not get that.

Instead, what we have seen is a government that was silent and has not done anything for workers like those at Stelco and Sears who, when their companies went bankrupt, lost their pension income. Workers still do not have protection to prevent that from happening again. Not only did the government do nothing for them except remind them that they could apply for EI, but it has not done anything for workers of the future to head off the problems that we know are coming because of the sorry example of Sears and Stelco workers. A long time ago, when we knew these kinds of things would be happening and the NDP was proposing that we protect workers' pensions, the government did not come to their defence and did not put laws on the books to protect them,

The government also turned its back on GM workers in an award-winning plant known for its productivity when GM said that it was closing the doors and moving the plant out of Canada. Once again the Liberals were there to remind them that they too could apply for employment insurance, as if that was something they did not already know or as if that was all they expected from the government.

This is a government that did not require VIA, a publicly owned corporation, to have a Canadian content requirement when sourcing a renewal of its railcar fleet. That should have been a requirement, because when public funds are being used at that level of investment, we should be ensuring that Canadians are getting a piece of the action and that we are creating employment in Canada.

The current government has not only favoured corporate interests over those of ordinary Canadians by doing nothing, and there has been a lot of that, it has gone out of its way to help corporate interests when they conflict with the interests of everyday and working Canadians.

One of the first real acts of the government was to change the law for Air Canada to make it easier for it to outsource its aircraft maintenance work. That was a shame, particularly in light of the Liberals protesting with those same workers before the election, saying that the previous government should apply the law. I suppose the current government is applying the law, because it changed it to make it easy for Air Canada to outsource its work and is now applying the law that does not protect workers.

The Liberals have signed trade deals, which were negotiated and applauded by the Conservatives, that enshrine and give real protection of law to corporate rights, but only pay lip service to the rights of workers and the environment.

When Canada Post, another Crown corporation, was in a conflict with its workers in the fall, instead of changing management or giving it a direction to bargain in good faith, the current government passed back-to-work legislation and rewarded the intransigence of Canada Post's management instead of standing up for those workers.

Subsidies to large oil and gas companies continue, even though we know we have to transition to a green economy. That money could be used to retrain workers from the energy sector. It could be used to invest in projects like what the NDP has announced, which is to retrofit every home in Canada to improve efficiency, to not just reduce our carbon footprint but also the monthly heating costs of Canadians. That money could be used for a fund to help Canadians and their pocketbooks while also reducing our carbon footprint. Instead, it is going to the largest oil and gas producers in the country, whose production continues to go up while royalty revenue goes down and the effects of climate change manifest evermore seriously and urgently.

The promises made by the Liberals to eliminate tax loopholes and havens have been ignored. That is all revenue that can go to a just transition to a greener future, lowering the cost of prescription drugs or building more affordable housing. It is not innocent that the money goes away or that it does not have an impact on Canadians. The fact that we do not see it does not mean it is not having an impact when we compare it to what we could be doing if that money were here and people were paying their fair share, as they should. Canadians are seriously losing out.

Internet giants are another example. They are competing with Canadian businesses that are paying their taxes, but they do not have to pay any themselves. That comes at a real cost to Canadians.

All of these things are a continuation of an approach that we saw under the last Conservative government, which was to deregulate, privatize and give major corporate tax cuts, presumably to invest in the economy. The late Jim Flaherty said to corporate Canada at the time that the money was supposed to be invested back into the economy and that it ought to be doing that. That is a nice thing to say, but he did not compel it or raise the corporate tax rate back up, because they were keeping it for themselves, their investors and executives instead. He let them have the money. That money still sits either in bank accounts in Canada or across the world where those executives and investors pay less tax.

When we see the lengths to which the government is willing to go to get SNC-Lavalin off the hook, which was a big ask, and even what it is willing to do with respect to the smaller things, we can start to understand the sense of outrage.

The purpose of our motion today is to shine a light on the corporate influence that pervades Ottawa and draw attention to the very real and concrete effect this has on Canadians who work hard every day, who are worried about the cost of their prescriptions and their housing, and who want to fight climate change.

They see a government that makes promises but refuses to deliver on them when those promises are not in line with the interests of big business. It has failed to take action and will never do anything to enable us to tackle climate change, lower the price of prescription drugs and protect our cultural industries. We need to stand up to large corporations like Netflix and insist that they pay their fair share of taxes to support our cultural industries.

These are the issues. There has been a lot of frustration about the SNC-Lavalin affair. People have talked about it a lot, and although they think something wrong has happened in the case, they are not sure of the way forward. They are concerned about a lot of other issues as well.

How does this all tie together? People should care about that issue, not just because it appears that the rule of law is being undermined in Canada, which has a lot of long-standing consequences, but for the reasons I mentioned.

Canadians who are looking for income security in retirement should be concerned that the government has done nothing to legislate against the kind of pension theft we saw in in the case of Sears workers. The government has not done it. It has talked about it in the budget, but it did not put this in the budget bill in the way that deferred prosecution agreement clauses were put in the budget bill. Let us see the government put the pension theft provisions into the budget bill. Then, we will know that the government is serious. It does not do this, because with regard to workers, it pays lip service. With regard to corporations, it takes real, tangible action. We can see this in the news, in the House and in the behaviour of the government.

The finance minister, who comes from the retirement benefits industry, introduced legislation in the House, Bill C-27, that is an attack on Canadians' pensions. There has been no degree of separation such that the government is responding to corporate lobbying. In that case, the corporate lobbyists are in government, doing the job of that industry from the seat of the finance minister. That is how closely tied the government is to the corporate lobby.

We have not seen any action when it comes to pay equity. We know pay equity will come at a cost to Canadian companies, and rightly so. This is the money that Canadian women have been working to earn for decades. They deserve to be paid. However, the government has dragged its feet. It did not drag its feet with respect to DPAs or when Galen Weston asked for $12 million to replace his fridges. We have watched the government drag its feet for three years on the issue of pay equity. Canadian women deserve to get paid fairly for the work they are doing.

Where is the action on that? Where is time allocation on that? Where is that in the omnibus budget bill? It is not there. In the budget, there is also no money for implementation either. There is a pittance in the budget to begin consultative work on how to implement pay equity. It is about the same amount that Galen Weston got for his fridges this year.

Let us talk about pharmacare. With respect to the importance of reducing the cost of prescription drugs for Canadians, study after study has said that the best way to do this is to have one universal publicly administered plan that covers everyone from coast to coast to coast, no matter where people live or how much money they make. What we hear from the Liberals all the time are hints that the plan they are proposing will not protect Canadians against the high cost of prescription drugs but will protect the pharmaceutical industry's profits and the insurance industry's profits. This is from a policy that would create an expansion of service to Canadians while reducing the overall cost of prescription drugs.

We already spend the money it would cost to create a proper pharmacare plan. In fact, we spend more than that. The NDP proposes that we spend less and cover more people. We know that this is possible.

The call to action in the motion asks the government to get the $12 million back and invest it concretely in some of the ways I have suggested today. This will provide a real benefit to working families. The $12 million amount over the entire federal budget may not sound like a lot, but it is an important symbol of the government finally finding the spine to say no to corporate interests and putting the interests of regular everyday working Canadians first.

We have been waiting for the government to do this. It has not done it yet. This is the smallest possible start to this that the government could make, so let us get started and keep going.