Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise and speak to the motion brought forward by the NDP dealing with ethical behaviours for the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
On the surface the motion looks like a feel good motion. The way the NDP has worded it, no one will say we should not be doing this because companies that are unethical will not have the support of the people of Canada and neither will they have the support of the shareholders. This is the kind of motion that is a great idea on the surface and idealistically everything looks fine.
As I was listening to my colleague from the NDP talking about child labour, the raping of the environment and these kinds of situations, of course Canadians are concerned, and on listening to this they will say that they do not want to support any companies that go into third world countries and rape the environment or break labour standards or labour codes. That is exactly what the motion is all about. It is all about the NDP trying to make a everyone feel good.
The problem is that when we go deeper into the motion and listen to what the member was saying, it is like the sky is falling. It is totally devoid of facts, totally devoid of common sense and totally devoid of how things work in reality.
This morning I thought I heard the member talk about how these companies were somehow associated with al-Qaeda. I did not hear exactly what she said but I was quite surprised to hear her talking about al-Qaeda. What does the Canada pension plan have to do with al-Qaeda, except for the fact that from their point of view they have to dramatize things to imply that the sky is falling and that we have to do something about it? It is a typical Liberal strategy.
Let us take a look at the record of the NDP in dealing with the economy. I come from Alberta, which is right next to British Columbia, and when the NDP was ruling in British Columbia with its high taxes, non-common sense approach to the economy, we suddenly had an influx of people coming into Alberta from British Columbia because they could not find jobs. We know the impact in the province of Alberta when the economy in British Columbia goes down because people move from British Columbia over into Alberta.
As a matter of fact, Madam Speaker, in your own riding in the Okanagan Valley people could not find jobs when the NDP was ruling there so they moved to Alberta where there were jobs because of sound fiscal management.
The motion talks about these feel good situations but there are no sound fiscal ideas behind it. It is devoid of reality. It is a situation where one might agree that we have to do it, but let us talk for a second about the Canada pension plan.
On the contrary maybe nothing is happening, as they are suggesting we should not do this and that. I do not even understand when there is such a big scandal in this country. The Liberals are being held accountable. When every Canadian wants to know the truth of where that $100 million went, where does the NDP focus its attention? It focuses it on bringing forward a motion like this. Maybe when we have nothing else to do in the House we can discuss these things at that given time, but right now, when there is a scandal plagued government on that side and Canadians want answers, what do we have? We have a motion like this from the NDP.
Let us discuss the motion. I beg to differ with my hon. colleague on the other side when he says that the Canada pension plan is a great plan to take care of Canadians when they retire. That is nonsense. I have met with many seniors in my riding who are receiving Canada pensions and they tell me that the plan has failed as a safety net. They live on fixed incomes which are subject to slight increases.
We recognized that the Canada pension plan was not the vehicle to do that and therefore brought in the old age security. Even then, the old age security has put seniors who are on fixed incomes, living without subsidized housing, without other benefits, into a very tight situation.
The question we should be asking is whether the Canada pension plan is a real retirement plan. No, it is not. When CPP was first brought into the House we had discussions and found that there were serious flaws in the way it was designed and handled, and in the way it was set to look after the needs of seniors. The younger generation has no more confidence in the Canada pension plan.
The government recognized all those things, which was why it introduced the RRSPs and other things asking Canadians to be responsible for their own retirement fund. They did not want Canadians relying on the government.
About two or three years ago we had a debate when the premiums were raised. At that time we pointed out again that there were serious flaws in the Canada pension plan with the premiums and that it did not meet the requirements of the future generation, as the baby boomers get older and Canada pension plan unfunded liability increases. This is a well known fact.
We need the Canada pension plan to be in a sound fiscal position and one in which everyone contributes. Whatever it gives, it gives, so that it is there not as a complete safety net but at some point as a safety net. To do that we have to give the Canada pension plan board leeway as to where it can invest because investment is the key to where it will get its return so it is able to meet some of its obligations. I have to say some of its obligations because those premiums are not going to meet the full obligations. The way it is designed it will not meet the full obligations.
Having said that, can we now come along and say to the Canada pension plan board that it cannot do this or that? What do we base that on? Is it based on some notions out there? That is true, it is based on the NDP's notion that it is unethical and based on the fact that we are directing the board in what to do. This creates a danger.
My friends in the NDP should know that there are laws that prevent companies from polluting the environment, that prevent companies from going into third world countries and raping the environment. We have laws to charge them. We now have the ILO. We have signed the convention on child labour.
We are looking at many of the issues to which the NDP members have spoken, such as unfair labour practices, the environment and everything. We have laws in this country that will ensure that those companies are penalized. If they are penalized and charged their value on the stock market is practically zero.
Why are we sitting here asking that the Canada pension board be guided by ethical investment policies and telling it that it cannot do this or that? Members of that board are prudent managers and they will put the money into sound companies where they can get the best return.
I think I have already made my major point in saying why I will not support the motion put forward by the NDP. I would support the motion if it had concerned strengthening the child labour laws in third world countries. We would support a motion if it concerned enforcing environment laws for companies that rape the environment. However we will definitely not support a motion concerning some fuzzy buzzy situation about some company doing this or that.
We have other ways and means of doing those things but the motion before us today is not one of them. We should leave the Canada pension plan board to do its work. It is being run by competent people who can make the right decisions. As far as we are concerned, the board is already under severe stress and it will face more and more stress as more and more Canadians lose confidence in the Canada pension plan.
I do not have much confidence in the Canada pension plan being able to look after my retirement, and I am sure many Canadians feel the same way. As a matter of fact, some other countries are looking at ways of financing their own pension plans and many have different forms of pension plans.
A suggestion was made by the Canadian Alliance, and now by the Conservative Party, that there should be self-directed RRSPs for this thing. If our friends on the NDP side do not like one company for one reason or another, they do not have to buy stocks in that company. However to come along and try to direct the board on notions and vague ideas, that it is a mistake.
The member alluded to the Talisman being in Sudan. She should know that it was the public opinion in the country that made the Talisman move out. The Talisman moved out because its shares were not reflecting its true value. That is the public thing she should do, not come along and put forward this kind of motion.
What happened? The public put pressure on the company because its shares were not reflecting their true value. It sold a profitable business out to a company. Now what? Sudan now has a company and nobody can do anything about it. If they have anything, let the public know and if they do not want to let it ride, the shares will fall down and nobody will buy their shares.
However the NDP should not come in here with all these fuzzy words that we should not invest in the Canada pension. In all likelihood the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board will not put money into companies like the tobacco companies or companies that are building landmines. Who would want to invest in those sorts of things?
I do not know where the NDP members get their facts. Maybe they do have the facts to say that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board put money in those things. We do not even know about all those things.
It is difficult to support the motion because it is devoid of facts and has nothing to do with the reality of what is happening. It is just a motion with an idea.
As I said before, the Liberal government is facing one of the biggest scandals in the history of Canada and what do we have? We have a motion like this.
Let us talk about the scandal for a second where $100 million, boom, went down. The Minister of Environment spent money on a festival and then they start trotting out little documents saying that they sent money to other members' ridings.
Does the House know what the Liberals do? They do not for ask my approval. They send the money because they want to buy votes. They did not send the money because of some great festival. That is nonsense. It was pure vote buying. Then they say that I have seen it, that it has come across my table. The Prime Minister does not have to stand up and read it. I can tell him because I get something that says “Mr. MP, send your approval”. Even though I do not, the money gets sent anyway. They do not ask me. Then they stand up as if somehow I am associated with the scandal over there. Where does the money go? The money goes to buy votes in my riding. The Liberals were kicked out in my riding. Canadians are not foolish nor are they stupid. They know when the Liberals are trying to buy their votes.
The finance minister mentioned today that the budget that will come down on the March 23. Hopefully it will not tell Canadians that the Liberals will buy their votes by giving them goods. As a matter of fact, the member sitting across will go to Toronto and talk about the great money he will spend to do things. That is buying votes. He is being challenged in his riding.
This whole business of using Canadian taxpayer money to buy votes has to stop. Canadians are saying that, and hopefully they will say it at the polls. For the first time Canadians are showing real anger with the way the Liberals have managed the money. It is terrible the way Liberals have managed the money. The anger is coming out, and they recognize it because the polls are showing it.
We should debate in the House how best to use Canadian taxpayers money. When the Liberals mismanage it, we then stand in the House ask the questions so Canadians have the answers.
To get back to the motion, it is difficult for my party to support it. Before my friends in the NDP get up and say that the sky is falling, the sky is not falling. We have different reasons why we do not support the motion.