House of Commons Hansard #58 of the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was million.


7:15 p.m.


Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, again, we do recognize the need of workers and communities dependent upon traditional industries, such as manufacturing and forestry, as they face global economic turbulence and are feeling the impact of challenges. However, it is important to remember the Canadian economy, especially Quebec's, remains vibrant outside of the traditional industries.

In 2007, Quebec showed solid economic vigour, with job growth at 2.4%, far above the national average, which also represented the province's best showing in over five years.

Quoting from an article in the February 9 issue of the National Post, one can begin to get the sense of the evolving Quebec economy:

Notice the transformation of Quebec. It's manufacturing sector may be withering away but big gains in other areas like construction, transportation, warehousing and accommodation have spurred a tumble in its jobless rate to a 33-year low of 6.8% in January. That is a tremendous drop from the peak of 9.7% in August, 2003.

Claude Picher in La Presse has noted this transformation in his recent article “La légende des McJobs”, making very similar observations. This new job growth is good for Quebec and all Canadians.

7:15 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, to put this evening's debate into context, this discussion follows up on a question I asked the Minister of the Environment on November 26, 2007. It is now March. I would like to suggest that this is an indication of how important this issue is to the Conservative government. This is probably the most important issue the current government will face, since it is our duty to future generations to try to do something concrete to curb global warming caused by the increased amount of greenhouse gases we are emitting.

The question was asked in November at the height of the Bali conference where, unfortunately, the Conservative government embarrassed us on the world stage. Instead of being a leader on the environment, the Conservatives decided to point the finger at other countries who are not only signatories, but are respecting their obligations under the Kyoto protocol. I am referring to India and China. The fact is that when the protocol was signed, it was always understood that emerging economies would have a little more time to adapt. This was considered fair by all signatories, including Canada.

Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that China emits one-fifth the greenhouse gases per capita that Canada does. Nonetheless, we know that on average, Quebeckers emit half the greenhouse gases that other Canadians do. And in some parts of Canada, 10 to 20 times more greenhouse gases are emitted per capita. There is nothing to be pleased about here and no reason to hide behind China and India.

The Bali conference was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. A similar conference had been held in Montreal. We must stand up to the Conservative government. Just this evening, we saw another example of exactly how badly the so-called official opposition, the Liberal Party, is doing its job. Later this week, during the opposition days, each party will have a chance to express its concerns about the most important issues facing our society.

It is a shame that we cannot put forward a non-confidence motion against the official Liberal opposition, because its representatives had a lot to say about the Kyoto accord, but the party did not do a thing. They no longer stand for anything. They did not take a stand on the budget, which ignored this serious issue, except for a brief mention of carbon sequestration, which is a solution few support.

Canada has a legal obligation under the Kyoto accord. The Conservatives claim that respect for the law is one of their government's greatest priorities, but they are contravening the international law that Canada has signed. Perhaps the Conservative government should refrain from lecturing people on failing to comply with the law, seeing as this country's own obligations as a state have been flouted by the government's failure to comply with the Kyoto accord.

I invite anyone interested in this issue to listen carefully to the minister's statements in the House, and to read the record. He has demonstrated a complete failure to understand his file. No doubt his assistant, who will read us a text prepared by the Prime Minister's Office, will look as though he understands it, but the Conservatives have no inkling.

7:20 p.m.

Langley B.C.


Mark Warawa ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Outremont for his question and assure him that contrary to what has been asserted, this government has a track record of leadership on the environment.

It is under this government that Canada will for the first time ever be regulating the big polluters to require them to reduce in absolute terms their greenhouse gases. We have a plan and a national goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020. That is an absolute reduction of 20% in 12 years.

Our plan will also see us reduce emissions by 60% to 70% by 2050. It is not going to be easy to achieve those reductions. It will be difficult. This government is committed to reducing emissions and improving the environment for both present and future generations of Canadians.

Our goals in our national plan are further espoused by a number of key principles that were set out by the Prime Minister. Any long term post-2012 climate change agreement must include the major emitting countries like China, India and the United States. It must be fair and economically realistic without placing unfair burdens on any one country. It must be long term and flexible. It must have a balanced approach that preserves economic growth and protects the environment.

Set out clearly, we need all major emitters on board and that is absolutely essential to fight global warming.

It is this message which we brought to the most recent United Nations climate change meeting held in Bali, Indonesia last December. As the conference began, Canada and the United Nations worked cooperatively on three main goals.

First, the world must come together and agree to launch negotiations for a post-2012 agreement.

Second, there must be an agreement on what the building blocks should be for the framework.

Third, there must be an end date of the negotiations by 2009.

Canada was successful in achieving those goals. We are committed to the United Nations process. We are committed to a new international framework driven by science. We are committed to action in our turning the corner plan.

Our government is proud of the principled position we have taken on the environment. We are proud of what we have helped to achieve at the Bali meeting. We will continue to work with our international partners in the lead-up to the 2009 build-up of the international climate change framework built on good and sound principles.

7:20 p.m.


Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is garbage and nonsense. The only thing the Conservatives did in Bali was embarrass us.

Contrary to what the hon. member just said, there are no binding targets. There are intensity targets. That means that if the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to produce a barrel of oil is at level 10, for example, then a polluter can indeed say that the intensity of greenhouse gases has been reduced when the amount emitted drops to level 8. Nonetheless, if they triple the number of barrels, they are still increasing the quantity of greenhouse gases considerably.

That is the Conservatives' real plan. It is directly related to oil production from the oil sands. The way oil is being mined there right now will cause the worst environmental crisis in the history of Canada for generations to come. That is the Conservative philosophy: take as much as possible today and let future generations fend for themselves with the problems we are leaving them. That is what the Conservatives are doing.

7:25 p.m.


Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member is wrong. The Bali conference launched a formal negotiation process to develop a post-2012 climate change agreement by 2009. That includes all major emitters, including China and India. It is called the Bali action plan. The action plan, which will have a clear agenda and work plan, will be based on four building blocks: mitigation, adaptation, technology and financing.

The Bali conference was a positive start to what will become an intense and challenging two years of negotiations. Negotiations will continue along both tracks over 2009 with the goal of coming together with a new global agreement at the COP 15 in Copenhagen in 2009.

Guided by our domestic climate change plan and the Prime Minister's principles, Canada will actively participate in this process over the next two years. The planet cannot be let down. We must succeed for the sake of our children and our children's children. Canada is committed to playing--

7:25 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The hon. member for Malpeque.

7:25 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, the debate tonight was caused by the minister's lack of an answer to a question I raised on February 4. The question was what involvement, directly or indirectly, the minister and/or the Prime Minister had in the firing of the Canadian Wheat Board's vice-president of farmer relations and public affairs, Deanna Allan. I did not get any answers then. Maybe the parliamentary secretary will be a little more forthcoming and a little more honest tonight.

This firing is on top of many other undemocratic acts fostered by the Prime Minister's ideological attack on the Canadian Wheat Board. It is shameful the kind of undemocratic actions that the Prime Minister is taking toward the Canadian Wheat Board.

It is important to put the Wheat Board into perspective on what it is not. The government goes to great lengths to try and leave the impression that the Canadian Wheat Board is some entity out there, a crown corporation or whatever, when it really is not. It is run by an elected board of directors of farmers, who has challenged the Prime Minister, and we know he does not like to be challenged.

I will explain what the Wheat Board is not. Judge Hansen, in her judgment on July 31, 2007, said this as background:

The CWB is a corporation without share capital...The CWB is not an agent of Her Majesty the Queen, nor is it a crown corporation.

I lay that out so people understand what the Canadian Wheat Board is not. Therefore, why is the government trying to treat it like it is an entity of government? It operates under government legislation and is managed by a board of directors elected by producers.

As I indicated, this was not the first firing. The CEO was fired for taking his direction from the elected board of directors and for standing up to the Prime Minister. There were three directors fired and new directors were appointed basically for their ideological dislike for the board. In fact, the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food had rejected one of those directors, but the Prime Minister showed contempt for that decision as well.

All along there have been gag orders placed on the board. The government has tried to manipulate the election of directors. The government struck 16,000 farmers off the voters list in the middle of an election. Never before in Canada have we seen such undemocratic activities by a government against a segment of the population. In this case, it is grain producers, elected directors to the board, and the Prime Minister does not like them at all.

The history on this goes back a long way. It goes back to when the current Prime Minister was crusading against the Canadian Wheat Board since his days as chairman of the National Citizens' Coalition. His beliefs are held just as deeply today.

After the Federal Court ruling on his government's attempt to circumvent the law and make changes to barley marketing by changing the regulations, he was rejected by the courts. The Prime Minister came out of his party's caucus meeting and said that he was going to get the Wheat Board one way or another. It is undemocratic.

7:30 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan


David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Mr. Speaker, the member opposite wants to talk about democracy but we saw an interesting display of it a bit earlier here when the Liberals refused to come in and even vote on their own amendment to the budget. We brought in the budget over a week ago and I do not think we have had one question from them about the budget in that whole time. They are supposed to be the official opposition. It is interesting to note that the member is now showing some enthusiasm for this issue but certainly had no enthusiasm for being here earlier and dealing with his own amendment to the budget.

The Liberals continue to misunderstand Canadians and they continue to misunderstand particularly western Canadian farmers.

With regard to this specific question, other than the president, the hiring, firing and dismissal of persons working for the Canadian Wheat Board is the sole responsibility of the Canadian Wheat Board and the board of directors. In this situation, the Canadian Wheat Board has stated that the dismissal of Deanna Allen was a decision made by the board of directors, and that is what it was. The member wanted a direct and honest answer and that is a direct and honest answer as to the situation regarding her firing.

Last spring, 62% of barley farmers voted for marketing freedom and that percentage is certainly a lot higher now than it was then. The member is insistent that he will try to stop western Canadian farmers from getting marketing choice. As the minister said in here a couple of weeks ago, the hobby horse that the member for Malpeque is riding is heading for the glue factory because the western Canadian agriculture industry wants freedom and this government has an obligation to bring that freedom to these farmers. They demand it and they deserve it.

It has been very interesting over the last year to note that the percentage of western Canadian farmers has grown exponentially in support of marketing choice. As the market has become better, farmers want more choice and more ability to access that market.

The government also has a mandate to follow through on its election promise to bring marketing choice to western Canada. The member for Malpeque does not seem to ever consider imposing a marketing board on his own constituents but he certainly wants to continue to impose one on western Canadian farmers.

This government is listening to our farmers and we are listening to industry players because we know a healthy value chain is good for farmers and it is good for the Canadian economy.

The entire value chain has stood united in calling for barley marketing freedom. It is not just farmers, although probably three-quarters or more of them now want marketing choice, but it is also the maltsters and the brewers. Everybody except the Canadian Wheat Board, the member and members of his party opposite want marketing choice.

The minister has brought forward legislation and we will move toward marketing freedom. I would ask the member opposite if he would not join with me in supporting that legislation because it is good legislation for western Canadian farmers. If he knows anything about western Canada, if he is interested in actually gaining support out in western Canada, I would think he would be willing to stand and vote with us. Every one of the groups, from farmer to handler to malster to brewer, has been calling for marketing freedom.

Why does the opposition insist on standing in the way of a healthy and a vibrant industry?

7:30 p.m.


Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, we believe in a healthy, vibrant industry but we also believe in empowering the farm community through the Canadian Wheat Board where it can maximize returns back to primary producers and gain maximum resources out of the marketplace.

Of course, as the member said, the maltsters and the brewers want to get rid of the single desk selling under the board. It is to their advantage to do so because they can get into negative competition with farmers and drive prices down. The grain companies will be the ones to gain.

I would ask the parliamentary secretary to join with us and with the farmer elected members of the board of directors and demand that the government follow the law, that it hold a fair plebiscite on the question and determine where farmers are at. I would even propose that the standing committee go out to those communities and hear from farmers if this legislation still comes forward.

7:35 p.m.


David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, that is just another example of how that member is completely out of touch with western Canada. We already had a plebiscite a year ago and two-thirds of producers indicated that they wanted choice. Today the number is probably 75% to 80% more. The reason they want choice is to maximize the benefits of their industry. They know full well that if they would have had access to the market this year they would have done far better than they have so far under the Canadian Wheat Board.

We know that a significant majority of producers have been looking forward to making their own marketing decisions as of the past August 1. They were disappointed with the Federal Court decision that maintained the single desk of the Canadian Wheat Board. Producers were also disappointed that the Federal Court of Appeal refused to overturn that decision.

Today this government once again showed strong leadership and introduced legislation that would bring marketing freedom to the western barley producers that they deserve. It is time that the opposition did the right thing, put its ideological ideas aside and voted for freedom.

7:35 p.m.


The Acting Speaker Conservative Royal Galipeau

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:36 p.m.)