Mr. Speaker, I too am very pleased to rise to address these proposed amendments to Bill C-10 to implement this year's budget.
The Conservatives stole a page from the American political playbook in the past two years with their budget measures. The first inkling we had of this was in a previous budget when they embedded a provision that would have allowed them to start censoring artistic production in the movie field in Canada, something that we had not seen in 60 years.
They were going to be allowed to decide themselves whether something was against public order and good morales. That had nothing to do with the budget and it had everything to do with the right wing agenda of the Conservative-Liberal alliance party. What we discovered then was that they were going to use this trick because of the fact that the Liberals were supporting them in everything they did.
In the budget bill last year we also saw another attempt to bring in a part of their right wing agenda. That time it had to do with immigration. The current rule on immigration is if people meet all the criteria, they have a right to become an immigrant and a Canadian citizen.
The new rule is, even if one meets all the criteria and has done absolutely everything, it is not aleatory, it is now up to the civil service, controlled by the Conservative-Liberal alliance, to shut the door to immigration. What they have brought in is a tragedy. It will allow them, for example, to exclude on the basis of country of origin.
That is the right wing agenda. It is well identified by the Conservatives with their Reform base. That is the people who hoot and holler in every question period. They are the ones who support this strong right wing agenda.
This year the Conservatives have gone a step further. Not content to try to muzzle artistic expression by bringing in their world view, not content to exclude whole areas of immigration that have helped build our country, they are now bringing whole sections of their right wing agenda into the budget. The culpable compliance of the official abstention Liberals is allowing them to do so.
We have seen a number of things that are part and parcel of the Conservative-Reform base policies. For example, earlier this week Tom Flanagan wrote an article in The Globe and Mail, which reminds me of General Patton's admonition, would that my enemy write a book.
We have Tom Flanagan expressing himself oh so clearly on the Conservatives' hatred of women's rights. For them it is an anathema. They have gone after a woman's right, enshrined in our human rights documents, to have equal pay for work of equal value. That is in this budget, an attack on that right. They are doing it in the most surreptitious fashion.
They have Mr. Family values himself, the President of the Treasury Board, stand up day after day telling us that it is for women's good. Women's rights are one thing, but family rights are another. We have to take care of both. The Conservatives tell us they are trying to actually accelerate a process that has been going on for far too long, and it should now be attributary of the collective bargaining process.
The problem is very often over the years a category of employment that was mostly male, like a truck driver, versus a category of employment that was mostly female, like a nurse, had nothing to do with an objective analysis of the difficulty of the task being accomplished, the type of training, experience and expertise necessary to accomplish the task, and it had everything to do with the fact that if it was a male dominated category, the individual was paid more and if it was a female dominated category then the individual was paid less.
A lot of people confused this with the debate about equal pay for equal work. That has been decided for a long time. To go back to my examples, a woman driving a truck and a man driving a truck has been settled for 50 years. They will be paid the same thing. A man who works as a nurse and a women who works as a nurse will paid the same thing.
That is not the issue. The issue is what has been done in forward-looking provinces like Manitoba, followed by Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, where we look at the value of the work being performed, and that is what Flanagan's piece helps us understand and decode with the Conservatives. They are almost too happy to snap their suspenders and say that it is a darn good thing the Conservatives are taking away women's rights and that it is about time. This bill is about that.
There is another attack in the bill, this time on the environment. We will see it in the sections that will be looked at a little later today. I give these examples to give context to the current debate.
The Conservatives will be gutting the Navigable Waters Protection Act. We had dozens of environmental groups present in parliamentary committee the other day. We had a shameful experience where a senior civil servant was brought in to deliver a purely political speech. There is a difference that should be maintained between the upper reaches of the civil service, who should have a certain autonomy and the ability to do their jobs in the application of statutes. If people want to be in politics, let them run for a political office, come into this room and do their job. That is a political speech.
However, the Conservatives and institutions do not respect that sort of barricade. They brigadooned the senior civil servant to come in and explain what a great thing it was, that there was more flexibility and it was a tiered approval system. There is nothing in the bill about a tiered approval systems. There will be tiers, but they will be tears of people who care about our navigable waterways. They are bringing in the ability for the government to exclude whole sections of that bill and all types of waterways.
It goes in conjunction with something that was released and first reported on by Louis-Gilles Francoeur in Le Devoir and carried by the English papers later. My colleague from Edmonton brought it forward. There is a clear plan to remove environmental assessments. Yesterday, again in the House, the Conservatives had the temerity to say that this had to do with streamlining more than one approval process, which kills jobs.
When I was the minister of the environment in Quebec, I signed an agreement with the federal government so the federal and provincial assessors would sit together. The only people who were not happy were the consulting engineers who could no longer charge twice for the same work because they would not have two panels. However, it works. That is streamlining. It has nothing to do with removing the federal government's obligation to protect navigable waters. That is a canard.
We are getting the first inklings of the real Conservative agenda. One knows about the holier-than-thou Conservatives who for years have railed against people who stick their money in tax havens. They used to love to talk about Paul Martin. Look at what they are doing now. They had removed the ability to go to certain tax havens and they are bringing it back. They constitute a panel of their buddies to tell them what they want to hear. It will to be very interesting as the UBS, the Union de Banques Suisses case, opens up in the United States. There are 12,000 names on a list.
Greg McArthur from The Globe and Mail did a very good job on this, mentioning that there was a Canadian desk at UBS. Surreptitiously, billions and billions of dollars were stuffed into those accounts by Canadians. It will be very interesting to find out. Who was in charge of that at the time in Canada? Michael Wilson, come on down. That was in The Globe and Mail, and it has tried to get an interview with Mr. Wilson. It cannot get one. It has tried to find out what is in it from the revenue agency in Canada, but it cannot get an answer. It is going to be interesting to find that out as well.
On the notion of foreign ownership, there can be no greater subject of concern to Canadians in this day and age, as we have seen a series of bubbles in the financial markets burst, that we maintain control as much as possible of key sectors and key industries, especially in the primary sectors of mining, metallurgy and forestry. Alcan, which is now Rio Tinto Alcan, owns the bed of the Saguenay River, one of the most beautiful rivers in Canada. Now that the Chinese government is buying into Rio Tinto, guess what? We are literally selling a riverbed to the Chinese government.
Labatt has just signed a deal. Its Belgian owners are selling off to a fund in New York and they will no longer be allowed to sell their Canadian production into the States. Not only is that a breach of the NAFTA and the Canada-U.S. FTA, which remains in force, it is a breach of common sense. Why should we even allow this? Xstrata, a company that had a written deal with the Canadian government in Sudbury, lost 700 jobs.
If the owners of Air Canada, the 49% shareholders, are a banker in Switzerland or Tokyo, do members think there will be any more planes to Hamilton or Rimouski? Asking the question is to answer it. That is why we want these amendments. That is why we oppose the bill.