Motion No. 7
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 317.
Motion No. 8
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 318.
Motion No. 9
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 319.
Motion No. 10
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 320.
Motion No. 11
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 321.
Motion No. 12
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 322.
Motion No. 13
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 323.
Motion No. 14
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 324.
Motion No. 15
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 325.
Motion No. 16
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 326.
Motion No. 17
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 327.
Motion No. 18
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 328.
Motion No. 19
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 329.
Motion No. 20
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 330.
Motion No. 21
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 331.
Motion No. 22
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 332.
Motion No. 23
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 333.
Motion No. 24
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 334.
Motion No. 25
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 335.
Motion No. 26
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 336.
Motion No. 27
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 337.
Motion No. 28
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 338.
Motion No. 29
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 339.
Motion No. 30
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 340.
Motion No. 31
That Bill C-10 be amended by deleting Clause 341.
Madam Speaker, we are presently considering the second group of amendments to Bill C-10, the budget implementation bill. We want to delete one of the Conservatives' deplorable provisions concerning the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
It is a bit disarming to listen to the Liberals stand, one after the other, and explain that they are actually in favour of protecting the environment, women's rights and collective bargaining rights but they will vote against them.
It is worthwhile to take a moment to give context to the amendment that is before us and see what has happened in terms of the economy in Canada and with regard to the actions of the Conservatives over the past couple of months.
We remember that during the election campaign the Conservatives kept saying that there was no problem in Canada, until the wheels started to fall off the economy in the last two weeks of that campaign. Then they really did not have any place to hide. All through the rest of October, after they were elected into a minority situation here in Parliament, and in November, they kept insisting that there would not even be a recession in Canada. Then they invented the term “technical recession”, whatever that was supposed to mean. It meant that we were in a recession, of course, like the rest of the world.
On November 27, in what was supposed to have been an economic update, a fiscal and financial update for the government, the Conservatives, instead of taking care of the economy and recognizing that we were in dire straits like the rest of the world, decided to go after their reform base, go for some of the nuggets of the extreme right and embed them into this fiscal and financial update.
Some of the things it contained were an attack on women's rights by removing a woman's right to have equal pay for work of equal value and an attack on collective bargaining rights. They were taking away the right to collective bargaining and to enforce collective bargaining, even though 104,000 civil servants had just signed. It showed utmost bad faith by the government.
Finally, the Conservatives were taking out the clean financing of political parties that was brought in, in the wake of the Liberal sponsorship scandal. We remember that when the Liberal Party of Canada stole millions of dollars of taxpayer money it was necessary to bring in a cleaner form of financing for political parties.
It was interesting that two months later, day for day, January 27, 2009, two of those things were still there: the attack on women's rights was still in the budget, and it is here in Bill C-10; and the attack on union rights and collective bargaining rights is still in Bill C-10. The only thing that was changed for the better was that they took out the attack on the clean political party financing.
In November, the Liberals were willing to vote down the government, supposedly for all those issues, saying that it was not a stimulus package, that it had all these horrible things in it like the attack on women's rights, the attack on unions and an attack on clean party financing. The only thing that was changed with regard to all of that in the January budget was that the Liberals got their beefsteak back.
We must remember that the Liberals rely more on direct public financing of political parties than any other political party in the House. Almost as if to prove that it takes at least three odious measures to make the Conservatives and their troglodytes happy, they replaced the removal of the party financing with something else that is equally odious, which is what we are about to deal with now, the removal of the essence of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, a protection for the environment that has existed in Canada for over 100 years.
My colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona has already had an occasion in the last few weeks to demonstrate that there are documents to prove that the Conservatives want to remove environmental assessments for projects that are under $10 million. Those were clear documents that the government was never able to deny.
What is so absurd there is that it is not the value of the project that matters. If we are back-filling a precious wetland for a project that is worth $9.9 million, it matters not. It is the value of the ecosystem we have to look at, which is why we do an environmental assessment.
We must not forget that in these tough economic times, everything becomes an excuse for the Conservatives to bring in their right-wing agenda. They are going to remove environmental protections, especially the safeguards provided by an environmental assessment.
They always talk about the need to streamline. This is their new leitmotif. They say that things will be more flexible and a bit faster. This is the thing that they are talking about again with regard to the $3 billion slush fund that they want to bring in for Conservative ridings.
What the Conservatives forget is that some of us have actually been in a position to do something about these issues. When I was Quebec's minister of the environment, we signed a deal with the federal government. David Anderson was the minister at that time. The deal was a model. That was streamlining. We made sure there would be only one hearing and that responsible federal and provincial people would be present because they had different jurisdictions and different things they were competent to look at. There was no removal of the process and no lessening of the safeguards for the environment, but it made it go faster.
This is an old canard that one often hears. I heard the former minister of the environment and current transport minister repeat in the House something he had already said in committee. It is an anecdote but it shows his mindset. He claims, based on what he heard from the Premier of B.C., that the Navigable Waters Protection Act is the greatest job killer in Canada. Can anyone imagine the absurdity of a statement like that? He says that with a straight face, which proves that either he is very good at saying things that are contrary to the truth and not letting it show or that he is just too dim to realize that what he is saying does not make any sense. It is like when he used to tell us that he was bringing in a fixed ceiling for greenhouse gas emissions when in fact he had intensity targets. It is just possible that he did not know the difference between the two, which was the conclusion I finally came to.
A new subsection is being brought in to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that would allow the minister to create new categories of things that would no longer be subject to the normal protection of the Navigable Waters Protection Act. The enabling provisions would allow not only orders in council, but ministerial orders. An order in council at least needs to go through cabinet. There is a vetting process. A ministerial order is something generated within the department. This would remove large numbers of waterways from the purview of the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the statute that has been a model.
If we look at what we have done in Canada to protect our waterways compared to what has been done in Europe, in the south we have had our problems but, general speaking, across this country we have done relatively well. Navigable and floatable waters have always been the responsibility of the federal government. I can say that there are a lot of mayors across Canada who are waiting for nothing more than to see this type of protection disappear so that their pet projects can go through. They often talk about that.
This has no more to do with stimulating spending than removing a woman's right to equal pay for work of equal value and no more than removing a union's right to collectively bargain effectively by having it be applicable. This is what the Conservative government is all about. It is deeply cynical to use the vehicle of a budget in tough economic times to slip in the continued poisoned pills of its doctrine.
This should in fact be two bills. In committee, the New Democratic Party of Canada tried to take out the part on navigable waters, as did the Bloc Québécois, and tried to take out the reprehensible part that would remove a woman's right to equal pay for work of equal value.
It was interesting to listen to the government on the weekend. The statute that we are debating right now runs 528 pages. It went through committee in a single morning. Does anyone know what the government was saying on the weekend? It was saying that it was being held up in committee. Can anyone imagine the temerity of making that type of representation?
That is quite simply false. The Navigable Waters Protection Act is part of a collection of legislation developed in Canada over the last hundred years. Canada once had the well deserved reputation of doing things right.
A moment ago, I was listening carefully to the hon. member for York South—Weston. He said the quarterly reports currently requested will galvanize Parliament.
The last time I heard a Liberal use the word “galvanize” it was Eddie Goldenberg, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Chrétien, when he admitted that when the Liberals signed Kyoto it was supposedly to galvanize public opinion. They had no plan and no intention of meeting the targets. Instead of reducing the targets by 6%, they increased them by 30%. That is the Liberals. They have no principles. They are voting with the Conservatives. No one should listen to a word they say. At least the NDP is in the House standing up for Canadians and for principles.