This week, I changed much of the tech behind this site. If you see anything that looks like a bug, please let me know!

House of Commons Hansard #22 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was billion.

Topics

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The hon. member for Scarborough—Guildwood has 40 seconds to respond.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Speaker, I am amused by the hon. member's ability to pat himself on the back and talk at the same time.

If he wants to get into duelling quotes, we will get into duelling quotes, the simple point being that he is representing the Minister of Finance in the House. If he is convinced that the government's activities on the stimulus side actually produced economic activity, which led to GDP growth, which hopefully will lead to jobs, then he should put it on the floor.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. The hon. member for Laval on a point of order.

Invisible Work DayGovernment Orders

April 1st, 2010 / 11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Nicole Demers Bloc Laval, QC

Madam Speaker, I seek the unanimous consent of the House to adopt the following motion:

That this House highlight the importance of the so-called “invisible” unpaid work done by parents and caregivers on behalf of their children and aging family members by creating “Invisible Work Day”;

That the first Tuesday in April be designated “Invisible Work Day” in recognition of the important role this type of work plays in society;

That, following the example of UN member nations at the international conference in Beijing in 1995, this annual event be a time to emphasize the extent of unpaid work in Canada.

Invisible Work DayGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?

Invisible Work DayGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Invisible Work DayGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Invisible Work DayGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Invisible Work DayGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague on the adoption of her motion.

Allow me to begin my speech by focusing on three excerpts from speeches by our learned colleagues who spoke just ahead of me.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance praised previous budget speeches saying that the automotive sector received special treatment and it paid off. According to him, the automotive sector did fairly well.

However, he did not say a word about the forestry industry; not one word. Why is that? Because there was absolutely nothing for the forestry industry. I agree with what he said about the automotive sector, but there was nothing for the forestry sector, which is a key sector in Quebec.

The second excerpt I agree with is from the speech by my hon. Liberal colleague. He said that the government before us is extremely incompetent. The Bloc and I agree with that statement.

The third excerpt is the one where he said he did not want to trigger an election because he did not want to create instability with the election of the Liberal Party. At least, that is what I understood. We agree: the election of the Liberal Party would create instability in Canada.

This budget speech was very disappointing. Let us get back to the budget implementation bill; unfortunately, the Bloc Québécois will be voting against it. We voted against the budget and will vote against the budget implementation bill quite simply because this budget is all about sparing the rich. It does everything possible to save business from contributing. It does everything possible to avoid fixing the problem of tax havens. It will even allow certain corporations not registered in Canada to avoid paying taxes in Canada on their transactions. The budget also meddled with telecommunications firms, as if it did not matter whether or not Quebec and Canada lose control of their telecommunications companies. The Conservatives do not care. Furthermore, the budget contains a certain number of items, such as the partial privatization of Canada Post, that will come about eventually.

We do not agree with some of the measures that have been proposed and now made official in this budget implementation bill.

We also do not agree because we have consulted Quebeckers. We have suggested that they seize the opportunity. We toured extensively throughout Quebec and met with people who were very pleased to talk to us. Everywhere we went, we received a warm welcome from many people. They agreed that those who have more should be asked to contribute more. It is a simple principle: clearly, those who have more can contribute more.

Thus, we made a number of suggestions. We proposed that Canadian taxpayers who had taxable income last year of more than $150,000—after basic deductions—should pay 2% more. An additional 2% for those earning $150,000 amounts to $3,000. We also suggested that those with taxable income of more than $250,000—one quarter of a million dollars, that is not peanuts—should pay a 3% surtax.

And $7,500 is a lot of money, but not for someone with a taxable income of more than $250,000—a quarter of a million dollars—a year. We asked them to make this wartime effort, if we can call it that. But it was not even mentioned. The government did not implement any of these socially-useful measures.

We also proposed that tax havens be eliminated, particularly those used by the chartered banks. We did the research to back up our proposal. Canadian chartered banks have to publish an annual report each year, and their fiscal year ends on October 31.

We now have all the information. On page 121 of Royal Bank's annual report, page 149 of CIBC's, page 152 of BMO's, page 129 of Toronto-Dominion's, page 133 of Scotia Bank's and page 144 of National Bank's, we see that all of these chartered banks comply with the Minister of Finance's directive and indicate the tax amounts saved by using tax havens. If these amounts had not been placed in tax havens, these institutions would have been paying money into the treasury of Canada.

Any of these amounts can vary from year to year, ranging from $1.6 billion to $2 billion to $2.5 billion. It depends on profits and how they are used. Why does the Minister of Finance not take from the rich what he is asking of the poor?

During the National Bank of Canada's annual meeting yesterday in Montreal, president Louis Vachon said that the financial sector, and the banks in particular, have been very vocal about the need to fix public finances.

He was referring to the Quebec government's finances as much as the Government of Canada's finances.

He added that everyone clearly has to do their part, including the banks. He is not the only one to say that. Jacques Ménard, whom everyone in Montreal, Quebec and Canada knows, is the chairman of BMO Nesbitt Burns and president of the Bank of Montreal or BMO Financial Group in Quebec. He is well respected. He said the banks have a responsibility as economic players and also as citizens.

Jacques Ménard, president of the Bank of Montreal in Quebec, is prepared to pay out of his own pocket. I imagine his taxable income is greater than $250,000. As the head of a bank he is telling the government he is prepared to make an effort.

There is nothing of the kind in the budget implementation bill.

What is more, we have noticed that non-residents are getting a free ride. In a number of cases, they will no longer be charged the withholding tax.

It will be possible for Canadian corporations using tax havens such as Barbados to make transactions through corporations in Canada without having to pay withholding tax. At the end of the day, by using off-book accounts and financial entries, these corporations could go all over the world with one, two or three foreign subsidiaries in tax havens and, presto, they no longer have to pay any tax. This government is making that possible and legal.

We did our tour, after which I submitted a document to the Minister of Finance himself during a meeting that was pleasant, I must say. The parliamentary secretary was there. We discussed the document. They told me they would look at it. They must not have been wearing their glasses because they did not look at it the way they should have.

Since there clearly are problems in the way pension funds are managed, the budget implementation bill will allow overcapitalization to go from 110% to 125%. That is good. We have indicated that we agree with the Department of Finance and the Government of Canada's overture, but why stop at 125%? And why change the five year standard when this again favours businesses? Why only allow the unfunded liabilities to be covered and go up to 100% after being on the brink of underfunded pensions?

If it happened once, it could happen again. We made the following suggestion: instead of just covering the deficit, why not go higher, up to 100%, 105%, 110% or 120% of the capitalization needed to fund the pensions? There is nothing in here about that except the possibility of going from 110% to 125%, which we commend.

Another item raised a number of questions in the House. I will not use the coarse language the hon. member for Outremont used, even though he was right. His question followed those of the leader of the Bloc and my own on the government's treatment of Quebec in all this, not just when it comes to equalization, but transfer payments as well.

This government, with the former Ontario finance minister in charge of public finances, is doing everything in its power to strangle Quebec's finances. That was obvious from the answers to our questions, and it is also obvious in this budget in which there is practically nothing about the transfers we would like to see increased for Quebec. On the contrary, in the fall of 2008, during the Quebec election campaign, this government introduced a drastic change without telling anyone. For the current year, this change will cost the Government of Quebec—this was mentioned in the Quebec finance minister's budget speech two days ago—$350 million, while at the same time providing Ontario with up to $600 million more.

What can we call this pillaging of the EI fund? We have made outstanding proposals. Some of my colleagues from the Bloc have suggested improvements to the employment insurance system. Of course, this comes at a price, but at the same time we suggested ways to fund these improved EI programs.

As we can see in this weighty budget implementation bill, the Minister of Finance, in his wisdom, noted that it was in fact $57,170,356,000 that was plundered under the previous government. They are boasting about how terrible what the Liberal government did was, saying that it should be ashamed to have snatched funds from the EI account.

They are right. From 1996-97 to 2008-09, the Liberal Party literally siphoned off $57 billion, and that time period includes the first few years that the Conservative government was in office. Time and interest aside, if we divide $57 billion by the number of years during which this plundering took place, we get an average amount of $4,764,196,333 per year. That is how much the Liberal Party stole from employers and employees, from the EI fund, when it was in office.

How will the Conservative government manage this program? The Conservatives say that they now have a commission. I understand; all the money comes from employers and workers. The government does not contribute a cent. None of this money comes from taxes.

The government puts the premiums under revenues and the benefits under expenditures. The difference between the two for the next four years is $19.2 billion. In four years, the government will steal $19.2 billion from Canadian employers and workers. If we divide that amount by four, that is $4.8 billion per year. The plundering of $4.8 billion every year by the Conservatives is right up there with the $4.764 billion the Liberals took when they were in power.

This is another example of what we mean when we say two faces, one reality. Successive Canadian governments have literally stolen from employers and workers because not a single cent comes from Canadian taxes. These are contributions to an insurance plan. If this insurance plan were run by a private company and the company were taking money like this, its managers would be in jail. Who is doing this plundering now? I will let my colleagues guess.

This bill has some 800 pages and several parts. It is a huge bill, and that is not uncommon. Anyone who works in finance is used to this kind of beast.

Part 17 on financial cooperatives is worrisome, since cooperatives can or could be regulated by the Bank Act and the federal government. We will examine this issue more closely with the heads of Mouvement Desjardins in Quebec, in order to determine whether the cooperative movement in Canada, and particularly in Quebec, got what it was asking for from the Government of Canada.

If not, the federal government will once again have control over the cooperative financial sector in Quebec, an exceptional sector that is recognized worldwide.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Madam Speaker, I certainly will not have time to address all of the misinformation that was in the member's speech, but early in his speech, he made a comment that we have helped the auto sector but have neglected the forestry sector.

I want to remind him and all Canadians that our economic action plan was clear in providing a total of $170 million over two years to help in the support of market diversification and innovation initiatives for the forestry sector. There was also $1 billion to help the pulp and paper green transformation program. This is helping the industry to become a leader in the production of renewal energy from biomass and it creates and sustains jobs.

In addition to the economic action plan, budget 2010 builds on those important investments by providing $100 million over the next four years to support clean energy generation in Canada's forestry sector. On top of that, the Business Development Bank of Canada has provided $300 million in loans to Canadian forestry companies since 2008.

I have two questions for the member. Did the member read the budget? If he did, why is he opposed to these measures that will clearly help the forestry sector? In fact, these measures were suggested by his party in the prebudget consultations.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I most certainly have read the budget. In fact, I have read it more than once.

What he said about help for forestry is so true that it should be right there. On page 259, where it says “Supporting Industries and Communities”, that is where it should be.

According to the table on page 259, the auto industry gets $9.718 billion. The number is right there. Under “Forestry marketing and innovation”, it says that the sector got $68 million last year and may receive $108 this year. That is a total of $176 million, while the auto sector gets $9.718 billion. It that is not what it means to compare the numbers, then I am not sure what is. It is right there in his budget.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, clearly, the government is looking for a way to get itself defeated and cause an election. We have an omnibus bill here, an 880-page bill that was dropped on our desks a couple of days ago. There are provisions in this bill that really have nothing to do with the budget.

For example, the government has taken the issue of post office remailers, which was before the House last year under two other bill numbers, and it has put it in this bill. It has also cut the heart out of the federal environmental assessment act, basically an oil company's dream.

Those are the types of measures the government has put into this document. It is trying to hide in this bill measures that it cannot get passed through the House on their own. To me it is nothing more than putting poison pills in this bill so the government can ensure there is an election and the Conservatives can say that they were not the ones who caused it, when in fact, it would be the Conservatives who caused it.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, that does indeed take a lot of nerve.

We read the document—all 800 and some pages of it. I agree with my NDP colleague. Indeed, I am sure that my NDP colleagues also took the time to read the whole thing so that they could discuss it in detail during parliamentary committee meetings. What a great idea to throw a brick like this out there. In light of this morning's tabling of Afghanistan documents, it is clear that the government is trying to hide needles in haystacks.

My NDP colleague knows that he can count on the Bloc members to work hard with the support of the NDP to find all of the needles in the Conservative government's haystack.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Bruce Hyer NDP Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Madam Speaker, the disturbing part, parallel to the budget announced yesterday, was that the home energy retrofit program had abruptly ended.

I will read a very short sentence from the Globe and Mail, which states:

The federal budget released on March 4 promoted the program. “Due to unprecedented demand under the ecoENERGY Retrofit--Homes program, the government is allocating a further $80-million to support additional retrofits by Canadian homeowners...

It sounded nice, yet if people did not get their applications in by yesterday, abruptly, with no notice, no warning, all of a sudden they were out of luck. In theory the program goes for an additional year from now, but in reality it is done.

At a time when most people and most scientists in the world recognize the most important investments we can make are in energy retrofits and energy conservation, the Conservatives, for some bizarre reason, even by their own standards, have suspended this precipitously.

Would the hon. member care to comment on the value of this program and whether this makes any sense?

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, the government unfortunately does this sort of thing all the time. In 2008, for example, while an election campaign was under way in Quebec, the government changed the equalization rules with no warning. Now, it has put an end to this program; people had to get their applications in by yesterday. It is like the infrastructure program. On November 1, all the municipalities in Quebec were in the midst of an election campaign. This meant that the municipal councils could not meet, yet in order to take advantage of the infrastructure program, they had to fill out reams of paperwork by early January, which was a huge task. In addition, all the infrastructure projects will have to be completed by March 31, less than a year from now, 364 days to be exact. That makes no sense.

This government sends up balloons, but then shoots them down before they can float back to earth.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Madam Speaker, I found it very mysterious that the government dropped the home renovation tax credit program, a program that was advertised a lot last year. It said that the program was one of the huge successes of the government. Finally, just after the first year of success, it simply dropped it from the program.

Will we see that program announced in the upcoming election campaign?

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, I have a slightly different opinion than my NDP colleague, who says that this government had a good idea. It was not the Conservatives' idea, but the Bloc's. The Bloc suggested this to the Conservatives last year.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, I am glad to speak to Bill C-9, which gives effect to the budget announced by the Conservatives. Some of what the bill contains was in the budget and some was in the throne speech. The bill also includes provisions that have been mentioned in various forums in recent months.

Since I have only 20 minutes or so, I will not be able to go over all 800 pages of the bill. I am going to focus on certain items that fuel substantive debates in the House and illustrate members' different views on ideology and governance.

I would like to start by talking about the tax cuts for Canada's most profitable corporations. The Liberal Party and its leader are recent converts to the idea that we need to start handing tax cuts to major corporations more slowly. Last weekend, at a conference in Montreal, the Liberal leader discovered the merits of what the NDP has been talking about for the past three months.

I would like to give a little background to those listening to us, to help them understand the whole picture.

The Liberals were relegated to the opposition benches at the beginning of January 2006, which means we are beginning our fifth year of a minority Conservative government. There was a leadership race within the Liberal Party, and the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville was elected party leader.

In a now infamous speech he gave before the Economic Club of Toronto, the new leader was intent on finding an angle. The Liberals, who consider themselves the “natural governing party” and are used to being in power, were searching for ways to understand what went wrong during the election. They told themselves that perhaps the Conservatives were getting a little too friendly with their usual Bay Street base. So they decided to accuse the Conservatives of not acting quickly enough on tax cuts.

Last weekend, the same Liberal Party wondered why corporate taxes were being cut. The leader at the time—the Liberals have had five leaders in five years—the hon. member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, went before the Economic Club of Toronto and slammed the Conservatives for not cutting corporate taxes quickly enough. That was enough for the Conservative finance minister—the same one as today—to rise in this House with a smirk on his face and announce that without this push from the Liberals he would never have had the temerity to move so quickly on corporate tax cuts.

The resulting financial woes will affect Canada's public finances for generations to come. They created $60 billion worth of tax room by refusing to give back what the Liberals pilfered from the employment insurance fund.

The Liberals now admit it and the Conservatives criticize them endlessly. For the last three days in question period, the Minister of Finance pointed at the Liberals, saying that they were the ones who pilfered, who stole, $60 billion from the employment insurance fund. The problem is that Bill C-9 only finishes the job started by the Liberals. The government is going to slam the door shut and finish off the pilfering that it admonishes the Liberals for.

Some may wonder what difference it makes that the $60 billion that the Liberals called a “notional” amount was transferred. It is just obfuscation, as though the $60 billion could be anything else. They said that this notional amount was transferred from the EI fund to the consolidated fund, the government's general revenue fund.

However, there is a fundamental difference between the employment insurance fund and the government's consolidated revenue fund.

In fact, all Canadian companies and their employees have contributed to the employment insurance fund. If a company recorded a loss, it did not matter; it still had to contribute to the employment insurance fund. However, only a company with enough profits to pay tax was required to fork over corporate taxes into the general revenue fund.

In other words, the same companies—primarily the forestry and manufacturing industries, which suffered greatly because of the high dollar—that had not turned a profit and that did not have to pay tax could not benefit from the $60 billion in tax cuts given to the most profitable companies. And yet, each and every one of these companies paid for every single one of their employees, and every employee contributed to the EI fund. It is somewhat like what happens in China where those to be executed are forced to pay for the bullet. The manufacturing and forestry companies that were already suffering believed their contributions would be used for a very specific, precise and dedicated purpose. They were robbed and pillaged by the Liberals, with the benediction of the Conservatives, to provide the tax room to give tax breaks to more profitable companies.

This means that those who paid, who suffered because of the high dollar, supported the rich, particularly those in the oil industry in western Canada. Some companies, like EnCana in Alberta, received hundreds of millions of dollars, like money falling from the sky, in rebates it did not ask for because it was already making huge profits.

This is what happened with the money from the manufacturing companies in Beauce, which have since had to close their doors. The sawmills in the lower North Shore, the companies in northern Ontario and the forestry companies in British Columbia saw their money being used to help the oil industry in the west and the banks, which turned around and used that money to generate their highest profits ever. In the fourth quarter of 2009, the last three months of 2009, Canadian companies saw their profits increase dramatically, except productivity in Canada is still in a major slump.

The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about a slump in productivity is to think we are suggesting that Canadian workers are not working hard enough. No, we are not talking about the individual productivity of Canadian workers, who are among the most productive in the world. That is not what we are talking about. We are talking about the productivity of the company. What kind of equipment or machinery has it purchased? What has it done to make itself more competitive? Canadian companies held onto the cash they received in the form of tax cuts, because that is what it means to lack vision, to not believe in the government's role in the economy.

Since the second world war, Canada has built a very balanced economy, from coast to coast to coast. We are the only country in the world that borders three oceans. We are making serious mistakes in Canada right now, because the Conservatives, despite their minority status—having just over 30% of the vote—are being kept on life support by the Liberals, who, once again, made a nice speech against the budget today. However, they will hide just enough of their members, their cowards, behind the curtains so that the budget will pass. The same budget that they have not stopped criticizing.

Because the oil sector does not factor in the environmental costs of production, it is bringing an artificially inflated number of U.S. dollars into Canada. This has the pernicious effect of increasing the value of the Canadian dollar, which is now at or very near parity with the U.S. dollar. The high Canadian dollar is once again limiting our manufacturing and forestry companies' export opportunities.

The higher the Canadian dollar, the harder it is for other countries to buy it because it is more expensive.

But the Conservatives will not be swayed. They are completing a series of pipelines to the United States. They plan to ship crude from the oil sands through pipelines called Keystone, Alberta Clipper, Southern Lights and Enbridge.

Here in Quebec, the Trailbreaker project would have—yes, “would have”, because we are now joining together to put a stop to it—reversed the flow of a pipeline linking Montreal to Portland, Maine. There are plans in the works to build a massive pumping station in Dunham, in the Eastern Townships. Because the substance is tarry and sticky, it will not flow unless it is under more pressure, which means that the pressure in this 60-year-old pipeline will have to be increased considerably. The last time they increased the pressure, sections several kilometres long around Sutton burst. Ecosystems in the area are very large.

These pipelines are located near and beneath several watercourses that must be protected. The Conservatives, aided and abetted by the Liberals, made this choice because they are determined to export oil as quickly as possible. Their choice would also have led to the closure of the Shell refinery in Montreal, which would have resulted in the automatic loss of 800 direct jobs and 3,500 indirect jobs, as well as the death of a significant portion of the petrochemical sector in Montreal, leaving thousands of families jobless. Many of them would have been forced to leave the area. That would have been a major blow to Montreal's petrochemical sector. Everyone—except for the Conservatives, of course—is banding together to try to save the Shell refinery in Montreal.

In light of everything the Conservatives have done, it is clear that the government's vision is flawed. It plundered the employment insurance fund and used that money to give the most profitable companies tax breaks. These choices are aggravating a vicious cycle in which the high Canadian dollar is making things harder and harder for our exporters.

But the Conservatives will keep acting that same way, just like when we used to export untreated logs to the United States and it came back to us as furniture manufactured there. In doing that, value was added there, as were jobs. Among the pipelines that I mentioned earlier, Keystone alone represents 18,000 Canadian jobs lost. That is not our statistic, it comes from an independent external study.

But they are determined to start exporting. My colleagues know as well as I do that under the so-called proportionality clause in the North American Free Trade Agreement, once the flow has started, it cannot be stopped, not even a little bit, without the same restriction being enforced on us. We are currently playing with Canada's energy future, but they do not care about that either. Their one and only focus is quick development. That is why they are not acknowledging the costs.

If I took my colleagues to visit a factory where a certain product was made, if I told them it was being made cheaper here and if I convinced them to buy it, saying that it sells well but they noticed that all of the factory waste was dumped in the river behind the factory, they would say that the price of the product was not the true price, that the price did not take into account the fact that waste was being put into the river instead of being disposed of safely, at a cost. Everyone is capable of understanding that environmental costs need to be included in the price of a product. Everyone, that is, except the Conservative Party.

Not only are the Conservatives passing on to future generations a fiscal debt of $50 billion this year—instead of building something that will last and is sustainable, something related to green, renewable energy—but they are also leaving a gross debt. They are building arenas and cutting ribbons; they are putting doorknobs in churches and cutting ribbons; they are rebuilding parks and cutting ribbons. But none of that will last, none of it is long term.

Their priority is clear. The NDP's priority is also clear: have government play a constructive, objective, positive role in corporate governance in order to restore the economic balance that was destroyed by the Conservatives, with the Liberals' complicity.

Environmental assessment is another aspect of Bill C-9 that I want to focus on, in keeping with our concerns about the oil sands.

Eighteen months ago, not long after the fall 2008 election, the Conservatives came out with their infamous draft economic and fiscal update. When they denied women the right to equal pay for work of equal value and gutted the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Liberals supported them.

We voted against both these measures, even though that might have triggered another election. The Liberals kowtowed to the Conservatives as usual and voted with them. About 18 months ago, the Liberals joined with their partners, the Conservatives, to gut the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which had been in place for 100 years so that we could leave something for future generations. They completely scrapped that law.

This year, they are trying to finish what they started by doing away with environmental assessments for most projects that receive federal funding. Several provinces have rather weak legislation and no way to conduct real inspections and assessments. The Navigable Waters Protection Act was the only way some provinces could have an assessment done. Quebec solved this problem with the federal government a long time ago. A federal assessor sits at the table with the BAPE, and this arrangement works very well.

I signed an agreement with David Anderson, who was the last Liberal who cared about the environment. He was succeeded by the member for Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, and the rest is history.

I cannot believe we are seeing the Liberals make the same mistake. I would like to remind the House of a salient fact in the history of the Liberal Party. It is worth noting, since we saw Eddie Goldenberg at the thinkers' conference last weekend in Montreal. Eddie Goldenberg, former chief of staff to Jean Chrétien, said in a speech before the London Chamber of Commerce, in Ontario in the spring of 2007, that the Liberals had signed the Kyoto protocol “to galvanize public opinion”.

He admitted that the Liberal government of the day signed that protocol as a public relations exercise. It persisted and signed. He said the Liberals had no intention of meeting the targets set out in the Kyoto protocol.

Last weekend in Montreal, we saw Eddie Goldenberg pontificating on the Liberal Party's destiny. There is only one thing the Liberals want: to come back to power.

The Liberals in the first and second rows are waking up with a start and asking themselves: am I a minister yet? Then they realize that they are still in opposition and that they have only 75 seats. They go back to sleep, hoping that next time they wake up, their dream will have come true.

There is no renewal, there are no new ideas, no substance, no worthwhile ideas. They are here simply to support the Conservatives, waiting until it is their turn to take over.

We have the Liberal leader saying: “people are looking for an alternative”, having forgotten that he is supposed to be just that. There is only one alternative progressive voice in Canada: the New Democratic Party.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Madam Speaker, I listened with great intent to my hon. colleague who sits on the finance committee with us. He is a good contributor to the debate at that table. However, I remind him that the majority of his speech was totally irrelevant to the debate on Bill C-9. He spent a great deal of his time talking about how much he hated the oil sands and how much he seemed to hate my great province of Alberta for its contribution to this entire economy.

I might remind the hon. member that 23 billion litres of gasoline every year is consumed by Ontario and his province of Quebec. It has to come from somewhere. Is it not better that it comes from a Canadian company that has high environmental standards and, I would argue, the highest environmental standards in the world? I remind him that his own home city of Montreal, as much as he chastised Alberta for its environmental record, dumps raw sewage to the amount of three billion cubic metres every year into the St. Lawrence River. We do not do that in Alberta. We have two of the cleanest cities in Alberta.

We have also noted lately that the largest investment of the Caisse de dépôt, and I am sure the hon. member's former pension is tied up in that, is in the oil sands in Alberta.

The member talked a lot about taxes, but he forgot to mention that we cut 100 different taxes since we came to power. We cut $3 billion off personal income tax. This is not the big bad corporations to which the hon. member keeps referring. This is the personal income taxes of the people who voted for that hon. member.

Could the hon. member comment on the remark by his colleague from Thunder Bay, “There are elements in our party that have not been adequately concerned about the health and growth of businesses?”

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, I remind my colleague that all of my remarks were directly related to Bill C-9, which deals with employment insurance. He should know that, but obviously he has not had a chance to read it yet, which is surprising since he is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. This is the subject on which I spent most of my time making my remarks. The bill also deals with the scrapping of environmental assessment in Canada.

He is alone in believing that the tar sands are a good example of environmental management. Whether it is National Geographic, which I do not think is an NDP publication, or whether it is major environmental groups around the world, everyone who has taken a look at the largest and longest sands in the world are holding back the worst pollution ever created on the planet, and nothing is being done to treat it.

Maybe his argument is that the ducks do not really die, that they are decoys just floating upside down in the water, but future generations will pay for that. His children and his grandchildren will pay cash on the barrel to clean up that mess because he does not have the political courage to include in the cost of a barrel of oil from Alberta the cost of cleaning up the environment, and that is cheating. It is cheating the Canadian economy because it pushes the Canadian dollar ever higher.

He is also cheating his own province because people in his province are getting sick. The only answer they have ever had is to prosecute the medical doctor who had the courage to describe and denounce the rare forms of cancer that were starting to appear, especially among the first nations population at Fort Chip. That is one of the most grotesque examples of the distinction that exists between the Conservatives' discourse on future generations and their actual behaviour. They all love to—

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

Noon

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Hochelaga.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

Noon

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, yesterday during this debate, I had the opportunity to ask a question of the hon. member for Macleod, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance.

I asked him what he thought of the bill introduced by his Minister of Finance, Ontario's former finance minister, to abolish corporate law and financial advisor positions, among others, and eliminate any future career prospects for many students in faculties of commerce both in Quebec and Alberta. Obviously, I did not get a response. My colleague for Outremont is more accustomed than I am to asking questions and not getting answers.

With all due respect to our kind colleague from Macleod, I wonder whether I should ask my colleague from Outremont the following question. What is the opinion of the NDP and my colleague from Outremont on this shameful decision by the Conservative federal government to literally shut down securities trading in Quebec and in Alberta, the home province of the Prime Minister and the parliamentary secretary? I would like the NDP's opinion on this and on the fact that financial markets fall exclusively under Quebec's jurisdiction.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

Noon

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague from Hochelaga raised an issue that shows the hypocrisy of the Conservatives. It would, of course, take much more than 800 pages to back that up.

Let us recall the private jet chartered to travel to a Tim Hortons to preach about government spending. We all remember that. Let us also recall that, when they were Reformers, the Conservatives decided to opt out of a federal pension, but now that they have become Conservatives, they all want in. However, they are doing nothing to help the workers at Nortel or AbitibiBowater, ordinary people, who are losing their pensions.

Securities are another example of the hypocrisy of the Conservatives, who, we will recall, brought to this House the recognition of the Quebec nation, but have been making sure ever since that any real recognition is undermined. The only thing they are doing with respect to the Quebec nation is vote against having bilingual judges at the Supreme Court, which they did just yesterday, vote against the recognition of the Quebec culture by the CRTC, vote against any aspect of the Quebec reality and scrap the securities industry in Quebec. That is disgraceful.

Today, we have another example, with this attempt to reduce Quebec's representation in Parliament without any substantive discussion, without proper analysis and without providing any opportunity to explain what the community of interest concept, as developed by the Supreme Court of Canada, is all about.

It is indeed a long, sad chapter in the history of this Parliament when we look at the incredible and self-righteous hypocrisy of the Conservatives.