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House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rehabilitation.

Topics

Government Response to PetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 15 petitions.

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Jay Hill Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-16, An Act to amend the Criminal Code.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following reports of the Canadian delegation of the Interparliamentary Forum of the Americas, FIPA, respecting its participation at the meeting with the General Secretary of the Organization of the American States; the 19th meeting of the FIPA executive committee held in Washington, D.C. on June 23 and 24, 2009; and the sixth plenary meeting of the Interparliamentary Forum of the Americas held in Ottawa, Ontario, September 12 to 15, 2009.

Interparliamentary DelegationsRoutine Proceedings

10 a.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1), I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the following report of the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association, NATO PA, respecting its participation in the Political Subcommittee on NATO Partnerships held in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., from October 14 to 16, 2009.

Old Age Security ActRoutine Proceedings

April 22nd, 2010 / 10 a.m.

Bloc

Carole Freeman Bloc Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-516, An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (application for supplement, retroactive payments and other amendments).

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to introduce this bill, which would increase the guaranteed income supplement paid to our poorest seniors and ensure that pension benefits are paid to individuals whose spouse or common-law partner has died.

The Bloc Québécois believes that the living conditions and dignity of seniors are not only major issues for society but are also matters of social justice.

Since income is the most important determining factor in a senior's well-being, we, as a society, must ensure that our seniors have a decent income that enables them to participate fully as citizens.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

moved:

That it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Finance that it have the power to divide Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, into two or more pieces of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to speak to my motion, first tabled before the House April 20, 2010 and today.

Why have I moved this motion? The pattern and practice of the government to institute significant legislative reforms under the cloak of budget bills has been loudly criticized by the Canadian public. This is the second time that the government, during this Parliament, has chosen to make major changes to the environment through a budget bill.

What has caused such broad consternation is the fact that the subject area of at least one part of Bill C-9, part 20, is by law required to be referred to a parliamentary committee for comprehensive review this year; the fact that the parliamentary committee on environment and sustainable development has already agreed to undertake this review. and that this review is scheduled to commence within weeks; and the fact that the same law requires the committee to report back to Parliament on its review and any recommended changes within a year of completing that review.

There is a clear intent expressed by legislators: of who is charged with reviewing changes to the bill; the process to be followed and, in other words, an open participatory process to review any legislative changes; responsibility already taken on by the parliamentary committee; and that the review is likely to be substantive. For these reasons I am recommending that the finance committee, having been charged to study Bill C-9, be empowered to consider dividing the bill. It is my recommendation to the House that it consider empowering the finance committee to split the bill.

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Outremont.

The very title of the budget implementation bill makes clear the narrow thrust of Bill C-9. It is entitled “Jobs and Economic Growth Act”.

While a good number of provisions of Bill C-9 arguably fall within the purview of a budget implementation bill and that narrow context, under the rubric of jobs and growth, I submit a number of parts of Bill C-9 clearly do not. Counted among those are: part 18, which is about the reorganization of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited; part 19, amending the National Energy Board Act and the Nuclear Safety and Control Act to allow for participant funding; and in particular, part 20, which brings forth substantial amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

I wish most specifically to speak to parts 19 and 20. These parts provide for significant reforms to the federal environmental assessment law: procedures and critical rights. To provide a context, the legislative purposes of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act include: to ensure projects are considered in a careful and precautionary manner in advance of decisions to ensure they do not cause significant harm or adverse impacts; to ensure coordination among federal authorities; to ensure communication and co-operation with aboriginal people; and to ensure opportunities for timely and meaningful public participation.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act requires that the government minister, the CEA agency and all federal authorities exercise their powers in a manner consistent with protecting the environment and human health, and observing the precautionary principle. No such similar broad duties can be found either in the NEB Act nor the Nuclear Safety and Control Act.

The CEAA does allow the Minister of the Environment, on a project-specific basis, to assign environmental reviews to other bodies, but with conditions that there be identical factors, as considered under CEAA, and equal public participation rights. What the government has proposed in the bill is hardly equivalent and a major step backwards in participatory rights and opportunity.

The amendments under part 20 provide for the transfer of responsibility of the CEA agency to the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for any comprehensive study of projects under their purview, so it is a broad policy assignment of power.

Of concern to me is the fact that the National Energy Board has apparently already posted on its website that these reforms are already in legal effect. The CEAA requires the minister to establish a participant funding program, while Bill C-9 reforms really grant the discretion to the National Energy Board and the Nuclear Safety Commission to consider establishing participant funding.

Of greatest concern, Bill C-9 also exempts a broad category of federally funded projects from environmental assessment, regardless of the significance of their environmental impacts. The minister may reverse the exemption if significant impacts are identified. It hardly provides for the legal certainty that the government promised in its throne speech.

Projects that would be exempted include: the building Canada fund, the green infrastructure fund, the recreational infrastructure fund, the border infrastructure fund, the municipal rural infrastructure fund, and on it goes. Bill C-9 also changes CEAA to grant the minister broad, undefined discretion to narrow the scope of any environmental assessment or, in other words, allow for the introduction of inappropriate, potentially political considerations.

Concerns about this provision have been voiced strongly by a number of sectors including first nations. In particular, first nations are concerned that their constitutionally protected rights for advance notice, consultation and accommodation may have been violated by bringing forward these amendments without first contacting them.

I might add that the government appears to also be failing to adhere to its commitments under the North American agreement on environmental co-operation, where it is obligated to provide advance notice and opportunity to comment to anyone in North American who may be impacted by such reforms. The amendments strike at the very heart of the federal process negotiated among all interests over past decades. The reviews could have gone to the regulatory advisory committee, which the government has not brought together for the last year and half.

In summary, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act review includes a review and reform process. It prescribes who is to undertake that review. The matter has already been taken up by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, one of the two bodies provided in law that may take on such a study. The parliamentary committee has already scheduled public hearings on this matter, which will proceed within weeks.

It appears, therefore, logical and respectful to empower the finance committee to split its review of Bill C-9 and to delay review of specified parts, in particular parts 19 and 20, until such time as the CEAA review, mandated first to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, is completed and the recommended reforms submitted to Parliament.

This would enable a full and open review of the proposed reforms to assessment law, including hearing testimony from interested Canadians, including industry, provincial governments, first nations, the territories and the general public, on the proposed legal reforms. To do otherwise would ensure a slippery slope to the democratic process.

Canada has long stood as an example in the Western world for having among the best environmental impact assessment processes. Many Canadians have gone to court to fight for strong federal environmental assessment laws. Yet, with one broad brush of a budget bill, open to potentially having the government fall to a confidence vote, is not the way to proceed with a sensible, open discussion on these critical amendments.

In closing, I would just add again that I recommend to the House that it consider giving this power to the committee to consider splitting Bill C-9.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank our environment critic for raising this motion today. It is a very important motion and she has laid out some very clear, solid grounds as to why Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill, should be split and sent to committee.

She has raised the issues of environmental regulations and how the government is trying to truck through massive changes in public policy under the cover of a budget bill. However, there are also many issues in the budget implementation bill that are of great concern to us as New Democrats. When we look at what is not in the budget implementation bill in terms of helping people in their everyday lives, whether it is housing, help for students and seniors or pensions, there are huge issues here that are not being addressed.

I wonder if the member, in moving this motion today, could also address some of the issues regarding Bill C-9 and the problems that it has presented. On the one hand, it contains huge flaws in terms of trying to push through these massive changes, but on the other hand, it is neglecting the real priorities that people have concerning things like pensions, housing and child care.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, one could perhaps stand in the House for a long time talking about what is not in the budget implementation bill that one would expect to implement measures which would actually provide economic opportunity and equity to all Canadians. That is all the more reason to agree to the splitting of this bill because there are limited opportunities.

Potentially hundreds of people will be interested in discussing this bill before the finance committee. It covers such massive areas, such as access to housing, access to child care, access to fair compensation upon retirement, access to pension protection, and most certainly, very serious changes to environmental law which have implications all across Canada from sea to sea to sea.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this is another delay tactic by that party. We are a little shocked and dismayed that the hon. member would try to split a bill that has received accolades all across the country, accolades from all sectors of the economy.

The member just mentioned pensions. Has she actually taken the time to read this bill? If she had she would find that there are provisions in the bill to make changes to federally regulated private pension plans that are very important to Canadians. Has she even read that?

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am a little puzzled because it is my understanding the government has undertaken to go across Canada and consult with Canadians on what they would like to have in their pensions, which is exactly why the Conservatives are stalling on making any substantial changes to pensions. I am left completely puzzled.

Far from a delay tactic, I have said very clearly that the legislation itself requires a full comprehensive review this year and recommendations made on potential needed changes to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. We are already apprised of that matter before our committee.

Far from people being in favour of the budget, I have a letter from the Green Budget Coalition castigating the government for making broad-brush changes to a critical bill through a budget bill. The same thing has been said in a letter that has come from more than a dozen first nations expressing grave concerns with the process in bringing forward these changes to a critical environmental law.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona for her truly wonderful work on the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

According to the Conservatives, Bill C-9 is both extraordinary and fantastic, but at the same time, they have slipped some poison pills into it. One of the pills they seem to have included in the bill—and I would like to hear my colleague's opinion about this—would now give the Minister of the Environment the option of whether or not to hold public hearings. They have included this in what they say is a budget implementation bill. What will the minister do? Will he stand up for the oil sands or fish?

What does my colleague think the minister will do once he has discretion over public hearings?

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate the questions and comments from the hon. member. I enjoy his participation on our committee immensely. He has contributed greatly to the development of environmental law in Canada.

The member raised two separate points about the budget bill which are of concern.

One is the fact that the government, on a project by project basis, is providing the minister with the power to decide to have an agency other than the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, which has the expertise, to undertake the environmental assessment. With a broad brush the government is granting that power to the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Grave concerns have been raised about this by Canadians across the country.

The second issue the member raised is the matter that under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act there is an obligation to provide funding to any participants engaged in a public hearing whereas there is the mere discretion that the other two agencies may decide to provide participant funding. Obviously, this is not a fair and equal process.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, we have subtitled this bill the everything but the kitchen sink bill. The Conservatives have thrown in virtually everything they wanted to get through on their agenda.

There is also an element that expands the hated HST. I do not need to explain how people in British Columbia are reacting to this appalling abuse both by the federal Conservatives and provincial B.C. Liberals to expand the HST, to throw in all of these elements that penalize ordinary families in British Columbia, on average $2,500 per family. British Columbians are reacting in an unprecedented way. Over 80% of British Columbians support signing a petition that will force a referendum on this issue.

This is a completely inappropriate use of government legislation. The government is throwing in a whole bunch of elements that Canadians reject under the guise of a budget bill. Thankfully, the member is bringing forward a motion to split the bill, which is what the government should have done in the first place. The government really should be looking at splitting it in more than one way.

Could the member comment on the appropriateness of expanding the HST when nobody in British Columbia wants it?

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak first to the member's good point about when an omnibus bill is appropriate. The idea of an omnibus bill was initially instituted because a lot of minor changes could be made to the Criminal Code and it made sense to bring forward all the changes at once rather than debate them one by one through a series of bills.

A valid use was the recent tabling by the Minister of the Environment of an omnibus bill to improve the enforcement of a wide array of environmental statutes, although there were some critical ones missing.

What is not appropriate is the use of an omnibus bill for purposes beyond implementation of the budget. It is very clear there should be a lot of things split from the bill. We are looking at substantive matters of introducing taxes that are going to put higher costs on citizens in those jurisdictions. There is a continuous denial by the federal government of any responsibility for imposing that tax.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

It has been brought to my attention that the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona did say that she wanted to split her time with the member for Outremont and she did complete her speech within 10 minutes. I did not hear that and we have gone through 10 minutes of questions and comments, instead of 5 minutes.

Having said that, the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona did say that she was splitting her time and on that basis we will resume debate with the hon. member for Outremont.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to be sure that I completely understood your comments. Did you say that I would have 10 minutes for my speech and then five minutes for questions from my colleagues?

Would you like me to repeat the question in English?

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member has 10 minutes for his remarks and 5 minutes for questions and comments.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That is what I was asking.

The motion moved by my friend and colleague, the member for Edmonton—Strathcona, proposes that Bill C-9 be divided to ensure that the dissimilar parts concerning completely different topics can be debated one at a time and not all together.

A few examples were cited earlier, but I would like to come back to some of them. For example, the bill would legalize—for ever and ever—the theft of the employment insurance fund first committed by the Liberals and now continuing under the Conservatives. We must remember that every business and employee across Canada has contributed to a fund specifically dedicated to assistance during times of unemployment. As we know, unemployment is cyclical.

Instead of leaving the money there, the Liberals transferred it to the consolidated revenue fund, the government's general account. Some people said that did not change anything because the same amount of money appeared on the government's books before and after. But there is a huge difference between the two. Every single business, whether it made money or lost money, had to contribute for each and every one of its employees. The government used that money to give itself an extra $60 billion in leeway to offer tax breaks to the most profitable companies. Why those companies? Well, because tax breaks only apply to companies that pay taxes, or in other words, those that make a profit.

Businesses that were already suffering because of the Conservatives' negligence, incompetence and preferential treatment watched the money that was there for their employees, along with the money employees themselves contributed, disappear. Businesses that were losing money contributed to the fund, and that cash ended up subsidizing oil sands companies. Worse still, once the precedent was set, the Conservatives, who pointed fingers at the Liberals for doing it first, turned around and did it again, perfecting the technique and making it all perfectly legal in this bill. It is clear to us that this issue must be debated separately.

As my colleague so rightly pointed out earlier, there are also serious implications with respect to the environment. Last year, the Conservative-Liberal axis of evil joined forces once again to completely undermine the Navigable Waters Protection Act, a century-old law that gave Canada an enviable reputation for protecting its waterways. The Liberals and the Conservatives joined forces and torpedoed the Navigable Waters Protection Act because the Minister of Transport claimed that it was killing jobs.

Decades after the Brundtland report, it seems that Canada was incapable of understanding that the environment and the economy are not opposing forces, but that they have to go hand in hand in every choice we make in our daily lives, especially when we are called on to make decisions in a Parliament such as ours.

Furthermore, the Conservatives and Liberals are going to join forces again, this time to scrap the environmental assessment process for energy mega-projects. I listened to my colleague, the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi, speaking earlier. I was in his region recently with our candidate, Christelle Bogosta, to work with the municipality of Dunham in order to prevent the Conservatives from reversing the flow of the Portland—Montreal pipeline, which would have the double effect of killing jobs in Montreal and endangering the environment in a beautiful region that boasts many lakes and rivers. The pipeline was built about 60 years ago. They are going to build an enormous pumping station order to increase pressure because, instead of bringing oil from the Middle East or North Africa, they will be getting crude from the oil sands, and it will have to be pumped in the opposite direction. The flow will be reversed, and the pressure will increase. This is going to cause environmental disasters, but the Conservatives do not want us to even consider these things. They no longer want any environmental assessments in such cases.

Sustainable development means considering environmental, social and economic factors all together, in each case that is presented to us. And what about the jobs that will be killed? Consider all the projects that have been approved since the Conservatives came to power: Keystone, Alberta Clipper, Southern Lights, and a new line they want to install as soon as possible in order to export oil to China. According to an objective external assessment, the Keystone project alone will cost Canada 18,000 jobs.

We have always had an integrated economy that involves processing our own primary resources, including lumber, minerals and oil. Value was added right here. We are going back to the days of exporting logs to the United States where they were transformed into furniture, thus creating wealth and jobs there, and then re-importing the furniture to Canada. This is what it means to be the proverbial hewers of wood and drawers of water. This is the kind of economy the Conservatives want to pass on to our children and grandchildren.

When the Netherlands discovered oil and gas offshore a few decades ago, the guilder, which was the Dutch currency at the time, shot up in value. In economic terms, this is known as Dutch disease, not to be confused with Dutch elm disease. This economic malaise occurs when foreign currency flows into a country too quickly, driving up the value of the country's own currency and making it nearly impossible for the country to export manufactured goods. The country's resources are used to create wealth, but it can no longer manufacture and export goods, because its currency is too valuable.

Because the Conservatives have never factored in the environmental costs of the oil sands, an artificially inflated number of U.S. dollars is flowing into our economy at present, driving the loonie to unprecedented heights and making it harder for us to export our manufactured goods and forest products. Before the current crisis hit Canada, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia had lost more than 400,000 well-paying jobs in forestry and manufacturing. Talk about gutting the economy.

Let us say that someone in our riding wants to show us a factory where product x is manufactured and tells us that the product is a real money-maker, selling around the world for $100 and bringing in huge revenues. We go to the factory and say that it is wonderful, but we ask to see what is going on out back. We are refused access and told not to look. But we insist on looking, and we notice that all the waste is being thrown into the river behind the factory instead of being properly processed. Our first instinct would be to say that the price is wrong, because it does not factor in the cost of managing byproducts or waste.

This is the fundamental mistake that Canada is making under the Conservatives, and they do not even want anyone to look anymore. They do not even want any more environmental assessments. As usual, the Liberals will vote with the Conservatives to scrap the environment and destroy our economy and any chance future generations might have of enjoying the same safeguards we do. In fact, they are going to be stuck with the bill. It is a scandal, and we are going to stand up and condemn it.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:30 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague who sits on the finance committee with me and who, I am sure, will bring forward healthy debate when we do debate Bill C-9 at the finance committee, where it should be debated. We have offered to extend meetings. I hope he will stay past his supper hour and join us in those meetings, because we think it is very important, and I referred to that in my last question.

However, let me read a quote. This is supposed to be all about the environment. This is why the hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona wants to split this bill. Let me read a quote from my good friend, Elizabeth May. This is going back some time.

So we were extremely hopeful with the 1993 red book, where there was a commitment that CEAA

—the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency—

—would receive royal assent, but it would be with significant strengthening and the creation of an independent Canadian environmental assessment agency that would be more like the CRTC in its functions.

That is what is in Bill C-9. That is exactly what we are doing in Bill C-9, giving the minister more strength to ensure that environmental assessments are done, and done properly.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, this is a House for debate, for honest debate.

Perhaps Elizabeth May is his friend. It is true. She is a former Conservative staffer and she has always said good things about the Conservative Party. In fact on her social policies, one need only regard what she said in the past about a woman's frivolous choice on reproductive rights to know that she is more of a Conservative than anything else.

With regard to this bill, which is what we are talking about, what the member has just said is entirely false. We will be destroying the environmental assessment process in Canada, just as last year we destroyed the Navigable Waters Protection Act when the Conservatives and the Liberals got together and put a bullet in it.

That is the culpable complicity of the Liberals with the Conservatives, who have never understood that not only are we leaving future generations a $60 billion financial deficit; we are leaving them an environmental deficit from which they will never be able to recover.

We are not even doing anything proper on pensions, because the minister has decided it is too complicated. He did a tour across Canada last year, and they are doing the same thing again. He has the temerity to say this bill does something to help pensions. This does nothing. It is too complicated for the government.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my colleague from Outremont. Does he think it is a good idea for the Minister of the Environment to have the power to make unilateral decisions on environmental assessments? How can it be a good idea to give decision-making power to just one man, a man who cares more about developing the oil sands than anything else in Canada?

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDP Outremont, QC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member for Brome—Missisquoi asked a very good question. Indeed, the usual pressure on a minister will end up dissuading him from requesting the necessary environmental assessments. As things currently stand, projects of a certain size must undergo an external independent assessment.

Does anyone really believe that officials at the National Energy Board, who have no experience, expertise or jurisdiction with regard to environmental assessments and are based where the oil sands are being developed, will conduct an objective assessment of the environmental impact when we know that one of the Conservatives' priorities is to export crude oil from the oil sands as quickly as possible? Their only project is developing the oil sands. They have been in power for four and a half years now, but they have not accomplished anything. With the culpable complicity of the Liberal Party of Canada, they have done nothing but destroy the environment and the well-balanced economy created since World War II.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I usually say it is a pleasure to stand and participate in a debate, but this is the most regrettable excuse for a debate that I have seen in some time. We saw this exact same procedure from the NDP in 2008 when all members were trying to do was give themselves a little more profile at the expense of Canadians. This is year two of an economic action plan that is working. This is a credible plan.

By the way, we fail to see any plan, any suggestions from the NDP about a plan to get more people back to work to save jobs. That is what year two of our economic action plan has in place. The members stand in the House and claim credibility about trying to help Canadians, trying to protect the environment, when in fact all they are doing is delaying positive moves that are in this economic recovery and jobs act. It is to make sure we continue the fragile recovery that this act has actually started to put in place.

The other question in my mind is: Why the delay tactic? I think all Canadians know that the NDP's role in the House is to vote against everything. The members voted against this at second reading. I am quite sure they will be voting against it even at committee and when we bring it back here. So despite the NDP, we will continue to make sure we listen to Canadians and make sure we get this through, because it is important to Canadians. I referred, in one of my questions previously, to how many Canadians have come out supporting exactly what the government has put in place and the number of jobs that are recovering in this country.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Fewer and fewer.

Bill C-9--Jobs and Economic Growth ActRoutine Proceedings

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Conservative Macleod, AB

The hon. member over there from Vancouver keeps flapping his gums. Maybe they have enough wind to blow some moisture over into Alberta. We need a little more rain over there, so tell him to keep on flapping his gums. It is good for Alberta.

We do assume that NDP members will vote against it again. That would not be a surprise to us. Having had nearly two weeks' debate on this, we think all issues have been raised. The remainder of the issues will be brought forward through witnesses at committee, and we will listen to them. As I have said, we have offered an extension, more meetings to get this done, but we have urgency to get this done.

Shortly after the bill was tabled in the House, I offered a briefing, along with about 36 officials from different departments that are involved in this bill. The hon. member who has put forward this silly motion today arrived late at that briefing. I will give her credit for being the only NDP member who actually showed up with any interest. She walked into that meeting. I had specifically said that we would be going in order of the bill. She asked a question out of order, and I asked her to please be patient and wait until that came up. She left, obviously with no questions because she asked none. Now she delays the passing of the bill when Canadians want it completed, want it passed, want the rest of this implementation to go forward.

Let me give one point that is very urgent, and it is a point that obviously those hon. members in the NDP have completely missed, because they have just absolutely shown their ignorance of the facts that are in this piece of legislation. Let me quote from page 502 of the bill, “Pension Benefits Standards Act”.

Those hon. members obviously, by their comments, do not realize that there is a difference between the pensions that the minister and myself are consulting on right now, along with the provinces. Those are the broader pensions. We have put in place in the act, if we can ever get it through, the changes that are required for the federally regulated private pension plans. If they are going to stand in the House and claim that the bill does not impact those, they had better be prepared to tell that to all the plan members who are impacted by what is in this.

The urgency is that June 30 is evaluation day for all federally regulated private pension plans and we need these changes done by then. Many plan sponsors have come to me in the last few weeks and have asked how they can help get this through quickly because they need this to happen.

It is clear that they do not understand and yet they are willing to waste our valuable time when we could be debating the environmental issues that we have, the issues around trade negotiations that are going on and the issues of financing worldwide.

We talk about a fragile recovery but just yesterday the IMF came forward once again saying that Canada leads the G7 and leads the G20 countries in recovery. Let us not lose that focus. We need to stay focused on that.

One of the simple things that the hon. member is asking us to delay is the closing of tax loopholes. The opposition members talk about trying to protect Canadians. We have put in the closing of tax loopholes as part of this bill to protect Canadians and to make taxes fair for everyone.

The Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has come out supporting the tariff reduction that we have put in this bill. It wants to see that now. It does not want to see it after some frivolous debate that the NDP would wish to have in some other committee. It is obviously more proof that the NDP has not read it or has not listened to manufacturers. By the way, these manufacturers, these small and medium enterprises, are the employers who are providing new jobs in Canada. That is why we have seen an increase in the number of jobs over the last six months.

The credit unions came to us and asked that they be able to expand. The credit unions have done well in this country. They asked that they be allowed to be incorporated federally so we put that in here. We have consulted with and listened to Canadians.

I am not sure where the NDP were holidaying when this House was prorogued but the rest of us on this side of the House were out talking to our constituents and that is what our constituents told us to do.

The miners—