House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was air.


Prison Farm ProgramRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.


Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Mr. Speaker, pursuant Standing Order 52 I am requesting an emergency debate on the closure of the prison farm program. Several irreplaceable components of the farm operation are set to be sold and dispersed by June 2010. These include a heritage dairy herd, with prize-winning genetics, at Frontenac Institution, and a prized dairy herd at Westmorland Institution. The auction date for a gold standard herd at Rockwood Institution is also imminent. Once these herds have been dispersed, they can never be re-established.

In short, if these herds are allowed to be sold, it would mean the end of the prison farm program, one of the most successful programs we have had in the country in rehabilitating inmates. I have had the occasion to visit all the nation's prisons farms to meet with correctional officers who have told their stories about how these programs transform these men. The opportunity to work with animals and animal husbandry is something that is extremely effective and the leading edge of rehabilitation, yet the current government is closing the program, a program that it says costs $4 million and yet will provide no costing for it.

At a time when prison costs are soaring and the government is spending literally billions on prisons, it seems backward, in the extreme, to be cutting or axing a program that is desperately needed to help rehabilitate those who are about to re-enter. Given the fact that over 90% of inmates will leave prison and will re-enter, how they rehabilitate is essential.

When I talk to correctional officials, they tell me that working over 30 years in the program they have never seen a single instance of violent recidivism. I have looked into the eyes of men who talk to me about how this program has transformed their lives. I think it is extremely important that the House has a debate before the Conservatives shut down a program that has been this effective for more than 100 years.

Speaker's RulingRequest for Emergency DebateRoutine Proceedings

4:45 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I thank the hon. member for his remarks and for the letter he sent to the Speaker earlier today. I regret to inform him that I do not believe his request meets the requirements of the provisions for an emergency debate, so I will decline the request at this time.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-9, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 4, 2010 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's RulingJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

There are 62 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-9. The motions will be grouped as follows.

Group No. 1 is Motions 1, 2 and 16 to 62; Group No. 2 is Motions 3 to 15.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table and the Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1, 2 and 16 to 62 in Group No. 1 to the House.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.


Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON


Motion No. 1

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 96.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 97.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB


Motion No. 16

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2149.

Motion No. 17

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2150.

Motion No. 18

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2151.

Motion No. 19

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2152.

Motion No. 20

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2153.

Motion No. 21

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2154.

Motion No. 22

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2155.

Motion No. 23

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2156.

Motion No. 24

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2157.

Motion No. 25

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2158.

Motion No. 26

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2159.

Motion No. 27

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2160.

Motion No. 28

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2161.

Motion No. 29

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2162.

Motion No. 30

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2163.

Motion No. 31

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2164.

Motion No. 32

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2165.

Motion No. 33

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2166.

Motion No. 34

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2167.

Motion No. 35

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2168.

Motion No. 36

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2169.

Motion No. 37

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2170.

Motion No. 38

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2171.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.


Yvon Godin NDP Acadie—Bathurst, NB


Motion No. 39

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2185.

Motion No. 40

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2186.

Motion No. 41

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2187.

Motion No. 42

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2188.

Motion No. 43

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2189.

Motion No. 44

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2190.

Motion No. 45

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2191.

Motion No. 46

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2192.

Motion No. 47

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2193.

Motion No. 48

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2194.

Motion No. 49

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2195

Motion No. 50

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2196.

Motion No. 51

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2197.

Motion No. 52

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2198.

Motion No. 53

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2199.

Motion No. 54

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2200.

Motion No. 55

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2201.

Motion No. 56

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2202.

Motion No. 57

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2203.

Motion No. 58

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2204.

Motion No. 59

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2205.

Motion No. 60

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2206

Motion No. 61

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2207

Motion No. 62

That Bill C-9 be amended by deleting Clause 2208.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.


Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to participate in the debate on the motions before us today. Mr. Speaker, as you just read out, there are 62 motions and now I find myself in the position where 49 of them are grouped into one slot of debate. I only have 10 minutes to speak this afternoon, so I will restrict my speech to two clauses in particular, clauses 96 and 97 of the bill, and I will let my colleagues speak to some of the others.

Clauses 96 and 97 of Bill C-9 before us today must be deleted because they pave the way for a massive increase in the air travellers security charge, the ATSC. Together they form just one of six pieces of business that have absolutely no place in this bill.

The omnibus budget bill is almost 900 pages long. It includes 24 parts with more than 2,200 sections. It is subject to one debate at second reading, another at third reading in each house, plus scrutiny by only one committee in each house. Those limitations mean that members of this House cannot possibly do justice to the varied, far-reaching and fundamental changes proposed in this legislation.

The inescapable conclusion is that the government is trying to bury deep in its budget legislation all manner of nefarious, unwise and unpopular pet projects. In bundling these unrelated measures into just one bill, the government's propensity to stifle debate and silence its critics reaches a new low. The huge and indefensible increases to the air travellers security charge included in this omnibus bill is another example of bad public policy being rushed through the House with as little scrutiny as possible.

Canada's security charge was extraordinarily high even before this proposed increase. In 2008 the Air Transport Association of Canada conducted a survey to rank the security fees charged by 175 governments at airports worldwide and found that Canada's security charge was the second highest, second only to that in the Netherlands. It is widely believed that with these increases we will have the dubious distinction of having the highest costs in the world and yet there is absolutely no evidence that we will be any safer.

The international fee alone is set to increase a whopping 52%, from $17 to $25.91. In the United States, the international security charge is $5. It is a simple question. On what basis can the government justify imposing the highest costs in the world on Canadian air travellers? What can possibly justify a 50% increase in the air travellers security charge when the existing tax is already yielding a surplus?

Let me add that while it seems clear the existing security charge yields a surplus, we cannot know for certain what is happening to those tax dollars because the audited information that Canadians are entitled to is simply not available. The last report by the Auditor General on the security charge dates back to 2004-05. The lack of accountability for taxpayer dollars is unacceptable.

However, the Air Transport Association of Canada has conducted its own study in the absence of audited information. Let me quote from ATAC president and CEO John McKenna's recent testimony before the Standing Committee on Finance:

We looked at the numbers supplied by CATSA [the Canadian Air Transportation Security Agency] and Statistics Canada.

Our estimates are based on the 48 million passengers screened by CATSA in 89 Canadian airports during fiscal year 2008-09. The numbers put forth by CATSA concur with Statistics Canada reports of 108 million passengers emplaned or deplaned during calendar year 2008, with some 54 million departing passengers, CATSA's clientele. Statistics Canada indicates that 62.9% of these passengers were on domestic flights, 19.5% were on transborder flights, and 17.6% were on international flights.

Based on these numbers, it becomes a simple exercise to estimate the revenues generated by the ATSC [the air travellers security charge]. The spreadsheet that we handed out suggests that revenues generated by the ATSC well exceed CATSA appropriation, even before the increase [in the ATSC]. Based on these calculations, [what the ATSC collected in 2008-09] more than $70 million was retained as general revenue by the Government of Canada and not used to fund CATSA.

Once the increases in the ATSC have been factored in, and considering the budget allocation for CATSA of $1.5 billion over the next five years, the revenues generated by the ATSC will produce an annual surplus of over $330 million.

That is 330 million taxpayers' dollars every year for five years quite unaccounted for.

Where is the surplus? Is the surplus being quietly moved to general revenue? Why is the government imposing a massive tax hike on the travelling public when the fund is already in surplus? How does the government intend to spend the burgeoning surplus it is now asking Canadians to finance? Is the government seriously trying to tell Canadians that it has delivered a no new taxes budget when it in fact includes a massive and unnecessary tax increase for the travelling public?

CATSA is responsible for implementing new security measures but does not do any threat assessment whatsoever. That is the purview of either the RCMP or CSIS. How much of the security charge generated revenues go to Transport Canada? How much goes to the RCMP or CSIS? Canadians have a right to know. As the Air Transport Association of Canada pointed out to the Standing Committee on Finance, Canadians do not need more layers of security; they need more effective security, better security.

Is the government simply going to increase the security charge every time a security loophole is discovered, or is it going to make air travel safer for Canadians by taking a comprehensive look at security procedures? Will security measures simply accumulate, or will the government look to developing and implementing a more efficient single step screening process aimed at improving security, reducing the number of screening stages and the time and personnel required to process passengers?

Anyone who has travelled by air knows that the inefficiency of current security practices is a serious problem, but the government continues to take a piecemeal approach to security, adding ad hoc security measures in response to isolated incidents. New Democrats believe that Canadian aviation security planning should include a comprehensive security assessment that is informed by past incidents but also looks forward. We must identify sensitive areas that could be subject to attack and implement proper security measures and response procedures to address these threats.

We must review our response systems and airport architectural design to allow security to efficiently and effectively deal with security threats with a lesser impact on airport operations.

We must develop better coordination and information sharing between intelligence agencies and airport security that would allow security personnel to actively search for potential threats and prepare response scenarios while at the same time protecting privacy rights.

Canadians want the government to develop a security system that truly protects travellers, that is designed specifically for the Canadian context, and that reflects our own needs in light of the security threat in this country.

As well, CATSA's performance must be measured against agencies that perform the same work in other jurisdictions. How does CATSA's performance stack up from an economic perspective? Are we getting value for our money? If we are, how does the government know that? What evidence has been gathered to evaluate CATSA's performance and where can the public get that information? Where is the public review of CATSA and its finances that the government promised last year?

Rather than visit massive tax increases on Canadian travellers for little or no discernible benefit, the government would have been well advised to support the private member's bill introduced by my colleague from Elmwood—Transcona. The act to provide certain rights to air passengers included a passengers' bill of rights and introduced measures on compensation for over-booked flights, unreasonable tarmac delays, cancelled flights, the concern for late and misplaced luggage, and addressed all-inclusive pricing by airline companies in their advertising.

The legislation was inspired by a European Union law where overbookings have dropped significantly. Air Canada is already operating under the European laws for its flights in Europe. Why should an Air Canada customer receive better treatment in Europe than in Canada?

The bill of rights would have ensured that passengers were kept informed of flight changes, whether they were delays or cancellations. The new rules would have been posted in the airports, and airlines would have had to inform passengers of their rights and the process to file for compensation.

These are the types of changes Canadian consumers want from their government. Instead, we have a tax hike with no commensurate increase in safety, security or convenience.

The government is asking us to approve a massive tax increase when it promised there would be none. The government offers no rationale for that increase, no explanation of why we should move from the second highest cost security charge jurisdiction on the planet to the first. There appears to be a huge surplus in the security charge fund, but we cannot be sure exactly how much, where it goes, or how it is spent.

Canadians have no idea whether the agency responsible for their safety operates efficiently or effectively. Canadians are being asked to pay more with no indication of better service. All this is buried in a budget bill that, because of the government's almost paranoid fear of scrutiny, will not see the oversight and review that Canadians need and want.

It is for all of those reasons that I was proud, on behalf of the entire NDP caucus, to move the deletion of all sections in Bill C-9 that deal with the air travellers security charge.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for trying to deal with a whole grouping of report stage motions.

The point here and I am sure we are going to hear a lot about it, is that the budget implementation bill, Bill C-9, includes a large number of items which were not in the budget speech nor in the budget document itself. There were some concerns expressed at the presentation the finance officials gave on Bill C-9. The air travellers security charge was one as was the elimination of the need for environmental assessments. The one that caught my eye, and I know the finance committee looked at it, deals with the possibility of privatizing some of AECL's assets.

In addition to the concerns regarding the air travellers security charge which the member has very legitimately raised, I wonder whether she could inform the House of approximately how many items in Bill C-9 are add-ons or have been slipped in outside of what was presented to the House in the budget. Were these items given due consideration at the finance committee when Bill C-9 was being considered?

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a fabulous question. We just moved 62 motions to deal with parts of the bill that must be deleted. The member is quite right in that there is no way that due diligence has been done on any of the six of them. There may even be more and I would be interested to know whether the Liberal Party moved amendments as well.

There are six parts that are of particular concern to us. I have spoken to one of them this afternoon and that is the air travellers security charge. Other ones that are profoundly troubling for us are the start down the road to deregulation of Canada Post, the National Energy Board, environmental assessments, and employment insurance.

My goodness, the employment insurance fund had a surplus of $57 billion before successive Liberal and Conservative governments started taking that money out of a fund that was there to protect the most vulnerable workers in our country who had just lost their jobs, to keep them above the poverty line. The government took their money, put it into the consolidated revenue fund and now is putting the final nail in the coffin by depleting the EI account to its bare bones.

Those are all things that merit much further attention, which is why we are moving these report stage motions so that we can do in the House what the committee was not able to do.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for Hamilton Mountain and the other good members of the NDP for taking a look at and analyzing such a comprehensive document. There are a lot of things we are concerned about in the bill, but there are things that are not in the bill that we were hoping would be there.

Being the critic for seniors and pensions and knowing the member for Hamilton Mountain's very strong interest in that area, there was no increase for seniors living in poverty. Over 260,000 seniors are living below the poverty line. One would have thought that the government would have put something in for seniors.

There is nothing to follow up on the statement in the throne speech in regard to the government making changes to the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act to protect pensions when a company goes under.

Could the member comment on why she thinks those items might have been left out?

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.


Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I hope people at home are watching and they can see the size of this document. The member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek is quite right in that there is nothing in this budget for seniors. What is in the budget of course is $6 billion in continued corporate tax cuts for the wealthiest corporations in our country, $6 billion, when every member in the House knows that by comparison with a measly $700 million, we could have lifted every single Canadian senior out of poverty. That should have been the priority in this budget.

Pension reform is crucially important. Here we have a budget bill which is almost 900 pages with nothing on bankruptcy protection. I hope all members of the House will be joining us at the corner of Wellington and Metcalfe streets this afternoon to talk to workers who are losing their jobs, whose plants are closing down. There will be steelworkers from all over the country. Members should come and talk to them. They should ask them whether they are pleased that there has been absolutely no progress on pension reform in this country. I can tell everyone the answer at that corner tonight will be a resounding “no”.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to ask for the deletion of part 19 and part 20 of Bill C-9. Those make up our Motions Nos. 16 to 18 and 19 to 38.

I bring forward this motion for the deletion of those parts of the bill for twofold reasons, which I have spoken to previously in the House. The twofold reasons are both for process of the making of law in this nation and on the substantive measures.

We have heard from Canadians from community to community and ocean to ocean opposing this measure. We have heard it from farm communities, environmental organizations and a long list of first nations organizations. They are absolutely appalled that for the second time the government has chosen, through a budget bill, to make substantive changes to the long-treasured Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

There was absolutely no consultation in advance, despite the fact that for almost three decades the government has had in place a regulatory advisory committee on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This group has not even been convened for a year and a half, so the government chose to completely ignore a long-established committee, actually established by the Conservatives, and chose to do it through a budget bill to make it a non-confidence vote. It then referred the matter to the wrong committee, not that many members of the finance committee are not fully capable of reviewing any statute. However, as the House is well advised, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act already requires by law that it be reviewed at a set date, and that matter is already scheduled before the parliamentary committee on environment and sustainable development.

The government made a decision to completely short-circuit public consultation, violate its own legal provisions and show complete disrespect for the committee that had already made itself apprised of the matter and was trying to move forward as expeditiously as possible. Why is that? It is because this act has been before the parliamentary committee on environment and sustainable development before. Therefore, to ensure a consistent review, it made sense, since the committee looked at the act at its inception, to give it the opportunity to continuously do the review and to accord the opportunity to any stakeholder from industry, the public or the first nations to come forward and give their opinions on the proposed amendments.

First and foremost, Canadians have come out strongly in the same way they did in last year's budget bill, where the government emasculated the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Last time, it took a knife to federal environmental law. This time, it took an axe. It swung an axe on an act that all Canadians, from industry, provincial governments, territorial governments, first nations governments, environmental organizations, community-based organizations, farm organizations and fishery organizations, have had a say for many years in developing what they consider to be a strong act, which governments after governments have lauded around the world.

In one fell swoop, the government decided to go against due process, against the democratic process, which the government is bound by and committed to under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation, to provide advance notice and an opportunity to comment by any person in North America to any new environmental law policy. It completely ignored a document it is bound by.

The government talks all the time about how it is working in common with North America and how we should look at things in North America and yet it has completely violated the very agreement it has signed and decided just to throw it into a budget bill.

I have had submissions from a number of people. The finance committee heard submissions from a number of people across the country castigating the government for doing this and asking that the finance committee move these measures over to the environment committee.

As far as substance, what is done in this bill is absolutely reprehensible. Contrary to what the minister has firmly asserted in the House, equal rights are not provided to the public who may have concerns and want to intervene in the review of major projects.

In part 19, the National Energy Board and the Nuclear Safety and Control Act are given the discretion to think about whether they might provide participant funding if somebody asks. That completely goes against what is provided for in the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act where, if they are going ahead with a comprehensive review, they must provide intervenor funding. That is not equal treatment under the law. It is giving lesser rights to those who are dealing with major nuclear facilities and major oil and gas activity.

On the substantive measures, the government has taken the Supreme Court of Canada ruling and completely undermined it by giving the Minister of the Environment total discretion to decide to narrow the scope of the review of a project. This goes against the understanding around the world of why we do environmental assessments and, if we are doing a comprehensive review, why we need to look at the whole scope of a project. It unilaterally gives complete discretion to the minister to decide to narrow the scope, overturning the Supreme Court of Canada decision.

What this part of Bill C-9 would also do is exempt a vast number of projects that would be funded by Infrastructure Canada before the government even undertakes the process of deciding whether there will be any significant environmental impacts. It gives a little option to the minister after the fact to say that maybe the minister will unexempt the exemption if he or she find there are significant environmental impacts, but how would the minister to do that if he or she has already exempted them all.

Huge concerns have been raised about this project. I want to share with the House some of the testimony by the people who have come before the finance committee to object to this matter being reviewed by the finance committee and being put through in the budget bill.

Mrs. Arlene Kwasniak, who is a respected environmental law scholar at the University of Calgary law school, said:

I would like to suggest that there has been a recent demise in consultations having to do with the CEAA and an avoidance of the legislative requirement for consultations for substantive changes.

...this provision opens the door for uneven and unfair application of the CEAA. There are no statutory conditions governing the exercise of the minister's discretion....

In the Speech from the Throne and the budget bill this year, the government said that the very reason it was going to streamline environmental regulation and environmental assessments was to provide legal certainty and we have these legal scholars saying that the last thing the bill would do is provide legal certainty.

Mr. Richard Lindgren, counsel for the Canadian Environmental Law Association, said:

Based on our experience and our public interest perspective, we have very serious and fundamental concerns about the Bill C-9 proposals to amend CEAA. [...] CELA objects to the process that's being used to enact these amendments. In our opinion, proposed changes to CEAA should not be buried in a budget bill. Instead, any proposed amendments to the act should be brought forward and proceeded with as stand-alone legislation that's subject to full parliamentary debate and meaningful public consultation, neither of which has occurred in this case to this point.

The second objection was the timing of the proposed amendments. He goes on to describe it and said:

As the committee is aware, these amendments have been introduced just as the mandatory seven-year review of CEAA is about to commence.

I could also quote from the letter from Mr. Ron Plain, the Aamjiwnaang First Nation and about 20 other first nations from across the country. They are requesting that the government withdraw part 20 of Bill C-9 which deals with CEAA until they have engaged in a meaningful consultation process to address first nations interests in maintaining a rigorous environmental assessment process federally that will ensure proper consultation and accommodation of their constitutionally protected interests.

They wish to stress that the lack of consultation on Bill C-9 to date is inconsistent with article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which requires:

States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

They state that many industrial and infrastructure projects impact aboriginal interests and, given that the federal government has a fiduciary relationship with first nations people, it is questionable that the government would seek power to scope industrial projects narrowly and to entirely exempt infrastructure projects without first consulting aboriginal peoples. The honour of the Crown's duty needs to be fulfilled through a meaningful consultation process on this critical portion of Bill C-9 before it is enacted.

All of those people have said that they want to have these provisions removed from the budget bill.

Even the Senate committee, which reviewed this bill, recommended that the government not do this kind of process a second time, that budget bills should deal with financial matters and that they should not be the mechanism for dealing with substantive major amendments to federal laws. That was also endorsed by a majority recommendation of the parliamentary finance committee on reviewing the last bill.

It is critical that the House support my motion to separate out and delete parts 19 and 20 so we can have a proper review in consultation with all affected groups.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Paul Szabo Liberal Mississauga South, ON

Mr. Speaker, during the presentation by the officials on Bill C-9, the question was raised about whether there was a move that would place economic objectives ahead of environmental objectives. That point was raised in the context that the provisions in Bill C-9 would permit the currently required environmental assessments to be waived or not be done simply because of the timing of other economic activity going on that the government would like to have proceed. That is what spawned the question about whether this was an issue where economic priorities trumped environmental priorities, and it is very troubling to me.

I am not sure what it says about government accountability, transparency, openness, public consultation, due process and matters like due diligence that we are required to have, but it would appear to me that the member's arguments are quite valid. I would be interested to know whether she feels there has been due diligence in the finance committee by members of Parliament.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

May 26th, 2010 / 5:20 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I particularly appreciate the first part of the member's question but I do not have time to answer both.

I do not see it as a case of the government putting economic interests before environmental interests. I see it as the government completely missing the boat on the interaction between economic and environmental interests. It is taking a very short-sighted perspective on costs that may be incurred by a project.

We must remember that the whole purpose for an environmental impact assessment is to identify in advance what the major impacts might be so they can be mitigated or avoided and the proponent will pay those costs. That is what the polluter pays principle is all about.

The government is simply telling people that a major project will be going on in their community but that it will not assess it and tough luck if down the line they incur major costs. It is telling people that they will be saddled with the costs because it will not make the proponent do that. In other words, it has completely undermined the whole essence of what environmental assessment is. It has signed on to agreements around the world that it will undertake to do effective environmental assessment, including under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation.

I hope I have answered the member's question.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.


Roger Pomerleau Bloc Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I was listening to my two colleagues who talked about Bill C-9. It is clear that this is an omnibus bill in which we find a million completely different elements lumped together that should each be presented individually. When my colleague talked about security taxes, she pointed out—quite well in fact—the unbelievable number of unanswered questions in this bill.

My colleague who just spoke raised some extremely controversial things in this bill that need to be thoroughly examined. However, they are tucked into a bill that has to do with the budget, which automatically requires a confidence vote. For that reason, many people will hesitate to vote against it. In short, the bill might not be good, but it will be hard to vote against. That is not so for us, but it may be for others.

Is this not completely anti-democratic? Should the elected members not have enough room to manoeuvre and the necessary information to determine the value of the bill? Could my colleague say a few words about that?

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, if I could sum it up I would agree that it is extremely undemocratic. The entire process of putting parts 19 and 20 through the budget bill is nothing less than undemocratic. The government ran on a platform of accountability and transparency, and yet the very act of what it has done, including these measures in the budget bill, completely runs against that kind of a presence.

As I mentioned, the government is accountable already under international law and agreements, including with the United States of America and Mexico, whose leader will be speaking to us tomorrow, to fully provide Canadians the opportunity to participate in decision-making. The government has completely violated those very measures to ensure--

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Skeena--Bulkley Valley will have about four minutes before the end of government orders.

Motions in AmendmentJobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.


Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I wish I could say it is a pleasure to speak to Bill C-9, but unfortunately we are looking at nearly 900 pages that represent a travesty of justice, and a basic and fundamental attack on the democratic principles on which this place is built.

We find within these pages what some have called a Trojan Horse of a bill. We find everything in the way of a laundry list that the Conservatives want to move through but cannot, in part because they keep shutting down the House and killing their own legislation, and partly because the measures rammed into this bill are unpopular. The Conservatives have threatened an election and have told Canadians to just stick it. They have not provided the option of a democratic and open debate about some of the most fundamental things in front of us.

We know that in this cloak of secrecy the government is going to be raising taxes for the travelling public at airports. It is seeking to gut environmental legislation, which my hon. colleague from Edmonton so eloquently spoke of just recently.

The government is seeking in an omnibus format to cobble together whatever it has at hand to give the Minister of the Environment discretionary, almost divine powers, to decide what deserves an environmental assessment and what does not. Somehow he will know in advance what is going to cause environmental damage and what will not, ignoring the fact that the idea behind an environmental assessment is the understanding of what the damage may or may not be. That is why we put the criteria in there in the first place.

We are paying for industrial projects that went wrong years ago: old mines, abandoned oil shafts. We said that we would learn from all of these things, that we would take account of all of these things before we built, so we would know what the effects would actually be on the environment.

What is in the budget affects real lives and has real consequences for our country. It is a shame and a sham that the government pretends to be accountable, pretends to care about the principles of democracy, while on the other hand does this.

Just recently, more than 130 workers from AECL came to this place to be recognized, to ask government members if they would be allowed a free and democratic debate and vote on the sale of AECL, Canada's largest crown corporation, and into which the Canadian public has put more than $22 billion over the years. Instead, where do we find the sale of AECL? We find it buried in the pages of this Trojan Horse, buried in this omnibus bill. We are allowed no debate, no discussion. There is no democracy from the government.

I sat with those 130 workers after question period. I talked to them and listened to their questions. They are worried, concerned, fearful, and most of all, they disbelieve that a government that ran on such principles as transparency and accountability and the fundamentals of democracy could be so opposed to them in practise. Words do not match the actual actions of the government.

It is often said that the best disinfectant is sun light. We need to bring this out in to the light. That is why New Democrats are proposing today to split this bill, expose it, have the debate, have the parliamentary discussion, and bring democracy back to the House of Commons.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Official LanguagesCommittees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:25 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It being 5:30 p.m. the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the first report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages.

Call in the members.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #49

Committees of the HouseRoutine Proceedings

5:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried.

The House resumed from May 11 consideration of the motion that Bill C-501, An Act to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and other Acts (pension protection), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.


The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-501 under private members' business.