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 #52 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was chair.

Topics

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, Taxation; the hon. member for Welland, Canadian Food Inspection Agency; the hon. member for Don Valley East, Ethics.

The House resumed 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, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:40 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to talk about this bill.

We call it a bill but it is a Trojan Horse. Buried inside this budget bill are a series of measures that the government could simply not have passed had it not put them in the budget bill.

We have a golden opportunity to open up this Trojan Horse and take out the nefarious legislation that is within it and to move ahead with the consideration of those important proposals but it will require the government to split out these pieces of legislation so we can deal with them separately. I would like to address why that is so important. I think the government should do exactly this.

I would like the leader of the official opposition to behave like a real opposition leader and use his power to prevent the Prime Minister from sneaking major legislative changes through by hiding them in this budget bill. Passing bills on the sly like this is a last-resort strategy for a government trying to make changes that do not have unanimous approval. Knowing that Canadians would not support each of these changes individually, the Conservatives tried to sneak them into its budget bill.

Some of the most disturbing changes in Bill C-9 are those to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act giving the Minister of the Environment the power to determine the scope of environmental assessments and to turn responsibility for reviewing power generation proposals over to the National Energy Board, which has close ties to the business sector. This bill includes a hodge-podge of unrelated elements and looks a lot like American budget bills, which tend to include hundreds of clauses added as a result of political manoeuvring.

Some of the most significant provisions buried in the Prime Minister's budget bill are: authorization to sell Atomic Energy of Canada Limited without any public debate or scrutiny; a measure to privatize Canada Post that takes away the crown corporation's exclusive international remailing privilege; and approval for having cleaned out the employment insurance fund, which had a surplus of $57 billion in contributions from employees and employers over the past 10 years. That was one of the largest thefts in this country's history.

We hope that the Leader of the Opposition will stand up for his convictions and vote against the measures in Bill C-9. It is important that he do so.

I want to speak a little further about some of the key elements that are buried in the budget bill. We can agree or disagree with some of these budget measures, but buried in this bill are projects and initiatives that the government could simply never pass through the House of Commons any other way.

The first that we want to discuss here today is the gutting of our environmental assessment process. The environmental assessment process for major projects including major energy projects is absolutely vital. We do not have to look any further than the crisis that is unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico right now to see why an environmental assessment is so important for major projects.

Yet, what is the government proposing to do? The government is proposing to give to the Minister of the Environment, without any accountability to Parliament, the power to simply waive any environmental assessment requirements and to ask the National Energy Board, for heaven's sake, to conduct the environmental assessment such as it might deem fit.

This is exactly the reverse of what our friends the Americans are doing as they realize when there is one agency responsible for getting approvals that ultimately generate revenue to government, that generate business for business, that are related to energy projects, that it has an exclusive focus and jurisdiction, that what is needed is a separate set of eyes and a separate process to deal with the environmental consequences, dangers and issues that can arise from an environmental project, particularly of a major magnitude.

Why empower the minister to limit environmental assessments at a time when Canadians and our neighbours to the south as well are asking governments to be more vigilant when it comes to environmental assessment, not less? This bill will open up greater risk for our Canadian environment and we could see the same kind of disaster unfolding in Canada on one of our coastlines or even in the Arctic as we are seeing unfold in the United States.

Mark my words, I do not want this to come true. I do not want this to be a prediction of something that is actually going to happen. I want us in this chamber to take responsibility to ensure that it does not happen, that it never happens, and that it could not happen here.

That is why I am calling on my colleagues in the other parties of the opposition to stand up and be counted. In fact, I would call on them to stand up and speak because I notice that even though this is a vitally important bill and even though there have been pronouncements on the part of both of the other opposition parties that they oppose some of these measures like the weakening of our environmental assessment process, we find that they are not willing to stand up and speak.

It is only New Democrats now, according to the list we have before us, who are prepared to keep fighting the bill. I call on my colleagues in the opposition, on the opposition leader, and the leader of Bloc Québécois to ensure that the members of Parliament from those parties are speaking to this issue and are standing up for Canadians when it comes to the environment. It is time for us to do our job.

Furthermore, I call upon them to bring their members to the House when the vote comes and to ensure there are sufficient numbers in the House to defeat this clause so that we can protect environmental assessment in Canada.

Some would say, “Oh, that would mean that it would take us into an election”. An election is not going to happen on top of the G8 and G20. Why not? Because the Prime Minister has already spent $1.2 billion to have these international guests come to ensure he can have his photo opportunity. There is no way that an election is going to happen on top of that.

It is time for the opposition parties to use the leverage and power that we have, and that Canadians sent us here to use in order to ensure that the government is kept under control. Conservatives think the opposition is weak. They think the opposition is unwilling to stand up to them.

Prove them wrong, that is what I say to my colleagues in the opposition. Let us stop the gutting of environmental laws here in Canada.

I could make exactly the same case when it comes to another element of the budget bill. This has to do with the sale of AECL.

AECL is a very important public enterprise. If it were to be debated here, I doubt very much there would be support of this chamber for it to be sold off, especially in tough economic times and without any sense of what would happen, in terms of environmental protection, not to mention the future of the jobs.

It is an obnoxious precedent being set here by the government. I call on the opposition parties to stand up and fight.

It also argues that we should privatize Canada Post. That is the wrong direction to go when we are talking about an essential public service. Taking profitable overseas mail distribution and turning it over to big companies that compete with Canada Post would undermine the ability of our public post service to do the job that Canadians expect it to do, and have expected it to do for many decades. It is a vital corporation.

In closing, I call on my colleagues from the opposition parties to understand that we have a key historic moment here to use the leverage given to us by 62% of Canadians who did not vote for the current government to put a stop to what it is trying to do in this budget bill.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

Fort McMurray—Athabasca Alberta

Conservative

Brian Jean ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport

Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity, in between some of the comments made by the hon. member, to hear him say something about privatization of Canada Post. I can tell members, as the parliamentary secretary to the minister responsible for this for over four years now, there has been no discussion of privatization of Canada Post. Quite frankly, it is ludicrous.

However, what does trouble me is that he spoke of one particular aspect in the bill, which is called remailers. There are at least 10,000 jobs across this country, in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto, that rely on something that has been happening for 20 years; that is, remailers, small mom and pop organizations, print shops, across this country that have been operating for 20 to 30 years doing remailers. We have heard evidence about that remailing business going to other countries because Canada Post does not compete. So, it is going to other countries.

What does the member have against the small mom and pop shops and 10,000 employees in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal and Vancouver, who rely on these jobs now? Does he want to close down those small businesses that have been operating for 30 years under this particular aspect?

I want to hear from that member about those small mom and pop businesses that rely on this type of business.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question because it is a very timely question that he has asked.

Only a very few weeks ago, I held a meeting in my constituency with some of the small businesses which used to give postal service, under contract to Canada Post, that have been shut down because of the very policies of the current government. Some of the citizens from the area, very upset that they have lost their local postal service, were there at that community meeting, as well. It was quite well covered in the newspaper.

The fact is that business has been shunted over to Shoppers Drug Mart. The result is we literally had in front of us in a meeting of 75 people, four or five of these businesses, some of which had operated for years. People were in tears because they were losing their livelihood and their relationships with the community.

So, I do not apologize for a minute for trying to stop the current government from doing what it is doing to Canada Post because it is not doing the right thing.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Toronto—Danforth for that impassioned speech. I have a very specific question for him.

With the gutting of the environmental regulations, as proposed in this budget implementation bill, first nations across this country have raised some valid concerns about the fact that this process may mean that they are not consulted when large projects are going into their area.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Sparrow decision, which was all about consultation with first nations, and here we have the current government presenting a proposal that cannot guarantee that appropriate consultation regarding environmental projects would happen.

I wonder whether the member would comment on that.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Jack Layton NDP Toronto—Danforth, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her championship of the concerns of first nations, Métis and Inuit people over quite a number of years. She raises a very valid point.

The whole concept of environmental assessment is designed to ensure there is thorough, indepth, informed consultation with citizens who will be affected by projects. That is what it is all about. That is why environmental assessment was invented. It was not invented just for a group of technicians, or special interest groups, or corporate representatives or lobbyists to go off and whitewash a project and say that it would not have any environmental impact or that we should not worry, that they have it handled.

I am sure the representatives of BP said to the American government and some of the officials who were dealing with its approvals that they should not worry, that they had it covered. Now there has been everything from the top hat to the top kill. BP does not have a clue what it is doing now that it has unleashed the power that resides thousands of metres below the earth's crust.

Because environmental assessment is so critical, we know we should apply the most careful and thorough tests on any major engineering project that could produce similar kinds of consequences in Canada. I would bet that if I went out on the streets of the country right now and asked people if they thought it would be a good idea for us to weaken our assessment of major projects from the standpoint of their environmental consequences, they would say no. We say no too.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it has been over 40 days now since the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico started. Wildlife officials report that 491 birds, 227 turtles and 27 mammals, including dolphins, have been collected dead along the U.S. gulf coast. Have we not learned anything from this oil spill?

Those beautiful fish, turtles and dolphins are magnificent species. It is tragic they are now dying and many more will die. The top kill over the weekend did not work. The next thing BP is planning to do is to place a funnel on the leak, but this means that the leak could increase by 20% during this entire process.

How could we possibly not learn that deregulation of any projects, especially when it comes to oil or energy, is a bad idea? Look at what is happening here. This bill is anti-democratic, it is bad for the environment and it is bad for ordinary Canadians.

Why is it anti-democratic? This is supposed to be a budget bill. It is supposed to talk about spending. What does it have to do with deregulation? The bill would—

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I am wondering the relevance of the member's speech. She may be lost in American jargon and American legislation, but we are in Canada. We are not responsible for what happened in the gulf. We have a different legislative system here. We have a different environmental process here. This government is taking care of that issue. What does that have to do with the budget bill? It has nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Let us talk about Canadian legislation. Let us talk about what Canada is doing. We are doing the job here and the member should pay attention to that.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

From the Speaker's hearing, I think the member for Trinity—Spadina was referencing part of the budget bill, which is before the House. I will take a look at the group of amendments before the House. I encourage all members, when they speak, to remain relevant to the amendments or the substance of the motion that is before the House.

The hon. member for Trinity—Spadina.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is precisely my point. Environmental assessment has nothing to do with the budget bill. Why is it in Bill C-9? I am glad the parliamentary secretary noticed that environmental assessment really should not have anything to do with the budget. While he—

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. It is going to be very difficult for the Speaker to make a judgment call on relevance if he cannot hear what the member is saying. I ask all hon. members to hold off on their questions and comments. There will be a period for questions and comments as soon as the member for Trinity—Spadina is done with her speech.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am quite amazed that my Conservative colleagues actually got my point, that wrecking the environment should not have anything to do with a budget bill, but that is precisely what they are doing. They are taking the environmental assessment on energy projects, oil and gas, from the environmental assessment agencies. They then give the responsibility over to the industry-friendly National Energy Board, or the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Let me explain the connections between the National Energy Board, the oil industry and the government. The National Energy Board does not have the experience necessary to conduct proper public consultations and environmental assessments. In fact, about 90% of the board's total expenditure is recovered from the companies it regulates under the National Energy Board.

That is like asking someone like BP to decide on whether its oil drilling is safe or not. In fact, 90% of the National Energy Board's expenditures come from the companies it is supposed to regulate. How could that possibly be done? The companies cannot be asked to regulate themselves. The government is supposed to regulate the projects that come in front of it.

Not only are six of the board members longtime veterans of the private oil and gas industry, on top of that, the Conservatives have hand-picked 10 out of the 12 members on the board. Sometimes the board only takes written submissions. There are no public hearings or consultations. Who did the board choose to hear from on one of the projects, the same-season relief well policy? It heard mostly from the big oil companies. No wonder, they are funded by them.

Of the 300 staff at the National Energy Board, only a few dozen of them work on environmental issues. They do not have the expertise. They are not designed to do environmental assessment. It is not their job, yet they are now given the responsibility to look at all our energy projects. It will take away the environmental protection role that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is supposed to have. It is set up, under the environment minister, to conduct reviews of projects that may have serious consequences.

When there is an oil leak, whether it is diesel, oil or deep-sea drilling, oil has huge environmental consequences as do nuclear projects. This move is anti-democratic and bad for the environment.

Part of the budget bill has cancelled the eco-energy renewable power program, a project that was quite popular. Now it is gone. After increasing some money for Environment Canada, there will be a $53 million cut.

Also most unacceptable in the bill is the selling of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited. That will have serious consequences. Last year's spending on AECL ended up being more than double what was budgeted, raising questions about what the final figure would be this year. Embedding the sale of AECL in the budget bill makes absolutely no sense.

The other element I want to talk about is the whole Canada Post situation. I have met with quite a few of the postal workers in my riding. My riding actually has four postal stations in its vicinity. The workers are extremely worried that their jobs are on the line. The bill would remove Canada Post's monopoly on outgoing international letters, which means that it would earn less, for example, when they needed to deliver mail to rural Canada. Canada Post runs itself like a business and if it loses this monopoly on international letters, it will earn less and other mail service across Canada will suffer.

This proposal is identical to what was proposed in Bill C-14 and Bill C-44. These two bills were defeated in the House. What the government has done is totally undemocratic. It brought back the bill that it was unable to pass and put it into this enormous Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill, in all types of areas that have nothing to do with the budget.

We ask all members of Parliament, who are not Conservative, to stand and vote against the bill.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are dealing with the first group of motions in the Group No. 1 list, the air travellers security charge. It has been noted that in the United States right now, on international flights, the security charge is $5. The government, until now, has had the second highest security charges in the world. Now with a 50% increase in the security charge fee, the tax on air travellers, we are now the highest in the world. For an international flight, we would be looking at a security charge up to $25.

The government is inadvertently driving customers to the American air carriers. It is making the Canadian air industry more uncompetitive vis-à-vis the American airlines. As of this spring, rather than pay $5, people will have to pay $25 in air taxes.

Would the member like to comment on why a government that prides itself on trying to be competitive with the United States is doing things that make the Canadian industry uncompetitive?

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, it was quite interesting this morning to see a private member's bill on competition, to ensure that Canadian companies get more advantages so there would be more business. This does the exact opposite.

The proposal is to charge Canadian airlines, such as Air Canada, $25 for international flights. It used to be about $15, which was already too high. This is after the Minister of Transport refused to pay for police patrols. The government is supposed to protect travellers and airport security, yet it would not pay the cost of police patrols.

The government is downloading it to the passengers and the airlines. As a result, a lot more air travellers will buy tickets from American companies and other companies rather than Canadian companies because they do not want to pay this extra amount. It is bad for the passengers and it is bad for the Canadian airline industry.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her intervention. However, she is completely off base.

The remailing industry in Canada employs some 10,000 workers. These are ordinary, hard-working Canadians who depend on the remailing business for their livelihoods. That is how they put bread on the table.

For years we have heard the NDP pay lip service to the fact that they claim to be the great defenders of the workers across Canada. However, when it comes to practice, actually getting things done, they do the exact opposite.

For over 20 years it was accepted in Canada that remailers were conducting their business legally in this country. Somewhere along the line, some smart lawyer at Canada Post found out that there was a discrepancy between the English and French versions of the Canada Post Corporation Act. It went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. The Supreme Court of Canada said it was going to prefer the French version and asserted the right of Canada Post to actually have control over the remailing industry.

Our government is correcting that and continuing the current practice in which remailers can continue to do business, in which 10,000 Canadians have their jobs. My question to the member is, how can she justify voting against hard-working Canadians?

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of the smart lawyers at Canada Post.

Canada Post belongs to the people of Canada. They run Canada Post like a business. Of course, they want to make sure that they, as a business, make as much money as possible. They understand that not every Canadian has email.

There is an art to writing letters. Handwritten letters are still very important, especially for a lot of seniors who would like to send get-well cards, birthday cards, and wedding cards. All of those elements are important for people to communicate with each other, especially in rural Canada.

We want Canada Post to be financially viable—

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-9 is a travesty of the democratic process in the House. I know I am not supposed to use the term “hypocrisy” when I am speaking of individual members, but I think I am allowed to do that when I am speaking of the government as a whole. This bill really fits that category.

I have stood in the House repeatedly challenging the government to use omnibus crime bills as opposed to, as it is wont to do repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly, individual bills on crime, and of course, taking advantage of all the publicity that it gets, which I find quite repulsive, trotting out victims in each one of these areas just so it can have a photo opportunity.

When we look at the number of crime bills we have had and how many of those could have been incorporated into omnibus bills and then referred to the justice committee where they could have had thorough review, investigations and expert witnesses coming in, hearing from the general public on legislation of that kind, it could have done that in a very efficient way as opposed to what we have seen with regard to the numerous bills we have had. We just had another one today. Bill C-30 came through today. Again, it is a classic example where it could be easily combined with a half dozen other bills that are either outstanding or we know are coming from the government.

Instead of having to waste a great deal of time and debate in the House, we could have had reasonable debate and sent it over to the justice committee where it would have been properly investigated and then come back to the House for further debate and either passage or rejection.

We have seen that pattern by the government repeatedly since it first came to office. Then what we have seen, both in last year's budget and even more so in this year's budget, is an attempt on the government's part to justify that, for efficiency purposes, we should have an omnibus bill.

We have heard from any number of other members the number of provisions, and I am going to come back to this, in this bill that really at their essence have nothing to do with budgetary matters and have everything to do with other serious public policy issues that should be given their due attention as opposed to what has happened with the bill.

When we juxtapose those two positions, all of these crime bills coming through not in the form of omnibus bills, which they should be, and then throwing into a budget bill, which is what Bill C-9 should be, all sorts of other public policy issues that should not be there, it is inevitable to see the inconsistency in those two positions, and as I said in my opening remarks, the shameful way that democracy is being thwarted in this type of approach by the government.

Again, it is not the first time it has done it. It certainly did it quite extensively in last year's budget with the budget implementation bill, but it has gone even significantly further in this one.

We may say, if we have had a reasonable amount of debate on it, is it not justified? As we know, in fact it is not. Any number of those other issues that have been injected into Bill C-9, into this budget implementation bill, are not issues that would call for the government to fail should the provisions not go through the House, whereas the budget bill, as we all know, is a matter of confidence and the government does come down if the vote is against it.

We know that the official opposition is running scared from the government and is not prepared to bring the government down on major policy issues. The government is using that to its advantage with the fear that the Liberals have of having to face the electorate. So the Liberals are certainly guilty to a significant degree when we see these types of bills coming through, because they are being intimidated, they are being bullied, and they are succumbing to that intimidation and bullying by the Conservative government. That again is not a healthy democracy to be functioning within.

That process is bad for democracy and it is bad for good public policy, and let me go to that now. A number of these provisions that have been incorporated into Bill C-9 clearly should not be there, should be stand-alone bills.

Let me deal with the environmental assessment provisions that are in here. The provision in Bill C-9 should be a separate bill. It should be in front of the environment committee, where members of that committee are thoroughly knowledgeable of the necessities we have in this country for environmental assessments. Those committee members have thorough knowledge of what is required with regard to environmental assessments at the national level in this country. They have the ability to thoroughly review the legislation to determine whether in fact it is adequate.

As I think everyone in the House knows, we are opposed to the policy position the government has taken in this regard. Moving the assessments out of the environment department into natural resources, providing almost absolute discretion to the minister as to when assessments are to take place, is clearly not good public policy. It stands out in these circumstances with what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico, the concerns we have of the government being quite willing to be overly friendly with the oil and gas industry, willing to bend the rules. We have seen recently, and I am sure this would have gone through but for what happened in the Gulf of Mexico, a request by the oil and gas industry to further loosen the rules generally with regard to exploration, but specifically with regard to exploration and drilling offshore. That request had been made. But for the Gulf of Mexico, I am quite convinced the government would have been prepared to move on it.

If this bill goes through as is, what will happen is that provision will surface at some point in the future. The government again will be receptive to that kind of approach, claims of poverty by the oil and gas industry that they cannot afford to do full assessments, they cannot afford to meet higher standards, and the government will cave in and allow them to do whatever they want to do. That has certainly been the history, whether it is in Alberta in the oil sands or any number of other places across the country where the oil and gas industry has had its way and we have seen the consequences. That is the kind of abuse that this kind of legislation allows for.

With regard to the other provisions, the provision that is always of particular concern, given the community that I come from, is the stripping out of the $57 billion in the fund that was supposed to be there to take care of workers when they were faced with high levels of chronic unemployment. Stripping that out is something that always stands, in a community such as Windsor—Tecumseh where the labour community is very conscious of that having happened, first under the Liberals and now being finalized under the Conservatives. That bill should be a separate bill. That provision should be a separate provision and we should be voting on it separately so that it is very clear as to who is prepared to stand up in this country to protect workers when they are in that difficulty.

The final point I want to make is what is not in the bill, around pensions. Again, in the community I come from, we have taken some major hits on private pensions going down, on the Canada pension and the OAS not being sufficient to take care of people in their retirement. We owe them that obligation. We have set out in very clear form some of the alternatives that could be followed. None of that is in the bill and is another reason that we are adamantly opposed to it.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Liberal Yukon, YT

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask about management systems, because I admire the member's intellect in some of these areas. When he talked about management of the oil and gas industry, he brought up the important point that we have been making as well that recently there was a change in the management system so it became a goals-oriented process, so that some mandatory items were removed. The industry had to set goals and prove that they were going to meet those goals. Their arguments are that if we just required certain goals, if there was an accident and they had followed those goals, they could say they were blameless. Or the other one is that things are changing all the time and there are new technologies that the companies could use.

I would like the member to comment on the new management changes.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question and his kind comments. They were better than what I got from my colleagues back here.

He makes a very good point. With regard to that, some of the news that broke over the weekend was about what went on with the approach taken in the Gulf of Mexico by BP and by their own people, who had told them that the system, the technology, they were going to use was really, seriously questionable. It is the same kind of thing. Even if it was goal-oriented and they had those kinds of standards, they did not meet them.

The initial reports came out from their own staff saying that they had serious doubts about whether this would work, that there were serious problems of risk, and that they should be reconsidering it. A few months later, another report comes out, and all of a sudden, they can now meet them. There was no change in technology.

It is that kind of abuse.

What it is really about, and my friend from the Yukon is very right about this, is that we need government protection in this area. We cannot leave activity as risky as this to be determined by the industry, which is clearly in conflict when it comes to setting those standards. They have to be set by independent arbiters and experts in the field. Those standards then have to be met by the industry in question and have to be enforced.

That is true, certainly, in the oil and gas industry. It is also true in any number of other areas where government has to play the role of protecting their citizens.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Chris Charlton NDP Hamilton Mountain, ON

Mr. Speaker, I really enjoyed listening to the speech from the member for Windsor—Tecumseh.

Tomorrow is Hunger Awareness Day, which speaks to a whole range of issues, including, of course, issues of poverty, first and foremost.

Employment insurance, for many Canadians, is the last opportunity to stave off a life of poverty when people have been adversely affected because they have lost their jobs. Communities like the member's community of Windsor and my home town of Hamilton Mountain have been just devastated by the tsunami of job losses as a result of the recession we are still in but that we first felt the effects of in 2008.

One of the things in the budget bill, as the member correctly pointed out, is the final nail in the coffin of the $57 billion fund of EI moneys, which the government is now taking for itself and is putting into consolidated revenues. It is basically legalized theft.

I want to ask the member for Windsor—Tecumseh whether his community is facing the same reality as we are in Hamilton, where people now have to rely on social assistance, because EI is no longer there for them. All the costs are now going onto ratepayers, the very people who have lost their jobs in our community.