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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

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, I really do not want to say what I really think of it but that is as close as I will get right now.

We need to go back to square one. We need to examine the threat that now exists within the system. In reality, the threat is mostly about bad people, not about bad things. It is about improving intelligence. Most of the major incidents in aviation in the last 20 years has been because of the failure of intelligence, not the failure of security, and that is what we need to point out over and over again. Intelligence is not a mandate that is solely selective to aviation passengers. It should not be paying for the intelligence that this country collects on terrorists. We should all be paying for that. In some ways, the U.S. charge of $5 recognizes the fact that aviation security is not simply about the traveller but about the overall direction that a country has to take to prevent bad people from doing bad things.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, one of the comments from the government was that it does not seem to see the argument that containing all this within one bill is a bad thing and that it is more or less the normal operation of government.

In 2005, when the Atlantic accord was signed with Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, it was implemented in the budget bill at the time. Conservatives fought vehemently to carve it out. They used every principle there was to say that this should not be included in the budget bill. It was considered sneaky. It was considered underhanded. All the negative vernacular that could be mustered in this House was used for that situation. Yet now we find ourselves with a lot more contained within the budget.

I would like the member to highlight some of the other issues he may have missed in his speech about some of the major issues that should receive a wholesome debate in the House before it proceeds.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, of course, coming from the Northwest Territories, with our concern about drilling in the Beaufort Sea, a concern that will have even less expression within our environmental legislation if the budget bill goes ahead, I have to agree with the member. There are many other things I could have focused on. I chose to focus on aviation security, because that is my critic area. But when it comes to the issue of environmental protection, this budget goes beyond hypocritical. It goes beyond stupid. It gets to the point of being an act against the people of this country. When environmental protection is taken away under the guise of a budget, it is almost inconceivable that this should take place.

For the Liberals not to support us right now in getting forward this legislation in a fashion that is different is also hypocritical and dangerous to this country. I urge the Liberal Party to get behind this amendment so that we can deal with that particular issue with greater care than what is going to happen with this budget bill.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, the member from the Northwest Territories does an incredible job of representing his constituents and representing the interests of all Canadians on the protection and sustainable development of the north. I wish to thank him for that. I am sure that his constituents are grateful for the good job he does in the House.

The member started his comments on the proposed amendments to the bill by talking generally about the demise of democracy in the House. From my standpoint, being a mover of the motion to divide the bill, that is the very essence of the problem we have with the way the government is conducting itself on its budget bill.

Conservatives ran on a platform of openness and transparency, on providing a new way of democracy in Canada, and on the involvement of the grassroots. Yet it takes major changes to an environmental statute, developed over more than three decades by industry, the public, first nations, and small communities in every corner of Canada, and throws them into a budget bill, therefore limiting the discourse on a statute, by law, that was supposed to come before the parliamentary committee on the environment within months.

I wonder if he can speak to the issue that the very department that received an F grade from the Information Commissioner surely should be providing for better consultation on the bills that are the responsibility of that agency.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington NDP Western Arctic, NT

Mr. Speaker, quite clearly, the Minister of the Environment has abrogated his responsibility here. The Minister of the Environment in that cabinet must have understood what was going down here. He must have supported what was going down here with these environmental legislation changes hidden within a budget bill. He is the one who is responsible for this action. That should be made very clear.

How could anyone who calls himself an environment minister in this country consider this kind of action without public debate and without the principles of environmental protection that we hold so closely in this country and have held in the past? For that to be taken away like this without a specific public debate is really quite astounding.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to voice my disappointment with the budget implementation bill.

In this time of economic uncertainty, the government has seen fit to ram through changes to legislation in the budget implementation bill rather than to follow an established democratic process. In our parliamentary democracy, it is customary for government to bring forward changes it wants to make here in the House and then to allow debate for hon. members, the representatives of the people, on their behalf.

The government chose to go another route. It chose to hide substantive policy changes in the implementation of this budget. As members know, this amounts to a kind of democratic blackmail. That is not only undemocratic, it is just plain wrong.

In what has become a disturbing pattern, the government has again, this year, incorporated into its budget implementation bill major changes to environmental safeguards.

Last year's budget bill took a slice out of the federal duty to assess the environmental impact of projects that could have potential impacts on the navigable waters of Canada. It moved to exempt all federal stimulus-funded projects from any assessment previously triggered by waterways impacts and those for which the federal contribution was under $10 million. The beautiful province of British Columbia, my province, has hundreds of rivers, and this change puts them in serious danger.

These are just the sorts of changes Canadians want to see their representatives in this House discuss. That debate is completely eliminated when the government pushes through legislation in the background of a budget implementation bill.

This year's budget bill, however, swings an axe at a crucial environmental law, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The axe cuts deeply. What is most disturbing about the process by which this law is being eviscerated is that Parliament has moved that a review of the law be undertaken this year and that recommendations for reform be made. The review is already slated to come before the parliamentary committee on environment and sustainable development within weeks.

The government has chosen to short-circuit this process. Instead of hearing and considering the views of interested stakeholders and other concerned parties, it has chosen to fast-track the changes through this budget bill.

Bill C-9 transfers reviews of major energy projects from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to the National Energy Board and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The effect is the diminishment of public representation. Neither the NEB nor the CNSC are equipped to conduct community consultations, nor do either have previous experience with these sorts of projects.

It also removes from the public clear access to intervenor funds that would allow groups and individuals to make themselves heard, and it lessens the requirements to consider environmental factors when proceeding with a project.

Second, and this is most troubling, the Minister of the Environment will be empowered to narrow the scope of any environmental assessment, which sets a dangerous precedent. This means that at the discretion of the minister, a project can be approved based on an assessment of only part of its overall environmental impact.

In January of this year, the Supreme Court of Canada found that the government failed to follow federal laws by scoping the Red Chris mine in northern B.C. to exclude the mine and the mill in order to avoid a comprehensive assessment and public input. What Bill C-9 therefore means to do is remove from the public any recourse for requiring consultation.

In addition, Bill C-9 removes one of the key triggers for a federal assessment, and that is federal spending. The limit for federal spending that would require an assessment is all but completely removed. Almost all federal stimulus funding projects would be exempted.

The bill will exempt from environmental assessment all projects falling under the building Canada fund, the green infrastructure fund, the recreation infrastructure fund, the border infrastructure fund, the municipal rural infrastructure fund, and many more. Such projects range from transmission lines running thousands of kilometres to road extensions, new bridges, and interchanges.

The New Democrat motion to enable the finance committee to split the bill provides the opportunity to defer study and the vote on the environmental reform measures until the environment committee review has been completed, which is a matter of only a few short months. Regrettably, the government manoeuvred to prevent this constructive solution from proceeding. Addressing long-term environmental or health impacts should not be shunted aside for short-term political gain from fast-tracked project approvals.

Ultimately, it is Canadians who will pay the cost. With these changes, one has to wonder what the future holds for the Enbridge pipeline project. Having just presented the proposal last week, will it be subject to the scrutiny and public consultation that is so needed, or will the minister narrow the scope and allow 225 oil tankers to sail along our coast every year? The people of northern British Columbia want to be consulted, and Bill C-9 effectively silences them.

I know that my time runs short, so let me be brief by saying that the budget still has many shortcomings. It has yet to fund a national transit strategy. In my riding, the Evergreen Line is desperately in need of funds so that it can be completed. In fact, it has not even been built. This is a project that was promised over two decades ago, and we are still waiting for the funds to complete it.

The budget invests over $1 billion in a three-day event instead of putting much-needed police officers on the streets in every Canadian community. There is no money for a real, affordable housing strategy in this country. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans remains underfunded, under-resourced, and understaffed.

I hope that all hon. members will support the motion brought forward by my hon. colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona and will vote these measures out of Bill C-9.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, in his speech, the hon. member talked briefly about Fisheries and Oceans and how a lack of funding is certainly a problem that has existed for quite some time.

I was wondering if he could paint a picture of what was overlooked in this particular budget. We talked about eco-certification and an office therein, but I was wondering if he would also talk about what else should be in it. Since he is the fisheries critic for the New Democratic Party, I was wondering what else he would like to tell us was overlooked in this Bill C-9 budget.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, not only did the budget fail to address the real resources of the department, but in the throne speech there was absolutely no mention of salmon. We have an essential element of what makes the Canadian fabric what it is, and there is no mention of how we are going to protect our wild salmon.

For instance, I met with a group today, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, which is looking for funds. It is looking for ways to protect the wild salmon by investing in habitat, in stewardship, and in watershed management, which is badly needed on the west coast. The group is not able to do the job that is needed to protect this magnificent animal, the wild salmon.

A problem emerging on the west coast is sea lice from fish farms. That needs to be addressed.

There are so many issues under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans that could be addressed in the budget, yet the budget fails to address them. I hope we take a greater look at that.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member gave a fine speech. Ironically, today is the 20th anniversary of the Sparrow decision, when the Supreme Court of Canada handed down its decision on treaty negotiations.

With respect to what we see as the complete undermining of the environmental assessment regulations in this omnibus budget implementation bill, how does the member see this kind of regulation impacting on the duty to consult by the government? A number of first nations have spoken out quite strongly, raising concerns around this process and the bill. Could he comment on what he sees as possibly being a looming problem and perhaps future litigation in court cases?

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, that is a question of great concern to many first nation communities across the country. When these types of moves happen at the federal level to remove democracy or democratic processes that do not allow groups, organizations, governments like our first nations to be involved with decisions that will impact their very lives and communities, we are very concerned about those.

We do not see the accountability, openness and access that was promised. We see the reverse. We are seeing behind-closed-door decisions and legislation being rammed through at record speeds. We do not see an inclusion of communities like first nations to strengthen the way we do business and operate in our country.

This problem needs to be fixed by separating out these processes so they can be debated and discussed in a democratic way, including first nation communities and many others in our country.

JusticeStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians have demanded that the government crackdown on crime. For too many years, the Liberal politicians have weakened our laws and legal system. Our government is correcting that imbalance.

In the last month we have announced legislation to eliminate pardons for serious crimes, protect children from online exploitation, provide mandatory jail time for serious drug offences, tackle auto theft and trafficking in property obtain by crime and provide tougher sentences for white-collar crime.

Earlier we took action to crackdown on gun crime, increased the age of consent, eliminated house arrest for violent crime, strengthened penalties for street racing and much more.

We are now also taking steps to enhance the safety and security of the online marketplace with legislation to combat spam and amendments to protect the personal information of Canadians.

This government is delivering on our commitment to make our streets and our communities safer.

World No Tobacco DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today, on World No Tobacco Day, to speak about the damaging effects of cigarettes, especially for youth.

When I was first elected in 1997, smoking rates were 31%. By 2006, the Liberal government had reduced that number to 19%.

Since the Conservatives have come to power, there has been no further reduction in smoking rates and illegal tobacco sales have doubled nationally, to over 32%, in 2008. Contraband cigarette smuggling costs Canada an estimated $2 billion a year in lost revenues.

The government's announcement on Friday is too little, too late. A comprehensive approach must include enforcement, education, engagement of first nations, as well as interdepartmental and interjurisdictional co-operation.

We urge the government to re-evaluate the failed enforcement strategy that has seen the number of contraband cigarettes double and put our youth at increased risk—

World No Tobacco DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

“MP for a Day” CompetitionStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to welcome Frédéric Michel, a student from the Cégep de Victoriaville, who won the 2010 “MP for a Day” competition.

This competition is part of a course that studies political life and systems. Its main goal is to interest youth in politics and allow them to learn more about public life.

This year, students had to write about the challenges related to agricultural policy. This gave them the opportunity to explore many of the issues faced by the agricultural sector.

I would like to thank Jean-François Léonard, the political science and geography teacher, with whom I organized the competition. I would also like to thank the Société Saint-Jean-Baptiste du Centre-du-Québec, the Sévégny-Baril duo from La Capitale as well as the UPA Centre-du-Quebec for their contributions to the scholarships awarded to Frédéric and the students who came in second and third, Maxime Labrie and Sarah L. Desrochers.

Oil SpillsStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, as we watch the ongoing environmental devastation caused by the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, now is the time for Canada to take proactive measures to prevent similar disasters from damaging Canadian shores.

We know oil spills are ecological disasters that impact entire ecosystems. They spread damage over thousands of kilometres of ocean and shoreline. They have a catastrophic impact, as fisheries are wiped out and communities are devastated and their damage lasts for decades, if not centuries.

We also know they are inevitable. Wherever oil is drilled or transported in tankers, accidents will happen. The question is not if, but when. On British Columbia's pristine coastline, this is far too high a price to pay.

Last year I introduced a bill to ban oil tankers in sensitive waters. I hope all members of the House support this effort at disaster prevention.

The government must also permanently legislate a moratorium on offshore oil and gas drilling in B.C. and the Arctic. The short-term economic benefit of offshore drilling is outweighed many times over by the economic impact of the inevitable spill and the permanent damage to our coastal ecosystem that would certainly result.

HockeyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, Essex county is the hotbed for Canadian hockey talent. We might be the Florida of our country, but when it comes to hockey, no one does it better than our region.

For the second year in a row, the Windsor Spitfires have captured the Junior A Championship, the 92nd Memorial Cup. The Wheaties of Brandon were indeed the breakfast of Windsor champions Taylor Hall, the tournament's MVP, who, together with Spits defenceman Cam Fowler, are expected to be selected in the top five picks in the upcoming NHL entry draft, with 10 Spitfires expected to make NHL teams this year.

However, that is not all. The LaSalle Vipers captured the Junior B Championship, the Sutherland Cup. The Belle River Canadiens advanced to the finals of the Junior C Championship. The Canadian Hockey League named the town of Essex's Matt Puemple its rookie of the year.

It is true that Windsor-Essex is the automotive capital of Canada, but with this year's hockey successes, Windsor-Essex is centre ice for Canada's game.

Anniversary CongratulationsStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in commemoration and celebration of two historic anniversaries of landmark institutions in my riding and indeed in Quebec and the country as a whole.

The first is the centennial anniversary of Maimonides Geriatric Centre, affiliated with McGill University since 1979. The first psychogeriatric day hospital in both Canada and the United States, it is recognized for its high quality of care, its respect for the dignity of its clients and its incredible army of volunteers.

The second is the centennial anniversary of the Young Men's -- Young Women's Hebrew Association.

The institution popularly known as “the Y” was a second home for me on Mont-Royal Avenue when I was young. And now it has moved to my riding of Mount Royal.

It has evolved today into a state of the art fitness community and cultural centre that reaches out to all people regardless of race, religion, age and economic class.

I invite my colleagues to join me in paying tribute to these two incredible institutions, of which we are all their beneficiaries.

Étienne-Le Bel Clinical Research CentreStatements By Members

May 31st, 2010 / 2:05 p.m.

Bloc

Serge Cardin Bloc Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, as the ongoing issues at Chalk River give us reason to worry about the future of the medical isotope supply, researchers at the Étienne-Le Bel Clinical Research Centre at CHUS and the Université de Sherbrooke's faculty of medicine have shown that technetium-99m can be produced using a cyclotron, which does not require highly enriched uranium and does not produce radioactive waste. Creating a decentralized cyclotron network would secure our supply of technetium. The Étienne-Le Bel Centre is already involved in building a new cyclotron, and the cost of setting up a pilot site in Sherbrooke will be just a fraction of that associated with nuclear reactors.

Not only are researchers at the Étienne-Le Bel Centre pioneers in this field, but they are also offering the government a solution on a silver platter. I support the Étienne-Le Bel Centre's proposal, and I hope that the government will be smart enough to do so too.

International Children's DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise and welcome four remarkable young girls from Kelowna, British Columbia who are here with us today to lead a children's march on Parliament Hill. The march will take place tomorrow at noon to commemorate International Children's Day and to highlight a child's right to education, protection, equality and health.

Cassandra Hinchliffe, Jenni Matheson, Amelia Leonard and founder Alaina Podmorow are members of Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan. They are dedicated and committed to helping children around the world and are asking Canadians to do the same. In Alaina's own words, “Every single Canadian must take responsibility and take action....Each of us must make change”.

Each member and senator in Parliament has received an invitation to join the march. I thank everyone who has already confirmed their attendance and thank the young ladies for their leadership and for providing hope and opportunity to children around the world. Education equals peace.

AgricultureStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Conservative Red Deer, AB

Mr. Speaker, ranchers in Alberta and Saskatchewan have fought through two tough years of drought. Today I am pleased to announce in the House that our government has committed over $114 million to help our ranchers buy feed while their damaged pastures recover.

Our farmers and ranchers are a hardy bunch and they take pride in their independence. Ranchers in my riding are in the heart of this area and this new funding will provide a much needed boost to them. This critical support is thanks to the hard work of our Minister of Agriculture as well as Alberta Minister Jack Hayden and his Saskatchewan counterpart. The Saskatchewan agriculture minister, Bob Bjornerud, said:

The drought had a major effect on livestock producers in the designated area and this initiative will help them address the resulting additional feed costs.

This is another example of how our government works together with its provincial counterparts to support our farm sector.

St. John's International AirportStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Siobhan Coady Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the St. John's International Airport is a gateway to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. On occasion, however, adverse weather conditions hamper and delay air traffic. Not having the right airport landing equipment can cause diversions and delays, which are holding the airport back from reaching its full potential as an economic enabler.

For example, decisions regarding plant and office locations, the booking of large conferences and entertainment events are influenced by this frustrating problem. The airport authority seeks to enhance the landing equipment and infrastructure by the installation of a category 3 instrument landing system and related airfield infrastructure. This would increase availability to 98.91% and would place St. John's International Airport in the same usability range as other major Canadian airports.

In the first year of implementation, 700 arriving and departing flights would potentially be spared disruption due to adverse weather conditions. Clearly, these improvements at the airport would be a priority. I encourage the federal government to act quickly to enhance this vital transportation link.

Economic GrowthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Steven Blaney Conservative Lévis—Bellechasse, QC

Mr. Speaker, Statistics Canada announced today that the Canadian economy grew by 6.1% in the first quarter of 2010. This is the strongest quarterly rate in a decade.

Today's report shows that Canada's economic action plan is making our economy stronger and stronger.

With the tax relief granted by our government to help Canadian families, consumer spending has risen. Business investment has also increased thanks to our government's strong support for job creation.

The OECD and the International Monetary Fund are predicting that our economic growth will be the strongest of all the G7 countries this year and next.

Canada's economy is on the right track, but the global recovery remains fragile. We must complete Canada's economic action plan, which has the support of the Conservative members from Quebec.

While the Liberals have plans to raise taxes, our government is working hard to save jobs and maintain our economic growth.

Freedom FlotillaStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Bill Siksay NDP Burnaby—Douglas, BC

Mr. Speaker, New Democrats are shocked and deeply saddened by the unacceptable loss of life and injuries sustained as a result of the raid by Israeli forces against the Freedom Flotilla of ships bringing aid to Gaza.

Our leader joins other international leaders in the call for an urgent and independent investigation into this terrible incident that jeopardizes the pursuit of peace in the region. He also calls on our Prime Minister to immediately lend Canada's voice to the rapidly growing call for this inquiry.

This violence further underlines the urgent need for a negotiated peace and resolution to the crisis in Gaza. New Democrats further call on the Canadian government to work with the international community to find an end to loss of life in this region.

Speaking personally, I hope that our Prime Minister took the opportunity he had today on the world stage to strongly express those concerns directly to the Prime Minister of Israel.

I extend my profound sympathy to the families of those who died and call on Israel to immediately release all those detained in this incident in international waters. Respect for those who seek peace must be fundamental to actions of all governments.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tilly O'Neill-Gordon Conservative Miramichi, NB

Mr. Speaker, we heard that Canada has recorded its strongest quarterly rate of economic growth in a decade. Indeed, Canada posted the strongest first quarter growth in the entire G7. No wonder the OECD secretary-general singled out Canada for praise, saying:

I think Canada looks good—it shines, actually

Canada's economic action plan is having a major positive impact with its job-creating tax cuts, stimulus infrastructure projects, and much more. Our Conservative government's plan has helped create 285,000 jobs since last July.

The last thing our economy needs is a massive Liberal tax grab. While our plan is helping lead the way on jobs and growth, the Liberal plan to raise taxes would halt our recovery in its tracks, and according to experts, would kill almost 400,000 jobs. Canada's economy just cannot afford another Liberal tax grab.

Canada Elections ActStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

Bloc

Michel Guimond Bloc Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, some current members of the Conservative cabinet may have to say goodbye to their seats in the next election. This should be the case for the members for Louis-Saint-Laurent, Pontiac and Mégantic—L'Érable, who are all ministers, as well as the member for Beauce.

In fact, they may not even have the right to run. Why? Because they violated the Canada Elections Act by exceeding the allowable campaign expenses in 2006, which allowed them to unfairly promote the Conservative campaign platform.

It is probably this same desire that motivated the government to plaster economic action plan signs from coast to coast to coast at an outrageous cost of $42 million. When it comes to spreading propaganda about Conservative Reform ideas, the government does not balk at spending astronomical amounts.

No one should ignore the law. That applies to all citizens and even more so to Conservative ministers.