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House of Commons Hansard #58 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was growth.

Topics

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I guess the documents to which he made reference, including “Advantage Canada”, the action plan and the budget document, are nothing more than inscribed rhetoric. What I do is I look at the outcomes. I am proud to have been part of an administration—

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

The outcomes speak for themselves.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, if the member would listen, he would learn something.

Everybody in Canada is looking at exactly the same thing. Under our previous administration before the Conservatives came to office, we had an unemployment rate in the country that went below 6%, when 5.5% is considered to be full employment. The pressures on our human resources potential to address all of the demands by the marketplace were so strained that we needed to come up with a demographic plan to address all of those.

Today, the unemployment rate is above 8%. People can no longer look with the same kind of optimism—

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Bruce Stanton Conservative Simcoe North, ON

That is the role of the G7.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is the G7. Here it is. That is the problem. It is everybody else. The devil made them do it. The government was in government for a particular purpose: to make sure that Canadians could benefit from the advantage that is resident in Canada—

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order. There is time for another brief question. The hon. member for Hochelaga.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Bloc

Daniel Paillé Bloc Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am new to the House, but even when I was a member of Quebec's National Assembly, I was always excited to hear the member for Eglinton—Lawrence's earnest statements. He has style, confidence and parliamentary savoir-faire. Government members tremble when he speaks.

I wonder if he will use his volubility and eloquence to serve democracy by persuading all of his Liberal Party colleagues to show up and vote with the Bloc and NDP members so that we can finally rid ourselves—

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Eglinton—Lawrence has 30 seconds left.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

Liberal

Joe Volpe Liberal Eglinton—Lawrence, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the compliments. Perhaps they are undeserved, but I have learned in my years that when there is a compliment, there is also a reality to be faced. I accept his challenge and I tell him in all humility, not in false modesty, that I will do my very best to have other people follow my example.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with my colleague from Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

We are at third reading of Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill. The Bloc Québécois voted against this Conservative bill at second reading because, in addition to not meeting Quebec's needs, it undermines Quebec's economic development, against the wishes of Quebec's National Assembly.

We obviously supported the NDP amendments at report stage that would have deleted parts of the bill.

Although it has been shown that this bill is unacceptable for Quebec, it has still made it to the final stage, thanks to the complicity of the Liberal opposition, which arranged that the bill would receive enough support through all the stages.

In their speeches, the Liberals—and we just heard an example—make some pro forma criticisms of the bill but when it comes time to vote there are enough absentees to allow the bill to pass, because it is a confidence vote.

This so-called official opposition does not want to defeat the government. In order to make themselves understood, they even announced in advance what they would do, supposedly because the voters do not want an election. It was very easy, therefore, for the Conservative government to introduce major changes to other bills in six parts of this one in order to quietly slip them through.

The Conservatives also took advantage of the opportunity to trample all over the jurisdictions of Quebec and the provinces by creating a Canada-wide securities commission in Toronto.

I like to think that the ideal would be a good government that is concerned about the well-being of the population, old people and our fragile environment and, insofar as Quebeckers are concerned, considers us a nation, as it did officially acknowledge. But that is not what this Conservative government elected in the fall of 2008 is doing.

We should all remember that this is a minority government and the opposition parties exist precisely to express their opinions, say why they disagree, and oppose when necessary.

A general election is obviously a major undertaking for the various parties and there are necessarily costs involved, but the social and monetary costs of more years of Conservative rule are much more onerous, especially for Quebec.

I would like to speak now about my riding of Alfred-Pellan. A Liberal candidate was chosen about a year ago and he seems to have been campaigning ever since, in case there is an election. It just goes to show how indecisive and inconsistent the Liberals are.

It is only natural for a candidate to work hard for success during an election campaign, but perhaps this one should be reminded that his party does not even want an election. In any case, I would like to know what kind of alternative a Liberal candidate would currently offer.

Today is the last chance for all the members from Quebec to oppose this bill.

It contradicts two unanimous votes in the Quebec National Assembly, and it is simply unacceptable for members from Quebec to be complicit in it, given that the Quebec nation was officially recognized in this House.

There was a unanimous request from Quebec that the government provide $2.2 billion in financial compensation for the harmonization of the sales tax. Still the government refuses, despite the agreements that were signed with five other provinces for a total of $6.8 billion.

On March 31, 2009—more than a year ago—the Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed a motion asking the federal government to treat Quebec fairly and equitably by providing compensation comparable to what Ontario is receiving for harmonizing its sales tax.

Despite the repeated pleas of the Government of Quebec and all the attempts of the Bloc Québécois to correct this injustice, the Conservative government is still refusing Quebec’s requests.

What was possible with five other provinces does not seem to be possible with the one that is in fact recognized as a nation. That is unacceptable to Quebec.

What can we say now about the government’s intention of trampling the powers of the provinces and of Quebec by creating its national securities commission, again in spite of a unanimous vote against it by Quebec?

The entire economic community of Quebec is mobilizing against this coup. The editorial writer in La Presse, a newspaper owned by Power Corporation that is in fact dedicated to defending federalism in Quebec, says, and I quote: “The expression ‘predatory federalism’ is overused, but that is what this comes down to.”

In addition, the editorial writer in Le Devoir says, in an editorial entitled “Perverse process”, that if the government wins in the Supreme Court, it would be a flat-out intrusion into a provincial field of jurisdiction, another step toward centralization of the country.

He goes on to say that the trap lies in the provinces’ freedom to join in the process. The three recalcitrant provinces, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, will not be able to resist the pressure from the market.

We are looking at a poorly disguised attempt at constitutional fraud. Once it has its foot in the securities field, the federal government will find it easy to expand its sphere of activity, while Quebec’s will shrink, against its will. The members from Quebec must not take part in this attack on the Quebec nation.

This negation of Quebec in the bill was not enough. Taking advantage of the Liberals’ acknowledged servility, the government has introduced very significant amendments to other statutes in this bill that it does not have the courage to put forward and defend by introducing separate bills, as our democratic parliamentary rules require.

In the few minutes available to them, witnesses we heard in committee expressed their confusion in the face of the lack of consideration given to subjects as important as the exclusive privilege of the Canada Post Corporation, the privatization of Atomic Energy Canada, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Employment Insurance Act.

I would like to speak specifically about part 24 of the bill, which amends the Employment Insurance Act. The Bloc Québécois called for substantial improvements to the scheme. Instead, the bill hands us the following measures: the 2010 budget closes the employment insurance account and creates a new account, the employment insurance operating account; and the accumulated employment insurance surpluses are eliminated finally and permanently, with retroactive effect to January 1, 2009.

The employment insurance surplus, amounting to more than $57 billion on March 31, 2009, will disappear for good.

That was not enough. Lifting the freeze on premium rates in 2011 as set out in the bill will not even improve the system. The government will help itself to surpluses estimated at $19 billion between 2011 and 2015. It is appalling that they will penalize the workers of Quebec and Canada like this.

Out of respect for the people of my riding of Alfred-Pellan, I will vote against this budget, which clearly does not meet their needs and in fact works against their development and progress. In fact, I would like to see all members of this House from Quebec show some solidarity at this crucial moment and oppose this bill.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Jim Maloway NDP Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely correct in his analysis of Bill C-9. We have an omnibus bill which is 880 pages long; it has to be a record. The government is adding in all sorts of measures that have nothing whatsoever to do with budget implementation. More to the point, they are measures the Conservatives have been trying to get through the House for the last two years.

For example, on the post office remailer issue, the government introduced Bill C-14 and Bill C-44 over the last two years. The Conservatives brought those bills to the House, debated them, but could not get them through the House, so they simply have seized the opportunity while the Liberals are sleeping to stick it into this huge omnibus bill and ram it through the House. That is the way the government is approaching the legislative agenda today and it is absolutely wrong. It is the wrong way to proceed.

I would like to ask the member for his comments.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for raising this point. Clearly, the six parts of this bill that really should be separate bills are inconsistent with a normal democratic system. We should be able to amend every bill, taking into account the various procedures, so we can take the time to hear witnesses and propose amendments to ensure that bills really meet the needs of the public.

Our system is working very poorly because the official opposition has already announced that it will support the budget implementation bill. It is giving in to the will of the government, which can now do whatever it likes.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on his speech and for pointing out the complacency and, even worse, the fact that the Liberals are again sitting on their hands when it comes to this budget. What is even more pernicious, in addition to the fact that they are keeping the Conservatives in power, is that it allows the Conservatives to add all the elements mentioned by the member because they know that the Liberals will let the budget pass. The bill will, among other things, deregulate the postal service and confirm the pillage of the employment insurance fund. These are elements that should not be in a budget, which has become an omnibus budget bill, as previously stated by my colleague from Hochelaga, our finance critic.

As my colleague asked, why do the Liberals not realize this? Yesterday, they could have voted for the amendments to withdraw these pernicious elements from Bill C-9. They at least would have taken a stand. They have again shown that they are incapable of doing so.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Robert Carrier Bloc Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to again thank my colleague for his question. The fact that the official opposition, which is the largest party in opposition, is already announcing that it will not vote against this bill, undermines the foundations of the functioning of the parliamentary system, which requires that every bill must be studied on its merits. There is a leadership problem in the opposition across the country. The opposition is theoretical and virtual and does not fulfil its full role in our democratic system.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to Bill C-9, the budget implementation bill, but I am also deeply disappointed. This bill to implement one of the most important aspects of the parliamentary cycle—the budget—and to formalize this defining moment is something of a lost opportunity. The government had a golden opportunity to reposition Canada's economy as a 21st century economy that focuses on the future and will outstrip the past 30, 40 or 50 years during which our economic activity was heavily dependent on the oil industry.

The government decided to shelve the green revolution that Canada needs to restructure the economy and create the value-added jobs of the future, many of which are green jobs. Instead, the government chose to remain in the stone age of economic development and cling to its reliance on the oil industry, which is located primarily in the west, as is its political base.

Today's initiatives concern the budget presented a few months ago, which proved that the government's economic choices were essentially political, partisan choices made in the interest of the party's political base in Saskatchewan and Alberta, choices that penalize most other regions of Canada, especially those that rely on manufacturing. Manufacturing, this country's second economic driver, particularly in Quebec and Ontario, has been penalized over the past few years by Canada's policy of promoting fossil fuels, thereby causing the Canadian dollar to rise. Canadian manufacturing exporters have been victims of what is known as the Dutch disease, a phenomenon that Holland experienced and that Canada is going through, too.

Canada's dollar rose largely because of choices about natural resources. Canada and Quebec are being penalized by the government's economic choices made at the expense of the manufacturing and forestry sectors.

Instead, especially when Canada will be hosting the G8 and G20, we would have expected our country to answer the call that came from the UN on October 22, 2008, asking the G8 nations to come up with a green new deal by developing initiatives to promote investment in clean technologies and natural resources.

This green economy initiative was designed to create green jobs and to develop policies and market instruments that could expedite a transition to a sustainable economy. Moreover, the UN has given countries 24 months, until October 22, 2010, to come up with a plan. But judging by the discussions at the UN, the Prime Minister is refusing to give the fight against climate change a prominent place on the agenda for the G8 and G20. Yet climate change is one of the most important issues of the century, because it is causing other crises, such as food and financial crises.

One day, we are going to have to understand that as long as we do not tackle climate change head-on, the food crisis in developing countries will escalate. Canada's lack of leadership on climate change at the G8 summit is disappointing, and it shows that as soon as the Conservatives came to power, they decided to give up on the fight against climate change. We know what happened. We found out last week when Environment Canada released a report stating that by the time the Kyoto deadline arrives, Canada's greenhouse gas emissions will have increased by 30% over 1990 levels.

That is the problem. Canada could have included a number of initiatives in its budget. Moreover, we had made pre-budget proposals calling for Canada's economy to be converted to a sustainable, greener economy. What did we propose? First, we did not propose reinventing a number of programs. We said that existing programs, programs the government had cut and programs that were underfunded should all be enhanced.

That is the case with the ecoauto program, for example, which gave financial incentives to citizens wanting to purchase more fuel-efficient vehicles. What did the government do? It refused to agree with us and use an existing tool, taxation, to encourage greener forms of transportation. We also said that the government, again using this fiscal instrument, could give financial incentives to a number of businesses. That is the case with renewable energy. We proposed improving the wind power production incentive program under which, in the past, the federal government would pay 1¢ for every kilowatt hour of energy produced by wind. It was a federal contribution, using this fiscal instrument, to help the economy shift towards a carbon-free economy. Once again, the government turned a deaf ear.

And what is happening now? We have learned that in Quebec, for example, businesses in Bromont's wind-energy sector are closing down simply because the government decided against offering tax incentives. But things south of the border are booming. And American President Barack Obama has decided to invest in energy sources of the future, to pursue this new economic revolution—the clean technology revolution—and use his federal budget to invest more than 10 times more per capita in energy efficiency and the fight against climate change. While the American economy is transforming itself, the Canadian economy is killing time and, when it comes to economic development, has decided to stay in the stone age. But at what expense? At the expense of economic sustainability. And this will ensure that the jobs of tomorrow will not be value-added jobs. We have to use what I call the fiscal instrument to convert our economy.

However, the government has another instrument at its disposal, and that is regulation. The government could adopt regulations that force our economy to be more sustainable. It started to do so by regulating motor vehicles. For 10 years, we have been calling on the House of Commons to amend motor vehicle manufacturing standards to match the ones that exist in California. We are happy to see that the government is going along with our proposal. Quebec initiated this harmonization a few months ago. Quebec was criticized by the Minister of the Environment.

All of a sudden, the minister is saying that Quebec was right. The standards will now be harmonized with those in California.

In conclusion, I want to say that it is possible to present a federal budget that aims to make our economy carbon-free. If we do not do it, our neighbours to the south will. And our competitiveness will be the first to suffer. At the end of the day, it is the workers who will see new jobs created, but they will be so-called carbon jobs with no added value.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Christian Ouellet Bloc Brome—Missisquoi, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my hon. colleague on his very clear speech on taxation, which could be much greener.

I would also like to ask him what he thinks of the initiatives the government has taken, which, I believe, have come up short and will not necessarily deliver what the government was hoping. This is particularly true in the case of biofuels. A huge amount of money has been invested, but will that really produce the desired results?

There is also what the government wanted to develop with regard to the capture and storage in the ground of oil companies' CO2 emissions. A great deal of money is being spent on this technology. Will this change the tax situation in our country?

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will begin with the first question.

We have learned from the Environment Canada report released last Friday that the measures introduced by the federal government in recent years have not actually led to any greenhouse gas reductions. That is the Canadian tragedy. That is the federal tragedy. The approach presented by the federal government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions does not produce any results. For a government that has been in power for a few years now and wanted to maximize every dollar invested in the fight against climate change, the truth is, it has failed.

As for carbon capture and sequestration, the Conservatives are asking us to finance an oil industry that is making huge profits. Now they want to use tax measures to finance their carbon capture and sequestration project. It is completely unacceptable. Instead, we must reinvest in renewable energy sources and not give huge incentives—nearly $64 billion since 1970—to an industry that is making huge profits.

It does not make sense. It goes against sustainable development practices and is not the way to achieve a greener economy in the next 10 or 20 years.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Bloc Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Mr. Speaker, on this World Oceans Day, I imagine that the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie's opinion on Bill C-9 is surely motivated by the increasing concern for the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the estuary, with respect to oil and gas development. I would like to hear what he has to say about this because Bill C-9 opens the door to a laissez-faire approach that, in my opinion, is very dangerous.

Jobs and Economic Growth ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Bloc

Bernard Bigras Bloc Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will use my two remaining minutes. There is a risk with Bill C-9. What does it do in terms of oil and gas drilling projects, especially in offshore areas? It transfers responsibility from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to the National Energy Board. It means that an economic department is going to conduct environmental assessments. That is the current risk. It is like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse. We must remember the events in the United States. When an economic office is responsible for the environmental assessment of projects, the ecosystems will definitely be in danger.

VeteransStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Blake Richards Conservative Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, our military veterans are the pride of Canada for their selfless service in our defence and they have much to teach us. However, time is marching and the lessons to be learned from the experiences of our World War II veterans risk being lost with their passing. That is why I have invited the Historica-Dominion Institute's memory project to my riding of Wild Rose this summer.

Later this month, the memory project will interview veterans in Wild Rose to record their first-hand stories as well as their wartime artifacts and memorabilia for a digitized archive. These veterans' stories will afterwards be available on line at thememory project.com for teachers, students and the general public to learn from and enjoy.

Canadians deserve a permanent record of their country's participation in the second world war as seen through the eyes of our veterans.

I am pleased that our veterans in Wild Rose will have the opportunity to contribute to this memory project.

FIFA World CupStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the 2010 Fédération Internationale de Football Association World Cup in South Africa June 11 to July 11.

Call it soccer, football or footie, this game is the most popular sport in the world and one of the most popular in Canada. The FIFA World Cup is the most widely watched sporting event in the world. Seven hundred and fifteen million people watched the tournament in 2006.

Sadly our Canadian team did not qualify for 2010, so young players, get ready for 2014. It will be Canada's turn. Instead I will cheer this year for my country of birth, South Africa, the first African nation to ever host the World Cup.

The World Cup is a celebration of athletic participation and excellence and, most important, it displays the world's cultural diversity. Through sport, our young people grow healthier, our communities grow stronger and the nations of the world grow closer.

As the Liberal critic for amateur sport, I invite parliamentarians to join me in wishing all the competing teams and players in South Africa the very best of luck.

Education in QuebecStatements by Members

June 8th, 2010 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Pierre Paquette Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Bloc Québécois, the Parti Québécois, the NDP, unions and French-language-defence groups have joined together to oppose the Government of Quebec's Bill 103. This bill is a threat to education in French and to the integration model based on the French-language public education system.

If it were passed, Bill 103 would give parents the opportunity to buy the right for their children to go to school in English, provided that one of the children has spent three years in an unsubsidized, private English-language school. Although students will be required to attend these bridging schools for a longer period, the problem is still there. As odious as it is, only the rich will be able to pay to get around the Charter of the French Language.

I urge the public to defend our language, to defend the model of integration through education in French, and to come out en masse to the various demonstrations that will be held against Bill 103.

The Bloc Québécois will never accept a bill that would weaken French, our common language.

World Oceans DayStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada has the longest coastline on Earth and I rise today to draw attention to World Oceans Day. As Canadians watch the gulf coast catastrophe unfold, it becomes overwhelmingly evident that concrete action must be taken now to protect our oceans.

As New Democrat oceans critic, I acknowledge the government's announcements today to add two new areas of interest. However, as the ministers realize, it takes a long time to go from the AOI stage to becoming an actual marine protected area, a status for which the Race Rocks AOI has been waiting for years. It also requires dedicated resources, funds that will ensure our oceans from the Pacific to the Arctic to the Atlantic are protected. It is unacceptable that 1% of our marine protected waters have been protected to date.

In order to reach our goal of a complete and comprehensive marine protected area system by 2012, I call on all members of the House to honour our national and international commitments to protect our oceans.

Fort McMurray AirportStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Jean Conservative Fort McMurray—Athabasca, AB

Mr. Speaker, northern Alberta is a major contributor to Canada's economy. The Fort McMurray Airport is the fastest growing airport in North America. In the last five years it has grown from 200,000 to 700,000 passengers annually.

Approximately 350 flights leave the northern Alberta oil sands every week for destinations all around Canada. Most of the passengers are oil sands workers who take home over $100,000 a year and these paycheques are not spent in northern Alberta. The money goes to their families in Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and all over Canada.

Northern Alberta is the economic engine of Canada. Our region provides 6% of Canada's GDP and creates over 250,000 direct jobs throughout the country. What we hear through the grapevine is not always the truth. People do not understand the good, responsible environmental work that the oil sand companies are doing there.

Canada needs northern Alberta, just like northern Alberta needs Canada. Instead of criticizing, I invite everyone to come and see for themselves the truth of what is happening in the oil sands.

Tourism IndustryStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Navdeep Bains Liberal Mississauga—Brampton South, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is Tourism Week in Canada, but with both the ideological cuts to festivals and the harsh Mexican visa requirements, it seems that the Conservative government wants to spoil the party.

Tourism generates $71 billion in annual revenue and $20.8 billion in revenue for the government. Yet our tourism industry continues to get no respect from a government that puts ideology ahead of economics again and again.

In fact, the government would rather spend millions building a G8 media centre that will not actually host the media or gazebos and toilets hours away from the summit. Yet when it comes to shelling out $400,000 to help make Toronto's pride more accessible, all of a sudden the government cannot possibly afford it.

For all these bad decisions, I should tell the government to go jump in a lake, but it would probably spend millions on building one just to show me up.

Canada's tourism industry deserves better.