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House of Commons Hansard #74 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was agreements.

Topics

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

As no other member has risen, I recognize the hon. member for Brandon—Souris for his right of reply.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Merv Tweed Conservative Brandon—Souris, MB

Madam Speaker, I thank all members on all sides of the House who have shown interest in the bill and also support. I listened at the first reading of this when we had concerns brought to us. Again, today, I acknowledged concerns and issues of members. Over the summer, I heard from many people about their concerns with the bill, so when we get to committee, we can iron some of those things out and hopefully even improve the bill, such as putting in a sunset clause where we have to come back and review it to ensure it actually serves the purpose it was intended to.

I have always believed that communities of all sizes should be treated equally and fairly. The library book rate does that for people who want to increase their literacy, their reading, their knowledge and their access. The reason we expanded it to include audiovisual materials was simply because that was the trend. As the hon. member said earlier, I suspect that a few years from now books will not be the major items that are shipped to and from libraries.

I look forward to the bill going to committee. I look forward to more debate on it, but also at the end of the day, producing a bill that benefits all Canadians, in particular and in my heart rural and remote Canadians to have access to the same benefits that everyone else in Canada enjoys and rightly so.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The time provided for debate has expired. Therefore, the question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I declare the motion carried. Accordingly the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Sorenson Conservative Crowfoot, AB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. First, I again want to commend the member for Brandon—Souris. I believe if you were to seek it, you would find consent to see the clock as 6:30 p.m.

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Is that agreed?

Canada Post Corporation ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Madam Speaker, on May 7, I asked the government House leader several legitimate questions about the conduct of his government. Instead the House leader completely sidelined the question and attempted to steer the opposition. I will not go into the details of the allegations made by the minister, but I will say that it is an insult to the intelligence of Canadians.

What is even more insulting is that Canadians wanted answers to the questions that I asked of the government minister. Groups such as the Centre des travailleuses en maisons privées in Montreal listened when I asked the questions, listened to his responses and were not very happy about it.

Instead, this centre had its funding cut this year and as their funding was cut he chose to slap them straight in the face, to add insult to injury, in revving up the political rhetoric in deflecting my questions, which were legitimate ones.

This is an issue of the muzzling of groups by the Conservative government and it is a serious issue. For years the government and the Prime Minister have attempted to silence any reasoned and credible opposition, not just from other parties but also from individuals and groups of average citizens. Anyone with damaging information or a contrary opinion to the government is told to “shut the f— up”, to use the words of a Conservative senator, if they do not want to suffer the consequences.

I will name just a few of those who have been muzzled: Linda Keen, former president of the Nuclear Safety Commission; Peter Tinsley, once head of the Military Police Complaints Commission; Paul Kennedy, once chair of the RCMP public complaints commission; Adrian Measner, once president and CEO of the Canadian Wheat Board; Yves Côté, once the ombudsman for the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces; Munir Sheikh, once the head of Statistics Canada; Steve Sullivan, once the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime; Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer; Richard Colvin, a Canadian diplomat. I could go on.

This government clearly has a history of attacking in particular what it calls “fringe groups”, meaning ordinary Canadian community groups and government bodies that are following their legal mandate, and muzzling groups with which it does not agree.

For example, the Prime Minister cut the court challenges program. The court challenges program was designed:

to provide financial assistance for important court cases that advance language and equality rights guaranteed under Canada's Constitution.

It was cut by the Conservative government.

In the meantime, when we talk about equality rights, Canadian women are still only earning 71¢ to every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

Here is what one former watchdog had to say about this government.

Peter Tinsley reportedly suggested that his removal from the Military Police Complaints Commission is part of a broader pattern with this Conservative government. Mr. Tinsley said that the former Liberal government, in contrast, deliberately did not remove Shirley Heafey, who oversaw the controversial inquiry into the pepper spraying of protesters by the Mounties at the 1997 APEC summit in B.C., because the Liberal government wanted to avoid the appearance of trying to shut down a tribunal that was generating negative publicity for that government.

6:05 p.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Madam Speaker, let me first say in response that I reject the premise of the question presented by the hon. member across the aisle.

Number one, she speaks about cuts to funding for a women's organization. In fact, we are spending more money on women's organizations in Canada today than at any other time in history.

I should also point out that if the hon. member wants to talk about cuts in funding, let us go back to the 1990s when the former Liberal Party was in government. There was $25 billion that it cut in social and health care transfers to the provinces in order to try to cover and pay off the debt that was racked up by its former hero, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

Also, since it is a timely discussion today with EI private members' bills being debated and discussed, the Liberals took $50 billion out of the EI fund to help try to pay down the deficit as well, punishing workers and employers at the same time.

The Liberal Party has a very poor track record. In my view, at least, it is absolutely hypocritical that they should criticize this government for funding cuts, when in fact they were the authors of some of the largest funding cuts to Canadians and provinces in history.

I should also point out, as I alluded to just a few moments ago, that this was a result of massive debts racked up by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau government in the 1970s. In fact, as history knows, Prime Minister Trudeau at the time, at the end of his term, was spending $1.03 for every dollar in revenue the government took in. That is unsustainable, and that is why Canada has as high a debt load as we do today.

The National Post had a great editorial today, talking about Mr. Trudeau's legacy. It points out quite correctly that the philosophy of Mr. Trudeau was to spend his way out of debt, to inflate his way out of debt. It just simply does not work.

I also notice that we have a current leader of the official opposition who has stated repeatedly and in publications across Canada that he is cut from the same mould as Pierre Trudeau.

The official opposition leader is calling himself a tax and spend Liberal. He is advocating such things as a 45-day work year in terms of EI benefits. Those are things that would cost billions upon billions of dollars to the Canadian economy and would tax workers and employers. That is simply not acceptable.

When I hear words from the hon. member opposite that the present-day Conservative government has been cutting funds to groups, it simply does not wash, because it is not true.

One thing the Liberal Party was very good at when it was in government a few years ago was funding a lot of advocacy groups, but not because it felt that this was the right thing to do. It was merely because, by funding these groups, the groups would then in turn speak favourably about the government. In other words, it used taxpayers' dollars to fund groups that would go out and promote the Liberal brand across Canada.

That is not responsible government. It is not even close to being responsible government. That is the choice Canadians will have come the next election.

Do they want to go back to the irresponsible tax and spend ways of the Liberals, who proved in the 1970s and onwards that they could not be responsible in terms of guarding taxpayers' dollars; or do they want to re-elect a Conservative government that provides stable, fiscally responsible government, as we see today?

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Marlene Jennings Liberal Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Madam Speaker, Le Centre des travailleuses en maisons privées in Montreal had its federal funding cut by this government.

When the hon. member opposite talks about the spending cuts and program cuts of the Liberal governments in the 1990s, from 1993 to 1996, he forgets that his party, at the time called the Reform Party, and the Prime Minister, who was around at the time, were actually criticizing the Liberal government. They said that government was not going far enough in its program and spending cuts to tackle the $42-billion Conservative deficit, which has now been surpassed by the new Conservative deficit, which is in the $50-billion range.

Back in 2005, the Prime Minister said when a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid dissent is when it is rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.

When did the Prime Minister stop believing what he said in 2005? Was it when he became Prime Minister?

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Madam Speaker, once again, I reject the premise of the question. It is absolutely ridiculous to consider that a member from a former government, which cut $75 billion between social and health care transfers and EI benefits, stands in this place and suggests that cuts to programs that perhaps were ending or nearing the end of their term are perhaps a sign of dissent.

We have seen that this Conservative government has placed priorities on spending initiatives for our military, for our families, and for our farmers. That is the way to run a responsible government, not like the hack-and-slash deficit-cutting scheme of the former Liberal government.

Voters will have a clear choice come the next election between the tax and spend Liberals of previous years and the fiscally responsible Conservative government of today, and I know that they will make the right choice.

6:10 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, on May 13 I asked two questions in my quest to have this Conservative government stop weakening the protection of coastlines from oil spill risks.

In December 2009, the government changed offshore drilling regulations to shift government's role away from ensuring that companies properly operate and manage safety and environmental protection. Instead, it placed the responsibility on the companies, thus abdicating government's own responsibility to prevent and manage oil spill response. This is completely unacceptable.

We saw in the Gulf of Mexico just how very damaging to economies and communities oil spills can be and also that the spill response appeared to be really no better and no further advanced than it was decades before. Therefore, I am calling on the government, and the Liberals are calling on the government, to take action and provide better oversight.

The second question had to do with the tanker ban in the Pacific north coast inland waters. I will give a quick history lesson on this, because apparently it is needed.

In 1972, the Liberal government, under Prime Minister Trudeau's policy, put a moratorium on tanker traffic in the channels around Haida Gwaii and extended that moratorium to include a ban on offshore oil and gas drilling. Since 1972, all governments have respected these bans, this moratorium, including two Conservative governments. Millions have been spent, through three federal panels since 2003, to review the moratorium. All referred specifically to the moratorium on oil tankers through Hecate Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound, and Dixon Entrance.

Now the Conservative government has backed away, dismisses or even pretends this moratorium does not exist, and apparently is willing to put the coastal economies, jobs, and communities at risk. The Liberals are not willing to do that. That is why the Liberal leader has committed to ending this ambiguity and took decisive action this spring to announce a commitment to formalize the ban through legislation.

I would like to just read a point about this economic action on the Liberals' part. This was from an article in the August 5 Globe and Mail by Eric Swanson. He put it very well. He said:

There is no existing crude oil tanker traffic in the area. The choice to ban these tankers is not one of environment over economy. It is a choice of a sustainable economy over an unsustainable economy. Economies are created by people. We choose, collectively, what they look like and how they function. Sustainable economies allow our children and grandchildren to be born with essentially the same opportunities and resources as now. Unsustainable economies cumulatively degrade and deplete.

Allowing oil tankers would threaten the foundations of a sustainable north coast economy. Where oil moves, oil spills. Even from double-hulled tankers; even with tugboats around; even with pilots on board. Machines break and humans err. If oil were to spill on our coast, if it soaked the beaches of our Great Bear Rainforest, we could not clean it all up. The Exxon Valdez and the BP spill show us that a single spill can devastate lives, economies, ecosystems and cultures.

All of the first nations in that coastal area are united in their opposition to allowing tankers. The Lax Kw'alaams, the Wuikinuxv, the Skidegate, the Metlakatla, the Old Masset, the Kitasoo/Xaixais band, the Heiltsuk, the Haisla, and the Gitga'at are all solidly for a ban on tanker traffic.

I call on the government to come up to our remote areas and to join us in protecting those coastlines from oil spills.

6:15 p.m.

Cypress Hills—Grasslands Saskatchewan

Conservative

David Anderson ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and for the Canadian Wheat Board

Madam Speaker, it is unfortunate that we are here tonight listening to more fearmongering about hypothetical situations. The member opposite knows full well that nothing has changed in terms of the tanker traffic moratorium. She also knows full well, as the Senate committee recently recognized, that Canada's offshore regulatory system is among the best in the world. There are very few systems that are better than ours.

We could talk for the next few minutes about that specific issue, but I think there is something even more important that we need to discuss and that is credibility.

The Liberals differ from us on this because we have been consistent on these issues. We have been consistent on the regulatory issues. We have been consistent on the moratorium. They have not.

It is hard for people to know where they stand on anything. It is hard to know whether they stand in favour of oil drilling or not because we cannot get a clear position from them. It is hard to tell where they stand on the moratorium on tanker traffic because they have been inconsistent on that for months as well. It is hard to tell where they stand on energy development. Are they for it or are they against it?

Even in agriculture, which is one of the things I really enjoy, we cannot tell where they stand. There is a GMO bill that has been presented, an extreme radical bill by the NDP. the Liberals have always opposed those kinds of things and under the direction of the member for Malpeque now they seem to be standing in favour of that as well.

We need to know where they stand on these issues.

One of the biggest issues of inconsistency came yesterday and probably damaged the Liberal Party more than almost anything else in the last year or two. That was last night when we were here voting on the EI bill that had been put forward. This is a bill that would cost something like $7 billion a year. It would result in a 35% increase in EI premiums. It would set up a 45-day work week.

Even yesterday morning the Liberal leader called it fiscally irresponsible. When we hear those words coming from the leader of a party we would expect that his party would likely vote against the bill. Last night we got here and the Liberals took four positions.

I have the voting list here from last night. It is very intriguing because the majority of the Liberals supported it. They believe that Canadians should have been hit with a 35% increase in EI premiums, that it should cost them $7 billion. Some Liberals were against it. There were three of them who were against it. I think the member opposite was one of the three who opposed it. Some of them sat. What was fascinating is the House leader sat and the deputy opposition leader sat. The fourth position was that some cleared the House. The Liberal leader was among the people who actually left the premises so he did not have to vote on this. In the morning he is saying it is fiscally irresponsible; at night he is running out the door.

It is a disaster. It is a disaster for their party. Canadians can see right through it. The leader flees. The House leader and deputy opposition leader sit and do not even vote. I am sure that the deputy opposition leader is probably still smarting from his recent demotion but one would think he would at least support his leader. Then the majority follow the critic and actually support an extreme bill.

On this issue we see the Liberals are inconsistent. On many other issues we see them as being inconsistent. Thankfully the government is not. The government is consistent in its positions and we have taken consistent positions on virtually every issue, including the one we are speaking about tonight, which is the regulatory system governing offshore drilling.

We have been consistent. We have been consistent in our demands that Canadian industry reach and hold to the highest standards. We are consistent in that as we are in our commitment to Canadians.

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Liberal Vancouver Quadra, BC

Madam Speaker, I find it very sad that when we are speaking about a serious issue of a risk of oil spills from the tip of Vancouver Island to Alaska affecting potentially 50,000 jobs that depend on the coastal environment, that the member takes the time to laughably make partisan shots and talk about completely unrelated issues. That is coming from a member whose government only recently backed down from its plan to implement a job-killing payroll tax increase, thanks to the Liberal Party's input.

What am I to tell the first nations up and down the coast when the member does not even have the courtesy to respond to the serious issue? Does that member not think the environment is important? Does that member not think that the economy of our coastal fisheries is important?

It is completely shameful that the member is not taking seriously the risks to which the Conservative Party is opening the door in terms of potential oil spills on our coast.

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Madam Speaker, the member is absolutely right that this is a big issue. Something as big as this actually requires leadership. As I pointed out, that is what this government can provide. That is what the opposition cannot provide.

The Liberals certainly gave no indication last night when they were voting that they could provide any type of leadership for Canadians. The Liberal leader said that the bill was fiscally irresponsible. The Liberal deputy leader and House leader sat in their seats. The critic stood to support the bill, along with the majority of their caucus. That is not a party that is fit to lead.

Our party is ready to lead. We are leading. We are taking care of the issues, including the regulatory issues regarding offshore drilling and the issues regarding the moratorium on tanker traffic.

6:20 p.m.

NDP

The Acting Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, the House stands adjourned until tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m., pursuant to order made on Monday, September 27, 2010.

(The House adjourned at 6:24 p.m.)