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House of Commons Hansard #67 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.

Topics

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for his speech.

I must admit that I am always surprised to see how anxious the government is to sign free trade agreements and I think the hon. member will agree.

I have a simple question for the hon. member. Does he think this is truly a matter of life and death, considering the volume of trade between Canada and Jordan?

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, I do not often give the government credit but it did have this bill in the previous Parliament.

Much of what we see from the government is smoke and mirrors. This is the world's 90th largest economy, so it is fairly far down the list. The government will go to great lengths to spin the nine trade agreements, while at the same time we are losing the South Korean market, we are falling back in the United States market and we have now had our first merchandise trade deficit in 30 years under the government's watch.

We need to cut through the smoke and mirrors and the spin of the government to get to what the reality really is. Yes, the trade agreement is important, but we should ensure that we secure our current markets and fight for our rights in those markets with the United States and others.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand in the House and address this legislation today. It is an important trade deal, especially since Canada is an exporting nation. Canada exports over 60% of its GDP to other nations, so it is important to look for additional places to increase our market share in the world. It is important that we do this expeditiously and that we do this in a way that we can continue to protect those people in our country who are exporting jobs that are dependent on exports here in Canada.

We know that almost half of Canadian manufacturing is sold outside of Canada and that one in five jobs in Canada is linked to trade. Any time we can move a free trade agreement it is a good news story for families because it leads to employment, growth and prosperity for all Canadians.

Therefore, I move, seconded by the member for South Shore—St. Margaret's:

That this question be now put.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I have to wonder what the purpose of my colleague's speech was. After all, we must not forget that Canada's reputation is very important and we should always try to enter into agreements that are worthwhile.

Will the government give all members of the House a chance to debate the matter fully in committee, since this bill could have repercussions that go far beyond simple economic interests? This is a big concern. I think we have an opportunity here to reach an agreement that will satisfy all parties. Co-operation is crucial in this House.

On behalf of the government, can the member agree to remain open to discussing this future free trade agreement thoroughly and under optimal conditions?

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that not only will there be continued debate on this issue here in the House, in committee, at third reading but in the Senate as well. I can also inform my colleague that during the last Parliament there was significant debate with regard to this bill as well. This is legislation that has been around this place for quite a length of time.

At this time of economic uncertainty in the world, it is important that we as Canadians lead the way in ensuring that there be prosperity, economic development and opportunity for all of those people who live in Canada.

It is important that at some point we finalize this trade agreement to ensure that there be jobs, opportunity and hope for all Canadians.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, the government never ceases to amaze me in its attempts to shut down the voices of Canadians. This is just another form of closure, another form of shutting down debate.

As our leader said at his press conference yesterday, we have never seen such dictatorial tactics by a government as it invokes closure and it puts committees in-camera so it can vote down opposition motions to bring in witnesses and hold hearings and thoroughly look at legislation. This chamber is the voice of Canadians. This is where debate is supposed to take place in a transparent and open fashion. This is where we are supposed to get answers from the government but we do not.

I need to ask the member, who put this motion forward, a question. Why is it that the government, which came in talking about accountability and transparency, is now the least accountable government in Canadian history and the least transparent? There is no doubt that the directions are coming right out of the PMO. Why does the government not want to hear the voices of Canadians in terms of debate on very important legislation?

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member knows that most of his question was nonsense. He has been around this place a long time and actually understands that this legislation was in this House in the last Parliament and made its way to committee. He is a member of that committee. He is fully aware of that. I know that he is not intending to mislead this House, but by the tone that he took, it seemed like he was surprised about this legislation, surprised that it had arrived here in the House, and surprised that it would be moved to committee.

As a matter of fact, I believe very strongly that good work happens in committee. He sits on that committee, I believe. I think it is important that he and his colleagues have an opportunity to actually do the good work of that committee in undertaking a review of this trade agreement.

Furthermore, I would just point out that over 50% of the GDP of his own province is export oriented and so, this is important for his province. As a matter of fact, in this trade agreement, there is a huge potential for potatoes, which is important to his province, as well.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Tyrone Benskin NDP Jeanne-Le Ber, QC

Madam Speaker, I am quite baffled and actually quite insulted by the constant reference to these bills having been in this House last year. There are 108 new members of Parliament in this House today who were not here last year, who are being denied the right to debate bill after bill after bill.

I want to ask the hon. member, why does he feel that is a fair, just and democratic process? There are 108 new MPs in this House who have not had the opportunity to debate any of these bills. Would he answer that question?

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, I do appreciate the question. I am happy to inform the member that he may have been misinformed as to exactly what is going on in the House today.

Today, we are debating this bill, here on the floor of the House. I referenced the point that this bill has been debated by many of the hon. member's colleagues in his party, as well as in all other parties. It is just a reference to the point that it has been around for a long time and there do not seem to be any new ideas that are being brought to the floor today.

However, I will assure the hon. member that the bill will undertake significant more opportunities for debate here in this House, as well as in committee.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I think listeners should be very concerned, in terms of the general direction that the government is taking inside this chamber. It thinks nothing nowadays of bringing forward issues such as time allocation. Now we see adjournments. The idea behind these tactics is to try to rush through the government agenda, and the government agenda does not necessarily reflect the interests of Canadians.

We have seen that on several pieces of legislation. Whether it was the more politicians bill that was passed by the government yesterday, whether it was killing the Wheat Board bill that was passed by the government, these are the types of things with which the current government is taken and it thinks nothing of it. It is almost as if this is the new norm for this majority government.

This majority government is starting to really scare a lot of democrats throughout this country because the government now believes that it can do anything and everything it wants, without having legitimate debate, and questions and answers. Now it is saying we cannot even move an amendment to this legislation. This particular member says that we will go into committee and move amendments. Did he not see what happened to the member for Mount Royal when we attempted to move amendments? The government closes its ears to amendments.

My question for the member is, does he not have any appreciation, in terms of the value of the House of Commons, that we see time and time again the government setting new--

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I must give the hon. member time to respond. The hon. member for Peace River.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Warkentin Conservative Peace River, AB

Madam Speaker, the hon. member talks about the government's agenda, but in fact, what we are doing is moving the people's agenda forward. Canadians want a government that will stand behind them and ensure that there will be additional trade opportunities for more employment, more jobs, and more prosperity for Canadians. At a time of economic uncertainty in the world, it is important that we move forward these free trade agreements.

However, we are not limiting debate. There will be significant opportunities for debate and opportunities to bring forward amendments. However, it is important that eventually this moves through the process, to committee, and then back to the House, and that there is actually a vote in this House.

We know the Liberals' record on trade. They talk a good game, but in 13 years they only passed three minor trade agreements. We already have passed nine free trade agreements in the last six years. That is the record. We are standing up for Canadian entrepreneurs. We are standing up for Canadian small businesses. We are standing up for Canadian families that want to ensure that there be more prosperity, more opportunity, and more hope in this country.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:20 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Madam Speaker, I will continue in the same vein as the member opposite.

The purpose of debating a bill and examining it clause by clause is to avoid quickly signing nine bad deals. Perhaps, by doing so, we are settling for slightly fewer agreements, but they are worth the trouble and protect the interests of all Canadians and everyone in the world with whom we do business. It is important to remember what the hon. member for Windsor West said earlier: as citizens and particularly as members of Parliament, we have the specific responsibility of standing up for important principles and values.

Unfortunately, it is easy to talk through our hats about international trade. Everyone agrees that free trade issues are important. On principle, the New Democratic Party can support the idea of signing free trade agreements. That is perfectly acceptable to us.

However, we always question the purpose of a possible agreement and its consequences because, clearly, those consequences go beyond simple economic issues. There are also human rights issues—as we have pointed out, environmental issues and the effects of such an agreement on Canada's reputation as a country and as a member nation of the international community. It is especially important to consider the effect on our reputation because, given how quickly things happen on the international stage, it can take a huge amount of effort to restore a reputation once it has been tarnished.

I would like to remind all members of the House that, when it comes to international trade, there are many ways to pull out and many ways to be a very effective partner and player.

First, I want to remind the House that according to our statistics on our current level of trade with Jordan, that trade has increased steadily and quickly over the past 10 years without a free trade agreement. Would a possible agreement accelerate the rate of increase of this trade? That is the type of question we need to be asking to understand the value of such an agreement.

We already have quite a lot of experience with our American and Mexican partners and with other countries around the world. It is truly worth the effort to understand whether eliminating every barrier and restriction and allowing extreme economic flexibility is worthwhile.

There are examples of countries around the world that do not have free trade agreements, but through their domestic policies find a way to be very successful players, even giants, countries that essentially end up breaking down every obstacle in front of them.

There is the example of Brazil and that of China. In the case of both countries, when we look at things truly objectively, we see that it is the will of the state and the government in place that allows these countries to be so productive and to become stronger all the time, to the extent that they are no longer just producing countries or countries that have freed themselves from the status of developing country, but they are major international players with a significant say. I noticed in London two weeks ago that they are increasingly becoming important partners in terms of international aid for developing countries.

This broadens their influence significantly without necessarily concluding free trade agreements with their major business partners.

Someone might remind me that Brazil is part of Mercosur. That is fine and a good arrangement for Latin America, but it does not explain everything, as I was saying, because Mercosur has been around for a very long time.

Canada-Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must interrupt the hon. member. He will have 14 minutes remaining the next time this bill is called for debate.

The House resumed from December 8 consideration of the motion that Bill C-308, An Act respecting a Commission of Inquiry into the development and implementation of a national fishery rebuilding strategy for fish stocks off the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

It being 5:30 p.m., the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-308 under private member's business.

Call in the members.

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

Vote #104

Newfoundland and Labrador Fishery Rebuilding ActPrivate Members' Business

6:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion lost.

It being 6:13 p.m., the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

The House resumed from October 27 consideration of the motion.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from LaSalle—Émard for moving this motion in the House. It is nice to know that the member understands the urgency facing our municipalities today. I know that former MPs for that riding tended to drag their feet when it came to promoting infrastructure in greater Montreal. So I congratulate my hon. colleague from LaSalle—Émard.

There is a real need for infrastructure improvements in our towns, cities and communities. Not only it is a daily issue for people, but there is also the economic factor, that is, promoting innovation, not to mention the environmental aspect and quality of life for future generations.

I would like to begin by addressing the economic aspect of the motion and the economic importance of infrastructure. We know that good quality infrastructure improves our economic performance considerably. The quality of infrastructure is something that businesses take into account when deciding where to set up shop. Businesses will locate in urban centres that have good quality infrastructure. If the infrastructure is of poor quality, businesses will move elsewhere. I am well aware of this because my riding really needs some infrastructure improvements and previous governments did not do enough in all the areas necessary to promote infrastructure.

The economy and the environment are intertwined. When we are considering infrastructure, we must think about innovation and the environment. We must combine both aspects to move forward. We can have a green economy in Canada. We can promote the most innovative technologies. One of the main points behind the motion presented by my colleague from LaSalle—Émard is that we can create a different economy. We can do things differently if we have a good plan for dealing with infrastructure.

When I read the World Economic Forum report, I noted that Canada is ranked 35th in terms of the supply of innovative technology. In the area of infrastructure, we may be able to promote innovative technology in Canada in order to create jobs. Infrastructure has very significant economic benefits.

Good quality infrastructure markedly improves people's standard of living in our communities and urban areas. We can build infrastructure for its economic impact, but we must also consider people's daily lives. We have to look at what kind of environment they live in every day because if we only examine one aspect—the transportation of goods or people's quality of life, for example—or if we separate the two aspects, we will never have the good quality infrastructure that we want.

This is part of what my colleague from LaSalle—Émard had in mind in presenting this motion and asking that we give appropriate consideration to the infrastructure of this country.

I would quickly like to mention my riding's current needs. A broad range of projects is being studied.

We need to think about and move forward with these projects. I know that my constituents cannot wait until 2014 to see these projects completed. If they must wait that long, my own riding's economy will be destroyed. The time to act is now. That is why I support this motion in this House. I also want to mention some current projects that need to be completed soon, otherwise the regional economy will be damaged.

On the A-20 autoroute in Vaudreuil-Dorion, the A-20 Dorion section must be transformed into an efficient urban boulevard. Money is needed for that. That is the only section of the A-20 that is not considered an autoroute. It is a section that requires a lot of repairs. A number of major highways need to be built in Vaudreuil. For example, there are the interchanges on the A-540 and the A-40. There is also the development of sound barrier walls and the ecocentres, or recycling depots, in Vaudreuil-Dorion that need a place to put their waste material. Work is needed on the exits from autoroute 540 around Montée Cadieux, in Vaudreuil-Dorion. The list is very long. I know that all the members here have projects. We must speak up about them and not wait until 2014. The government must develop a plan to act now to complete these projects.

The section of the A-20 that passes through Île-Perrot, in my riding, needs to be brought up to code. There are so many issues that stable funding is really needed from all levels of government—municipal, provincial and federal.

I am the vice-chair of the Standing Committee on Transport and my party's associate transport critic. All the projects that come through my office clearly show that our whole country needs to move forward on these files. There is a real need. There are deficiencies in this country and we must take immediate action. That is why I am supporting the motion proposed by the hon. member.

There is also another issue in an area outside my riding—the Champlain Bridge. We know that the minister announced on October 5 that a new bridge would be built. However, nothing has been done for two months. The deputy minister of infrastructure does not even have a value-added analysis for the P3. No schedule has been established and no real answers have been given with regard to whether there will be public transit on the bridge. There are many questions and many people want to see the government act efficiently when it comes to these files. I hope that the government will support this motion because, to some extent, it addresses what the government needs to do for the country.

Before becoming a member of Parliament, I worked as a landscape architect. I was thus very interested in urban design. I specialized in facilities for children.

So, when the government thinks about major infrastructure, the transportation of freight and the major economic issues, it must also think about the quality of life of the less fortunate and of the people who do not have a voice, namely, the children of this country. The government really needs to create effective environments for everyone, intergenerational environments that are worthy of the 21st century and that use innovative, green, environmentally friendly technologies.

I hope that the government will support this motion.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Adler Conservative York Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate on this motion introduced by the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard.

Part of the motion states:

--the government should: (a) recognize that the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure plays a vital role in the creation and protection of jobs, and that infrastructure is a strategic asset that supports vibrant, prosperous and sustainable communities;--

In budget 2007 our Conservative government announced the building Canada plan. This plan marked an unprecedented federal investment in Canada's infrastructure, a total of $33 billion over seven years in the things that matter, including: roads, highways and bridges, public transit, sewer and water systems, and green energy. Building Canada remains a historic initiative in terms of its size and its provision of predictable, flexible, long-term funding to support provinces, territories and municipalities in addressing their infrastructure priorities.

The building Canada plan supports important national goals, such as a stronger economy, a cleaner environment, and better communities, while addressing local and regional infrastructure needs. Building Canada also increased the gas tax fund. This fund was doubled to $2 billion a year beginning in 2009-10. By 2014 a total of $13 billion will have been provided to Canadian municipalities and first nations through the gas tax fund.

In budget 2009 our Conservative government announced Canada's economic action plan in response to the global economic recession. The economic action plan provided a total of $15 billion in new funding for infrastructure and housing across Canada, as well as the acceleration of the delivery of funds through building Canada.

The results have been outstanding. Since January 2009 the federal government along with its partners in the provinces, territories and municipalities, have committed more than $30 billion to incredibly valuable infrastructure projects across the country. Key economic action plan programs such as the infrastructure stimulus fund have now come to a conclusion, but this is not the end of the story. Our government understands the significant economic benefits that infrastructure investments can generate and we remain steadfast in our commitment to sustain infrastructure funding.

In October of this year the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities announced that we would proceed with a new bridge across the St. Lawrence River in Montreal to replace the existing Champlain Bridge, and recently we tabled and passed legislation in the House to make the $2 billion a year gas tax fund a permanent measure. This is a very important measure that our municipalities asked for and our government delivered. Regrettably, the NDP chose to vote against this important long-term predictable funding for our municipalities.

Our Conservative government is also committed to consulting with our partners in the provinces and territories, as well as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and other groups in the development of a new long-term plan for infrastructure that extends beyond building Canada. We formally launched this initiative on November 30, 2011. The launch attracted a very positive response from partners and stakeholders. In particular, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities applauded our government for launching this new infrastructure planning process.

As the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities indicated when he made this announcement, during the first two phases of this process we will engage with our partners and stakeholders to first take stock of our joint accomplishments and study the results of the significant investments we have made that have, in fact, been made by all orders of government. Then we will build our analytical knowledge, and identify gaps and strategic priorities. We will also engage with our partners and stakeholders, as well as experts, to conduct technical studies to inform the discussion. The lessons learned from past programs will also help form the foundation for the long-term plan going forward.

During the third and final phase, we will work with our partners and stakeholders to explore the broad principles and orientation of the plan. Our combined efforts will result in an effective plan that seeks to help meet the public infrastructure needs of Canadians and support Canada's economic growth.

It is clear that our government continues to recognize the vital role infrastructure plays in the creation and protection of jobs, in building and maintaining strong, healthy and sustainable communities, and strengthening the foundation of our long-term prosperity.

To conclude, I would like to reiterate that our government is committed to infrastructure. Not only are we planning the future, we are taking action now.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker—

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I see the hon. member for Bourassa is rising.

If possible, I would like to give the floor to the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine.

I will give the member for Bourassa the next slot on the speaking order.

The hon. member for Bourassa is rising on a point of order.

InfrastructurePrivate Members' Business

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have no problem with others speaking, but when a motion comes from one party, the government has a chance to speak, and then it is the third party that should have the chance to speak. I hope to see more fairness from the Chair.