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House of Commons Hansard #23 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Copyright Modernization ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Safeguarding Canadians' Personal Information ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-12, An Act to amend the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Pension PlanRoutine Proceedings

September 29th, 2011 / 10:05 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-295, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan (designation of survivor).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to reintroduce this bill. This bill deals with a very important issue which was brought to my attention by a constituent, Thea Beil, who tragically died from a very rare form of cancer. In the process of tying up her affairs, she realized that after all the years she paid into the Canada pension plan she would not be allowed to designate a beneficiary because she had no surviving spouse or common law partner. She felt this was a very discriminatory element of the Canada pension plan.

I have brought this issue forward to the House. I have written to the minister to point out this discriminatory aspect of the Canada pension plan. Ms. Beil, who has now unfortunately passed away, paid into the Canada pension plan for over 25 years and had no opportunity to designate a beneficiary.

In this day and age, this kind of discrimination should not be allowed to exist. I know that provincial plans, for example, the B.C. superannuation plan, have provisions whereby a person can designate a beneficiary if the person has no spouse or partner. There should be the same sort of fairness at the federal level.

I introduce this bill in the name of Thea Beil who, before she tragically died, worked and contributed much to this country but was not able to designate a beneficiary for her Canada pension plan benefits.

I hope members of the House will support this bill to end this discrimination.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Consumer Product Safety ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-296, An Act to amend the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Textile Labelling Act (animal fur or skin).

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce this bill. This bill would amend the Canada Consumer Product Safety Act and the Textile Labelling Act (animal fur or skin). I would like to thank the member for Parkdale—High Park for seconding the bill.

This bill was originally introduced by my colleague, Bill Siksay, the former member for Burnaby—Douglas. He did much work on this issue. I am delighted to introduce the bill and follow up on the work that he has been doing.

The bill would prohibit the import and sale of products made in whole or in part of dog or cat fur. It would also require all animal skins to be labelled with full disclosure of fur fibres on labels. Many Canadians are very concerned about the use of cat and dog fur and strongly support a ban on its use in imports.

If we pass this bill, we would be joining Australia, Switzerland, the United States and the European Union in banning products that contain dog and cat skins and furs. As well, the labelling requirements would change. Under the current act, products can simply be labelled fur “fibre” no matter what quantity is involved. This bill would amend that to make sure there is explicit and clear labelling.

In presenting this bill, I want to note the incredible work of the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals. I know there are many Canadians who support this legislation.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

National Strategy for Suicide Prevention ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Megan Leslie NDP Halifax, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-297, An Act respecting a National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be reintroducing this legislation. The bill would create a national suicide prevention strategy.

After I tabled the bill in the last Parliament it received the support of many organizations, municipalities and individuals across the country.

Suicide is an issue that touches every region of this country. The facts are clear. Over 3,500 Canadians, or 10 people per day, die by suicide each year. We need a coordinated strategy so that folks around the country working to prevent suicide are united in a concerted effort to ensure that our communities are no longer rocked by the loss of friends and family members.

I would like to congratulate the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention on its work.

A national strategy is needed to address the higher risks of suicide faced by queer youth, Canada's elderly, teens and young adults, first nations, Inuit, and people in remote communities.

I would encourage all parties to work together to establish a national suicide prevention strategy, because we have a responsibility to help prevent suicides.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police ActRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-298, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (lump sum)

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise today to reintroduce my private member's bill entitled “An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act (lump sum)”.

RCMP officers put their lives in danger in the service of Canada and no amount of money paid to their beneficiaries could ever compensate for their loss, but a payment of $300,000 would at least ensure that these families are not left in a vulnerable financial situation while they deal with their grief.

This bill would also ensure payment is made to the beneficiaries of every officer killed in the line of duty regardless of the length of the member’s service.

I also wish to point out that the bill is consistent with one of the key priorities of the Canadian Police Association, whose members have been on the Hill to bring their concerns directly to parliamentarians.

This is not a partisan issue. MPs from every party support this measure. I call on my Conservative colleagues in the House to encourage the public safety minister to support this initiative.

My colleague from Surrey North, our public safety critic, is pleased to second the bill.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Criminal CodeRoutine Proceedings

10:10 a.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (kidnapping of young person).

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to introduce my private member's bill to recognize the severity of kidnapping a child under the age of 16 by a stranger.

As most members know, earlier this month Kienan Hiebert was kidnapped from his residence in Sparwood. He was safely returned.

We must send a message to those who do these crimes that these crimes will not be tolerated in Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-300, An Act respecting a Federal Framework for Suicide Prevention.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to proudly introduce this bill.

The bill would establish the requirement for the Government of Canada to develop a federal framework for suicide prevention in consultation with the relevant non-governmental organizations, the relevant entity in each province and territory, as well as the relevant federal departments.

In Canada far too many lives are lost each year to suicide, almost 4,000, over 10 each day. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadian youth ages 10 to 24. Aboriginal youth suicide rates are especially troubling at five to seven times higher than the non-aboriginal rate. In Waterloo region's high schools, three youths lost their lives to suicide in just one single week last year.

Suicide has a horrific impact: shortened lives, grieving families, devastated friends and even broken communities.

There is already lots of good work being done in suicide prevention across the country, but with some federal coordination and federal leadership, we can do better for vulnerable Canadians.

I invite all hon. members to join me in supporting this very important non-partisan initiative.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Open Government ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-301, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act (open government).

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the open government act. I want to recognize and pay tribute to the former information commissioner, John Reid. He and his staff actually drafted all of this bill to illustrate the shortcomings of an act that has not been reviewed since 1983.

I would also point out that the adoption of the bill actually would fulfill the campaign promise of the Conservative Party which, in its campaign literature in 2006, promised to introduce John Reid's open government act. It found its way into the federal accountability legislation in 2006 but was promptly removed by the time that bill received first reading.

The bill would seek to enhance and expand the access to information regime in this country. It would create a public interest override. The public interest would override the interests of the government in keeping something secret. It would seek to enhance the ability of members of the general public to know what their government was doing with their money, which I argue is a fundamental freedom and a cornerstone of any western democracy.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Louis Riel ActRoutine Proceedings

10:15 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-302, An Act respecting Louis Riel.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sudbury for seconding the bill.

The bill would call upon the government to reverse the conviction of Louis Riel on the premise that Louis Riel was a hero, not a traitor. We do not seek to have Louis Riel pardoned, because a pardon would imply that he was guilty of something and we now forgive him. We seek to exonerate Louis Riel.

We should take note that Louis Riel was a member of Parliament. He was elected three times to the Canadian Parliament and was never allowed to take his seat, although Métis lore has it that he did paddle his canoe to the foot of Parliament Hill with his Métis colleagues, climbed the cliff, entered his name into the permanent record and took his seat one night in 1871.

The people of Manitoba have recognized Louis Riel as a hero. There is a statue of Louis Riel on the grounds of Manitoba's legislative building.

On behalf of the Métis people of Canada, we believe that exonerating Louis Riel would be in the same spirit as the formal apology the Prime Minister gave to the survivors of Indian residential schools. We believe it is a necessary prerequisite to healing the relationship between the Métis people and the Government of Canada.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Food and Drugs ActRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-303, An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (trans fatty acids).

Mr. Speaker, I felt it necessary to introduce this private member's bill to seek to have Parliament ban trans fatty acids and to eliminate them to the greatest extent possible from our food supply.

Parliament spoke to this issue and voted, by a majority vote, to ban trans fatty acids, but the government of the day and the subsequent Conservative government failed to act on the will of Parliament as expressed by that motion.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Medical Association and other scientific experts agree that this type of fat in our foods should be eliminated as it is far more harmful than other type of saturated fats in our food supply. Some measures have been taken to reduce the trans fatty acids in our food supply, but Parliament was clear that it did not want trans fatty acids reduced by voluntary measures. It wanted them eliminated to the greatest extent possible. That is what this bill, when passed, would require.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada-EU Procurement AgreementPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I submit yet another petition signed by hundreds of people from the Guelph and surrounding areas urging the government to exclude all sub-federal governments and their public agencies, including municipalities, from any Canada-EU procurement agreement.

Municipalities, like Guelph, stand to lose the right to buy local materials and services, hindering our ability to stimulate local innovation, foster local community economic development, create local employment and achieve other valuable public policies.

The petitioners urge that the negotiations also be paused while there is a national consultation process. We must remove the veil of secrecy and introduce transparency into these negotiations by consulting Parliament, as is done in other countries that are part of these negotiations.

AsbestosPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to introduce a petition signed by literally thousands of Canadians from all across Canada who call upon Parliament to recognize and take note that asbestos is the greatest industrial killer that the world has ever known.

In fact, they point out that more Canadians now die from asbestos than all other industrial occupational causes combined and yet, they point out, Canada continues to spend millions of dollars subsidizing the asbestos industry and blocking international efforts to curb its use.

Therefore, these petitioners are calling upon the Government of Canada to ban asbestos in all of its forms and institute a just transition program for asbestos workers and the communities in which they live. They also call upon the government to end all government subsidies of asbestos, both in Canada and abroad.

They call upon government to stop using its international foreign missions and embassies to host trade junkets promoting and pushing asbestos internationally, and to stop blocking international health and safety conventions designed to protect workers from asbestos, such as the Rotterdam convention.

Visitor VisasPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I bring forward a petition from individuals who are concerned about visitor visas not being approved.

In particular, one of the “whereas” clauses recognizes the importance of things such as weddings, graduations, birthdays, funerals, other family gatherings, where family needs to be given extra consideration so that they can have people from abroad being able to participate with family members here in Canada.

Far too many visas are being denied without any basis of factual information about the people returning to countries where visas have been issued. The government does not have that kind of information and yet it is basing decisions and denying people the opportunity to be reunited with families.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre Saskatchewan

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 83 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 83Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

With regard to participation by the government through the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation (ECBC) in the sponsoring of a yacht in the Clipper 09-10 Round the World Yacht Race (Sponsorship Program): (a) what was the total overall budgeted cost of the Sponsorship Program, broken down by cost category including all the activities associated with the sponsorship; (b) what was the total overall actual cost of the Sponsorship Program compared to the budget; (c) what was the budget and actual cost for each trade event associated with the Sponsorship Program; (d) how many ECBC employees attended each specific international trade or non trade event as part of the Sponsorship Program; (e) how many businesses attended each trade event associated with the Sponsorship Program; (f) what was the travel cost of ECBC employees who attended the Sponsorship Program events, broken down by each event; (g) what was the cost of subsidizing non government employees to attend international Sponsorship Program events, broken down by event; (h) what were the evaluation results from non government employees who partook in the Sponsorship Program events; (i) what evaluation metrics were put in place to determine the effectiveness of the cost of the total Sponsorship Program; and (j) what evaluation results have been received to date on the effectiveness of the Sponsorship Program?

(Return tabled)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Tom Lukiwski Conservative Regina—Lumsden—Lake Centre, SK

Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Is that agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:25 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Opposition Motion—Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

moved:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should: (a) take immediate action to promote job creation and address the persistently high unemployment rate among Canadian workers, particularly high among young Canadians, in the context of the International Monetary Fund prediction of yet higher unemployment rates in the future unless swift action is taken; (b) take immediate action to ensure all Canadians can rely on a stable and guaranteed pension as they plan their retirement in a period of record household debt and declining stock markets; (c) take immediate action to fix the crumbling infrastructure essential to our economy and the security of Canadians; and (d) maintain the full public sector contribution to the Canadian economy so as to take advantage of low interest rates, undertake strategic public investments, increase Canada’s competitiveness, avert another serious recession and create jobs in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I stand today to introduce the first opposition day motion in this parliamentary session.

Over the past few months, the Conservatives have continued to boast about Canada's economic recovery, even in the face of economic turmoil abroad and stagnating growth here at home.

Canadians know that the government's assurances do not reflect reality. We have lost far too many good quality jobs that made it possible for families to make ends meet. Canadian families' budgets are becoming tighter and tighter because of debt. Furthermore, international economic stability and the very slow economic growth are threatening to plunge us into a new recession.

The primary economic problem facing Canadians right now is not government debt, but slow recovery and the weak job market. The Conservatives' plan to cut spending will make the situation worse instead of better.

We, in the official opposition, know that now is the time to make strategic investments to promote economic growth and attack the real deficit: the jobs deficit. Canadians are tired of talk. What we need now is action. The Conservative government must reconsider its failed approach of something for nothing corporate tax and spending cuts and, instead, put in place a jobs plan, a plan that gets Canadians back to work.

The job market is currently more fragile than it was before the October 2008 crisis. The unemployment rate has risen to 7.3%, while the number of part-time workers and the number of workers looking for full-time employment has increased very rapidly. Quality, full-time jobs that allow families to make a living are very hard to find in every region of the country.

The actual unemployment rate, which includes discouraged workers who have left the labour force and part-time workers who would like to be working full-time, was 11.1% in July 2011, a very significant increase over the July 2008 rate of 9.4%.

In fact, despite the government's repeated boasting about its jobs record, close to 1.4 million Canadians remain unemployed. When people lose jobs, it is a tragedy for those individuals. When we include those who have become discouraged by weak job prospects or who are underemployed, that number rises to close to two million, two million individual tragedies. That is two million Canadians for whom the government's boasting is just a slap in the face.

The lack of progress in getting Canadians back to work is disappointing to say the least. If today the same proportion of Canadians were working as before the 2008 economic crisis, 420,000 more Canadians would have jobs.

The IMF recently predicted that Canada's unemployment rate will rise this year and that in 2012 our economy will grow far more slowly than anticipated.

To make matters worse, only 39.6% of the officially unemployed qualify for unemployment insurance, even if they had paid into the program themselves, which means that only two out of five Canadians are actually qualifying for the benefits that they have paid for, and only 26.8% of the real unemployed are covered by EI benefits. Canadians are facing both rising unemployment and decreasing EI coverage, adding insult to injury.

At the same time, household debt has hit record levels of 150%, leaving families struggling to make ends meet.

The government's lack of leadership on job creation has real economic costs. Our lower unemployment rate today represents lost wages alone of more than $20 billion, not to mention the billions of dollars in economic stimulus and tax revenues that go along with them.

What is the result? Our economic growth has become stagnant. Economists in all areas have lowered their forecasts with regard to Canada's economic growth. The Conservatives' budget is thus based on growth projections that are no longer realistic.

The BMO deputy chief economist has noted that even if Canada and the U.S. avoid another recession, Ottawa will fall far short of the estimates for growth in the finance minister's last budget.

The Conservatives claim that the solution to all of this is simply more of the same failed policy of no strings attached tax cuts for the same wealthy corporations. However, with the money they have received in tax breaks, large corporations have invested outside of Canada, have paid themselves, their executives, exorbitant bonuses, and have moved good-paying, quality Canadian jobs overseas. Canadian corporations today are sitting on $500 billion, $120 billion of which is through corporate tax cuts, at a time when the economy is in dire need of investment.

Instead of excusing itself because we are doing better than sicker economies in the G8, the government must put in place policies that encourage private sector investment in our economy here at home. If we want others to express confidence in the economy, we must take the lead by investing in the economy, not by cutting billions of dollars in public spending. Economists agree that it is the wrong time to take money out of the economy.

Doug Porter of BMO told the finance committee this week that recent drops in government bond yield rates are a sign that financial markets are stressed about economic growth prospects, not government deficits or inflation.

The Conference Board of Canada has also emphasized that this is not the time to put the brakes on government spending and government investment. Instead, the government must be willing to step back and consider its approach in response to economic reality.

The Canadian economy is facing serious economic risks as a result of our dependence on American and European markets. The American economy remains extremely weak as a result of the flat housing market, high debt levels and the change from a program involving weak recovery measures to one involving budget cuts.

Fear of a double-dip recession has caused a sharp drop in the stock market over the past few months. The OECD and the IMF are predicting a very slow recovery for developed economies, which will have a major impact on Canadian exports.

TD Economics has indicated that, while the United States should be able to avoid a recession in 2011, any unpredicted drop in the markets could plunge Canada into another recession. Scotiabank economists have stated that we are facing a very real possibility that the Canadian economy could be the first to fall into a recession.

The government must be willing to be flexible and must consider its planned spending cuts in light of global economic instability. However, despite the fragile global economy and Canada's shakey economic recovery, the Conservatives want to cut off all stimulus and cut tens of billions of dollars out of the economy.

Radical spending cuts, even before the private sector is prepared to start investing again, hurts Canadian families and Canadian communities.

The Governor of the Bank of Canada has made it clear that this is no for undercutting demand in the economy. That is why he is keeping interest rates low.

In the past, the ability of Stephen Harper's Conservatives to predict Canada's economic future has been appalling.

Opposition Motion—Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must briefly interrupt the member. We do not refer to other members of the House by their name.

Opposition Motion—Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Pardon me, Madam Speaker.

If we look back at what this government did in 2008, it seems to have a habit of letting things deteriorate before taking action. We need measures, we need a job creation plan, and we need these things now.

Today the opposition calls upon the government to take immediate action to: promote job creation; ensure that all Canadians can rely on a stable retirement future; undertake strategic investments to fix the crumbling infrastructure essential to our economy and the security of Canadians; and maintain the full public sector contribution to the Canadian economy in order to increase Canada's competitiveness and divert another recession.

The total Canadian net government debt is 33.7% of GDP compared to an OECD average of 62.6%. That is about half. Interest rates are at historic lows and money costs much less. This provides an opportunity to make strategic investments in jobs and infrastructure, which are sorely needed. The Toronto Board of Trade emphasizes that a strong infrastructure foundation is a top priority in ensuring economic competitiveness now and into the future. In fact, the OECD has concluded that Toronto's lack of transportation infrastructure is a leading drag on the region's global competitiveness.

We are not just talking about spending but also about investing. There is a difference. We need to express confidence in Canada's economy and attract private sector investment by investing in targeted incentives for the real job creators. With respect to critical public infrastructure and initiatives, we need to invest in roads, bridges, public transit, and broadband Internet, greening the economy, ensuring first nations have potable water in every community, training workers for the new economy, housing, and early childhood education.

The Department of Finance recognizes that infrastructure investment has more than five times the economic impact that corporate income tax cuts have. This fact was published in an appendix to the 2009 budget. Canadians want action on job creation and real economic growth, not billions of dollars in corporate tax giveaways and cuts to services. Economists agree. Now is not the time to cut billions of dollars out of the economy. Strategic investment is required to support job creation and economic growth now and into the future.

New Democrats believe the best way to improve our economy and address our debt is through policies that would get Canadians back to work. This is no time to retrench. It is time for public investment. We can express confidence in the Canadian economy by undertaking the significant investments in infrastructure that are necessary for Canada to remain competitive in the future economy.

We all know that jobs are the key to a stable economy. We need to stop politicizing the situation. What we need to be doing right now is putting aside party differences and working together to find pragmatic solutions that encourage job creation, economic productivity and investments that will increase the expertise of our Canadian workers.

These solutions would include a new employee tax credit for employers who retain new hires for a year or more and a reduction in taxes for small businesses, not large corporations. It is small businesses that invest in job creation here at home. That is why we are urging the government to drop the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%. That two percentage point tax break would help create jobs and growth right here in our communities.

We need a 21st-century energy strategy, but the Conservatives keep opting for an outdated approach. Canada will not progress if it continues to focus on developing gas and oil instead of clean technology, and that is going to harm both the environment and Canada's economy. It is time to build the economy of the future by investing in green infrastructure so that renewable energy is accessible throughout the country.

The official opposition rises today to call upon the government to put politics aside and focus more on the horizon and less on drawing lines in the sand. It must take immediate action to put Canadians back to work to grow our economy now and into the future.