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House of Commons Hansard #70 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:20 a.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Liberal Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Madam Speaker, if we listen very carefully to what the House leader just said, he said that because the Conservatives were elected last May, that is in fact a clear mandate for them to do anything they want without any debate whatsoever. That is the argument that the Conservatives brought forth last fall, throwing in the fact that they said they had to do things in a hurry.

We are not sure why this particular bill fits into that category. However, the fundamental point is that the House leader is telling us as long as they were elected and they talked about it in the election campaign, then they can go ahead and do this; that there does not have to be any debate. Is that the tone he is setting for this 41st Parliament? Is that the shot across the bow that is telling us that is the way we are going to do things for the next three and a half years?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, the Liberal House leader has a very odd interpretation of what I said. In fact what I said is quite to the contrary. It is that having heard Canadians, having made commitments to them about what we would do, having received their endorsement that we should do that, we believe that we are not just permitted to but also, in a democracy, duty bound to carry out our commitments. I know that is a novel approach for Liberals who may say one thing during an election and do something very different afterwards.

Our belief is that when we make commitments to Canadians, when we tell them what we are going to do, we have to deliver on those commitments. We have to do what we told Canadians we would do. We will continue to do that in this government.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Peter Julian NDP Burnaby—New Westminster, BC

Mr. Speaker, this is a sad day in the House of Commons, because it is the 14th time that the government has invoked closure. Fourteen times. As a result, the voices of ordinary people from across Canada are not being heard in the House of Commons. As we know, the government even invoked closure after 14 minutes of debate in one instance. It is unbelievable that the government is refusing to listen to the people who speak for Canadians and thwarting the democratic process in the House of Commons.

The government has to deal with another problem. Seniors across the country have reacted strongly to its hidden agenda. The government wants to cut old age security, and it does not want to provide the support that our public pension system needs. The government wants to cut short the debate to prevent people from hearing more extensive debate on the future of seniors' pensions.

My question is, why is the government so scared of seniors that it wants to shut down debate on pensions here in the House of Commons?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, there were so many inaccuracies in what the hon. member just said that I think I could take up the rest of the question period responding to them all.

First, he does not seem to understand parliamentary procedure. We have not invoked closure here. We are using a device called time allocation that allows for certainty in the debate process. It allows for debate to continue, but it ensures that we will actually make decisions.

I know their way is to delay interminably and prevent decisions from ever being made. That is why they kept moving motions to prevent previous bills from even going to second reading. We want to be able to make decisions. We think everyone in this House is entitled to vote.

Second, on the issue of what represents democracy, apparently he does not think an election where Canadians pass judgment represents democracy. We think that represents the highest level of democracy. Canadians have endorsed us and asked us to deliver on pooled registered pension plans, and to do so as soon as possible. We feel that is an important commitment to carry out, including the provision made to Canadians that we will do it as soon as possible. For that reason, I have to reject what he said.

Finally, in terms of what we are delivering here to Canadians, this is another option for saving for one's retirement. How the NDP could be opposed to creating vehicles for people to receive pensions, I do not comprehend, especially those who are self-employed or employed in smaller businesses and therefore cannot participate in larger pension plans.

Why is it that the New Democratic Party seems to think that is not fair, that it only thinks that those who are employed in big institutions should be entitled to pensions? We do not agree with that. We think there should be more options for people.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Madam Speaker, I have to try to keep calm. The House leader said that the Conservatives were elected. We were also elected. Our job here is democracy. We brag around the world that Canada is the background of democracy. The member has the audacity to suggest that a couple of hours of debate on something that is as important as the retirement plans of Canadians be subject to closure motion and time allocation.

It is a slap in the face to every Canadian. It is a slap in the face to all those people who look at Canada as a model of democracy. This is the 13th time since September that Conservatives have introduced time allocation or closure. It is absolutely a disgrace and an embarrassment to all of us as parliamentarians. On an issue as important as retirement, and when we all have ideas to make it better, the PRPP is only one option. There are many. Let us work together and not bring in closure so quickly.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I would ask hon. members to keep their questions and comments to one minute so that all members get a chance to raise their points.

The hon. government House leader.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, it is important to understand that what we are discussing in the bill before us is the pooled registered pension plan. There may be many other issues surrounding retirement that are worthy of discussion. Our government is interested in discussing some of those to make sure that we have a sustainable system for the long term that supports people in their retirement.

However, the issue before us is the pooled registered pension plan. We think that there is a real obligation on a political party that makes a commitment to Canadians to deliver on something to actually do that when that party is elected. We were elected to do that and we are carrying through on that commitment.

Why is it that Canadians endorse the concept of the pooled registered pension plan? Because it creates new options for people to save for their retirement. People who previously have been denied the opportunity, who perhaps do not have large employers or access to private pension plans, would now like to be able to do this.

We have often heard about problems with portability, being able to move pensions when people move from employer to employer. The pooled registered pension plan creates that portability. Even if someone goes from being self-employed to being with a small employer, there are all kinds of options. That is why this is such a tremendous vehicle for workers.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Jinny Sims NDP Newton—North Delta, BC

Madam Speaker, I am really disappointed. The hon. member across the way said democracy was elections. Elections are absolutely a part of a democratic process, but he forgot to mention that the other part of parliamentary democracy is for Parliament to debate. That does not mean that the governing side gets to decide on time allocation over and over again.

This is a fundamental issue that deserves a fulsome debate. Once again, the Conservatives are using bullying tactics to silence the voice of the opposition. They are using bullying tactics to silence debate in the House once again.

What are they afraid of? They have a majority and they can pass this legislation. My appeal to my colleague across the way is let the debate continue.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, we are almost halfway through this question period. I have answered a number of questions already. We are dealing with the question of the pooled registered pension plan. We are hearing about the importance of the debate. Yet not one speaker from the opposition has raised one issue, one question or referred in any substantial way to what pooled registered pension plans are and what they will do for Canadians.

The only person who is doing that right now is me. Why is it important for us to deal with this bill now? Because Canadians need those retirement options. They want them. They asked us to deliver them in the last election as soon as possible. We made that commitment to them. This is a vehicle that offers tremendous opportunities, as I said, for people who are looking to save for their retirement.

There are several different pillars. There is the Canada pension plan. There is old age security. There is the GIS. There are private pensions. The problem is that fewer and fewer Canadians have access to private pensions. That is why we need to create more opportunities for them. That is why we want to see this bill become law.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I have news for the government House leader. The reason we are not dealing with the issues of the bill itself is that the government has chosen to once again bring in time allocation, preventing members in the House to participate in the debate and ask questions relevant to this particular bill. We are witnessing a government that uses closure through time allocation to prevent legitimate, healthy debate on important issues that are facing Canadians today. That includes dealing with the issue of pensions, which affects every Canadian across this land.

When will the government House leader do his job and start negotiating with the opposition and third party House leaders so we can have a better approach to dealing with legislation that is supposed to be debated as opposed to being rammed down the throats of Canadians?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, we talked about this in the last election. We talked about it with all Canadians. We had a debate. Canadians had an opportunity to hear what the different parties had to say and they decided to endorse the Conservative government with a majority mandate to work with our provincial and territorial partners to implement the pooled retirement pension plan as soon as possible in our next term of office. That is exactly what we are doing.

There is great support from the public, not just for the concept but for moving quickly. I can read comments by Dan Kelly with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. What did he say about the pooled registered pension plans? He said, “This can't come soon enough from our perspective. We think this has great potential”. Why does the Canadian Federation of Independent Business think that? Because it represents small businesses, businesses that would love to be able to provide pensions for their employees but, due to the difficulties of large private pensions, cannot do it. This would provide them the opportunity to finally give their workers the opportunity for private pensions.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Joe Comartin NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Madam Speaker, it is ironic to listen to the House leader on the government side stand in the chamber and accuse one of my colleagues of not understanding procedure. This debate is about time allocation and closure. It is not about Bill C-25. He should understand that.

With regard to that, he also stands in the House and repeatedly says that this is what Canadians voted for. The Conservatives promised repeatedly, in every single election since they have been both a minority government and in the run up to this majority government, that they would clean up the democratic process in the House. What have we seen? Fourteen times now they have invoked either closure or time allocation. What about those promises? Are they going to honour those or are they going to break those promises to the Canadian people to clean up the democracy in the House?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, it takes a highly academic approach to say that debating the process for dealing with the bill has nothing at all to do with the bill, that we should not talk about the bill or worry about the substance of it. Actually, the substance of the bill is the reason we need to move forward with it.

The fact is that we made a commitment to deliver. I do not understand why the New Democratic Party says, as the House leader says, that we should deny for every day possible the opportunity of this vehicle to Canadians. Why would it want to delay giving Canadians, self-employed and small businesses, the opportunity for their own private pension plan options? What benefit is there to Canadians in delaying that one day further? I do not understand the benefit of delaying that device for Canadians and yet this is exactly what the opposition is seeking to do.

He says that Canadians might understand it better. Apparently, he has contempt for what Canadians do when they decide how to vote in an election. We have a high regard for the intellect of Canadians. We think that when they made choices in the last election, they did so in an informed and intelligent fashion and we are delivering on the commitments we made to them.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Bloc Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Madam Speaker, the thing that surprises me today is not the fact that the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and his government are moving closure in this Parliament for the 14th time. That does not surprise me because they have already made such a mockery of democracy here in this House. I am surprised that the Conservative government has not decided to shut down Parliament. The government House leader keeps saying they were given a mandate in the last election. They did indeed win that election, but does that give the Conservative government a blank cheque? Get real.

Roughly 38% of the people voted for the Conservative Party, but many others did not. We are meant to have discussions in Parliament. We are meant to have discussions and hold debates in committees. We represent the entire population, those who voted and those who did not, and those who were not in Canada during the election. Regardless of what they did, whether they voted for the Conservatives or not, we owe it to the public to hold debates on important matters here in Parliament. I wonder where the government House leader gets the idea that they were given a blank cheque during the last election. He is misleading the House and the public when he says that.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, it is not a blank cheque that Canadians gave us. They gave us a mandate to deliver on the commitments we made to them and to do what we said we would do.

There is enthusiastic support for it in the case of this pooled registered pension plan. For example, this is what the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said about pooled registered pension plans:

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce believes PRPPs...will give many businesses the flexibility and tools they need to help their employees save for retirement. PRPPs will also provide individuals and the self-employed with additional retirement savings options.

The opposition is making the case right now that we should delay them having those options. It is saying that we should not allow those pooled registered pension plans to be put in place and that we need to put that decision off for another day even further. I am saying that we should decide on that in principle this Wednesday with a vote.

I would like to know from the opposition what the case is for delaying pooled registered pension plans. Why is the opposition so determined to keep Canadians from having that option?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to remind the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons that this debate is about adjournment and time allocation. We could certainly discuss the bill, but it does not even require the employer to contribute to this pooled plan.

People are calling my office to tell me that they do not have a pension plan where they work. They are wondering what they will end up with if the employer does not contribute and who they will guarantee them a viable pension fund when they retire. Once again, the companies will grab the profits and go elsewhere. We never ensure that our workers receive what they are owed after working all their lives.

I would like to pose the following question to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons: what is the point of democracy if we are unable to talk to the people who elected us as their representatives in the House?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, while my friend says that employers might pocket the proceeds, under the pooled registered pensions plans, that is not a possibility. It simply cannot happen. That is the nature of a pooled registered pension plan. It is important that we provide this vehicle for those who are in small businesses or who are self-employed so they will be able to have access to it.

I do not hear any compelling argument from the members opposite for why this must be delayed. Why do we need to delay offering this option to Canadians? What we hear from a broad sector, the business sector, small businesses and even from provinces is that this is a good vehicle that they want us to get in place.

Why would we want to delay it any further? What is the benefit of delay and of not making a decision? This is something I have not yet heard articulated.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Madam Speaker, as a small businessman before I came here and knowing many back home who are still small businessmen, the pooled registered pension plan allows small business to do something it might otherwise not be able to do, which is provide a pension vehicle for employees and employers in small businesses.

The expertise in small business is incredible in Canada but not all small business owners are experts as far as pension planning goes. Many of them are very busy being the director of operations, the director of marketing, the snow shoveller or the trainer of their employees. This would allow those small businessmen and women to, through an expert administrator, put together a pension plan for employees who might otherwise not have one.

What I am being asked by small businessmen and employees in small businesses back home is why do we not get this done.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London is quite right in that the ability to create a pension plan right now depends on a tremendous amount of resources. That is why only those who have worked for very large corporations and businesses in the past have had the opportunity to enjoy private pensions.

We are trying to create a device where, by pooling or putting resources together, small businesses or self-employed individuals will be able to establish the same opportunities to save for their retirement and enjoy a private pension. It is a very reasonable thing.

When we look at how our economy has changed, we see that more and more people are self-employed today than in the past. Again, more and more people are employed in smaller businesses and fewer are employed in those larger businesses. That is how the economy has changed.

We need to create devices that respond to those changes so that people have options to save for their retirement, those who are self-employed and those who are employed in small businesses. What is more, we want to do it in a way that they can also respond to the other change, that people often change employers many times. With portability, there is that option with the pooled registered pension plans.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Madam Speaker, one thing that is for certain under this particular regime, the House of Commons is becoming the house of closure, no question about it.

What is the real compelling reason that the House leader is invoking closure or time allocation? This chamber is always public but the track record of the government in committee is that when bills get to committee they are put in camera and the government tries to prevent a number of witnesses coming forward from the opposition members. Is that part of the reason, to take the debate out of the public arena and shove it to committee? Just in case that might be the case, would the House leader answer whether he would allow all the hearings in committee to be in public?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, we love this issue being debated in public. We love the proposal from the government of pooled registered pension plans being in public. We loved it so much that we made it part of the last election. We liked the idea so much that we put it in our platform and told Canadians that a re-elected Conservative government would work with our provincial and territorial partners to implement the pooled retirement pension plan as soon as possible in our next term of office. That is what we are doing.

We are delivering on our commitment and we did it after our debate in public, not with 12 members of Parliament. We did it after a debate with over 33 million Canadians and asked them what they had to say. They said that we should do that, that we should give them that pooled retirement pension plan. They gave us a majority mandate and asked us to deliver on our commitment. They asked us to do what we said we would do and that is exactly what we are doing.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Madam Speaker, I have had enough of this government, and I am sure you have as well.

This government is ignorant, arrogant and lacking in transparency. Moving time allocation 14 times does not make sense. It does not give us the time required to debate a bill. Furthermore, during the time allocation debate, he said that we have nothing to say about this bill. We have much to say, but the Conservatives do not want Canadians to know about the problems with their bill. This bill will only help big business make profits. What will happen if there is a market downturn? People will find themselves without a pension.

I would like my colleague to answer this question: can the government protect these pensions for Canadians who invest in them? Will this government guarantee the return of every dime invested by Canadians?

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, the problem the hon. member raises is not a problem of the bill. It is a problem of today in that there are too many working people who do not have pension opportunities, options to save. That is why we are creating another such option through the pooled retired pension plan.

It was Stewart Kennedy, president of the Ontario Medical Association, who said:

Ontario's doctors have been leading advocates in calling for pension reform and we believe that this legislation is a positive step forward.

If there are people from such diverse ranges of places saying that it is a positive step forward, if Canadians said that it was a great idea in the last election and if people are saying that it cannot happen soon enough, why does the NDP want to delay it? Why do the NDP members want to deny Canadians more opportunities to save for their retirement? Why put this off to another day? That is a question that I have not heard answered by them.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, I will try to answer the government House leader's question as to why it alarms so many people on this side of the House when time allocation is brought forward in a motion by the government benches for the 14th time in this session.

The reason is not that we are trying to delay. We are trying to have a full discussion that will explore the benefits and, potentially, ways to improve the government's legislation. It is called democracy. It is not about delay. It is about having a full hearing. We are all elected here as members of Parliament and, in the theory of Westminster parliamentary democracy, we are equals, but we feel as though we are the ground over which the government bulldozes and we really do not think that it is appropriate.

Bill C-25--Time Allocation MotionPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Madam Speaker, the approach of our government is very simple. We make commitments to Canadians and we seek to deliver on them. Our priority is jobs and economic growth and the long-term economic security of Canadians. We are working to deliver on that. We want to present legislation and we do. We present it in election, allow for a full debate and then we present it in the House and allow for debate here.

We think that debate is important and that it has something to offer but we also insist that we need to come to a point where we make decisions. People in this House should have the right to vote and in about half an hour we will ask the members of this House if they want the opportunity to vote on this bill. Are they prepared to allow two more days of debate and then to have a vote on the bill? It is a reasonable proposal, a reasonable approach. Let us avoid the political paralysis of Europe and the United States.