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House of Commons Hansard #169 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-45.

Topics

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

October 25th, 2012 / 3:50 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my hon. colleague, the member for Nickel Belt, the great riding that surrounds my great riding.

I am proud to rise in the House today to debunk the Conservative spin machine about the myths which members of the governing party have been reciting verbatim in their talking points on the government's second massive omnibus budget implementation bill that has been presented this year.

No, this is not The Matrix, but I think I am having a case of déjà vu as yet again parliamentarians have been presented with another massive omnibus bill that would make amendments to a wide range of acts often unrelated to one another and many having no place whatsoever in a budget bill.

The Conservatives clearly have not learned the lesson, which their own backbenchers like the member for Kootenay—Columbia highlighted in a meeting with his constituents on omnibus budget one back in the spring, namely, that Canadians do not approve of the Conservative approach of ramming legislation through Parliament without allowing Canadians and MPs to thoroughly examine it.

New Democrats understand this and, in our role as official opposition, we will not let Conservatives quietly pass this new omnibus legislation.

Canadians deserve better. They deserve transparency. They deserve a government that understands their priorities. They deserve a government that does not place the gutting of environmental protections over job creation. Come 2015, Canadians will get the government they deserve when they elect New Democrats from coast to coast to coast to govern, to increase transparency and prosperity for all Canadians.

The Conservative spin machine would like Canadians to believe that the second budget implementation act would lead to widespread job creation across the country. However, in spite of the ironic name of the bill, the jobs and growth act, the bill lacks significant measures to create jobs and stimulate long-term growth in the Canadian economy.

In fact, while the Conservative's PMO-supplied talking points claim that budget 2012 centres on job creation, Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer has indicated that the budget would cost 43,000 Canadians their jobs. Moreover, the budget itself forecasts a real rise in unemployment. So much for the self-created myth that the bill will lead to job creation.

The main policy prescription contained in Bill C-45 to stimulate job creation is the extension of the small business tax credit for new hires. This temporary measure offers a tax refund for small business employers on a portion equal to about $1,000 maximum of the employer's contribution to EI premiums, if the employer's EI premiums, which were $10,000 or less in 2011, and are greater in 2012.

While New Democrats support this measure, it is very limited and only gives employers a maximum of $1,000 in credits on their new EI employer payments. To make matters worse, it is only applicable in 2012.

Further, because the extension of this tax credit was not presented in the first budget implementation act, but rather was deferred until this fall session, small businesses were not able to plan for this measure for 2012, as the timing of this measure's introduction may come too late in the year for businesses to begin the planning necessary to take advantage of this tax credit.

As the Conservative's spin machine has taken a liking to referencing the NDP's 2012 election platform, let me use this opportunity to highlight that the New Democrats proposed a similar yet far more robust job creation tax credit, which can be found on page 8 of the party's platform.

The New Democrats proposed the introduction of a job creation tax credit that would provide up to $4,500 per new hire. Under the New Democrat's plan, employers would receive a one year rebate on the contributions for the Canada pension plan and Employment Insurance premiums for each new employee hired.

Further, companies and organizations that keep a new employee for 12 months or more, would have been eligible for a retention bonus, a $1,000 non-refundable tax credit. At the time of its presentation, independent analysis determined that this initiative would have helped create approximately 200,000 family-supporting jobs a year. Certainly this more expansive tax credit would be more beneficial than the meagre job creation strategy contained in budget 2012. If my math is right, this plan would create 243,000 more jobs than budget 2012 would, as the budget would directly result in the net loss of 43,000. That is some job creation strategy the PMO has cooked up.

Let me now use an on the ground example of how budget 2012 is having a negative effect on job creation in my riding of Sudbury, and I am certain in communities right across our great country. With budget 2012, there was a specific element designed to “streamline” government services. However, this streamlining was really just an exercise in slashing, cutting and burning with what had been effective programs provided by government to serve the needs of businesses both small and large in my community and in communities across our country.

For example, the closure of the regional Citizenship and Immigration office serves as a prime example of this ideological drive to cut back on these important services. The shuttering of Sudbury's office deprives my region of vital service which cannot be replaced by online services. In fact, there are a number of functions that are mandatory and have to be carried out in person, such as immigration interviews and citizenship exams. Depriving my region of immigration offices means that these interviews have to be carried out in southern Ontario, adding a burden for both employer and employee, while making it less likely that people will choose northern Ontario for sectors that require skilled workers and skilled immigration.

Moreover, cuts at Service Canada has businesses of all sizes waiting 14 weeks, which used to be two weeks, for labour market opinions, a dramatic increase in that traditional processing time of two weeks. As a result, some of Sudbury's business owners are now forgoing expansion because of this extra unneeded hassle.

I am not the only one in my community sounding the alarm bells over these cuts. According to the president of the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce, skilled labour remains vital to the success of the local industry and it is a really big issue for its members. He said, “They cannot find sufficient skilled labour locally and are looking nationally and internationally for those workers”.

These examples are illustrative of how the PMO's ideological crusade against government services are having an adverse effect on local industry and the competitiveness of Canadian business, further debunking the Conservative spin that budget 2012 will result in robust job creation.

Ultimately this begs this question. Why is the government stifling economic growth, curbing job growth and putting the long-term health of Canada's economy at risk with reckless cuts contained in budget 2012?

I will close by reinforcing the notion that the New Democrats will always be proud to stand up for transparency and accountability. We will always stand up for sound economic policies which promote job creation and economic prosperity for all. We will always stand up for environmental protection. Finally, we will always stand up for retirement security and health care.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy talking to my colleague in the House or outside the House about hairstyles.

When we look internationally, we see that, as my colleague before mentioned, there are global debt problems in certain countries. As any Canadian knows, when there is a debt crisis, we can do two things, even in our households. We can either spend less or make more money. Our government believes in a balance in that. That is why our economic plan 2012 had a variety of measures to both stimulate the economy for growth, but also to asked the question if government could deliver services more effectively and more efficiently.

Does the member support the measures to grow our economy, including strengthening support for our natural resource sector? Does he also support the fundamental principle that in any business and in government we can seek measures to both streamline and deliver services more effectively and more efficiently, which is the premise of budget 2012?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy my conversations with the member, especially when it comes to my previous hairdos because I am slowly losing my hair. I actually had some and it is nice to talk about it every once in a while.

Relating to a more serious issue, when we talk about the budget, the member talked about growth. That party thinks of growth as cutting and slashing, and I will use an example that is happening in my riding. The services provided by Service Canada in my community have been cut. The immigration office in my community is shuttered and closed. What has that done? That has stopped the growth of many of the small businesses in my community. All of us in this place know that we need more skilled workers. Right now we do not have that, so we need the support of national and international workers. By shuttering and closing services, we are not seeing that, and that is affecting our economy and our growth.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Sudbury for shedding light on this matter.

I would like to know what he thinks of my interpretation: governments, no matter their political stripe, do not create jobs, but they create the conditions that foster job creation.

It seems to me that the Conservative policies of the past few years have consequences. On the one hand, corporate tax cuts do not find their way back to the economy, and thus are not having the desired results. Members would have had to see the Minister of Finance cry a few weeks ago to understand that that was one of the results.

On the other hand, small businesses create the most jobs in Canada, but they are being offered peanuts over a very short period of time, which makes it impossible for them to take action.

Is my interpretation correct? Does my colleague have something else to add?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for focusing on the main economic drivers within our country, which is small and medium-sized businesses. We need to do what we can to continue to support them.

We on this side of the House have been talking about, for example, the voluntary code of conduct that the Conservatives have implemented on the interchange rates. It is still hurting many of our small retailers. The voluntary code is toothless and we see the big players, the credit card companies and the banks, taking advantage of this.

What we are also seeing in the budget bill is all of these things mixed together. We cannot even talk specifically about just the budget bill because we have to talk about the environment and all these other things as well.

We should be talking about what we had in our economic platform, which is a better way to stimulate growth, which is a better way to help small businesses and not these meagre amounts that the Conservatives will give them, which they will not even qualify for if the bill does not pass in time.

The Conservatives say one thing and do another. We on this side of the House support small businesses. We recognize they are the drivers of our economy.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, recently the Broadbent Institute, headed by NDP insider and former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, released a report on the NDP-linked group's view on taxes. I want to read a bit of this report and get the member's reaction:

Taxes are the hinge that links citizens to one another and to the common good....We should also consider eliminating... the ‘boutique’ tax credits of recent budgets...consider implementing taxes on very large inheritances of wealth which pass morally-unjustifiable class privilege...Significant [tax] revenues could be raised by the introduction of a financial transactions tax, and by cracking down on tax evasion through offshore tax havens. Green taxes — such as a carbon tax—

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. I did indicate that we only had a short time, so I need to give time to the hon. member for Sudbury to respond.

The hon. member for Sudbury.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Mr. Speaker, if we are going to be reading quotes, let me read a quick one about an omnibus budget bill. It says:

I just regret that we are proceeding with this omnibus approach to legislation which, because it lumps in things we support and things we do not support, unfortunately deprives us of the ability to support the government in votes where that would be appropriate.

Who said that? The Prime Minister said it. Why is the government moving forward with omnibus budget bills?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:05 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Sudbury. With or without hair, he is the best MP ever elected in the history of Sudbury and he has a long career ahead of him.

I rise to speak to the government's second drive-by omnibus bill. I sincerely regret missing the speech from my leader, the Leader of the Opposition yesterday. I was in committee. From all reports and from reading the speech myself, I expected to see some yellow tape around the chamber today for what happened here. As I read my leader's speech, I recognized the theft of leadership from the Conservative Prime Minister and cabinet who have failed Canada and who are failing Canadians.

We have an official opposition that is laying out a real alternative vision for the country, one that protects our social safety net, one that offers real protection for food security, one that will not abandon our seniors or our military veterans and one that will lead to good-paying jobs.

I guess I thought I would see yellow tape around here today because the government is now seeing a real assault on all the wrong priorities it has. It favours its friends and the privileged minority who are well off. I also see an all out outbreak on the government's self-serving agenda and the beginning of real debate for our country on its future, on its choices, on sustainable development and on so much more.

I only have 10 minutes to highlight a few of those choices and where we as New Democrats differ fundamentally from the government and its ideology. I have but a few minutes to highlight why those voters in Durham, Calgary Centre and in Victoria, in their by-elections, have the first chance to reject this agenda that has so undermined our country's greatness and our potential for even more.

Budgets are about choices and priorities. I know that, having served for almost four years as a Rayside-Balfour town councillor outside of Sudbury. I know that from working 34 years at Inco mines. I know the value of good-paying jobs and what those jobs do for communities in Nickel Belt.

To set the context for my remarks, I will share some comments from constituents in Nickel Belt about their priorities. I asked them what they would do if they were prime minister. It is clear that they are not drinking the Kool-Aid that the Prime Minister serves his caucus.

They propose: reducing taxes for low income families with children, which would help Canada's economy; redirecting tax dollars to fund only essential services such as health care, education and basic infrastructure; building an oil pipeline from Alberta to eastern Canada, thereby creating numerous jobs and opportunities for everyone; keeping our scientists at work and our stations open; not selling off Canadian oil sands companies to Chinese state-owned companies—we do not need that type of company in Canada; eliminating the two-week waiting period for EI applicants—the bills do not stop for two weeks, nor do a person’s daily necessities; making sure that our pensions are secure; and bringing prices down for houses and cars.

I referred to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition. One thing I have noticed about my new leader is that he very much subscribes to the belief of our former leader, Jack Layton, that politics has to be more than opposition. It has to be proposition.

Canadians may reject a party, as they will do with the governing party, but they also want a reason for voting for a party, as they will do for the New Democrats in the next election.

We are here not only to say what is wrong with the budget but to say what we would do. The NDP will always be proud to stand up for transparency and accountability. We will always stand up for environmental protection. We will always stand up for retirement security and health care.

Last spring, the New Democrats did what the Conservative government refused to do. We went out and listened to Canadians about the budget bill.

The NDP promises to work transparently, to be accountable and to promote democratic consultation. We will urge the government to ensure that the relevant parts of Bill C-45 will be debated in the appropriate committees and that this bill can be thoroughly examined.

I know my leader also mentioned commentary by veteran economist and writer, David Crane. Speaking about Canada's abundant resources, this economist said that they are important but not enough. Canada needs a well-diversified economy, both in its sources of economic growth and its markets. These are his important words:

Ignoring the need for a vibrant advanced manufacturing industry and high-value knowledge-based services, as well as a resource sector that upgrades it output in Canada, is a recipe for disaster.

The NDP also wants to build a fair Canada. A country as rich as Canada is capable of paying for decent working conditions, and that is part of what an NDP government would bring.

Over my lifetime in the workplace, I have seen that Canada is losing that balanced economy that we had built up over decades, that being a strong and vibrant resource sector but also a primary sector that includes agriculture, the fisheries, a diverse and strong manufacturing sector and, of course, a service sector. This is where the Conservatives' claim to be good managers of the economy does not add up.

Let us do the math. Since the Conservatives came to power we have lost hundreds of thousands of good-paying manufacturing jobs, jobs that came with enough of a salary for a family to live on and often enough with a decent pension. Now these economic mismanagers like to crow about job creation, which is only part-time precarious work in the service sector and, more important, with no pensions.

We are also leaving a social debt because who will pick up the tab when those people retire without enough to live on? It will be our children and our children's children. If we allow the Conservatives to continue, we will become the first generation in Canadian history to leave less to the next generation than we ourselves received.

Under Tommy Douglas, the NDP was responsible for bringing free universal public portable and accessible medical care to our country. It is wrong to make fiscal choices that have Canadians choosing between having a sick child seen by a doctor and being able to put groceries on the table. Surely we can agree on this and come to a consensus that we do not want an American-style system.

This economic mismanagement by the government is harming Canada.

When we reduce the government's fiscal capacity and introduce service cuts we cannot grow the economy. We see these service cuts in northern Ontario. The Government of Canada increasingly is missing in action with cuts to front line staff, cuts to IT and cuts to online services.

We see Service Canada jobs disappearing in the north, the Government of Canada immigration offices closing and MPs stepping in to offer government services. We see the increasing burden on civil society and charities to feed the vulnerable and look after people facing serious life challenges to their health and well-being.

I will now move to the choices the Conservatives have made in this budget. They have spent tens of millions on propaganda advertising while telling Canadians the cupboard is bare for money for EI or OAS.

They are eliminating the Hazardous Material Information Review Commission that helps protect workers from hazardous materials in the workplace. That is not something the Conservatives talked about in the budget. It will have an effect on the lives of workers and we will fight it every step of the way.

They are dissolving the Canada-EI financing board, leaving the employment insurance account $9 billion in deficit. Do members remember that phantom agency?

They are scrapping the Experimental Lakes Area, which is the only place on the planet Earth where whole lake ecosystems can be studied.

They are cutting $47 million to food safety, over $100 million to air safety and making cuts to marine search and rescue centres. We are talking about services that literally save lives and the Conservatives are making cuts to them.

It is enough. The government is mismanaging the economy. We cannot support its choices or priorities for so few Canadians. We will work hard to oppose its vision and propose--

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The time allocated to the hon. member has expired. We will now go to questions and comments. The hon. member for Richmond Hill.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Costas Menegakis Conservative Richmond Hill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I listened quite attentively to the hon. member opposite make some rather derogatory remarks. For someone who said that he, his party and his leader did not want to politicize the process, he did nothing but that during his speech.

The hon. member spoke about jobs. Since the global economic crisis, Canada was one of the first countries to come out of that relatively well with over 820,000 net new jobs being created in this country.

What would the hon. member have to say to those 820,000 people who have availed themselves of these jobs and are now getting dollars for their families and their homes?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

I welcome the question, Mr. Speaker, because all these jobs the member is talking about are part-time jobs. They are Tim Hortons jobs and Walmart jobs. The jobs that Canadians want are jobs they can feed their families with and have a good pension.

The government is cutting all kinds of good-paying jobs in the public sector so it can give more money to its friends.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Irene Mathyssen NDP London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, the question I have for my colleague has to do with the pension provisions that we saw in the budget and now we see in this omnibus bill.

There is great praise or great effort made by this omnibus bill to put in place the pooled registered pension plan. Unfortunately, it is not indexed and is not fully transferrable. It depends on the markets. It is invested in stocks, and we know what happened in 2008 to RRSPs. There also is no requirement by employers to contribute.

Would the hon. member not agree with the rest of this side of the House that improvements to the Canada pension plan and QPP would be far more helpful in terms of retirement security for Canadians?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

What a great question, Mr. Speaker. Of course I agree that the CPP is the way to do it. If we increased CPP donations for 10 years, everybody in Canada could have a decent pension to live on. It would take thousands of seniors out of poverty.

However, the government wants every Canadian to invest in the stock market. We all know what happens to the stock market when it goes down. Thousands of Canadians lost their pensions when the stock market went down the last time. The Conservatives want to do it again.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member concerning his last remark, which I am afraid was highly misleading.

The important point that he neglects to make is that it would take 40 years for an increase in the CPP to be fully funded. Therefore, the benefit in its entirety would only go to somebody who is approximately 20 years old now and would have been contributing at the higher level for some 40 years.

A person who is 50 or 60 years of age would receive next to nothing out of the NDP's plan, unless the member is proposing that younger people subsidize the older people. Is that what he is proposing?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member from the far side of the House is completely wrong. As usual, the Liberals are wrong.

We have been told that it would take 10 years for everyone in Canada to have a decent CPP that would take every senior citizen out of poverty.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe it was at 4:15 p.m. that the member opposite lamented that, by lowering taxes, our government has lowered the government's fiscal capacity.

In that line, is the member saying that he agrees with the Broadbent report that taxes should go up by 3% of GDP, which is about $50 billion? If so, which existing taxes would his party raise and by how much, and which new taxes would his party implement and by how much, and are they the ones outlined in the Broadbent paper or the NDP's 2011 election platform?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was supposed to be a short question, so I will give him a really short answer.

I would like to remind the hon. member that his party, in its 2008 agenda, its 2008 platform, had a cap-and-trade tax that would have increased the price of everything. Now that party is denying it. It is saying it was not them, but if we check the 2008 platform, we will find a cap-and-trade tax.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the great member of Parliament for Vegreville—Wainwright.

It is an honour to rise before the House and speak in support of Bill C-45, the jobs and growth act, 2012. I am fairly certain that when it comes to budgets and this opposition, the criticism is either going to be that the budget is empty or, in this case, that it proposes too much.

Let us think about this for a moment. The opposition's single greatest criticism to date has been that our government's economic action plan tries to do too much. Today our country is facing one of the most challenging economic environments in history and the greatest criticism from the opposition is that our government is trying to do too much in response to these economic crises.

I find the position of the opposition troubling. The opposition believes we should do less in this budget. While I respect that the opposition prefers a more simplistic tax-and-spend approach to the economy, our government believes in a more balanced approach that recognizes the need to actually grow the economy.

How do we do this? More importantly, how does Bill C-45 enable us to accomplish this goal? The reason why Bill C-45 is called the jobs and growth act is because that is precisely what the bill promotes, jobs and economic growth. That is good news for the citizens of Okanagan—Coquihalla, who will benefit greatly from the implementation of the bill.

Rather than engage in the current opposition debate that has been largely based on what word appears where and how many pages we can count, I would prefer to focus on the actual content and provide an example from my riding that illustrates one of the many reasons why I will be supporting the bill.

Before I begin, I would like to add that earlier this week and again today, we heard the opposition member for Halifax suggest the Navigable Waters Protection Act was about protecting the environment. I have read the act and this claim is patently false. The intent of the act is clear. It says, “No work shall be built or placed in, on, over, under, through or across any navigable water” that would interfere with navigation.

I raise this point as I believe we should be debating the true intent of the act as it relates to Bill C-45. If members have ever had the opportunity to visit my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla, in particular the community of Penticton, they would know that one of the most popular summer activities is floating down the Okanagan River channel. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people who have visited Penticton have taken part in the annual summer ritual of floating down the channel with friends and family alike.

I would also like to add that this is one of the most successful aboriginal-owned businesses in my region. How is this possible? It is possible because back in the 1950s, the governments of the day constructed a huge concrete dam at the north entrance to this waterway as a flood control measure. There are also three low-level bridges that span the same channel for vehicle crossings and one pedestrian bridge for a local golf course.

In short, unless one owns an inner tube, this waterway has not been navigable for many decades now and yet it is still subject to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. To be clear, for over 50 years, this waterway has not been navigable and yet it is still subject to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Only to the opposition does this make sense.

It excites me greatly that this body of water will finally be exempt from the Navigable Waters Protection Act as proposed in Bill C-45. Allow me to share my enthusiasm for the reasons why this is important to my riding.

The Penticton Indian Band has been working on a large-scale commercial development on the west side of the waterway for close to a decade now. This is a critically important economic development project for the band. This development will create much needed employment for members of the Penticton Indian Band. It would also provide much needed tax revenues for the improvements. There is only one problem. In order to access this development, the Penticton Indian Band will need to construct a bridge across this very same Okanagan River crossing.

Building a bridge between two communities is no easy task. Aside from the estimated $7 million in construction costs, there are traffic engineering reports and records. Approvals must be sought from the B.C. Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Transportation, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the B.C. Ministry for Aboriginal Affairs. Even the B.C. Attorney General's office is involved.

Anytime we hear an allegation that rules around the environment have been gutted, I can assure members of the House that there is no shortage of environmental approvals or government regulation involved in these processes. However, the Navigable Waters Protection Act is not and should not be one of them.

I am certain all members of the House can imagine the immense frustration of having to deal with no fewer than seven different government agencies, eight, if we include the adjacent municipality. After all of these challenges and hurdles, one must then comply with the demands of the Navigable Waters Protection Act even though the waterway in question has not been navigable for many decades. In fact, the last time this waterway was used for actual navigation was in 1917, which is almost 100 years ago.

Things have greatly changed over the past 100 years. Updating the Navigable Waters Protection Act, as I have just demonstrated, is not just important for the creation of jobs and economic growth in Okanagan—Coquihalla, it also reflects the reality of modern-day infrastructure needs.

Where there are still legitimate navigation needs on the water for economic development, they will continue to be protected. However, when there are waterways that have ceased to be navigable for the purposes originally defined under the act, let us apply common sense. That is exactly what Bill C-45 proposes.

This is only one example of many that I could share with the House in support of the jobs and growth act, 2012, and how it would benefit my riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla. I felt it important to illustrate a real-world example of why it is important to have a budget that promotes a balanced and comprehensive approach to creating jobs and supporting our local economies.

Before I close, I would like to take a moment to thank the members of the House for their patience in hearing my comments today. This project is very important for the Penticton Indian Band. Removing this decades-old roadblock would help to speed this project along.

I would also like to take a moment to formally congratulate Chief Jonathan Kruger, who was re-elected to another term of office as the chief of the Penticton Indian Band yesterday.

Chief Kruger was very receptive to hearing that we have proposed changes to other things in the budget implementation act such as the land designation process, particularly in regard to streamlining the government's own process for moving the Penticton Indian Band's community vision and economic development forward once they have come to a democratic decision.

I look forward to continuing to work with Chief Jonathan Kruger in getting this and other important projects moving forward with the help of Bill C-45.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, I raised an issue about the opposition's concern over where certain things were on certain pages in the budget. That came after several assertions from the government, including from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, about the location of a certain part of the bill, which was that the Navigable Waters Protection Act was listed on page 282 of the budget. Our leader yesterday read that entire page and nowhere was it found. That is where we have concerns.

Also if the Navigable Waters Protection Act has absolutely nothing to do with environmental protection, why was that listed on the Minister of Transport's website 29 times and why did the government feel it necessary to sanitize that after the member for Halifax raised it?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, one of the things the government has attempted to do is to put together a comprehensive framework to take Canada forward. In this case, the Navigable Waters Protection Act does need to be changed so that projects such as the Penticton Indian Band's bridge can move forward with economic development. There is also the land designation process so that the band can move forward in a more sturdy way. All members of the House want to see that first nations are supported and to see these things come forward.

As far as websites are concerned, my suggestion would be to seek the advice of the minister. I am sure that a question could be allocated to the member and he could ask that during question period.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to preface my question by saying that Canada has been recently named as having the second cleanest freshwater reserves in the world. We were ranked by the World Health Organization as having some of the cleanest air in the world. Our greenhouse gas emissions have stabilized while our economy grows. We are cleaning up contaminated sites in a record way, in a way that is working very well. We are the first country in the world to have regulations for coal-fired greenhouse gas emissions.

With all of these good works, all the environmental protection and all of the environmental regulations that our country has, and has as international leaders, in his experience as a city councillor, how do the changes to Navigable Waters Protection Act improve the municipalities' ability to deal with problems, also acknowledging that Canada has some of the strongest environmental regulations in the world?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I was very proud to serve on city council for the City of Penticton. The river channel 25 years ago was very murky. When the excess went into Skaha Lake it actually caused a water quality concern. I am very proud to say the City of Penticton made large investments years ago in its waste water programs and was supported in 2008 with a large grant that would help to take the advanced waste water treatment program up to another level. I have heard from scientists that the water quality in Skaha Lake now has cleared and it is one of the cleanest areas for people to go to the beach and enjoy summer activities.

One other thing I would mention is that there is so much legislation that protects water quality, local as well as first nations and as well as provincial. We are in very good hands with changes to this act.

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Lise St-Denis Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague said that our waters are clear and that our country's rivers are among the cleanest in the world.

Does my colleague agree that if that is the case and that is what we have achieved, perhaps it is because we had strong environmental regulations and we enforced them?

Job and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am really happy the member asked me that question because it gives me an opportunity to inform and make sure the House is mindful. As a former councillor, I know one of the key areas for environmental stewardship is waste water treatment. In fact this past summer, the government put forward national waste water treatment regulations. When I speak to people who are on old septic systems, those are a danger to water quality, particularly in my region. By setting strong standards and helping with infrastructure funds, Canada is well positioned to continue to have some of the cleanest water in the world.