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House of Commons Hansard #171 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-45.

Topics

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

October 29th, 2012 / 6:15 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am astounded at such a motion because on the 2011 NDP platform, on page 12, it specifically stated that the NDP would put a price on carbon. The New Democrats' costing document also showed plans to generate $21.5 billion in government revenue through the scheme. What would that do? The NDP carbon tax would raise the price of everything.

Earlier this week, I heard several members opposite talk about their concerns about rising gas prices. The NDP carbon tax would raise gas prices. Respected economist Jack Mintz calculated that the $21 billion proposed NDP carbon tax would raise gas prices by as much as 10¢ a litre. Therefore, this is a concern.

The Financial Post, on April 29, 2007, said, in reference to the NDP carbon tax, that it would increase the cost of transporting food and increase grocery prices. When we hear the members opposite talking about the need to take care of the workers and take care of Canadians, that is exactly what this government is doing.

For instance, when we talk about Canadians as a whole, we know that small business is a big asset to the economy in our country. We know that women, for instance, are entrepreneurs and are taking the lead in putting new creative businesses out there and feeding their families. They are very practical in what they do. Having said that, our government has proposed to extend the temporary hiring credit for small business for one year. That is huge because small businesses often do not have a chance to hire new people.

When I hear over and over again about the NDP carbon tax and the $21.5 billion intended to be raised if those members get into government, it just makes me shudder. We will not be hearing about 820,000 new jobs in the future if that happens, because the cost of everything shuts down everything, including small business.

As I said, small businesses are the engine of job creation in Canada and are indispensable in their role as job creators. Small businesses struggling to get ahead and families struggling to buy their groceries and pay their mortgages do not need to be taxed and taxed again. That is what the NDP carbon tax would do, just add more and more taxes to families who are already stretching their budget in every way.

This temporary hiring credit for small business is $1,000 per employer and for a small business that means a great deal. It means the difference between being able to push a business forward or having to step back and not be able to take care of one's family.

We talk about very practical things, as I have heard earlier today. I have heard some of the speeches here, and there are always complaints about there not being enough jobs, when 820,000 net new jobs is a lot of jobs. Those are people out there working, bringing home the bacon for their families. I have a real concern about the NDP carbon tax because it would not only kill jobs but it would also kill the ability for families to move ahead.

We have to be very mindful when things are proposed at the government level. Our government on this side of the House has been able to rank right up on top of the world for economic stability. That is something to be proud of it.

Members opposite and their families, and members on this side of the House, are living well even though there are some challenges. There are some things that will always be challenges, but this budget needs to be supported. This budget needs to be embraced to allow our country to move forward. I think that is what every member on all sides of the House wants.

The NDP carbon tax would kill jobs. The NDP carbon tax would push up the cost of gas. The NDP carbon tax would cause groceries to increase.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had a great deal of respect for Jim Prentice. There was a man who stood up in the House and did not misinform people. He was a man one could say would never lie. Jim Prentice in 2009 stood up as part of the throne speech and said that the government would put a price on carbon.

The present Minister of Foreign Affairs went to Montreal and said that the government would open a carbon trading institute in Montreal and “put a price on carbon”. Either they were making that up, they were lying or they thought the Canadian people were stupid, but that was the policy the government ran on: that it would put a price on carbon.

I see the bobbleheads who are now repeating this misinformation, the lie about the so-called carbon tax, when the government had told the Canadian people that it was putting a price on carbon

I would like to ask that hon. member, what happened to the commitment made by Jim Prentice, an honourable man in the House? Was that just cynicism on the government's part or was he making it up?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the Prime Minister would never tax the public in any way, shape or form to that end.

The fact of the matter is that I have never before been called a “bobblehead” and I take exception to that kind of analogy. I have had nine years of university. I have raised six children. I do not consider myself a bobblehead.

I consider myself an intellectual person who works hard to raise the standard of everything I do, and I am saying great kudos to the government and our Prime Minister, who has protected this whole country from financial ruin when a lot of other countries have experienced economic downturns.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:20 p.m.

NDP

Dan Harris NDP Scarborough Southwest, ON

Mr. Speaker, following up on the point that my colleague raised, Mr. Prentice made his comments in response to the Speech from the Throne.

The Speech from the Throne actually did say that the government would put a price on carbon, and that price was $65 a tonne. If we take the total output, that would actually mean a $45 billion tax on carbon, which is more than double what the entire Conservative caucus is saying we are pitching.

How do we square that circle?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, how I square that circle is that we are living in the year 2012 and the Prime Minister has never, ever said anything about putting a tax on carbon. It is the NDP carbon tax that would raise groceries. It is the NDP carbon tax that would increase gas prices. That is—

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member and I both ran in 2008 against a carbon tax. The party that ran on the carbon tax was relegated to a reduced caucus in the opposition. They are now stuck in the third corner.

It is true that we talked about carbon trading with the United States. The United States would not trade. We cannot trade with ourselves, so that is the end of it.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Joy Smith Conservative Kildonan—St. Paul, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for those comments because our government has been known for lowering taxes, giving tax breaks to every segment of our society from sports teams to families to small businesses.

The NDP carbon tax is the tax that was on page 12 of the NDP's platform, generating $21.5 billion in revenue. It would raise every single thing.

The member for Dauphin last week talked about the things families have to get for their Halloween festivities. It would even raise those simple family things that people enjoy every day. It would impact on this country in a major way.

We have to be very mindful of that when we are talking about the budget.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before recognizing the hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, I must inform her that I will have to interrupt her at 6:30 p.m. at the conclusion of the time provided for government orders. She has three minutes for her speech.

The hon. member for Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Djaouida Sellah NDP Saint-Bruno—Saint-Hubert, QC

Mr. Speaker, I get the impression that today is Groundhog Day, and I am not talking about the day in February where we check to see whether the groundhog has seen his shadow to determine when spring will arrive. Rather, I am talking about the 1993 movie, where the main character keeps reliving the same day over and over again. I have the vague impression that I have already lived this moment where I rise in the House to speak out against a bill that is over 400 pages long and contains many elements that were not part of the budget tabled by the Minister of Finance in March.

This is likely because this is not the first time this has happened. I promise to do my best not to repeat myself even if the speech I gave last June is still valid and relevant today.

Like Bill C-38, Bill C-45 is another massive omnibus bill that makes changes to many laws. Once again, the Conservatives are trying to ram their legislative measures through Parliament without allowing Canadians or their representatives, the MPs, to carefully examine them. The 400 pages of this bill once again contain many areas of concern.

I would have liked to focus on a few points, particularly health, but unfortunately, I have only one minute left.

What I can say is that this is truly an undemocratic practice designed to prevent the representatives of the people of Canada from examining the bill and doing their jobs properly. We are opposed to this way of doing business in Parliament. We want Canadians to know exactly what the current government is doing. We must speak out against all the bad things in this bill.

I would like Canadians to be aware of the fact that this is the same story all over again. This is the second time this has happened. It is the same 400-page bill to do nothing, apparently.

I hope that Canadians will learn their lesson about this government.

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

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising to pursue a question that was asked some time back, but it is still very relevant.

I asked this question in question period on May 17, and it related to a report that had just been released that the federal government was encouraging leases in the Beaufort Sea and other areas of our Arctic. At the same time, the National Energy Board had come up with a way to reduce what are fairly onerous requirements on oil companies that wished to drill in the Arctic. The National Energy Board had relaxed its requirements for proof of being able to drill a same-season relief well.

I think a lot of Canadians did not know what a relief well was until we watched the failure of one in the Gulf of Mexico with the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. We certainly saw there why there is a need for it. For example, if there is a blowout at depths in the ocean, a way to stop the blowout is needed, and a relief well is required.

In the case of the Arctic, with much more difficult climatic conditions, if a blowout occurred during winter months when there is ice cover and no daylight, the chances of being able to get in a same-season relief well are critical. The relief well would have to be put in before the winter conditions became an impossible obstacle, in order to stop a blowout.

On May 17, I raised this question: How would we eliminate the risks of blowouts during drilling exploration and development in our most fragile ecosystem in the Arctic?

Since I first raised the issue, the French multinational giant, Total S.A., aborted its efforts to pursue oil drilling in the Arctic in September. The CEO of Total, Christophe de Margerie, told the Financial Times that there was simply too large a risk. In fact, from his point of view, the financial risk to his company of attempting to drill in the Arctic would outweigh any benefit. As he put it: “Oil in Greenland would be a disaster.... A leak would do too much damage to the image of the company”.

We have a situation where at least one large oil company decided it is not worth the risk. However a second large oil company, Royal Dutch Shell, abandoned those attempts after repeated failures, also in September, after spending almost $5 billion in efforts to get at oil in offshore Alaska, in the Arctic.

Here we have a situation where Canada is about to take the chair of the Arctic Council, which is a huge opportunity for this nation. The Minister of Health, a member of the Inuit nation, will be chairing the Arctic Council table.

This is a time for Canada to show leadership and say we will not subsidize oil and gas, we will not promote oil and gas in the Arctic and we will insist on same-season relief wells. We will not allow relaxation of standards and we will adopt a precautionary principle in concert with the other circumpolar nations who sit at the Arctic Council table. It is critical that we protect our Arctic.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak to the question of the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.

Our government is committed to ensuring that a strong and prosperous north helps shape the future of our nation. Without a doubt, the north continues to be a top priority of our government. We are carrying on with the delivery and improvement of key programs and initiatives under the northern strategy – programs and initiatives that benefit all Canadians.

The north is home to world-class resource potential, representing tremendous economic opportunity. Our government continues to encourage investment in northern communities while ensuring that investment is supported by a world-class safety and environmental protection regime in the north.

In anticipation and preparation for future investment in the north, the National Energy Board initiated a public review of Arctic safety and environmental offshore drilling requirements. The final report of the public review released by the board on December 15, 2011, reconfirmed that Canada’s Arctic offshore regulatory regime is one of the safest and most stringent regimes in the world.

To emphasize this finding, the report included a series of new safety and environmental protection filing requirements for Arctic offshore drilling programs. These new requirements were developed based on input received during the public review. They will contribute to the already rigorous review process that the National Energy Board undertakes when considering whether to authorize oil and gas activities in the north.

The issuance of mineral rights on crown lands is important to encouraging investment in the north. Working with northern and aboriginal governments and people, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada issues rights to prospective resource developers. The rights issuance process in the north is open and transparent and, as in other jurisdictions in Canada, is market-based. An exploration licence issued by the department gives the developer an exclusive right to explore and to drill for oil and gas.

Currently, there is no drilling in the Arctic offshore. Any proposed activity associated with an exploration licence would require the authorization of the National Energy Board, and the review process would include public consultations. Also, before a drilling program would be authorized, the applicant would need to demonstrate that it meets the safety and environmental protection filing requirements for offshore drilling in the Canadian Arctic.

Our government is committed to helping the north realize its true potential as an economically healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the parliamentary secretary for his comments. I believe that oil drilling in the Canadian Arctic is one of the most dangerous projects in the history of our country.

I look at this in light of the independent study by the World Wildlife Fund that found that:

Mounting an effective response to a major oil spill in the Arctic is presently not possible due to enormous environmental challenges, a lack of capacity and the severe limitations of current response methods in ice-covered waters.

The same report identified a so-called response gap whereby, due to the Arctic's remoteness and extreme weather there is also a high percentage of time when no response, however ineffective, could even be attempted.

We need to have a precautionary approach. We need to develop a strategy for the prevention of oil spills. I assert again that Canada should use its leadership as chair of the Arctic Council to pursue a matter for an oil spill prevention strategy for the Arctic and not be complacent.

The EnvironmentAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, our government fully recognizes the importance of economic growth and environmental protection. Canada has robust environmental legislation and standards, a tough safety regime and experienced independent regulators to oversee offshore activities.

The National Energy Board is a world-class regulatory body. Our government is convinced that the board has the appropriate tools to safely and effectively regulate any proposed oil and gas activity in Canada's Arctic. Our government is determined to realize the energy potential of the North, for the benefit of all Canadians.

Workplace SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, last month I asked the Minister of Labour a question that is the number one question in my community. I cited the federal Minister of Labour's claim that her government is committed to ensuring workers who go to work return home safely. I said that is not what happened to Jason Chenier and Jordan Fram who died last year in a Sudbury mine. I said that Canadians want employers held accountable for endangering the lives of workers.

The federal Westray act was passed a decade ago, but the Minister of Labour is not enforcing it. I wanted to know when the Minister of Labour would start doing her job and protect Canadian workers. The parliamentary secretary stood up and, after nine words acknowledging the tragic consequences of those deaths, went on to cheer the government's track record on workplace safety. While many answers from the government leave Canadians shaking, this particular answer left many in my community deeply upset.

I am hoping that the member will leave his talking points tonight and speak real answers, not to me but to the Chenier and Fram families and members of the mining community who are watching this debate.

There are provincial jurisdiction issues to be addressed too, as the Ontario Liberal government refuses to call an inquiry. However, tonight I am addressing the proper enforcement of a federal law.

The Westray bill was a good bill and is a good law. There was bipartisan work on that bill led by some Nova Scotia MPs, including former leader of the NDP Alexa McDonough. It has in fact become a useless law so far, because it is not being enforced. I am unaware of a single prosecution under the Westray bill. Perhaps the parliamentary secretary could confirm that in his remarks tonight.

If a law is on the books and it is not being enforced, then no wonder companies ignore it. Does this not bother the parliamentary secretary and his government?

The government likes to publicize its reputation of being tough on crime. Do the Conservatives not care about company crime? Does the Government of Canada, the government of Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier and Sudbury miners, intend to do anything about the law that is being ignored?

Let me quote from the president of Local 6500, Rick Bertrand, when the police announced that no charges would be laid, “Under the Westray bill, the Canadian Criminal code was amended to make [it a] criminal offence to ignore workers' health and safety...and in this case, that's what happened”. The news report goes on to say that Mr. Bertrand said the union's investigation revealed that Chenier had informed management about safety concerns at the mine. There is evidence backing this up.

Last month in the Northern Life newspaper, former editor Mick Lowe chronicled the long and hard journey toward mining safety in Ontario. He wrote that despite safety improvements, miners are still dying. What interested me about this article is that he referred to how bipartisan work, between the then Sudbury East NDP MPP Elie Martel and the Progressive Conservative government of Premier Bill Davis, created the Ham Commission into Workplace Safety in the Ontario Mining Industry. The writer credits the Davis Progressive Conservative government for acting and introducing the Ontario safety and health act of 1978, which included the right to refuse unsafe work.

I implore the parliamentary secretary to answer the question tonight, not with more words or cheering about the government's record. Will the government commit to enforcing the Westray law? What will it do in the way of justice for Jordan Fram and Jason Chenier? What will the government do to ensure that miners who go to work can return home safely to their loved ones?

Workplace SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

Greg Rickford ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, the MP for Nickel Belt and I share a vast region in northern Ontario with a number of major mining projects on the go. For instance, in the great Kenora riding we celebrate the fantastic contribution that it makes in terms of economic development. We also appreciate and understand the importance of workplace safety. To that end, I have had the Minister of Labour involved in a visit to Red Lake, which went very well.

We were concerned last summer, and remain concerned, when we heard about the deaths of two miners at the Vale Frood-Stobie mine complex in Sudbury.

We want to once again offer our sincere condolences to the families, friends and co-workers who were affected by this tragedy.

As the mining operation falls within the provincial jurisdiction, the Ontario Ministry of Labour is responsible for investigating this accident. We understand that the ministry has laid 15 charges against the company and one of its employees in connection with the deaths of two miners.

Although we were not directly involved, our government is committed to finding ways to prevent injury and illness in the workplace. This is an integral part of keeping Canada's labour force strong, healthy and competitive.

The labour program works with the provinces and territories as well as employer and employee organizations to promote safe and healthy workplaces across Canada. Our responsibilities are set out in part II of the Canada Labour Code, which establishes occupational health and safety requirements for federally-regulated workplaces.

Beyond the code, we are developing policies and adopting health and safety regulations to reflect the evolving realities affecting today's workplaces. However, enforcing laws is only part of the solution.

We must instill a sense of co-operation and shared responsibilities between employers and employees when it comes to addressing health and safety issues. When these issues cannot be resolved by the workplace partners, our federal health and safety officers intervene to investigate incidents and complaints in federally-regulated workplaces.

Occupational injuries can amount to significant costs to the Canadian economy in addition to the tragedies that are experienced by the workers and their families.

I can assure the member that we are doing everything we can to reduce the toll on human lives and ensure that our economic recovery remains strong.

Workplace SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the member for Kenora for giving a much better answer than the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Labour.

Those two miners died from what we in mining call a run of muck. The run of muck happened when a torrent of water and ore flooded the drift where they were working.

I suggest it is time the government stop mucking around with the safety of workers.

One of the mothers of those miners, Wendy Fram, is heading the local committee in our community to ensure justice is done for their sons and our miners. The other mother, Barb Staszak, wrote me today to keep up this fight. She said that she found “As time passes people forget and life goes on”. That is what those companies and the government count on, silence and forgetting.

It that what the Conservative government is choosing, silence and the forgetting of the Westray law?

Workplace SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the sincerity of the member's question in response. When tragedies such as the one in Sudbury occur they affect us all, particularly when we come from large regions where mining activities are so prominent.

We are naturally concerned about the impact on the victims' families, loved ones, colleagues and the community. I can advise the member that we offered to assist the Government of Ontario in any way we could. The investigation at this point into this accident falls under the provincial jurisdiction.

According to our information, formal charges have been laid and the legal proceedings are under way.

In Canada an average of three workers are killed every working day. We seek to make our workplaces more safe. This is way too many and we are committed to working with the provinces and territories, labour organizations and the like to end these tragedies in our workplaces.

Workplace SafetyAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:50 p.m.)