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House of Commons Hansard #188 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was asbestos.

Topics

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Dean Allison Conservative Niagara West—Glanbrook, ON

Mr. Speaker, that is one of the things we have heard a little about here in the House, the $21 billion carbon tax.

We understand the NDP does not want to suggest that it would actually have to collect taxes for this, but I am not sure how else it would pay for all these programs.

If we look at it, I know the NDP members talk about our government looking at this in 2008, but here we are in 2012 and we have not seen that. Obviously, that was not part of our plan.

I would suggest that taxes would need to be raised to pay for all these things. It is unfortunate that what would happen is that hard-working Canadians would have to pay for all these additional taxes.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Before we resume, I want to compliment members on guarding their time in that last round. Without making any reference to the content of the questions and comments, it was an outstanding round of questions and comments.

Resuming debate.

The hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot has the floor.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

3:45 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I could begin my speech by confidently making a statement about which I am now absolutely certain, to wit: parliamentary democracy is now a thing of the past in Canada's Parliament.

Omnibus bills, reflecting an almost obscene form of grandstanding, have become a habit in the House of Commons, like gag orders, I might add. That is why I am not all that happy about taking the floor in the House for a second time to speak about the second omnibus budget implementation bill, Bill C-45.

On the other hand, I am pleased to be able to stand up for my constituents, because I believe that it is important for them to be aware of the government's sabotage. It is sabotaging our social programs, our regions, our employment insurance, the quality of our food, our environment, and our international reputation. I could go on about its sabotage for the next 10 minutes of my speech. That is more or less what I will do, but in greater detail.

Just as Bill C-38 went beyond implementation of the 2012 budget by making many other previously unannounced changes, we find ourselves once again dealing with a bill that goes far beyond simply implementing a budget. Much too far. We said so in May when the Trojan horse bill was forced through, and we are saying it again today: this is not an acceptable way of doing things in this House, in a democratic system. I will always speak out in this House against such practices.

Bill C-45 is 450 pages long and contains clauses that concern a host of disparate measures. It amends more than 60 acts. Needless to say, the bill also assigns more power to ministers. This worrisome Conservative penchant for concentrating power is proceeding apace. Bill C-45 eliminates some commissions to allow ministers to make more decisions without consultation and without having to answer to anyone.

It is also important to speak out about the weakening of our environmental protection measures, and of our ability to ensure sustainable development for future generations. I am really concerned that they could not care less about the next generation.

Bill C-45 also destroys the Navigable Waterways Protection Act and takes the teeth out of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. The Conservatives did not even allow the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development to study these changes, even though they will have a major impact on our environment.

The Minister of Transport likes to repeat ad nauseam that navigable waterways and the environment are two different things, but the fact is that there are fish in the water! They need protection because they are part of our ecosystem. And while it may be true that they are two different things, in the end, they go together.

Bill C-45 also proposes major changes to the Canada Grain Act. These changes, made without consulting anyone, will have a major impact on Canadian grain producers.

I will not discuss the proposed amendments to avoid any slips of the tongue, but will say instead that the government's amendments, drawn up without any consultations, make it more difficult for producers to challenge grain classification or weight decisions made by private grain producers. It is clear that this will be very harmful to the grain trade and small producers.

The Conservatives had assured us that Bill C-45 would hold no surprises. And yet, the 2012 budget did not say a thing about this. After reducing the powers of the Canadian Wheat Board and making budget cuts to AgriStability payments, the Conservatives have made it clear that they do not want to help farmers.

My riding is considered the larder of Quebec, and farming is everywhere.

Farmers in my riding are worried about the extent to which the government is ignoring and refusing to help them. And yet, they are the people who feed us all. Could they not be given at least a little recognition? That is the least the government could do for them.

Yet again, the Conservatives are trying to rush legislative measures through Parliament, keeping Canadians in the dark and not allowing them to learn more about them. In this bill, they go so far as to considerably reduce their own responsibilities. But governments have responsibilities. It seems to me that my colleagues across the way still do not know that. We have been working with this government for a year and a half, and I have yet to see them shoulder any responsibility for anything.

The government is also saying that the bill will create jobs. However, I have something to tell the House: according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the budget will lead to the loss of 43,000 jobs. Some job creation! We might return to the topic when some jobs have actually been created.

In reality, the budget would lead to a major hike in the unemployment rate, with fewer and fewer workers eligible for employment insurance. The main job creation measure in the bill is the introduction of a temporary hiring tax credit for small businesses. This is a measure we could support, because it is like motherhood. However, it only gives employers a maximum tax credit of $1,000 on their new employment insurance payments. That is not a lot. Even funnier, or even more ironic, the tax credit is available to employers for the 2012 tax year, even though 2012 has already ended. The 2012 year is ending now.

We just spoke about jobs. We might now talk about how poverty, homelessness and perhaps even housing. According to the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, 4 million Canadians, 750,000 of them children, are coping with pressing housing needs. By this we mean that their housing is too small, dirty and expensive, and that they cannot pay for it. Not only that, but between 150,000 and 300,000 Canadians currently live in the street.

Earlier, I spoke about the fact that the government must assume its responsibilities. The 2012 budget implementation bill does not contain any measures for housing or the fight against poverty. In my opinion, this is completely unacceptable. Yet, major institutions, such as the Wellesley Institute and the Canadian Federation of Municipalities have sounded the alarm several times. In the run up to the last budget, these organizations called on the federal government to invest money in housing. Obviously, nothing was done.

Housing is a crucial issue for families, people without families and seniors, a high-risk group. Seniors occupy one third of social housing units, and a third of them risked losing their housing as a result of the cutbacks the government has made over recent years. A lot of seniors and families are also at risk of losing their affordable housing because the long-term operating agreements between the federal government and housing co-operatives will not be renewed.

Once again, the government is not playing a leadership role. The NDP will focus its efforts on the real priorities of Canadian families: jobs, health care, pensions, environmental protection, the fight against poverty, agriculture, and the protection of workers. We have a plan to improve health care, to better reward those that create jobs, and to strengthen seniors' benefits. We also want to work in a transparent manner.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives are continuing to demonstrate that they are more interested in imposing their agenda than in being accountable to Canadians. Worse still, they have chosen to perpetuate an unsustainable situation. In our northern country, people are living in the streets and families must choose between paying their rent and feeding their children. The country is placing no importance on the environment and is jeopardizing the health of future generations with impunity. Canada is sabotaging assistance programs for people in need and is not at all concerned about the first nations.

It is high time that the government assume its responsibilities and play a leadership role in order to make our nation a land that welcomes people and a place where people want to live.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very passionate speech. I did hear her criticize the budget, which is good. This is what the opposition should be doing. However, part of the opposition's job is to put forward an alternative but we did not really hear anything in that speech with any details.

However, what we do know is that the NDP has $56 billion in unfunded promises. To be responsible, one needs to tell Canadians where one will get the money to do that.

We have heard about the $21 billion carbon tax. We know the NDP voted against taking the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. The NDP leader has been on the record saying that he wants to raise it.

When we subtract $21 billion from $56 billion, it just does not quite add up. We know about the carbon tax and the potential with the GST, but how will the NDP pay for this and where will it get the tax dollars?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, it is funny that my colleague spoke about responsibilities. Being responsible means ensuring that Canada is a place where people want to live, as I said in my closing remarks. Being responsible means protecting the environment and ensuring that Canadians are not caught in the poverty trap. Investing in social programs and the environment is worthwhile. Sustainable development is worthwhile. Having a country of healthy people is worthwhile.

This is how we intend to fund what we are proposing to Canadians.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, in the member's opening remarks, she spoke very passionately about how bad the bill is, how undemocratic it is and so forth on principle. I appreciated those comments but I have a question for her. How, from the NDP's perspective, does she reconcile that with her caucus' behaviour in terms of allowing the bill to pass so easily in committee? The NDP members voted to support limiting debate on the motion. They voted to overturn the chair. They voted to support over 1,000 times the Conservative budget. How does she reconcile her opening remarks and those facts?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals proposed 3,000 amendments to the bill. I am not saying that these 3,000 amendments were superficial, but most of them were. If they did not want to vote on those amendments, they should not have proposed them.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned earlier that 4 million Canadians had core housing needs and that between 150,000 and 300,000 of them were homeless, but there is nothing in the budget for housing. The hon. member referred to a study by the Wellesley Institute, but the Gaetz report also deals with the real cost of homelessness.

Personally, I think housing is an investment. I am convinced that my colleague agrees. Housing benefits the economy. This could be one way of paying some expenses. Therefore, perhaps the hon. member could tell us how providing housing to people benefits the economy.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, some people currently spend over 80% of their income on housing. Normally, one should not spend more than 30% of his budget on housing, in order to meet other basic needs such as food, clothing and providing for his children.

If people have adequate housing and if they pay a decent amount for their rent, they will consume more, have a decent standard of living, live in dignity, and they may also be in a better position to study and work. It is a cycle. It pays to invest in social programs.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, it is certainly an honour and a pleasure to speak on the matter of our government's budget implementation bill.

I would like to begin my comments by congratulating the Prime Minister; the finance minister; my good colleague from Edmonton—Leduc, who chairs the Standing Committee on Finance and has done an excellent job in getting this through; and, of course, the two parliamentary secretaries for their excellent work in making sure that this bill got through committee and some of the treachery and traps planned for it there.

Canadians expect politicians to keep their promises, and the promises that we made to them in our previous elections are being delivered in this bill. The top priority of our government is to promote job creation and economic growth. That is our priority because of the positive results our policies have had in supporting Canadians so far. That is our priority because in a challenging global economy, we need to continue taking prudent action. It is also our priority because it is the priority of Canadians.

Since the introduction of Bill C-45, I have been hosting numerous round tables and town hall meetings in my riding and listening to the concerns of my constituents about the current landscape in Canada. I often hear calls for the reduction of unnecessary red tape, a key point in this bill.

Our government's plan to reduce red tape is quite clear. Our government is going to address specific irritants to businesses, as well as the systemic barriers that unnecessarily frustrate and burden Canadian businesses with additional delays, costs and unnecessary bureaucracy. Part of this plan includes implementing the one-for-one rule and committing to a red tape reduction action plan to reduce unnecessary and ineffective regulations, allowing small businesses to focus on growing and creating jobs.

Additionally, we know there is a need to modernize many of Canada's regulatory systems when it comes to project reviews. Since 2006, our government has been working to streamline the review process for major economic projects so that projects proceed in a timely fashion while protecting the environment. The government will propose legislation to modernize the regulatory system and realize the objective of one project-one review within a clearly defined time period.

Economic action plan 2012 also proposes $13.6 million over two years to fund the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency in support of consultations with aboriginal peoples related to projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to ensure that their rights and interests are respected and that they benefit from the economic development opportunities afforded to them.

Another issue that I have heard about in my riding, of course, is the issue of job creation. Canada's well-trained and highly educated workforce represents one of our key advantages in competing and succeeding in the global economy. We know that the key to a strong future is well-trained youth. That is why we are investing $50 million over two years to assist more young people to gain the necessary skills and experiences they need.

Far too often Canadians run into barriers or disincentives that discourage workforce participation. Better utilizing Canada's workforce and making Canada's labour market more adaptable will help ensure Canada's long-term economic growth. That is why since 2006 the government has placed a strong emphasis on access to skills training, support for post-secondary education, building a fast and flexible economic immigration system and developing untapped potential in the labour market.

Economic action plan 2012 builds on this with an enhanced labour market focus and a number of targeted investments that will help respond to current labour market challenges and meet the longer-term labour market needs. We are also helping those who are unemployed get back on their feet by giving them the skills they need to find jobs in their communities.

Through economic action plan 2012, our government will invest $21 million over two years to improve efforts to connect employment insurance claimants with the necessary skills with available jobs in their communities, including through targeted information and compliance sessions. Along with providing relevant and timely job information, the government will strengthen and clarify what is required of claimants who are receiving regular employment insurance benefits and looking for work.

This bill also proposes investing $74 million over two years in new national employment insurance projects to ensure that claimants are not discouraged from accepting work while receiving those same EI benefits. This new pilot project would cut the current earnings clawback rate in half and apply to all earnings while on claim. This would ensure that EI claimants always benefit from accepting work by allowing them to keep more of what they earn while receiving EI benefits.

Economic action plan 2012 would also invest $387 million over two years to align the calculation of weekly EI benefit amounts with local labour market conditions. This new approach would reduce disincentives to accepting all available work prior to applying to the EI program, by permanently revising the way benefits are calculated.

Economic action plan 2012 would improve the integrity and fairness of the tax system by closing tax loopholes that allow some businesses and individuals to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

The plan would also improve the neutrality of the tax system by eliminating inefficient tax preferences. These actions would broaden and protect the tax base of federal and provincial governments, helping to keep Canadian tax rates competitive and low and thereby improving incentives to work, save and invest in Canada.

Our government would also continue to provide significant support through major federal transfers in 2012-13. Federal support, for example, to provinces and territories would reach an all-time high of $59 billion, some $3 billion more than last year. Total amounts for each major transfer would see year-over-year growth in 2012-13. For Alberta, my province, major transfers would total close to $3.6 billion in fiscal year 2012-13. This long-term growing support would help ensure that my Province of Alberta has the resources required to provide essential public services. It also contributes to shared national objectives, including health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada's social programs.

As elected members of Parliament, we have a duty to lead by example. That is why this budget also includes an overhaul of the MP pension system, with changes that would see pensions fall more into line with the private sector by moving toward a 50-50 cost sharing model and pushing back the age of eligibility to 65. Over the next five years, these changes, along with similar adjustments to the public service pensions, would save taxpayers $2.6 billion.

These types of measures would help us stay on the right track despite ongoing global economic uncertainty. Through our economic action plan, we have helped the Canadian economy grow over 820,000 net new jobs since July 2009, the best job-creation record in the G7. This legislation would keep Canada's economy on the right track.

Our Conservative government is spending taxpayer dollars responsibly and efficiently to continue our economic success and reduce our deficit. The results speak for themselves. Since July 2009, our debt to GDP ratio is the lowest in the G7 and our deficit is half of what it was two years ago. Canada's deficit in 2011-12 was down by about a quarter from 2010-11 and by more than half from 2009-10. We have also heard praise of our government's ongoing efforts to ensure continued responsible spending of taxpayer dollars, with direct program expenses in the 2011-12 fiscal year falling 0.6 percentage points as a share of GDP from their 2010-11 level.

The admiration of Canada's economic environment is not limited to foreign governments and dignitaries. Recently, Forbes magazine ranked Canada as the best country in the world to do business, and the OECD and the IMF predict that our economic growth will be among the strongest in the industrialized world over the next two years. All three of the major credit ratings agencies, Moody's, Fitch and Standard and Poor's, have reaffirmed Canada's top credit rating. These accomplishments are not the end of the road but a sign that our efforts are helping deliver for Canadians and must be continued.

That is why our government would continue to implement economic action plan 2012 through this budget implementation bill. As long as there are Canadians looking for work or concerned about economic turbulence beyond our borders, our job is not done. Bill C-45 is another step that our government is taking to balance the budget, create jobs for Canadians, reduce unnecessary red tape and remove the burdens of bureaucracy that slow down the progress of industry and citizens all across our country. Our Conservative government is keeping taxes low and remaining focused on jobs and growth. By doing everything we can to continue Canada's success, we are helping Canada stay on the right track for long-term growth and prosperity.

I am proud to support this bill and will continue to support the efforts of our government to improve Canada in the short and long terms.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech.

I would like to remind him that in 2009, as a member of the G20, Canada made a commitment to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels. Since then, nothing has happened. We are making no progress and, once again this year, accumulating more fossil awards.

What does this budget say about ending subsidies for fossil fuels? Instead of funding renewable energy, it gives more than $1.3 billion to major fossil fuel production corporations.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the questioner clearly has not read the bill. Had he done so he would understand that Bill C-45 phases out tax preferences for the mining and oil and gas sectors. It also expands tax relief for investments in clean energy generation equipment.

I sit on the natural resources committee, along with a number of my colleagues who are present here today, and constantly hear nothing but misinformation and rhetoric on these particular issues by opposition members. If those members would simply read the bill and understand what the proposed legislation is trying to do, they would have no reason to justify voting against it.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, there is something I am just not seeing in this particular bill's numbers. Therefore, could my colleague from Wetaskiwin show me what the costs would be?

The changes that have been made to the EI Act would result in the federal government losing a fair amount of capacity in some of the departments that use seasonal workers. We know that during tax season the Canada Revenue Agency staffs up. We see that after Christmas with EI processing, when that department also hires more staff. A lot of the time they are term positions, but with the new changes to EI those people will not be sustained, and all of those departments will have to bring in new staff. I would think there would be a considerable amount of training required. I believe it was the Department of Citizenship and Immigration that has a fairly fluid staff, because I have heard that it costs $15,000 per employee to staff up during peak times.

Where are we seeing that dollar value? If there is a dollar value affixed to this, could the member point to that in the budget?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, the questioner has asked me a very specific question regarding staffing, which is in the purview of the minister. The reality is that Canada's public service workforce is capable and efficient at what it does. Its staff are knowledgeable and skilled.

The member should have asked me about the benefits from the changes we have proposed, in allowing workers an opportunity to take part-time work while remaining able to keep a portion of their employment insurance benefits. This would create an environment where workers will be taking work that they would otherwise have been penalized for in the past. This will give them an opportunity to contribute to the economy, maintain a level of income that is sufficient for their families, and also gain valuable experience to continue to grow and develop their careers.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP's love affair with red tape and bureaucracies that generate no result never ceases to amaze me. In particular, I want to talk about the Navigable Waters Protection Act and ask my friend a specific question.

Under the old act, a rural municipality in my constituency was required to spend $700,000 on bridges across temporary waterways. The total budget for that municipality was $1.4 million. Thankfully, we were able to get that reversed.

Like my friend, I represent a rural constituency. Can he talk about his municipalities and counties' views on the changes that we have made to the Fisheries Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of the first things I did when I was elected back in 2006 was to make the rounds of the various counties and get to know the elected officials there. The first thing I heard from them was the absolutely ridiculous amount of bureaucracy and red tape they had to go through and the costs of jumping through the hoops of these absolutely ridiculous requirements, which their ratepayers had to pay the burden of in that regulatory environment.

I am pleased with the changes that we have made to the Navigable Waters Protection Act, the Fisheries Act and so on, so that common sense can prevail and good judgment can replace unnecessary bureaucracy just for the sake of bureaucracy. These are good changes that would save people money and get projects going.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my opposition at all stages to the Conservatives' Bill C-45. Like most Canadians, the people in my riding are outraged by this undemocratic Conservative approach.

We are opposed to the content and to the undemocratic nature of this bill, which is very similar to Bill C-38, the other mammoth bill. Just as we opposed Bill C-38 then, we oppose Bill C-45 now. The contents of this bill will only increase social inequality in Canada. Moreover, the size of the bill, at over 400 pages, and the speed at which the Conservatives want it passed reveal the undemocratic nature of their methods.

Let us talk about the Conservatives' undemocratic methods. As I said, this bill is over 400 pages long and amends nearly 60 laws. That is why we asked the government to split the bill into a number of bills, so that each committee could deal with the amendments--some of them major—examine them carefully, hear from experts and make sure that reports on each act being amended were done in the proper form, with the necessary amendments.

It should have been done, but instead we had a pretense of consultation. A show, a masquerade. Ignoring the rules of the House of Commons itself, the Conservatives first refused to split the bill as we asked. Then the Standing Committee on Finance passed a motion to delegate its work. You heard correctly, Mr. Speaker. The Standing Committee on Finance delegated its work to a dozen committees so they could study--at top speed--the changes Bill C-45 proposes to various acts.

Personally, I was a witness to this pretense of a study, because I am a member of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. I had to participate in this pseudo-study for just under three hours. Just imagine what the result was: all is well and perfect in the best of all possible worlds. What a surprise.

The same thing happened at other committees. Furthermore, in a November 8, 2012, article entitled Bill C-45: A total sham to save face, Manon Cornellier wrote:

Committees therefore had to scramble to find witnesses who could appear with just a few hours' notice. In the end, the committees had only a day or two to hold hearings. And once again, at almost all of the committees, the Conservatives used their majority to limit the matter to just one quick hour dedicated to hearing from public servants.

There is no doubt that if public servants had been drafting the amendments to the bills, they would not have proposed these amendments, based on the needs of the various groups in question. This was all just a sham, as indicated by the excerpt from Ms. Cornellier's article that I just quoted.

As I said, the people in my riding of Drummond are outraged and are wondering what the Conservatives' real motives are for ramming these changes through so quickly, without any analysis. What exactly are they trying to hide?

One of the many issues, as I mentioned earlier, is of course environmental protection. In my riding, people really care about protecting the environment. They want to develop the riding in such a way that makes Drummond a hub and a magnet for innovation in green technology.

Clearly, however, the Conservatives' changes in Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 are weakening Canada's environmental laws and regulations more and more. In fact, Bill C-45 simply follows the same path as the Trojan horse bill, Bill C-38, introduced in the spring, by weakening environmental protections even further. For instance, it shuts down the round table on the environment and makes changes to environmental assessments.

And of course there is the Navigable Waters Act. That act is being completely trashed, and in a subjective, partisan way, I should add. I will explain what I mean by that in a moment.

Along the same line, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity is urging the federal government to think about the consideration being given to fossil fuel, as I mentioned earlier in my question. He says there must be a debate in Canada about this society-wide issue, because the increase in greenhouse gas emissions has to be included in the equation so that informed decisions can be made for all Canadians.

On the subject of our great Canadian Environmental Protection Act, I would like to point out in passing that yesterday, Canada added another fossil award to its collection at the Doha conference. That is proof that our environmental measures are a failure.

The bill also proposes two minor items in subsidies for fossil fuels, as I mentioned just now. They are going to take away a mere $10 million of the $1.3 billion they hand out every year. This is money that the people in my riding, Drummond, are handing over to subsidize billionaire oil producers and gas and coal producers, in addition to the money from the ecoEnergy program that is being diverted.

That is over $1.3 billion, nearly $2 billion, of taxpayer money that the people of greater Drummond want to see come back to their city to fund ecoenergy measures, the university, for example, the future plans for the exhibition centre and the library. They could have solar walls and green roofs, and they could use geothermal heating.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives prefer to give $1.3 billion to the oil companies, as if this were something that would support our environment and create jobs. In fact, we know very well that money invested in the environment creates three times as many jobs. So we would have three times as many jobs from that money if we invested it in green energy and the measures I referred to earlier.

The Navigable Waters Act is going to be trashed. Of the 37 heritage rivers, only 10 will be protected now. The bill reverses the responsibility, which will now rest with the public and municipalities. Municipal councillors in my riding have come to see me; they were outraged, and wanted to know what was going to happen to the Saint-François River. That river runs through greater Drummond and is no longer protected. If a project damages the environment, the municipal council will have to bring legal action to exercise its rights. Rights are often exercised once the damage is done. It is often too late to protect our environment. People are truly angry.

As well, on that point, if my colleagues are not aware, I am going to tell them: 90% of the laws for lakes designated as protected are in Conservative ridings. That is truly insulting, partisan and clumsy. I do not know what polite words I can use to describe this situation. It makes no sense. The people of Drummond are truly outraged to see how protection for our environment is being cut back once again.

I will end on that note, although I could say much more about Bill C-45, which is truly appalling. This bill makes no sense. This is an anti-democratic process that is going to hurt the environment, and hurt our economy. We could create three times as many jobs by investing in the green economy.

That is why New Democrats will continue to work hard to bring solutions to the House of Commons and stand up for Canadians.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Lawrence Toet Conservative Elmwood—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat surprised and shocked that the member would be making statements in the House complaining about the time allotted for study in committee when it was that member who brought forward a motion in committee, before we even started studying, to shut down the study. He is now complaining that we did not have enough time to study but he did not even want to start studying. I find that somewhat incredible and amazing.

In one paragraph, the member talked about greenhouse gases and navigable waters together. These are two completely different items, but he is trying to tie them together as if navigable waters has something to do with greenhouse gas emissions. It is amazing. He continues with misleading statements on where the lakes and rivers that are protected are found, et cetera.

I have a big question for the member. Has he ever read the Navigable Waters Protection Act? The word “environment” is not mentioned once in there. It is completely about obstruction to navigation and the navigability of waterways. If the member would please read that legislation as it stands, he would realize that it is not an environmental law.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, I did indeed rise on a point of order yesterday in committee to protest the way things were being done. It is undemocratic and it violates the rules of the House. The finance committee cannot transfer a responsibility to another committee, and a committee cannot report to another committee, because that is against the rules of the House. I rose in committee to address the undemocratic rules that the hon. member supported.

I mentioned two different things in my speech. First, I talked about climate change. Indeed, if we invested in green energy, we would create three times as many jobs. But the government would rather invest $1.3 billion in oil and gas companies that are already making billions of dollars. Just for the heck of it, the hon. member should try to explain that to his constituents and to Canadians.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the member would recognize that there is a credibility issue here.

Inside the House of Commons, when the member is in front of the cameras, he tries to give the impression to Canadian viewers that he is against Bill C-45. However, when we were in the committee room, the NDP collapsed. NDP members, well over 1,000 times, supported the Conservatives and voted against the Liberals. They wanted to see this bill rushed through. They were prepared to have the clause by clause. They voted to limit debate. How does the member reconcile the difference between the two?

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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, we said it before: this process has been undemocratic since the beginning.

It was impossible to properly review over 60 pieces of legislation in an hour or two—barely three hours in the case of the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development. That is what we are fighting against, because it does not make any sense. We can play politics, but the real issue is that it is impossible to properly study this legislation in two or three hours. Bill C-45 should have been split into several bills. We could then have properly studied them in committee and we would have done a job worthy of a true democracy.

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NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would call what happened to the Liberal Party on May 2, 2011, a collapse. That was a collapse.

I admire the member for Drummond

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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. The hon. member for Bourassa on a point of order.

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Liberal

Denis Coderre Liberal Bourassa, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order as there is a case for relevance. I would urge the member to talk about the subject at hand, which is the budget.

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Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I remind hon. members that comments must be relevant to the subject before the House.

The hon. member for Compton—Stanstead.