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House of Commons Hansard #190 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was lake.

Topics

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in support of Bill C-45, a bill that would strengthen Canada's opportunities at home and abroad.

We on this side of the House are very proud of what has been accomplished since the worldwide recession in which Canada has been a leader in both the G7 and G20 and will continue to do so for some time due to our strong economic environment and our robust natural resource sector. It is with this in mind that I would like the folks to know what seems to be missed by the opposition, that being all of the benefits that the bill would provide to Canadians.

The registered disability savings plan holds benefits for thousands of Canadians. For instance, there would be greater access to the RDSP savings for small withdrawals. It would also give greater flexibility for parents who have children with disabilities in that RESPs can be rolled into RDSPs if the plan shares a common beneficiary. This is a great move forward because each year, unfortunately, some parents must face great despair when a child is injured and faces years if not a lifetime of rehabilitation. This, in a small way, is to recognize that savings transferred from an RESP to an RDSP will be of benefit in the long term.

Amending the Income Tax Act to accommodate PRPPs is yet another great option that is now available for those companies that, under normal circumstances, could not offer a pension plan to their employees. So many small businesses across Canada will be able to offer pension benefits which, in my opinion, will work toward employee retention. When employees see that their employers are looking at ways to ensure their longevity at a company, it can only prove as a benefit for all involved.

I will switch now and speak to the Fisheries Act because the opposition seems to focus in on it.

Under the Fisheries Act, fines collected under section 40 would be directed to the environmental damages fund. This fund money would be used for proactive initiatives to advance protection of Canadian fisheries. I find it interesting that the opposition parties do not mention this very proactive move by our government to ensure that the environmental damages fund stays well-funded. They will always focus on the doom and gloom and how the destruction of our environment is inevitable, even when Canadians know that we have some of the strongest environmental standards in the world.

More evidence of this is found under section 136 of the Fisheries Act, which says that “No person shall”:

(c) damage or obstruct any fishway constructed or used to enable fish to pass over or around any obstruction;

(d) damage or obstruct any fishway, fish stop or diverter constructed or installed on the Minister’s request;

(e) stop or hinder fish from entering or passing through any fishway, or from surmounting any obstacle or leap;

(f) damage, remove or authorize the removal of any fish guard, screen, covering, netting or other device installed on the Minister’s request; or

(g) fish in any manner within 23 m downstream from the lower entrance to any fishway, obstruction or leap.

Fish are not to be obstructed.

Our government recognizes the importance of fish spawning and the ability for fish to get to their natural spawning grounds. We also respect the inherent right of first nations for social or ceremonial purposes or for the purposes set out in a land claims agreement.

Following on with first nations, I am pleased that changes to the Indian Act would make it easier for first nations to have designated land on reserves. This is huge for first nations as it would allow for economic development in a more efficient manner. By making these amendments, it will allow first nations to work at the speed of business. Making decisions in a timely manner is what first nations want.

That brings me to the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Let us be perfectly clear that this is not about weakening environmental standards. This is about recognizing that not every waterway in Canada must be subject to rules regulating boats, vessels and ships. In my constituency, two major waterways will fall under this new act, as they should, the Columbia River and the Kootenay River. They are two of the most used river systems in western Canada, both for recreation and electrical generation.

Let me flesh this out a little more so Canadians understand what this is. The assessment factors include, first, the characteristics of the navigable waters in question; second, the safety of navigation; third, the current or anticipated navigation in the navigable waters; fourth, the impact of the work on navigation in the navigable waters, for example as a result of construction, placement, alteration, repair, rebuilding, removal, decommissioning, maintenance, operation or use; and fifth, the cumulative impact of the work on navigation in the navigable waters.

We have gone further. We also put in regulations with regard to depositing and dewatering to ensure that the safe travel of water vessels is paramount.

I have given an overview on some items found in Bill C-45. As one can see, our government continues to put the interests of Canadians first. We are the only party that recognizes the importance of protecting the environment, all the while ensuring that our natural resource sector moves forward to ensure that Canadians will be able to afford the services they have today and into the future.

I would like to invite anyone to ask any questions.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:35 p.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his remarks. Unfortunately, I do not share some of his views.

As far as environmental matters are concerned, does he believe we can get the toothpaste back in the tube?

Given that 99% of lakes and rivers will no longer be protected and that the impact on ecosystems is measured in the medium and long terms, it will be incredibly difficult to correct the situation once the damage is done.

What does he think of the fact that future generations may have to deal with polluted rivers and lakes?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the environmental standards this government is putting forward, I believe most Canadians recognize that we are trying to ensure that Canadians in the future have something to look forward to. They also understand that we are going to allow Canadians to utilize our waterways to the best of their abilities, but also recognizing that we have to move forward with economic generation.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McCallum Liberal Markham—Unionville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for his speech, but on one particular point I was astounded. That was when he led by boasting about the disability tax credit, which the Liberal leader in question period today explained to the House and Canadians why in fact this is such a terrible policy.

The reason it is a terrible policy is that one only benefits from that tax credit if one is a disabled person with sufficient taxable income. We all know that many disabled people have very little if any taxable income, and therefore those who need it the most receive the least, and often they receive zero.

How can the hon. member boast about a policy, the disability tax credit, when he really should be expressing shame for such an unfair measure?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, had the hon. member also been listening to my statement, he would have heard that one can transfer RESP moneys to the RDSP, which is very important for those families who have young children who, unfortunately, been in a car accident and have a lifelong disability. I believe it is important to recognize that children will benefit from this proactive policy decision made by our government in this bill.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague from British Columbia for his hard work in his two decades with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and for serving as mayor in his community, as a small business owner, and understanding the importance of working in the community.

Could the member elaborate and share with the House the timeliness of getting this budget through?

We want to create jobs, grow our economy and provide long-term prosperity for our businesses. What would the small business tax credit mean for small business owners across Canada?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, as a small business owner, I recognize that the credit would give me the ability to invest back into my company. It would give me the opportunity to allow my employees to work better within the company.

All the things we provide to small business only grow small business. It is the economic driver that pushes this country. Anything we can do for it, we will.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Jamie Nicholls NDP Vaudreuil—Soulanges, QC

Mr. Speaker, the NDP would have done much more for small business.

We proposed to reduce taxes from 11% to 9% for small business. We were going to provide up to $4,500 for new hires, a one-year rebate on employer contributions to CPP and EI and retention bonuses of $1,000 in non-refundable tax credits, which would have created 200,000 jobs for Canadian families. Furthermore, we would have extended the accelerated capital cost allowance for eligible machinery and equipment for primary use in Canada, which would have had the effect of promoting productivity gains in our manufacturing sector.

We cannot support the bill simply because it does not go far enough. We have very credible propositions to give to the government, but they fall on deaf ears, unfortunately.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I did not hear the question there, but I can give 800,000 reasons why we have done a good job, which is the number of jobs we have created since 2008. I think that is far more important than the 200,000 he is talking about.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would politely ask you to please let me know when I have one minute left.

Looking at the clock, I am starting to believe that we may yet end on a high note this Monday evening, debating amendments that would actually help everyday people.

It took me a while to read the whole bill. It is indeed a massive document. We were given plenty to read back in June, and now even more, but that is okay; we like it. We are not quite so fond of the content, however.

That said, I will concentrate on what was said in the House today, particularly by my Conservative colleagues. There was a lot of talk about encouraging investment and creating the ideal economic environment for small and medium businesses. Much has also been said about the way these investments and economic conditions will help everyday Canadians.

I find this all very interesting. In fact, as an MP, I am very busy helping this time of year organizing food drives, attending Christmas dinners and preparing Christmas baskets, and so on.

Over the past few weekends, I have had a chance to take part in many food drives around my community and lend a hand to the organizations in charge either by making a run, coordinating the runs or preparing Christmas baskets.

Yesterday, for example, I took part in the food drive at the Saint-Basile-le-Grand volunteer centre, in my hometown. The response rate was lower this year than it has been in previous years. However, the centre coordinator, Mrs. Laurin, told me she was hoping for a good turnout despite the bad weather, because she has seen an increase in the number of people who use the food bank put on by the volunteer centre, which helps people in need.

There have been many national reports to that effect and I also hear many people in the field talk about this. I will therefore elaborate on the relevance of these remarks and facts.

As I just said, I often hear that the budget itself and the omnibus budget implementation bill will help people in need. However, it seems that people need more and more assistance and that the needs increase every day, every month and every year.

I am not talking about the Parliamentary Budget Officer or some major international economic organization. With all due respect to them, I am not talking about those who assess the national or international situation. I am talking about people in my riding who work every day in the field, in extremely difficult situations. I am talking about people who are in a better position than anyone in this House or at any university to comment on this.

This is what they are saying and it is exactly the same thing people are saying at all the food drives I have been to, that there is a huge increase in the number of people using food banks. If that is what economic prosperity looks like, then we have a huge problem. That is one of the reasons we must oppose Bill C-45 and the budget itself.

I will be speaking again about another issue that we have discussed many times: the Richelieu River. As I have said in many of my questions and comments today, it is one of the most important, if not the most important file for the riding's MP.

The Richelieu River is one of our region's ecological, economic and heritage assets. Towns were built around the river for economic reasons. The Richelieu River is an important heritage asset that also has environmental value for the people of the region.

This is once again relevant to my work as an MP, because I have been thoroughly briefed on the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

In recent years, I have had the opportunity to work on this issue together with elected municipal officials. We tried to find a compromise between the freedom to travel at high speeds in a boat, which is enjoyable in the summer, and preventing the erosion of the shoreline, while allowing other users of the river—for example, the Otterburn canoe and kayak club—to safely enjoy the river that belongs to everyone, in the eyes of this MP, everyone in the region and in the House. It is a community asset.

When working on this issue, I familiarized myself with the act. It is most certainly very complex. Contrary to the claims of the Minister of Transport, the act was designed not only to protect vessels and the navigation of our waters, but also all of the river's ecological systems. I hope that those in power, the country's government, realize that the government does not operate in a silo.

The various interests that affect these different files are very interconnected. That is exactly what we are seeing here. I think it is unfortunate and a bit dishonest for the Conservatives to say that, since this affects transport and navigation, it has no impact on the environment. After all, the reason this law was created in the first place was to ensure that we are able to derive economic benefit from our waterways without putting the ecology and heritage of the various rivers, lakes and other bodies of water at risk.

I find the situation in northern Quebec, for example, more problematic, since one riding covers 53% of Quebec's land mass. If we look at a map, there are many waterways and lakes. We do not even need to know the exact number. Yet, there is a problem with the numbers when it comes to the percentage of waterways in Quebec that will continue to be protected after this bill is passed. It does not add up. That is why we are legitimately and logically wondering why the numbers are so unbalanced.

I asked the question a number of times without getting an answer. An ecological system is just that: a system. It is a living system, like the human body. I am thinking of the Richelieu River in my riding. A number of other rivers contributed to the flood in my riding. There was the Rivière l'Acadie in Carignan, for example. These rivers are all connected. Although it is not in my riding, the St. Lawrence River is also nearby. Many rivers connect to it and we are wondering whether the Conservatives truly believe that an incident in one of these waterways will not affect the connecting rivers. It is a system. There is a domino effect that cannot be ignored. This is one of the major problems that I see.

I could say a lot more about all the pages of this bill, but I will stop there. In closing, I would like to seek the unanimous consent of the House to move the following motion with regard to the protection of waterways:

That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, Bill C-45, in clause 321, be amended by adding after line 13 on page 291 the following:

The addition of the navigable waters listed below is deemed to be in the public interest and the governor in council shall, by regulation, as soon as is reasonably practicable after the day on which this act receives royal assent, add those navigable waters to the schedule, including, with respect to lakes, their approximate location in latitude and longitude and, with respect to rivers and riverines, the approximate downstream and upstream points, as well as a description of each of those lakes, rivers and riverines, and where more than one lake, river or riverine exists with the same name indicated in the list below, the governor in council shall select one to be added, namely: Burbanks Lake, Mud Lake, Selwyn Lake, Horn Lake, Lac Nesbitt, Redout Lake, Staple Lake, South Nahanni River, Lac D'Aoust, Sled Lake, Lac Basile, Yellowknife River, Healey Lake, Sunny Lake and Loon Lake.

Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate my opposition to Bill C-45 and thank you for your patience.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Does the member for Chambly—Borduas have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

There is no consent.

The hon. member for Winnipeg North.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do find it somewhat interesting that New Democratic members are standing up, speaking and then moving a motion for some sort of an amendment. However, when we were in committee, what we saw was a different New Democratic Party. We saw a New Democratic Party that voted over 1,000 times with the Conservatives. We saw a New Democratic Party that voted to limit debate in committee.

My question to the member, now that the New Democratic Party has decided to once again join the Liberal Party in opposition to Bill C-45, is why did he not want to have this sort of debate in committee?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:50 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will start by saying that we have absolutely no intention of joining the Liberal Party. I want to inform my constituents of that fact, because otherwise, I would never be re-elected. If there is one party that supported the government on several occasions and used the same tactics while it was in power, it is the Liberal Party, which introduced omnibus bills and dipped into the employment insurance fund, among other things.

I would also like to say that we opposed Bill C-45 as soon as we knew about its content, for the reasons mentioned by my colleagues. Moreover, I know very well that my colleges at the Standing Committee on Finance have done an incredible job, and I have a lot of respect for them. I have no doubt about the work that they have done, and I am sure that we will continue to oppose any budget of this kind.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, colleagues across the way say they want to create jobs, but they are against trade agreements and foreign investments that create jobs, opportunities and growth for Canadians.

I spent nine years on city council in Kelowna. One of the things with the Navigable Waters Protection Act was that it created a very difficult time for our community development. There was bureaucratic duplication.

I would like to quickly read this into the record. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities sent out a news release that said the following:

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities welcomes the federal government's commitment to make the Navigable Waters Protection Act work better for our communities and make it more affordable to build basic infrastructure.

Why does the NDP oppose local governments across Canada? Why does it not support our communities in creating jobs and growth?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would not dare to speak for the ridings of other colleagues, but I will certainly speak for mine. I am a member of the chambers of commerce in my riding. Regarding investment, I can say that those chambers of commerce are quite happy about what the NDP is proposing in terms of investment and economic policy.

As for navigable waters, I mentioned some rivers in my riding and talked about their environmental value, but they also have an economic value. The government provided no help to deal with floods. Help came from the community, and we saw how important it is to have a framework in place for our bodies of water in order to ensure the well-being of our community. That is why the community wants to keep those protections, and why I wish to oppose Bill C-45.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Dionne Labelle NDP Rivière-du-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague. Earlier today, I, too, tried in vain to ask the House for unanimous consent to add the rivers in my riding to the list of protected rivers. The Conservatives refused. I would like to ask my colleague why the Conservatives are refusing to protect my riding's rivers?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I unfortunately do not have the answer. Just like my colleague, I tried to ask this question and to figure it out. If the constituents of my colleague from Rivière-du-Nord had the answers, they would not have voted for a member who has better proposals with respect to environmental protection and the economy. That is the important thing. There is nothing that says we cannot protect the environment and have good economic conditions at the same time. That is what we are proposing, but it is not in the budget.

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, would the member like to comment on the recent statement of the Parliamentary Budget Officer that the government's projection of revenues is in fact $4.7 billion lower than his projection, that the budget will be balanced by 2014-15 and that the $5.2 billion cutbacks in services and employment, with 19,000 employees, built into the budget are not necessary at all?

Jobs and Growth Act, 2012Government Orders

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.

Not only do we have figures from the Parliamentary Budget Officer, but it seems that even the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance cannot get their stories straight. How far does this lack of consistency reach when it comes to the budget and the cuts? Perhaps the cuts are not needed. On this side of the House, we have never believed that such sweeping cuts were necessary.

People who work in the public service are worried because of the uncertainty, as are the people who use these services. They are having to use food banks and ask for help from local organizations, which are doing the work the government should be doing because it receives people's tax dollars. Why are local organizations being saddled with more work when the government is quite capable of providing this assistance?

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

Employment InsuranceAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again, I have no choice but to rise before the House to ask for more of an explanation regarding some issues that Canadians are deeply concerned about. Why must I raise this again?

The answer is simple. In question period, the Conservatives continue to spew the same old rhetoric, which involves trying to convince Canadians of their good intentions by using arguments that are far from accurate. Canadians are fed up with ready-made talking points. They want real answers. Can the government carry out this simple task? That is what we will find out here today.

In September, I rose in the House to ask two questions. First I asked the government why it had not bothered to consult the people who would be affected by the employment insurance reforms, in other words, workers, employers and the unemployed. After all, they are the ones who pay for the program, so it only makes sense to consult them if decisions are being made about managing their money differently, which is what should happen in any proper consultation process.

Now we know that the government never bothered to consult workers before cramming this counter-reform down their throats. Moreover, the Conservatives never deigned to meet and consult with the provinces on this issue, one that will have a significant impact on their respective budgets and their residents. Quebec even passed unanimous motions, twice in fact, to denounce this unilateral and very cowardly act against Canadian workers. I need not remind the government that it is the workers who pay their premiums in good faith and expect that insurance will be available for them when they need it.

To the first question, the government simply repeated the answer, the one it has given again and again to all legitimate questions that we have asked them about jobs and economic growth, that they have created so many new jobs and that the NDP wants to impose a carbon tax that will cost $21 billion. I wonder about the pertinence of this answer. Why do the Conservatives raise false allegations and hide behind disputable job creation numbers? The question is simple: where is the government's accountability toward the public? Is there a single member on the other side of the House who can give an appropriate and pertinent answer to a simple and totally legitimate question?

I am not talking about creating 770,000 jobs and I am not talking about the carbon tax. I am asking once again why no workers, no employers, no unemployed people, no advocacy groups, why no provinces were consulted when changes were being made to the employment insurance system.

To my second question, once again I asked for clear and simple information: why are the Conservatives punishing the people who are eligible for the working while on claim pilot project?

These people, who have already had the misfortune of losing their jobs—and we know this is not their fault—are desperately trying to stay connected to the labour market while continuing their job search. With the recalculation, they are being penalized still further, so that the vast majority of part-time workers earning a small salary are losing out.

What answer were Canadians given? That the unemployed workers who work harder will keep even more of their income. Then, the government went so far as to accuse the NDP of voting against job creation initiatives. All of Canada now knows that it is not true that those who work harder during their claim period will earn more than under the former system. We know this because the opposition stuck to the facts: calculations have shown that most workers eligible for this pilot project will lose out, so much so that the minister has had to do somewhat of an about face to allow some future unemployed workers to use the old system.

Employment InsuranceAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Simcoe—Grey Ontario

Conservative

Kellie Leitch ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development and to the Minister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, let me assure the member opposite that our government is listening to Canadians, and we did listen to Canadians on the various initiatives set out in the budget implementation act.

The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, the Minister of State for Seniors and I consulted widely in the lead-up to the budget. In fact, last year I was pleased to travel with my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, to host round tables on EI rate setting. It was through these consultations that our government confirmed that Canadians want stable predictable EI premium rates and a transparent rate-setting process. In response to our consultations, our government introduced legislation this year to ensure predictability and stability in the EI premium rate setting.

In addition, I was also pleased to be involved in our government's consultations with medical specialists and stakeholders regarding the new EI benefit for parents of critically ill children.

Consultations are an integral part of the business we are in. They provide valuable input into the decision-making process.

The economic growth seen under our government's leadership is only possible by working in partnership with Canadians.

Consulting with stakeholders is not only an option for us. It is an essential step in the development of sound program and policy decisions.

Employment InsuranceAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day NDP Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Speaker, no matter what the Conservatives respond—and this is a fact—Canada is facing an unprecedented situation in which its own government is directly targeting workers who have the misfortune of losing their job.

Whether we are talking about seasonal industries in the Maritimes, remote regions in Quebec or regions affected by problems in the manufacturing industry in Ontario, families are having a hard time making ends meet. This government is gradually dismantling the diversified economy and the entire social safety net that we have spent years building and that we are very proud of as a country.

Will the minister drop the pretense and admit that the EI reforms will hurt workers and our economy? Does she have something better to offer these workers who pay taxes, contribute to the EI fund along with employers, and need support when they are struggling because of the global economic downturn or because it is wintertime? People who pay into the employment insurance fund should be entitled to employment insurance.