Mr. Speaker, first I would like to acknowledge the apology from the member for Mississauga—Streetsville. That was a very classy thing to do and I thank him for that.
I would like to speak to Bill C-45. I am honoured to stand in the House to talk about Bill C-45, but one of the sad things about speaking to the bill is that I will be one of the few MPs who will get to do this, because once again the Conservatives have brought forward time allocation on the bill. I believe it is a record. I believe we are at 31. Unfortunately, when we take away democracy 31 times it is not cause to be proud.
I stand today speaking against Bill C-45, but again, it is with much dismay that we do not see enough people being able to debate in this House, with time allocation.
Ironically, Bill C-45 is entitled the jobs and growth act, and it entirely lacks significant measures to create jobs and stimulate growth in the long term for Canadians. Tax credits to small businesses are short term and very small in size. Support to business research and development has been cut. Where is the Canada-wide strategy to create good jobs, while 1.4 million Canadians are still unemployed?
The Minister of Finance announced during the November constituency week that the government will fall short of its own deficit targets. Worse still, the Conservatives have failed to outline any contingency plan to deal with slowing growth and increasingly negative fiscal indicators.
The Conservatives are focused on austerity measures that will act as a further drag on our economy. They have claimed that their budget is about job creation, but again, even they admit it will lead to 19,200 lost jobs in the public service and the PBO projects a total of 102,000 jobs lost.
In his appearance before the House of Commons finance committee on April 26, the Parliamentary Budget Officer confirmed that the Conservative austerity budget would mean a loss of 43,000 jobs and would slow Canada's economic recovery. He confirmed that when combined with prior cuts, there would be a total of 103,000 jobs lost.
The PBO's numbers point to the fact that the budget would create a significant drag on our economy. Even the Centre for Policy Alternatives states: “In total, federal spending cuts could lead to the elimination of over 70,000 full time equivalent positions”. These are not only public sector losses. About half of these jobs would be lost in the private sector.
Taking a look at the changes to SR and ED and business R and D support, Bill C-45 would implement significant changes to SR and ED tax credit programs, as outlined in the budget. These changes would reduce the tax credit rate, particularly for large businesses, and eliminate the eligibility of capital expenses. This change could be highly distortional for firms' labour-capital ratios.
While the government has cut at least $500 million per year through the SR and ED, it has not introduced any new direct funding to replace this gap. The combined effects would be to reduce government support for business R and D at a time when Canadian businesses most need to increase innovation and productivity to succeed in an increasingly competitive global economy. This would particularly hit the manufacturing sector, and it is likely to drive firms to move their R and D activities to other countries with better incentives.
The Conservatives are engaged in cost cutting under the guise of addressing underperformance in innovation. They have done nothing to fix the complexity and overhead costs of applying for and administering SR and ED tax credits.
Another thing the bill is reducing and eliminating is the Navigable Waters Protection Act. It removes water protection from the name of the bill. Now it is just about navigation protection. This is not a small change, and it demonstrates the government's reckless attitude toward environmental protection.
In fact, the Conservatives would not allow these changes to be studied by the environment committee, despite the fact that the proposed changes have significant implication for our environment.
The government issued a press release, bragging about the change of the title from Navigable Waters Protection Act to the navigation protection act.
This type of measure shows just how out of touch Conservatives are with Canadians' desire to protect the environment and build a sustainable economy. In fact, Bill C-45 completely guts the Navigable Waters Protection Act, with the exception of the 3 oceans, 97 lakes and 62 rivers. The act would no longer automatically apply to projects affecting waterways. This would leave thousands of waterways without protection, meaning fewer environmental reviews by Transport Canada. Efforts by the opposition to ensure protection for all navigable waters were defeated at committee.
Under Bill C-45, only 10 of Canada's 37 designated Canadian heritage rivers would be protected. Those left out of the new act include the Cowichan River, the Clearwater River, the Main River, the Margaree River in Nova Scotia and the Mattawa River, which is close to me. Speaking of what else is close to me, it is the city of Sudbury. The City of Greater Sudbury is known as the city of lakes. There are 330 lakes within the boundaries of the City of Greater Sudbury. Also my colleague from Nickel Belt would have the same concerns as I do.
When all of the lakes and rivers within a riding are eliminated from having the same protections, it makes one scratch one's head as to why we are doing this. Protecting our lakes and rivers is paramount. The City of Greater Sudbury, for example, as I mentioned, has Ramsey Lake within its city boundaries. People can fish and swim practically in downtown Sudbury. People in parts of the city use Ramsey Lake for their drinking water. That would no longer be protected under the Navigable Waters Protection Act or the navigation protection act. That is sad. It leads people to wonder what kind of country we will be leaving for our children.
We need to ensure that our children have places to swim and fish. We need to protect the wildlife within those areas as well, from fish habitat to duck habitat. Throughout my riding and northern Ontario, lakes and rivers would no longer be protected. As I said, 97 lakes and 62 rivers are being protected, and that is what is being changed. We need to ensure we protect more lakes and rivers right across our country because we need to ensure we leave clean lakes, rivers and air for our kids in the future.
New Democrats oppose budget 2012 and its implementation bills, unless it is amended to focus on the priorities of Canadians: creating good quality jobs, protecting our environment, strengthening our health care system, protecting retirement security for all and ensuring open and transparent government. As mentioned, this is another massive omnibus bill that contains a wide range of unrelated measures. The government is trying to ram legislation through Parliament without allowing Canadians and MPs to thoroughly examine it.
One thing my hon. colleague on the other side talked about earlier in his speech is the greatness of our nation. We are blessed to have resources from coast to coast to coast in forestry, mining in my community, lakes and rivers right across the country and the oil sands in Alberta. We should be debating the changes that are being proposed. Unfortunately, as I stated at the outset of my speech, there has been lack of debate and conversation because the government is shutting it down once again. There have been 31 time allocation motions, which is shameful, especially when we are talking about an issue that is so important to Canadians from coast to coast to coast.