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House of Commons Hansard #77 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was investment.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Jean Rousseau NDP Compton—Stanstead, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

We must protect these jobs. The importance of barriers—they are not barriers, but conditions—is that they ensure that the jobs created in Canada are stable and viable in the long term. We cannot do nothing; we must protect a social fabric, a society with a long history. If we do nothing, if we bow down every time we enter into a free trade agreement with another country, this will just happen all over again. We are losing entire sectors of our economy at the hands of foreigners who appropriate our technology and take it elsewhere. It makes no sense.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Halton Ontario

Conservative

Lisa Raitt ConservativeMinister of Labour

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time today with the member for Elgin—Middlesex—London.

I am very pleased to speak to the motion presented by member for London—Fanshawe. It goes without saying that we are disappointed by Caterpillar's decision to close its Electro-Motive Diesel facility in London and by White Birch Paper Company's decision to close its idled Stadacona plant. I can tell members why from a very personal perspective.

I grew up in Cape Breton and unfortunately witnessed the closing of the coal mines, steel plant and the collapse of the fishery during the time when I was in high school there. I have great sympathy for the workers and their families affected by the decisions of these companies.

Unfortunately these events come at a time of global uncertainty. Because of that uncertainty, and as has already been pointed out, the government has taken significant steps toward helping manufacturing in our country.

Specifically, we have provided tax relief. We have enabled a 50% straight-line cost allowance rate for machinery and equipment. We have eliminated tariffs on machinery and equipment and on industrial inputs. We are investing in skills training, infrastructure, supporting research and efforts to commercialize innovation. The results are clear. Nearly 610,000 new Canadian jobs have been created since July 2009.

It is also important to reaffirm our government's commitment to welcome foreign investment that benefits Canada and Canadians. Foreign investment is absolutely critical to the Canadian economy. It introduces new technologies and practices that promote growth, employment and help spur innovation here at home. Foreign investment brings some of the most productive and specialized firms in the world to Canada and results in some of the highest paying jobs for Canadians.

Our government also realizes that Canada is a player in a globalized economy that provides opportunities to connect our firms to the rest of the world, and that is important. It allows our firms to grow, compete and become global industry leaders. In fact, Canadian firms have invested billions of dollars throughout the world and that has expanded markets and stimulated Canadian exports.

Therefore, foreign investment, both into Canada and by Canadian firms abroad, is a win-win for the economy. As a performer in the world economy, Canada has continuously attracted far more than its share of foreign investment and the result has been job creation for Canadians and economic growth for the country.

A policy opposed to any foreign investment, and make no mistake that is the real NDP policy here, simply ignores the facts. If we shut Canada's doors, it would have a devastating affect on our economy. Our productivity would fall, jobs would be lost, Canadian firms would be denied access to world markets, consumers would suffer and Canadian innovation would lag behind. It is obvious that foreign investment brings critical benefits to Canadians and we just cannot afford to fall behind.

Forbes magazine has recently named Canada as the top destination to do business in the world. To maintain our top ranking, we need to stay open for business and we need to welcome foreign investment that benefits Canada. This government will continue to bring the benefits of foreign investment to Canada by providing the right economic climate so firms in Canada will continue to prosper and create jobs for Canadians.

I want to be clear about the jobs. Companies recruit, hire and employ Canadian workers and terminate employment. However, foreign buyers also have to know that they must operate under federal, provincial and territorial standards and regulations. Federal and provincial legislation governs collective bargaining between the employers and the bargaining units. Once a union is certified, the employer must bargain with the union in good faith and attempt to reach a collective agreement because labour relations are a key issue for businesses and workers.

In our federally regulated sector, we strive to help the parties co-operate and work effectively toward common goals. Labour-management conflict does get the headlines, but labour-management co-operation really is the norm in our country. We know that Canadians take pride in their work and they want their businesses to be successful. We all realize that we have very strong common interests. Therefore, a spirit of co-operation guides our efforts to promote a harmonious industrial relation in our sector.

We work closely with workplace stakeholders to achieve that common goal of facilitating agreements between workers and employers. In the vast majority of instances, collective bargaining does work. The parties involved negotiate in good faith, are willing to compromise and end up with an agreement with which everyone can live. It is seldom necessary for the government to step in. However, where necessary, mediators and conciliators can and do assist employers and unions to resolve their differences without resorting to a work stoppage.

As I stated at the beginning, I am deeply disappointed that the parties in the two cases we are discussing today were unable to successfully negotiate a new deal. However, in all cases, whether federal or provincial jurisdiction, the deal which the two parties are able to reach on their own really is always the best one.

Although federal laws govern employment in federal workplaces and businesses, such as aeronautics, banking and communications, the vast majority of employment relationships in Canada are governed by provincial or territorial authorities. In the case of Caterpillar and White Birch Paper, provincial laws and standards apply. We believe that treating employees affected by a termination of employment with respect and dignity is of the utmost importance.

For federally regulated workplaces, the termination of employment is covered by the Canada Labour Code. Termination and severance provisions help protect workers from those sudden changes in employment. They also provide security through the transitions.

We know, we realize and it is accepted that Caterpillar and White Birch Paper are not federally regulated workplaces. Nevertheless, our government is quite aware that the workers who have been laid off need to be helped. That is why Service Canada is quick off the mark to provide direct assistance to the affected employees during this very difficult period.

Service Canada has been in contact with the employees to offer information sessions and provide them with information on how, where and when to apply for employment insurance benefits. General information and other applicable Government of Canada resources, such as income support programs, skills development and training, labour market information, as well as programs and services from the provinces, will also be provided at these information sessions.

Let me just underline that we help Canadians gain the skills and opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency. We also provide targeted supports for those facing particular barriers. We do all of that in partnership with the provinces and territories because our goal is to build a fair and a prosperous Canada where no one is left behind. Strong economic stewardship is a critical ingredient of this. We will ensure that Canada remains on the right track for economic growth and jobs. That is our commitment to Canadians.

While we disagree with the actions of Caterpillar and White Birch Paper and we really wish that this situation would have been handled in a vastly different manner, we advise members to defeat this motion as worded.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Mr. Speaker, I noticed that the minister talked about the past in her speech. President Kennedy said that victory has 100 fathers and defeat is an orphan. Clearly this is true. Since 2008, Canada has lost 400,000 jobs in the industrial sector, and it is nobody's fault. The lack of industrial policy is not important. The lack of economic measures by the government to support an order book is not important. The lack of an infrastructure program that would generate employment for the industry is not important. Clearly, this was an act of God.

The minister also does not listen to the Minister of Finance, who told the Standing Committee on Finance that the dramatic increase in the Canadian dollar may have caused the loss of tens of thousands of jobs in the industrial sector but that this was no big deal, that these are jobs that come and go and that he had complete confidence in the Canadian economy, despite it all. The Minister of Finance's statement can be found in the committee transcript.

If all is well, how does the minister explain that 400,000 jobs have been lost in the industrial sector?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for the question because he does bring up an interesting topic to me of industrial policy. I am the representative of an area that is very close to the manufacturing sector in southwestern Ontario. Indeed, I have had two plants close in my own riding, which has been devastating to the community because of the fair, decent-wage jobs lost.

However, I have to say that the approach of the government has been consistent and effective in industrial policy. We create the conditions and the atmosphere for the companies to create the jobs. That is what we are supposed to do, and that is how we do it. We have done it through programs with respect to manufacturing and through the tax system, as I talked about in my speech.

In the case of forestry, for example, we made some significant investments into the forestry sector, the natural resources sector, between 2009 and 2011. That has been incredibly important, through marketing innovation, through ensuring that new products can be developed, to ensuring that we are dealing with the threat with respect to the green transformation of our pulp and paper programs.

Those things matter. It has been billions of dollars in targeted investments to support our key industrial sectors, and we have done a great job at it.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the minister is very much aware, and we would ask her to be more sensitive to the fact, that Ontario has had a very difficult time over the last few years with hundreds of thousands of jobs lost within the manufacturing industry.

Now we have this recent incident in London, with Caterpillar, which has had a very profound impact, not only on those who have the jobs but also on the community as a whole.

The minister is in an interesting position. Being the Minister of Labour, can she tell this House if she or her department was given any advance notice that this would happen? When did she and her department first find out this was going to happen?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

Lisa Raitt Conservative Halton, ON

Mr. Speaker, in fact, I enjoy the opportunity to answer the question.

When the lockout first occurred, my office and I made telephone calls to the parties involved, including the mayor of London and the president of the Canadian Auto Workers, Ken Lewenza. I guess the first time we heard this really was going to end with the plant closing came from Ken Lewenza, in our open communications and dialogue with the unions. Indeed, I was with members of the CAW and the Oakville and District Labour Council on Friday morning when this announcement was made. We talked about it and the need to redouble our efforts to work together to improve the manufacturing environment for southwestern Ontario.

I have been in contact with the unions and I make sure that we have that open line of dialogue so that we can continue to work together, as we should.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, as a member representing the great area of London in southwestern Ontario and as a small businessperson, I am happy to take part in today's discussion.

First I want to say how disappointed I am with the decision by Progress Rail and its parent company, Caterpillar, to close the London facility, and I express my sympathy and empathy for the families involved at that workplace.

I am going to attempt to discuss a couple of areas today and would like to share some thoughts about my home and paint a picture of London and southern Ontario, a picture that is far different from the doom and gloom of my colleagues opposite. I would like to set some records straight also, because in this place and back home some stories have been told that do not reflect reality. I would also like to share a vision of positive actions that are taking place and the support for jobs that this government has brought to London and southern Ontario. Southern Ontario is my home. I grew up in London and my kids went to school there.

This motion, much like everything else the party opposite has done, is pretty negative. If we were to listen to the rhetoric coming from the other side of this House, we would think that London had a great big grey cloud over top of it and it rained all day long, every day in London. That is just not true. My Canada, my Ontario, my London, my area of southern Ontario is often full of sunshine. It is full of smiles and hard-working people and full of people who go to work every day and are happy to do so. Unlike the member for London—Fanshawe, I believe in thinking positively toward solutions. London smiles. Londoners are proud of the job they do. Yes, the global economic recession has had a significant impact on southern Ontario, including London and the area where I live. However, southern Ontario has been there before.

I was a small business owner in bad times in the early 1990s when an NDP government caused a provincial recession in Ontario. It made being an employer and a job creator very difficult, but we grew. We put an effort into economic growth and passed into one of the greatest times of prosperity my province has ever seen. We have done it before and we are doing it again. We have people who are well trained in our work force. We have great skills training for those who still need it. We have land and facilities for businesses to grow and new enterprises to locate, and many are doing just that. Kongsberg, a company from Norway, through its great relationship building, decided it would come to London. Dr. Oetker, a food processor from Germany, has decided to locate in London. It is not all doom and gloom; there is sunshine out there.

We have infrastructure, great roads and highways, water and energy. We have close access to the United States by land through both Windsor and Sarnia within an hour or two of London, with the Great Lakes surrounding us and rail services and air cargo facilities available. Thanks to a forward-thinking city and to the help of this government, the London airport has a new air cargo facility to facilitate new enterprises looking to locate in London.

I would like to move to some of the mistruths and misinformation that I suppose my opposition friends feel they must use, because if they stick to the facts they cannot make the same political points or grandstand.

This government has helped business in many ways during this world economic downturn. Just a few examples are its lowering of corporate taxes, creating retraining opportunities and effective work-share programs and trade. The Prime Minister is out of Canada right now, doing some great things on trade with another country. We are looking for new customers because our largest customer, the United States, is suffering too. When a customer who purchases about 80% of everything bought in southern Ontario is hurting, we hurt too. These are just a few examples of what we are attempting to do as a government.

This government has also invested in London's infrastructure. Why? Because it creates immediate jobs and gives our area lasting assets for our children and my children's future.

The member for London—Fanshawe was all too quick to grab a great big cheque and stand in front of a construction site and say, “Hey look at me, this is great, my city is getting great jobs”. In true hypocritical fashion, when the cameras were off, she came back to Ottawa and voted against all of those things for London. That is just not right. When looking through some old photos last night, I found a picture of that event and discovered people celebrating London's growth under the economic action plan. The member for London—Fanshawe was right in front, funnily enough with a Caterpillar loader in the background. Apparently it is okay to use Caterpillar when it is about her job.

Speaking about being hypocritical and misleading, we continue to hear stories from the party opposite about some phantom investment given to Electro-Motive Diesel. Again New Democrats just cannot make points on the facts. They just twist them until they work for them.

Here is how the practices with the capital cost allowance work. First, in 2008 the entire industry committee, including the NDP member for Windsor West, unanimously recommended an increase in the capital cost allowance rate for rail equipment. This change was effective for new locomotives acquired on or after February 26, 2008, as well as for reconditioned locomotives and the refurbishment costs incurred. This benefit went to the customers of Electro-Motive, not to Electro-Motive. My office received no calls during that time demanding that we stop getting more customers for the plant.

Let me now move to another piece of truth that will just not make the story if told correctly. When I grew up on Fairmont Avenue in east London, I remember the GM diesel plant. I remember the big, brown buses it made for the City of London. GM Diesel from 1950 on was a very fine employer in London; it employed a lot of people. GM Diesel, just for those who are not catching on yet, is General Motors Diesel, a fine American company operating in London since 1950.

The myth involved here is maybe best explained by Andrew Coyne in the National Post. He stated:

It’s a compelling story—foreigners buy “our” plant, steal “our” technology, and all with our money! Except:

EMD is not a Canadian company, and never was. Caterpillar bought it from a pair of American private equity firms in 2010; they bought it from General Motors in 2005, who bought it from its Ohio-based founders in 1930. Since 1935 it has been headquartered in La Grange, Illinois. The London branch plant was opened in 1950.

Caterpillar didn’t buy the London plant. It bought the whole company, including its La Grange operations, which is where EMD does its design and engineering work, as well as making parts. It seems unlikely it would have stashed its most valuable intellectual property at a far-off final assembly plant. (Incidentally, as the economist Michael Moffatt points out, GM moved all final assembly work to London from La Grange shortly after the Free Trade Agreement went into effect. The jobs we’re worried about losing to the States are jobs we took from them.)

Even if it were a Canadian company, and even if it possessed a Valhallah of patents, it still wouldn’t belong to “us”. It would belong to them: its Canadian owners, who shelled out good money for it, presumably in anticipation of selling it one day. Caterpillar didn’t steal the company: it paid for it. If its proprietary technology had any value, its previous owners would be just as capable of realizing this—

In every labour dispute, the answer lies with two parties getting together for a solution. As I have said before, I feel that Progress Rail and its parent company did not play the role of good corporate citizens in this, but it appears that very little attempt was made to negotiate a solution to this and save the jobs and keep them in London.

I would love to go on to explain all of the things that our government has done and will continue to do to bring those new industries to London. We have made investments in London with many jobs, including the startup of FedDev Ontario, an organization that my party started to look at economic development in southern Ontario. We have been asked many times by the members opposite, and it seems like it is always a one-off, about what we are going to do about something or why can we not do this or that. The one thing this government has been able to prove over time is that it can multi-task: it can do all of those things. It can create trade when our trading partners go away. It can create new jobs and help retrain workers.

I again want to say there are smiling people in London and it is not all doom and gloom. There is sun shining.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I can confirm that there are a lot of smiling people in London. I visit it frequently as my sister lives there.

The Conservative Party of Canada promised, on a number of occasions, that it would look at the Investment Canada Act. I am wondering if my friend can remark on the kind of revisions that need to be made to the legislation requiring, for instance, that if companies invest in Canada that they keep their head office here, that they keep certain jobs here for a certain time, or that they forfeit any tax credits or SR&ED money they might have received if they do not keep those jobs here for a certain period of time.

The loss of Caterpillar is tragic but there is a much broader question that we need to tackle here. I wonder if my friend could comment on that.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, my friend and I have had great discussions about the great city of London and his relatives who live there.

The answer is that foreign investment is reviewed often. As a government, we are always open to any suggestions that members may have, if members have suggestions as to what we might be able to look at the next time.

I have real difficulty trying to handcuff corporations, which might want to come to my area to locate and create jobs, with regulations before the fact as to what they might do to come here to create those jobs. As I stated, as a very young boy I drove with my dad in front of the GM diesel plant and some 80 years later these events are taking place. Are we suggesting that 80 years worth of good jobs somehow must be limited or that we should make them stay another 20 years? I understand what the member is trying to do in creating a regulation. It is like trying to rope a horse and it is not very easy.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault NDP Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, we know that Electro-Motive asked employees to make concessions that did not really make sense, especially since this company makes huge profits.

All of us here have discussed at great length how people can put money aside to prepare for their retirement. What does the government advise these people to do now that they have lost their jobs? What will they have to do today to have a decent retirement?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member is right. Planning for retirement is a very important issue.

However, as I mentioned more than once in my speech, I am not standing here defending Caterpillar as being a great corporate citizen in this either. However, being a business person and being out there in the workplace, I recognize that negotiation is key. We talked about it this morning at committee that working together is better than working apart. As long as we are still talking, we have a chance to accomplish.

What happened here was that the two sides were not talking, and that is truly the answer of what needs to happen. As I said, I am not pleased with the employer's behaviour in this either. We had jobs we could have saved if we had just talked to each other.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, what a great thing it is to be able to sit in the House and listen to a member speak so passionately and proudly about his home community. That is tremendous. Perhaps more members of Parliament could take a lesson from the member on talking positively about what is going on in this country and about the great investments that we are seeing.

Perhaps the member could take a moment to tell us more about some of the positive investments he has seen in southwestern Ontario, particularly in the London community, that are benefiting his constituents?

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Joe Preston Conservative Elgin—Middlesex—London, ON

Mr. Speaker, I must first correct the record. I mentioned driving by a plant that was 80 years old. No one came forward to tell me I was not 80. I am not. Some 50 years ago I may have driven by that plant with my dad.

Through the whole economic action plan and all we were able to do from an infrastructure and recreational point of view in London, those things were all accomplished and we were happy to have them all; through FedDev's investments, whether it is with the university or junior diabetes programs with London hospitals or even the YMCA.

My friend from London North Centre mentioned a number of projects in London. It is incredible what has happened there. We will go forward. We are doing okay.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Alex Atamanenko NDP British Columbia Southern Interior, BC

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. This is a debate. What do we want here? The motion proposes to amend the Investment Canada Act to ensure that foreign buyers are held to public and enforceable commitments on the net benefit to Canada and on the protection of Canadian jobs.

What is the Investment Canada Act? This act is the main mechanism for reviewing foreign investment proposals and for approving or rejecting them. The legislation came into force in 1985. Its main purpose was to ensure that foreign acquisitions represented a net benefit to Canada. Since its coming into force, more than 1,500 foreign acquisitions have been approved under this legislation and only two acquisition applications have been rejected. More than 12,000 other acquisitions were not reviewed under this legislation because they did not meet the threshold for application of the act.

The NDP's 2011 electoral platform contained a number of proposals with regard to the Investment Canada Act, namely: reducing the threshold for investments subject to review; providing explicit, transparent criteria for the “net benefit to Canada” test; requiring public hearings; and ensuring public disclosure of important information. Our detailed proposals were included in that section.

As far as the closure of the Electro-Motive plant in 2012 is concerned, as we know, the employer, Electro-Motive Canada, had been acquired in 2010 by Progress Rail Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar. In accordance with our Investment Canada Act, a notice regarding the acquisition of Electro-Motive was submitted to the Minister of Industry and approved. A receipt was issued in September 2010 declaring that this investment did not require further review.

This plant is located in London, Ontario. It produced diesel locomotives. The 465 plant workers were represented by Canadian Auto Workers union Local 25. During the collective bargaining process, the employer sought concessions, the result of which would have cut the salaries of a number of employees in half, eliminated the defined benefit pension plan and reduced a number of other benefits. Naturally, the workers refused to accept those terms.

I want to add here that the community, the chambers of commerce and all those involved in London should have taken a stand as soon as they knew the employer wanted to cut employees' salaries in half. They should have asked: what does that mean for the economy? What does that mean for small businesses? What does that mean for their families?

On January 1, 2012, the plant's workers were locked out. Picket lines were set up in front of the plant. Then, on February 3, Caterpillar announced it was closing the London plant. The union thinks that Caterpillar wanted to move the plant's operations to a non-unionized plant in Muncie, Indiana. As hon. members are probably aware, just a few days before that, Indiana passed a law recognizing the “right to work”, which means that workers do not have to pay mandatory union dues in order to be employed. Most of the states that have this kind of legislation are in the southern United States. Unions are much less common there and salaries are lower.

As we know, there is a movement in the United States whereby unions are no longer required by law in several domains, including the public sector.

Because this labour dispute came under provincial jurisdiction, it was not examined by the Minister of Labour. However, Caterpillar's acquisition of Electro-Motive in 2010 was subject to a federal decision under the Investment Canada Act. It is important to note that Caterpillar recently announced record profits for 2011—nearly $5 billion. Reuters reported that these revenues far exceeded Wall Street's expectations. The profits represented an 83% increase over 2010. The forecast for 2012 is just as positive. Caterpillar's CEO had an income of over $10 million in 2010.

So people are wondering what is going on here. We have a multinational corporation earning record profits, yet it wants to close the plant. We have no doubt that offering workers 50% of their salaries was just an excuse to close the plant and move its operations south to the United States.

Rumours abound in the media suggesting that Caterpillar bought the plant simply to get its hands on the technology and patents. The union claims that the company had no intention of keeping the plant open. The Canadian Labour Congress says that Caterpillar should be forced to find a Canadian buyer. The Canadian Auto Workers' Union, the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, the United Steelworkers and the Canadian Labour Congress have asked the government for stricter criteria for the approval of foreign takeovers so that workers' jobs, salaries and benefits are protected.

It is interesting to see that the members across the way are sympathetic to the workers' plight, but that is not enough. People have lost their jobs because of a policy that lets businesses do as they please. As the people's representatives here in the House of Commons, it is up to us to try to help these people. Sympathetic words are not enough. These workers need policy that protects them. These people belong to a community and contribute to the economy. With their good salaries, they buy cars, go to restaurants and contribute to the vitality of the community. We see that across Canada. Sympathy is not enough. The government must act. I urge the government to do something so that these people can get their jobs back in London, Ontario.

Opposition Motion—Investment Canada ActBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

2 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The time provided for government orders has expired, and we will move on to statements by members.

Mont-Joli Regional AirportStatements By Members

February 9th, 2012 / 2 p.m.

Bloc

Jean-François Fortin Bloc Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Mont-Joli regional airport is of vital importance to the economic development of the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gaspé. When the federal government handed over authority for the airport to the regional county municipality in 2005, the airport's main runway was shortened by 1,000 feet by the federal government, thus preventing several types of aircraft from landing there. This situation could be corrected with the assistance and, above all, the good will of the federal government.

In order to adequately fulfill its role, the Mont-Joli regional airport must also continue, in future, to have the support of the federal government, particularly through the airports capital assistance program, or ACAP, which is a key program for a large number of Quebec's regional airports.

For that reason, a few weeks before the next federal budget, I would like to remind the government of the importance of modern and adequate airport infrastructure for Quebec's regions. In doing so, I am reiterating the Bloc Québécois's call for financial support through the creation of a program to support small airports not eligible for ACAP.

WaterlooStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, last evening the City of Waterloo received an award from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for an infrastructure project in my riding, the Davenport Road multi-use corridor.

The Sustainable Communities Award recognizes the City of Waterloo's leadership in transportation planning.

Waterloo has an outstanding record of integrating the needs of the community with long-term sustainability. As befits the most innovative city in Canada, Waterloo strives to implement the latest environmental design and technology and to incorporate new ideas that better serve our residents and improve their quality of life.

I am proud to represent a municipality that takes such a forward-looking approach to community development. I congratulate Mayor Brenda Halloran, her council and staff on this well-deserved award. Felicitations.

Ocean RangerStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, 30 years ago on February 15, tragedy struck off the shores of Newfoundland with the sinking of the oil rig, Ocean Ranger, which took the 84 person crew down with it. It was the worst sea disaster in Canada since the Second World War.

Susan Dodd's brother, Jim, was one of the men lost that day. Today Susan is marking this sombre occasion with the release of her new book, The Ocean Ranger, Remaking the Promise of Oil. It is an important and timely piece of work. It touches on resources extraction, search and rescue, as well as government oversight and regulations.

This book reminds us that we must learn from the mistakes of the past, and we must remain vigilant as industry and government continue to push for more high-risk energy extraction.

I congratulate Susan for having the strength and courage to tackle such a personal story. I thank her on behalf of members of the House and all Canadians for her contribution to our collective memory and education.

HockeyStatements By Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise today to congratulate Brendan Nickerson, a young man and a rising hockey star from my riding of South Shore—St. Margaret's.

Brendan is a 15-year-old Cape Sable Island resident, who is the only Nova Scotian hockey player selected to play for Team Canada at the youth Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria.

Team Canada beat the United States 7-5 on January 21 and brought home the bronze medal.

In 2011 Brendan also played for Team Nova Scotia in the Canada Games in Halifax. There he won an under-16 gold medal, an even greater achievement since he was the youngest player on the team.

Brendan has also played defence for the Canadian Tire South Shore Mustangs for the past two years.

I congratulate Brendan on his exciting hockey victories. I wish all the best and good luck to him and his family.

National Sweater DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, National Sweater Day is back. This popular initiative from the World Wildlife Federation in partnership with Loblaws calls on Canadians to turn down their thermostats and wear sweaters to save energy, highlighting an important part of fighting climate change.

One-third of climate change emissions could be eradicated by energy conservation and efficiency. If every Canadian turned down his or her thermostat by just 2° each winter, 2.2 megatonnes of carbon dioxide could be saved every year, the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road.

The campaign is a fun, easy way to get involved in energy conservation dialogue and action. Wearing a sweater is a symbolic gesture to show support for energy conservation in Canada.

The EconomyStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, during January I took the opportunity to meet with a great number of my constituents. I also held a number of prebudget consultations.

From the broad spectrum of people I consulted, including business owners and employees, financial leaders and academic leaders, seniors and students, new Canadians and long-time Canadians, moms and dads, I kept hearing how people are focused on our economic recovery.

I received much feedback and I heard innovative suggestions. I can assure each and every one of the wonderful citizens who gave so freely of their time and expertise to my budget consultations that their comments were sent directly to the Minister of Finance.

The citizens of Winnipeg South Centre are being heard, and I am listening. After a very long time, they now have a voice in government.

National Sweater DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to remind the House that today, February 9, is World Wildlife Fund Canada's second National Sweater Day. I would therefore like to encourage all members to lower their thermostats and wear their favourite sweaters in order to take action against climate change and work toward a sustainable future.

Last year, over 300 organizations took part in National Sweater Day. Everything is ready so that, this year, many other organizations can join the campaign. I would especially like to recognize WWF-Canada for the important work it is doing to further the environmental movement in Canada.

By rethinking our energy use, we can have a considerable impact on climate change. I would like to share a statistic that I found striking: if every Canadian turned down the thermostat by two degrees Celsius each winter, 2.2 megatonnes of carbon dioxide could be saved every year, which is equivalent to taking 350,000 cars off the road.

So let us put on our sweaters and work together to make the world a better place for our grandchildren.

Henry Vernon KnealeStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Phil McColeman Conservative Brant, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to an incredible Canadian, Henry Vernon Kneale, who passed away in his youthful 98th year on February 1.

Verne lived life with passion and gusto. Husband of Jean for 64 years, brother, father, grandfather, soldier, teacher, entrepreneur, singer, tree farmer, builder, writer, furniture maker, jazz pianist, and artist, everything intrigued him.

Verne served his country for four years in World War II, along with his brothers Hugh, Graham and Allan. Canada owes a large debt of gratitude to the Kneale family.

Verne was recognized for his many achievements as a Shriner, businessman, veteran and church trustee. He loved politics. His fun-loving nature and sense of humour endeared him to many. His ethos of service to family, community, church and country infused his life with energy and purpose.

My dear friend Verne's life was and always be an inspiration to those who were privileged to know him.

National Sweater DayStatements By Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, today is National Sweater Day.

This national campaign, promoted by the World Wildlife Fund and Loblaws, encourages people to lower their thermostats and put on a sweater to stay warm while saving energy and helping our environment.

Individuals, organizations, companies, schools and campuses across Canada are turning down their thermostats and people are wearing sweaters of all types, whether it is that hand-knitted sweater made by grandma that is never worn, that store-bought hoodie that is worn all the time, or a favourite hockey jersey that is only worn on game day.

The goal of this initiative is to raise awareness about the importance of valuing energy in Canada and bringing out the best conservation efforts in all of us.

National Sweater Day is just another great example of how small changes in behaviour both at home and at work can have a positive impact on our planet.

I encourage all Canadians to turn down the heat and wear a warm, cozy sweater today.

I thank my hon. colleagues for participating in this year's event.

Gatineau YouthStatements By Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Françoise Boivin NDP Gatineau, QC

Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Gatineau's Radio Oxygène. This is the only radio station of its kind in Canada; its goal is to teach young people how radio works. I suspect that the station's budding hosts and reporters, such as Lily Kassab, will one day be waiting for us outside the House, ready to ask us the tough questions.

I also had the honour of discussing politics with students from Collège Saint-Alexandre, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Philippe Falardeau is among the school's alumni. The students are visiting Parliament today to learn more about our political system, and I was very pleased to welcome them and their exceptional teachers.

I would also like to congratulate Olivier Rochon, a young Gatineau athlete—whose father, Martin, is an interpreter here in the House—on his success. “Ollywood,” as he is known, recently won a gold and a bronze at the Freestyle Ski World Cup, a remarkable achievement.

I am proud to represent these young people. Their smiles and their enthusiasm energize me daily. I invite all of my House of Commons colleagues to salute their contributions to community life, politics and sport in the riding of Gatineau.

I wish them every success.