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House of Commons Hansard #115 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was conservatives.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The member's time has expired.

Notice of Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

May 2nd, 2012 / 5:25 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, on March 29, the Minister of Finance tabled economic action plan 2012, our low tax plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, which the House voted on and passed on April 4. The budget builds on our successful plan that has already seen nearly 700,000 net new jobs created across Canada since 2009.

On Thursday, April 26, we introduced this bill, Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, to implement the budget and the job creating measures it includes, including those measures to ensure that Canada's competitive advantages are harnessed to ensure our prosperity for decades to come. On the same day that the bill was introduced, I informed the House that there would be a vote on the bill on May 14.

In order to keep that commitment to Canadians and the House, I must advise that an agreement has not been reached under the provisions of Standing Orders 78(1) or 78(2) concerning the proceedings at second reading of Bill C-38, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.

Under the provisions of Standing Order 78(3), I give notice that a minister of the Crown will propose at the next sitting a motion to allot a specific number of days or hours for the consideration and disposal of proceedings at those stages.

For planning purposes, I would like to advise that it is the intention of the government to allow a total of seven days for the second reading debate of Bill C-38. That would allow a vote to take place, as indicated earlier, on May 14.

Notice of Time Allocation MotionJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I am sure the House appreciates the new information from the government House leader.

Before I call on the Minister of the Environment to resume debate, I will let him know that I will need to interrupt him in about four minutes, this being the end of government orders for the day.

Second ReadingJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:25 p.m.

Thornhill Ontario

Conservative

Peter Kent ConservativeMinister of the Environment

Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with my colleague from York Centre.

It is always a pleasure to rise and address the House but today it is an even greater pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to this important budget and our commitment to environmental excellence in Canada.

We all know that, thanks to the efforts of this government, Canada has weathered the economic crisis of the past few years and countries around the world have taken notice. Since July 2009, more than 690,000 jobs have been added and the peak achieved before the recession has now been exceeded by 260,000 jobs. That is the highest job growth rate among the G7 countries.

I am proud that our economic action plan has indeed shown itself to be world class, but I am also proud that our environmental actions and our national parks are also meeting world-class standards.

I know that hon. members are particularly interested in the environment, and we are very busy on that front. One example, an important one, is our performance with respect to greenhouse gas emissions.

Just last month I was pleased to announce the results of the national inventory report and the data collected from the greenhouse gas emissions reporting program. Between 2009 and 2010, our emissions remained steady, while thanks to our economic action plan, our economy grew 3.2% during that time.

This is not a blip; this is a continuing trend. Yes, emissions have grown by 17% since 1990, but in the same period, Canada's economy has grown over three times as much, by 60.5%, through a responsible, practical approach to managing both the environment and the economy and with the support and participation of our provincial and territorial partners through new technologies and better practices in our various industrial sectors. Through all of these, we will continue on this path.

Hon. members know that Canada is a world leader in a very competitive global economy, but we cannot remain world class without continually sharpening our skills, focusing on essential activities, increasing productivity and working smarter. This government knows this, and our commitment to Environment Canada is to build on the tradition of excellence in the organization and the extraordinarily talented and committed employees.

Let me give just a few examples of the steps we have taken. Even before this budget, we renewed the Plan Saint-Laurent and the Atlantic ecosystem initiative. We created a world-class system for monitoring the water, air and biodiversity of the incredibly important oil sands region of Alberta, and I--

Second ReadingJobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

I must interrupt the hon. member. He will have six minutes left for his intervention, but it being 5:30, the House will not proceed to the consideration of private members' business, as listed on today's order paper.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-304, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act (protecting freedom), as reported (with amendments) from the committee.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

There being no motions at report stage on this bill, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question of the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Brian Storseth Conservative Westlock—St. Paul, AB

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

All those opposed will please say nay.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

In my opinion, the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to Standing Order 98, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, May 9, 2012, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Gordon O'Connor Conservative Carleton—Mississippi Mills, ON

I move that we see the clock at 6:30 p.m.

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Is there unanimous consent to see the clock at 6:30 p.m.?

Canadian Human Rights ActPrivate Members' Business

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Madam Speaker, in January 2012 I asked the Prime Minister to apologize for the government's characterization of first nations as adversaries in an internal government document on the oil sands.

My question was, “Will the Prime Minister apologize for this shameful position and affirm today that first nations have constitutional rights that must be recognized and respected when it comes to the development of anything on or affecting their traditional lands?”

Last January, Greenpeace Canada and Climate Action Network released an internal government document entitled “Pan-European Oil Sands Advocacy Strategy”, which contained a list that divided stakeholders, according to their positions on the oil sands, as “influencers”, “allies” or “adversaries”. First nations were appalled when they discovered that the government had labelled them as “adversaries”, along with environmental advocates.

I would like to remind the House that when I asked this question on January 31, the Crown-First Nations Gathering had just been held. At the gathering, the Prime Minister declared that the time had come to reset the relationship between the crown and first nations.

However, the gap between the Prime Minister's rhetoric on resetting the relationship and the reality of the government's total disregard for the rights of indigenous people to be fully recognized and respected when it comes to resource development is staggering. Let us not forget that the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Canada has endorsed, obliges Canada to obtain the “free, prior and informed consent” of indigenous peoples.

I cannot think of a term more insulting than “adversaries”. I would remind the House that this characterization is entirely consistent with the Conservatives' default position on dealing with those who hold different views, which is that they are either with the government or against it.

It is equally disturbing that this same document characterizes the federal aboriginal affairs department and the National Energy Board, which is supposed to be an independent industry regulator, as “allies”.

For anyone who values the independence and impartiality of democratic processes like the NEB hearings, this characterization raises alarm bells about the independence and impartiality of the hearings and leaves little doubt that the government has already determined the outcome of the review.

The document goes on to justify the government's defence of the oil sands industry in terms of the creation of jobs and economic prosperity for all Canadians. I would ask an important question: what about the potential risks to first nations who are along the pipeline route?

I have heard from groups like the Yinka Dene Alliance, which opposes the northern gateway pipeline not because it is against development but because it believes this project could be potentially catastrophic. An oil spill in its traditional territories would not only be an environmental nightmare but would also jeopardize jobs that exist today for first nations in the vibrant tourism and fisheries sectors.

Once again, opposition to the gateway pipeline should not be misconstrued as opposition to development writ large. In the case of the Yinka Dene, these first nations are partners in a project to export liquid natural gas from a new terminal in Kitimat, a project that they determined carries low risks to both the economy and the environment.

For the sake of clarity, is the parliamentary secretary willing to clarify the government's position? Is the position of the government to treat the constitutional rights of first nations with the type of disrespect shown in the internal memo?

5:35 p.m.

Kenora Ontario

Conservative

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

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the question asked by the member for St. Paul's.

I would like to assure the hon. member that the Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of first nations communities and the environmental integrity of reserve lands.

Canada has a legal obligation to consult and accommodate aboriginal peoples in certain situations. Our government takes its duty to consult very seriously and will consult aboriginal groups any time an activity proposed by the federal government could have a negative impact on any ancestral or treaty rights. Consultation with aboriginal groups is a key part of the environmental assessment process and the regulatory approval process in Canada.

In fact, Canada's approach includes new, up-to-date guidelines for federal public servants regarding the duty to consult, and these guidelines include guiding principles and directives regarding consultation. These principles and directives provide federal public servants with clearer and more up-to-date guidance regarding their legal obligation to consult.

Currently, we are working with aboriginal groups, the provinces and the territories to develop a collaborative process for consultation and accommodation that will result in efficient decision-making and reduce or eliminate duplication with other jurisdictions.

I would also like to add that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada coordinates a whole-of-government approach to consultation by working with other departments to ensure that meaningful consultations are carried out for resource projects and other activities.

Canada seeks to fulfill its legal obligation to consult by undertaking meaningful consultations directly with aboriginal communities to ensure that their opinions are taken into consideration when the time comes to make a decision about an oil sands development project or other projects that could compromise their rights. These meaningful consultations benefit the Canadian economy by moving these projects forward.

By carrying out these meaningful consultations, we support the efforts of aboriginal peoples to improve their social well-being and economic prosperity, to establish healthy and more sustainable communities, and to increase their participation in the political, social and economic development of Canada.

Our government continues to work in concert with aboriginal people on both the development and implementation of strategies to ensure that informed decisions are made to meet today's needs and those of future generations.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Madam Speaker, I do not believe that the parliamentary secretary actually heard the question.

The question was this: is the position of the government to treat the constitutional rights of first nations with the type of disrespect shown in that internal memo?

How can we believe that the Conservatives are willing to work in partnership with first nations when they qualify them, in that very document, as “adversaries”—after the Crown-First Nations Gathering, after the timeliness of the budget implementation act debate today, of which the national chief has been so critical?

Again, the government does not seem to understand, in the budget implementation, that it is bound by the Constitution to uphold its duty to consult, which means it cannot unilaterally reduce these duties through changes to existing legislation.

It is extraordinarily important that the treaties be honoured and that the government treat the governments of first nations as government to government.

Will the parliamentary secretary apologize today for the disgraceful words used by his government to characterize first nations as “adversaries”?

5:40 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Madam Speaker, as I already said, our government takes its duty to consult very seriously. As the member for St. Paul's knows, the Crown has a legal obligation to consult, as needed, and to accommodate aboriginal groups any time a project could compromise ancestral treaty rights. That is precisely what we are doing.

The health and safety of all Canadians and the environment are top priorities for this government. That is why our government is working with other governments, aboriginal groups, scientists and the industy in order to monitor the cumulative environmental impact of developing the oil sands.

Understanding and minimizing cumulative impacts is a key part of environmental management and the overall governance of Canada's lands and resources. I repeat, meaningful consultation is a priority for our government.

5:40 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Madam Speaker, I asked a question with respect to the F-35 costs back on January 31, and frankly it does seem to be light years away since January 31. We have since had the Auditor General's report, and the PBO is working on some form of attempted reconciliation between what the government chooses to tell us and what the realities are.

Ironically, at this stage, the PBO, the AG, and the cabinet are all roughly in agreement as to what the costs are. Why we have had to go through this horrible exercise of trying to drag out of the government the actual full life cycle costs of this asset, the F-35, is beyond me. There is really no dispute as to what is the way to do full life cycle costing. It is set out in the U.S. congressional handbook, in the U.K. handbook and even in our own handbook.

When the finance committee passed its motion back in 2010, which ultimately led to the dissolution of the previous Parliament and the fall of the government, it was clearly and completely known what the full life cycle costs were. Here we are, just over a year later, still dragging this information out through the nose of the government of the day. We would not be dragging it out through the nose if the government had been upfront with the Canadian people.

The Minister of Defence kind of fell into it this week when he said that the cabinet knew that it would be $25 billion. The cabinet was not misled. It knew there was this $10 billion gap between what Canadians and Parliament knew and what the full life cycle costs were, which is in line with what the PBO said. It is clearly in line with what the AG said. Therefore, the AG, cabinet and the PBO all knew what the right figure was. The only people who did not actually know what the correct figure was were the people of Canada and the Parliament of Canada.

We are almost there in agreeing on the actual number. It is a pity that we have to go through this level of confusion and these repetitive questions in question period, the castigating of anyone who actually tries to speak truth to power. I was witness to a shameful exhibition by the Conservative members on the finance committee, ridiculing the Parliamentary Budget Officer, who as we know is more frequently right than he is wrong.

I thought it was kind of ironic yesterday to have the deputy minister of defence actually say, when asked by another member about the two sets of books being run, that the column on the left hand side went to cabinet for decision making. In other words, that is the truthful column, the $25 billion column. The government decided to communicate the other number, the acquisition costs and sustainment costs with another number. He went on to say that they worked off the left hand column and that the right hand column was how they responded to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. In other words, mislead, mislead, mislead. It is the modus operandi of the government.

5:45 p.m.

Ajax—Pickering Ontario

Conservative

Chris Alexander ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence

Madam Speaker, if we are going to have a discussion about confusion and misleading of the Canadian people on this issue, then I really do insist that the member opposite, my colleague, the vice-chair of our standing committee on national defence, the member for Scarborough—Guildwood, take some considerable share of the responsibility.

There has not been a true word spoken by any of the members of his party on this issue through the life of this debate. It is now several weeks, and Canadians deserve better.

We had notice that there would be a question from the hon. member opposite about how we should model our selection of an aircraft to replace the CF-18 on India's selection process. Obviously the member has moved on from that to the question of cost and life cycle costs. It has been discussed in various committees. It has been discussed in this place many times now.

Let me try to be absolutely clear for the member and for all of us.

First, full life cycle costs are the only basis on which an acquisition of this aircraft will take place. That was the central conclusion of the Auditor General's spring report, chapter 2, of which we are all seized. That was the focus of the one recommendation in that report. That recommendation, along with the conclusions of the report, and let me repeat, have been accepted by this government.

We are moving to determine what those full life cycle costs are. However, to say that somehow we know them but have not informed Parliament, that they are in this office and not in that office is misleading. They have yet to be determined in the future. We have been extremely clear about that.

No procurement has taken place. Not a penny of Canadian government money, taxpayer money, has been spent on the acquisition of a new aircraft for Canada. We will only be prepared to undertake that acquisition on the basis of full life cycle costs.

Lots of other costs have been put forward, cost projections and cost estimates. The member mentioned some of them. This is the point that is missed. Nothing, absolutely nothing has been hidden. The number that was used on several earlier occasions and discussed in committee was acquisition costs, a one-off cost for new equipment, and the sustainment costs, the setup, the new arrangements that are needed when there is a new piece of equipment.

That was the basis on which the member opposite's party introduced and announced its own procurement of a Maritime helicopter in 2004. There was no mention of full life cycle costs when that party was in power. That basis for an announcement struck that party as adequate at that time. It was not a problem.

Suddenly, they are all upset.

Now it is a problem because we have not met a standard that the Liberals never set for themselves.

Let me reassure the House that we will meet that standard on the basis of the work of the secretariat, on the basis of cost estimates that will be presented to the House, not once but annually until the acquisition takes place, and on the basis of the seven-point plan which has been exhaustively debated in question period and in the public accounts committee, in which many of us have had the pleasure to be recently with deputy ministers and soon with the Parliamentary Budget Officer.

There are concrete steps when the acquisition takes place. This is the point on which opposition members have really not been sound. They have not reminded Canadians that the acquisition has yet to take place, that a contracting arrangement to acquire new aircraft has not yet been entered into. When it takes place, it will be on the basis of full life cycle costs, of that you can rest assured, Madam Speaker.