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House of Commons Hansard #119 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was environmental.

Topics

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, many of my colleagues have pointed out the subterfuge associated with Bill C-38. It is an unprecedented bill in that it goes far beyond any budget implementation bill ever presented in the House of Commons. It seeks to repeal, or change and undermine some 60 or 70 pieces of legislation that are far removed from taxation and spending matters normally found within a federal budget.

One of those pieces of legislation, which I would ask my colleague to comment on, is the federal Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act. This was put in place to protect the wages and hours of work for non-union construction workers on construction projects. It recognized the vagaries of the construction industry, with a transient workforce, et cetera. Some standardization of wages was beneficial in order to take wages out of competition so that contractors would win jobs based on their productivity and competitiveness, not on their ability to find cheaper and cheaper wages.

By throwing this particular act out the window, with the budget implementation bill, the government is undermining and destabilizing the entire construction industry, the largest single employment sector in the country. How does she think it benefits anyone to drive construction workers' wages down by virtue of eliminating the minimum wage laws?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, I disagree with the hon. member on a number of points that he raised.

First, this budget bill is very common in that it is including many things. We can see when we look at the actual document that it is a huge budget. The bill is doing what Canadians have asked us to do, to get on with the business of the country and get the bill passed.

In regard to workers, different provinces are attracting different workers through their taxation measures. For example, in Manitoba, taxes unfortunately are going up under the provincial NDP government. In my riding of Portage—Lisgar, as well as other places in Manitoba, there is still a need for skilled labour, for workers. In other parts of the country, for example Alberta, they cannot get enough construction workers.

I am very pleased that in our immigration policy we are making a new stream for skilled labour and skilled workers to come to Canada. We are still taking advantage of the domestic labour force that we have, but bringing in skilled workers where they are needed.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, when the Prime Minister was a few years younger, when he was in opposition, he took great exception to the Liberal government bringing in a budget of 20 pages, that possibly affected one or two other bills. Apparently he was quite appalled by it. It was even reported on last night. That was then. Today, we are debating a bill of over 400 pages. There is enough legislation within the bill to justify a three year mandate in terms of its impact on the legislative process.

My question is, what has caused the Prime Minister to have this change in attitude? It was not acceptable to have a minor change in the Liberal government. Now, with his majority government, he feels he has the mandate to make huge legislative changes through the back door of a budget. What has changed? Why is the Prime Minister--

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary. There is a minute left.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

Candice Bergen Conservative Portage—Lisgar, MB

Madam Speaker, speaking of mandates, Canadians gave our government a mandate by giving us a majority government in order to implement the policies that we have presented.

Canadians have appreciated that when we make a promise, we keep the promise. When we say we are going to do something, we do it. For instance, Canada's economic action plan 2012, focusing on long-term prosperity and growth, is something Canadians have asked for. This budget implementation bill needs to take the budget and actually implement it.

It is interesting that the opposition members, within minutes of us presenting the budget, already decided that they were going to vote against it. The Liberals decided they were going to vote against it before they even read it. When we are talking about mandates from the Canadian people, we can see that Canadians did not even give the Liberals a mandate to be the official opposition.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:50 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak to the budget implementation bill.

This budget and the act we are discussing today clearly reveal the government's overall plan and priorities. Today, I would like to highlight some of those priorities of particular relevance to B.C.: jobs and growth, resources, the environment, seniors' concerns, and health and fitness for all Canadians.

The recent budget reiterated that the government is committed to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Our government is committed to expanding avenues of trade while responsibly developing our natural resources. Our government is committed to all Canadians, to aboriginal peoples, families, seniors, youth, immigrants and entrepreneurs, from coast to coast to coast.

When Conservatives formed the government in 2006, the focus turned to the strengthening of the Canadian economy, creating employment opportunities and laying the foundations for sustained growth. As a result, our nation has weathered the storms of recession in the past few years better than virtually any developed, democratic country in the world. Many nations look to Canada as the model for creating and maintaining a high degree of financial security. The stable course was set years ago. The current act reflects our Prime Minister's firm, steady hand on the wheel for the next leg of the journey.

For the people of B.C., this budget means jobs. In the coming 12 months, the budget proposes to invest $67 million in B.C. for labour market training, part of the continuing commitment the government made to Canadians in 2008 to provide new funding every year.

In the riding I represent, the whole North Shore and hundreds of workers at Seaspan Marine Corporation welcomed the news that the company had won an $8 billion contract to build non-combat vessels for the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard. This budget supports such forward-thinking programs for continuous growth. Thanks to the act, those hundreds of workers at Seaspan will soon be joined by hundreds of more skilled tradespeople who will enjoy the guarantee of employment and the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution for many years to come.

Jobs do not materialize out of thin air. They come from plans such as those featured in this act, committed, targeted investments in post-secondary education for our youth, improving access to training for those with disabilities or people returning to the workforce, and adapting our immigration system to keep pace with the speed of business.

This budget lays out ways in which our economy may advance, unfettered by labour shortages or narrow business plans.

In the riding I represent, we appreciate innovative approaches such as the international education strategy receiving ongoing support after its introduction in the 2011 and 2012 budgets. This plan will benefit Quest University, Capilano University, Vancouver Island University and other schools to attract more international students and researchers, translating into a broader knowledge base necessary to compete in the world market.

The act reflects the priority of the government to expand Canada's trade potential by pursuing new markets worldwide. Having negotiated several trade agreements in a few short years, our government is committed to pursuing the Canada-Europe trade agreement which presents abundant opportunities to Canadian business.

We are also committed to the Pacific Rim, led by our dynamic Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. We are increasing the flow of trade and investment traffic across the Pacific. The riding I represent includes a very active group of Canadians of Asian background, some of whom produced an extraordinary celebration of Asian New Year earlier this year. They highlight the importance of our government and our parliamentarians' relationships with Pacific Rim communities.

For British Columbians, one of the most important aspects of this act is the commitment to develop our abundant resources while maintaining a respectful balance between economic aspirations and environmental stewardship. With a proposed $54 million over two years towards the major projects management office initiative, significant natural resource projects will unfold with greater efficiency, providing the foundation for employment, not only at the primary but also at the secondary and tertiary levels of the economy.

This is good news for the fisheries advisory group in the riding I come from, where Dave Brown and the group work with me to protect and sustain our marvellous fisheries resource.

The act also puts emphasis on sustaining our environment. There is $35.7 million proposed over the next two years to further improve the safety regimen for oil tankers and pipelines, to support ongoing environmental studies and to better prepare for emergencies.

This act also proposes an additional $13.5 million over two years to support the work of the National Energy Board that we may further reduce any risk, with more oil and gas pipeline inspections, moving from 100 to 150 per year, and double the number of annual audits designed to discover and resolve potential issues before they become a concern for Canadians.

These unparalleled safety precautions for oil tankers were recently the subject of an excellent series by the North Shore Outlook, a community newspaper serving a region of the riding I represent. Outlook's in-depth coverage highlights the great importance of secure transportation for such resources, from both an economic perspective and an environmental perspective. This government's investment in safety reflects a sharing of that priority.

The riding I represent in B.C. is not unlike many others across Canada in that our people are aging as a demographic. Though we appreciate the beauty and wisdom of our seniors, our nation is coming to understand how this fact is affecting our economy, our health care system and our social fabric. That is why the budget and the act take a visionary, necessary step in a potentially controversial direction. The very gradual rise in the age of eligibility for old age security from 65 initially to 67 is a plan for long-term security. This slow and steady change to the OAS program takes some of the fear out of the future, because this change would mean we could enjoy financial support for generations to come. Some day our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren will thank us.

As the founder of the 2010 parliamentary fitness initiative, it literally does my heart good, as well as the hearts of millions of Canadians, to know that in this budget and act, our government continues to support important programs such as Participaction. In response to the budget, my friend and fitness advocate Rick Hansen said, “The Government of Canada has been a critical partner in my 25 year journey towards a healthier and more inclusive world, and we are extremely grateful for their continued support.”

Health and fitness experts from as far abroad as The New York Times, like writers Gretchen Reynolds, to North Shore News contributor Shaun Karp, all agree that daily physical activity improves our general level of health and reduces our chances of developing chronic or debilitating disease.

Ms. Reynolds in her recent book, The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer, encourages movement as opposed to exercise, any kind of movement, and she did not even know about the 2010 parliamentary fitness initiative. She stresses that the road to good health is not competitive, strenuous exercise. One does not need to run for miles or work out for hours. One simply needs to move, garden, stroll, take the stairs or park further away from the mall entrance.

For parliamentarians, we should take the opportunity to run or walk on Tuesday mornings and swim on Thursday mornings with our colleagues. In keeping with the government's encouragement of healthier living, I have created two special days here on the Hill. The Inaugural Bike Day on Parliament Hill will be held tomorrow, May 9, and National Life Jacket and Swim Day will occur the following Wednesday, May 16.

Beyond the Hill, the first ever National Health and Fitness Day will happen on the first Saturday in June, June 2. All 12 of the local governments in the riding I represent have resolved to mark National Health and Fitness Day by opening their municipal recreation and sports facilities for free or at a reduced cost to introduce first-time users to the opportunities in their midst and to foster healthier habits for long-term benefits.

Our very active Minister of State for Sport stated recently:

National Health and Fitness Day is a perfect opportunity to remind Canadians of all ages about the importance of physical activity and sport. Whether it's riding your bike, running around a track, or playing on a house league soccer team, the options for maintaining an active lifestyle are endless. As Minister of State for Sport, I encourage all Canadians to join in and celebrate this special day that highlights the importance of physical fitness and healthier, happier communities.

In the final analysis, that is what we are all about: a healthy economy, a healthy climate for jobs and growth, healthy international relationships with many free trade agreements under negotiation, and a healthy stewardship of our environment and our economy for this generation and generations to come. That is why I am proud to support this act. I look forward to the questions of my colleagues.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, the hon. member spoke of good governance.

I do not believe this bill is a matter of good governance. Take, for example, the fact that this bill repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act.

Instead, the bill talks about measures to protect the pipelines and whatever the oil companies propose. The government is taking money out of other envelopes and using it to fund oil companies and corporations, which should be using their own money to do this work themselves.

Can my colleague explain all this?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to respond and I want to thank the member opposite for her question.

What people need to understand is that when it comes to the environment and the economy, we do not have to choose one over the other. We must develop our environmental stewardship. We must also inform everyone that Canadians have the best research and innovations in the world in this sector.

That is why it is important for us to dovetail our federal and provincial processes. It ought not be ineffective in order to bring them both together to make our extraction of natural resources more efficient while we become the world's leading stewards of the environment.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker, we have a quaint saying where I come from, which is that fair wages benefit the whole community. This saying is based on the notion that a consuming middle class is one of the greatest strengths on an economic basis.

It is a mystery to me why we find, within this particular budget implementation bill, the repeal of the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act. In all federal government building projects there will now be no requirement to pay fair wages. It used to be that the government would set, not a union scale wage but a prevailing wage somewhere close so there would be fair competition and wages would not be driven down in the construction sector. Who benefits from driving down the fair wages of ordinary working people? Only the merit shop and CLAC will benefit because they are trying to bust the unions in the construction sector.

This bill was put in place to protect non-union employees from being exploited by those who would seek to achieve contracts by finding cheaper labour. There goes the Canadian dream--

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I must give the hon. member time to respond.

The hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, it is because I respect my colleague opposite that I must respond with questions of my own.

The member represents a party that wants to drive up taxes. Surely the incentive for our wonderful thriving middle-class in Canada is that taxes have been reduced and that there is hope in the future because of the free trade that is being encouraged by this government.

The type of environmental processes that we have been talking about throughout this debate would encourage good stewardship of the environment while we produce jobs. We have created 600,000 going on 700,000 jobs since July 2009 and they all reflect a commitment to the economy and to the hope of future Canadians.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2012 / 11:05 a.m.

Beauce Québec

Conservative

Maxime Bernier ConservativeMinister of State (Small Business and Tourism)

Madam Speaker, I wonder if my hon. colleague could explain how this budget will help natural resource development in his own province.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

John Weston Conservative West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, BC

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.

The minister is one of the hardest working MPs in the House, so I am delighted to go shoulder to shoulder with him. He is aware of how British Columbia depends upon the responsible extraction of natural resources for our economy and, therefore, we are proud stewards of our wonderful environment.

I come from the most beautiful place on earth. We care about our environment but we also want to ensure that the provincial and federal arms are working together so that we do not repeat unnecessary steps in the approval of resource projects. We are ensuring that provincial and federal regulators are working together. That is a big thrust in the bill. I am proud to believe that hundreds of thousands of new jobs will result.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, today I will not address the budget's assault on environmental protection, including water monitoring; the weakening of food inspection; the government's puzzling decision, in light of its professed monopoly on loyalty to our military, to reduce the number of medical professionals involved in suicide prevention and PTSD monitoring; and its targeting of the CBC, a vehicle for holding all governments, regardless of political stripe, to account through world-class reporting and for facilitating homegrown cultural expression that reflects and strengthens Canadian values and identity. Rather, I will focus on the budget's impact on younger Canadians.

I would not go so far as to say that the budget is an attack on younger Canadians. I will not use that kind of intemperate language. However, I will say that the budget is neglectful of younger Canadians. It fails to consider their legitimate needs and, as a result, it fails to build for the country's future.

Canada needs to excel as a knowledge economy if we wish to prosper in the world of the 21st century. However, the budget does nothing specific to encourage young people to pursue a post-secondary education or otherwise to reduce the financial barriers that prevent some from pursuing such an education.

There is nothing in this budget, like Paul Martin's highly successful cash grant, for those who invest in a registered education savings plan for their children's post-secondary education. As we know, the federal government today contributes $2 for every $10 Canadians invest in their children's RESP. Nor do we see the budget introduce a version of the Canadian learning passport.

The Canadian learning passport was an idea in the 2011 Liberal election platform. It was based on the principle that, “if you gets the grades, you get to go”. The idea of the passport was to offer all high school students intending to go on to college or university $1,000 in trust for each year of anticipated post-secondary education up to a maximum of $4,000 and $1,500 per year up to a maximum of $6,000 for students from low-income families.

Now that is smart public policy that would achieve a triple objective: first, supplying our economy with the skilled labour it needs for the 21st century; second, preparing our youth for the jobs of tomorrow; and third, achieving an important measure of social justice by removing barriers to education for all youth, including those from low-income families.

On another matter of importance to Canada's future, we must not ignore the relationship between university scientific research and the education and career success of today's young people. University research produces concrete benefits for student researchers. It provides students with an important practical avenue of intellectual development so they can later make a meaningful contribution to a science-based economy. I noticed in this regard that the budget eliminates a very financially modest but highly successful program in the area of science and engineering research: the research tools and infrastructure program, known as RTI.

RTI provides funding for the purchase and repair of lab equipment of a value of up to $150,000. This amount is way below the threshold for CFI funding that targets multi-million dollar multi-applicant projects. It is not an exaggeration to say that the RTI program is the lifeblood of most NSERC-funded university research because it provides researchers with a reasonable chance of obtaining the equipment they need to do their work.

As my colleague from Kingston said last week in a question he asked in this House, for research scientists, eliminating the RTI is like sending a carpenter to work without a hammer. Furthermore, a well-known university researcher in Montreal has written to me to say that by the government nixing the RTI, “We will lose staff, we will lose students, we will lose knowledge”. I do not know why the government made such a short-sighted decision.

Speaking of opportunities for young people, we must not forget the brutal cancellation of Katimavik. Katimavik provides a unique experience for young people seeking to discover their strengths, skills and independence at a difficult crossroads in their life.

After the announcement of Katimavik's demise, Katie Wheatley, a constituent of mine and a Katimavik alumni, wrote to me with the following testimonial, “Coming out of the Katimavik program has left me with complete bilingualism, invaluable work experience, an incredible sense of accomplishment and empowerment, and a brighter future”. What more is there to say?

What leads us to question the government's objectivity in its decision to terminate Katimavik is the fact that the decision is retroactive. It has left candidates already accepted for next year's edition of the program flat-footed, deeply deflated and scrambling to make new plans. One could even say that the decision is, if not legally then morally, tantamount to a breach of contract. This breach of contract carries an air of vindictiveness. It is an open secret that the government pulled the plug on Katimavik mostly because the program was the brainchild of the Trudeau government.

Finally, the change to OAS eligibility will impact on younger Canadians since the change will apply to anyone born after 1958. The generations that will be hit by this change include those whose members' professional careers often took longer to launch than what was the case for previous generations. Many younger Canadians today are struggling with career and income and this change will exacerbate the challenges they face down the line.

The Liberal opposition is four-square against the budget's change to OAS eligibility for other reasons as well. First, various experts have argued convincingly that raising the age of eligibility to receive OAS is not necessary to sustain the system.

Second, the Liberals believe that many Canadians who have held physically demanding jobs may find it very difficult to work beyond age 65. Many, in fact, will be forced to retire before age 65. An example is nurses.

A constituent, Anna-May Barrett, called my office to remind the government that being a nurse is a physically demanding job, with overtime, staff shortages and increasingly longer shifts and yet the government's decision on OAS eligibility appears to ignore this reality.

Third, the OAS provides much needed financial assistance to many would be low-income seniors who would otherwise find themselves below the poverty line.

Fourth, many women who chose to stay at home may not have other pensions to draw on at 65 years of age. This new delay in receiving OAS will prejudice these Canadians and deny them a measure of economic freedom they were counting on.

I would add that I believe it is vital for a healthy democracy that Canadians be able to trust their government. Many Canadians will consider the decision to change the age of eligibility for OAS a betrayal of that trust, especially in light of the commitments made by the Prime Minister during the recent election campaign that a Conservative government would not change retirement benefits. A Liberal government would reverse the change to OAS eligibility, bringing the age at which all Canadians would be eligible to receive this benefit back to 65.

Another Liberal idea that was promoted during the last election campaign is missing from this budget, the idea of a supplemental Canada pension plan. The Canada pension plan is extremely well-managed. It is recognized internationally as a very low cost, cheap to administer program that brings higher rates of return than other large pension plans. Therefore, why not allow Canadians to invest even more in this high return pension system? Why not commit to working with the provinces to devise a pan-Canadian improvement to the CPP-QPP system that would allow Canadians who might have extra money to save for retirement to invest that money with the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board?

Those are the kinds of constructive suggestions that, if included in the budget, might allow the opposition to see things a little differently.

Since my colleague from Papineau is here, I would like to comment on a video I saw recently of the very first televised question period in the House of Commons. The question was from the hon. Joe Clark and the economic situation was quite similar at the time to today. Mr. Clark asked a respectful question of the government about its plan for economic recovery. The prime minister at the time, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, stood and, instead of slamming the opposition and impugning its motives, he said that the Liberals were hoping that the opposition would provide some constructive ideas that the government could include in its plan for economic recovery. That is the kind of openness we need today in our democracy.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Madam Speaker, my colleague talked about investing in research. The Conservative government, in its somewhat narrow view, is investing almost exclusively in applied research. I would like to hear my colleague's thoughts on the general importance of investing in basic research.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I completely agree with my colleague.

Yes, we need to invest in applied research, but pure research—theoretical research—is what moves our society forward in the long term. It is that kind of research that incites the world's top researchers to come and work at our universities here in Canada. In turn, those researchers then motivate students from around the globe to come to study and work with them in Canada, and this all contributes to strengthening the research base we need in order to ensure a prosperous economy for the 21st century.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Judy Sgro Liberal York West, ON

Madam Speaker, I congratulate my colleague for noting a way that we can work together. We have asked the government to split the bill and to focus on many of the positives that could be in the budget.

The government has done very little when it comes to pensions. Would the hon. member elaborate a bit more on the supplementary Canada pension plan, which was part of the Liberal policies, and why it is so important for Canadians to have that opportunity?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, I know my colleague has been working extremely hard and diligently on developing a policy that would properly protect Canadians in retirement.

Many constituents in my riding worked for Nortel. Also some work for Air Canada. The message I get from them all the time is that they are worried. In the case of Nortel, they have taken a major hit in their pension because of that company's bankruptcy. However, some of my constituents work for big companies that are in financial difficulty and they are worried about the future of their pensions.

These Canadians are not looking for another private pension plan in which to invest. They want to invest in something solid that is risk-diversified and that has low administrative fees. By bringing in a supplemental CPP/QPP, we would be providing those people, my constituents, with an additional opportunity. We would expand choice, and that is a good thing.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, I just received an official request for support from the Beauport women's resource centre, asking that the Women's Health Contribution Program be maintained. This program has existed for 16 years and provides evidence-based facts and vital information on women's health.

This organization and all women's health organizations are asking that this particular program be renewed. I would like to hear the member's thoughts on this.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Francis Scarpaleggia Liberal Lac-Saint-Louis, QC

Madam Speaker, this is an important program that the government should neither neglect nor eliminate.

Our society and our economy are extremely complex. If we want progress, we need sound policies, policies based on research and data collection, so that we have a better understanding of the reality we are dealing with. Programs that support data collection and analysis make a positive contribution to society and, in this case, to the well-being of Canadian women.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Calgary East Alberta

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Madam Speaker, it is a great honour and a privilege for me to speak to this very important budget bill.

I listened to the speech of the member of the Liberal Party. One of the reasons I did not ask him a question was I thought he completely missed the intent is of the budget.

Let me just state what is most important about the budget. The budget has certain key points. One of them is to balance the budget. This is the promise we made to the electorate. We have fulfilled this promise by ensuring that our budget will be balanced by the year 2014-15.

How do we balance the budget? It is very simple. We are cutting inefficiencies in the government. That is why the government tasked the committees for the departments to come out with efficiencies so we could operate efficiently, with a reduction of 10% in their expenditures. At the same time, we are ensuring that the regime of doing business and ensuring our core services are maintained. It is very important that we have a sound, economical management of our economy.

I have many facts from economists who state that this budget looks to the future of Canada by ensuring it is on a path to prosperity.

As Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, this gives me the very rare privilege to travel overseas on behalf of Canada at international conferences. What did I learn from that? A lot of people were asking this one very simple question. During the turmoil taking place in international markets, in the U.S.A., in Europe, everywhere, the question everybody asked was how we managed not to fall into that severe recession. They were very impressed with what was happening with Canada. Our economy is tied to the U.S.A., which is one of the largest economies going through recession. Europe is going through a recession. Yet Canada did not feel the severe effects of the recession. Why? Because the government took proactive steps to ensure that we were insulated from all the aftershocks that took place around the world.

The credit goes to both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance for steering the economy during this critical time since 2008 and for creating over 700,000 jobs. In comparison with all the others, we are sitting in a position where we are not feeling the tremors of the international markets that are taking place.

If we leave that to the anti-trade NDP party, we would feel those tremors. If we leave that to the Liberal Party, we do not know where it is going. We had a debate in the House about giving pensions to self-employed. Guess what? The Liberal Party opposed that.

Clearly we need sound financial management, and this government has provided that.

Let us see what happened this weekend in Europe. The elections in Europe will have a tremendous effect because people have voted for more expenditures. The situation Greece faces today will have a national impact. In case my colleagues on the other side did not bother to watch the report on their favourite television channel, the CBC, because Greece's economy has collapsed, its great Olympic athletes will be unable to attend the Olympics.

That is why it is very important to ensure we never get into that situation taking place in Europe or in Greece. In fact, we are quite concerned with what is going on in France. Hopefully, it will address that issue.

In the Daily Telegraph, the finance minister said quite clearly, in talking about the crisis in Europe, that Canada was taking care and looking after its own house. This budget is about that. He said that there should not be an IMF bailout for the Europeans. The Europeans have the same ability as Canada to look after their house. They should be doing that and not asking for money from the International Monetary Fund, or from other countries, to bail them out because they do not have their house in order.

We should take lessons from what has gone on in Europe to ensure that those conditions do not exist in Canada. This budget is about that.

Everyone will be debating the budget. We have heard the opposition. Since we have been in government, we always expect the NDP to oppose us. I am quite happy when it does because it means we have done something right.

As for the Liberal Party, when it tried to balance the budget, it dumped all of its expenditures onto the provinces, creating a severe problem. Then it suddenly said that it had balanced the budget. This government is not going in that direction.

Our government is taking one of the strongest steps by cutting expenditures by 10%. That impacts everyone. That is the way it should go, cutting expenditures and getting our house in order so we live within our means. That is the most important thing. Then when we live within our means, we are able to fund core policies, policies that are very dear to Canadians, such as health care and the Canada pension plan. All of the policies require sound investments. That is what we will do once we move on this path.

By the year 2014-15, we will balance our budget. We will be living within our means without cutting core principal programs. Sure there have been some job losses. Everyone in the world feels a little pain with cuts. However, the economy will remain strong and everyone will be able to readjust and get those jobs back. That is the key element.

As recently as two weeks ago, when I was with my colleague in Trinidad, I talked to its finance minister. He was quite surprised that we had cut government expenditures by 10%. He told his colleagues that a G8 country was cutting expenditures so it could balance its budget and that was something they should learn. That is what Canada is doing. With sound economic management, we are sending the message to other countries around the world to bring their houses in order so the world economic situation can come back to normal and they will not feel threatened with both the uncertainty in Europe as well as the U.S.A.

It is critically important to understand what the budget will do in the long term. The readjustment is fine. At least inefficiencies are being removed. Does the opposition not think we should bring our house in order? Should we not balance the budget? Should we not live within our means and ensure we maintain that? That is the aim of this budget. I hope the opposition will wake up and see that this is the right budget for our country.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Alain Giguère NDP Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member talked about a visionary budget.

What does that vision have to say about the 100,000 manufacturing jobs lost since 2008? Over 400,000 jobs have been lost in the manufacturing sector, and those were good jobs. Because of those job losses, Canada, which is a petroleum exporter, now has to import refined gasoline. That is what things have come to. What does that vision have to say about giving up on wealth creation? There is nothing in the budget about reviving the manufacturing sector, a wealth-creating sector. What does their economic vision have to say about that?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Madam Speaker, I am extremely amazed at the question the gentleman asked. Since 2008, a tremendous amount of money in stimulus packages was given to the manufacturing industries in Ontario and Quebec. He can see that. There were stimulus packages that kept us out of the recession. As a matter of fact, for his information, we created 700,000 jobs. It was not for only one portion of the country; it was for the whole country. His leader just talked about the oil sands resource sector in Alberta as if it will not benefit Canada. We work for all of Canada, not just one area of Canada.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Liberal

Dominic LeBlanc Liberal Beauséjour, NB

Madam Speaker, the hon. parliamentary secretary and I worked together on foreign affairs issues, and he has a long experience in these matters. In fact, I had the privilege to travel to Tanzania years ago with my hon. friend, and we went to the high school in Arusha from which he had graduated not so long ago. He is still a young man. That is why I want to ask him a question that is very important to my constituents and the people who live in rural communities across Atlantic Canada.

The issue of seasonal work is a huge problem in my constituency. People work in fish plants, forestry and agriculture, and they depend on an employment insurance system to give them some income support at times of the year when there is no work. I am very worried about some of the proposed changes in this budget around defining what, for example, the compliance elements would be for somebody receiving employment insurance and perhaps having an obligation to travel a great distance to accept employment in some other part of the country or some other part of the same region.

I suspect this is a very insidious thing that the Conservative government may be doing, and I am wondering if my colleague, who comes from Alberta, may be able to reassure the seasonal workers in New Brunswick that they will not be attacked by his government.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

11:35 a.m.

Conservative

Deepak Obhrai Conservative Calgary East, AB

Madam Speaker, I can tell him in no uncertain terms that we are not going to be attacking seasonal workers. We know there are four seasons in Canada, and we understand the need for seasonal workers. Therefore, seasonal workers play a very critical, important part of the economy. To ignore seasonal workers would derail our vision of long-term prosperity in this budget completely.

It was a great pleasure travelling with my hon. friend and his father, the late hon. Governor General of Canada, but I want to say that eastern Canadians should be thankful for working in the Alberta oil sands and making our country better. We are looking forward to more people from eastern Canada going to Alberta because we live in one country, Canada, while the leader of the NDP talks only about his region. Therefore, yes, we will look after seasonal workers, but we welcome workers from eastern Canada working in the oil sands, contributing to the wealth not only of Alberta but all of Canada.