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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

12:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is concerned about wasting taxpayer money. How does he feel about the increased amount of spending, like $8 million to go after charities that are already well-regulated under the existing charity act system?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

That was an excellent question, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate the opportunity to answer it.

Any charity that is involved with any political activity should not receive the generous tax breaks that it does. When I was head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an advocacy group, we also raised money, but we were unable to issue tax receipts to our supporters because we were involved with not partisan but political activity, trying to advocate a position.

If environmental groups want to engage in that kind of activity, they are absolutely free to do so, but they should not do so on the backs of Canadian taxpayers.

If we need these dollars to root out people who misuse the tax code, then I am okay with that because it will ensure we have a better democracy and a better tax system.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I stand today in opposition to Bill C-38, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.

Let me be clear from the get-go. Not only do I rise in opposition to the Conservative budget, which is a backward step in so many ways for Newfoundland and Labrador and all of Canada, or then again step is not the right word, backward leap seems more appropriate for Newfoundland and Labrador and all of Canada, I also rise in opposition to those “other measures”. The bill is an omnibus bill, a massive bill, 421 pages long. It not only contains the means to implement the 2012 budget, but contains dozens of other measures buried in its pages, hidden in its pages, measures that have nothing to do with the budget, measures that include everything but the kitchen sink, from increasing the age of eligibility for old age pension to 67 from 65, to gutting the federal Fisheries Act, to ripping apart environmental legislation that may leave our country, when the Conservative government is done with it, in a mess.

I take back what I said a second ago about the kitchen sink. The sink just may be in the bill somewhere. Maybe that is why the Conservatives are so set on limiting debate. Maybe that is why the Conservatives are so set on ramming legislation through this esteemed House so quickly, legislation that was not even hinted at in the 2011 federal election, as a means to sneak through their secret agenda and to sidestep democracy.

I can tell members that the Conservatives will have a hard time getting anything past my party, Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, try as they may. What is more, the Conservatives will have an even harder time getting anything past Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and Canadians.

The Canadian public is starting to get a pretty good idea of what the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister are about. They are about big business and the corporate agenda at the expense of average Canadians, at the expense of the environment and at the expense of real, meaningful jobs.

The irony is the budget is described as a job-creating budget at the same time that it kills more than 19,000 federal public sector jobs.

The face of Canada is changing, and I have heard this in my riding, and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and Canadians do not like what they see in the Ottawa mirror. It is not who we are.

I have three perspectives on the Conservative budget implementation bill: the Newfoundland and Labrador perspective; the Atlantic perspective; and the national perspective.

I will speak about my own province first. Most people where I come from are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians first and Canadians second. They will tell people that to their face if they are asked and even if they are not.

Bill C-38 would have a huge negative impact on my province with regard to federal job cuts. More of the federal jobs in Newfoundland and Labrador that we have are being moved to Halifax. We will lose more jobs and we have few already. The mayor of St. John's, Dennis O'Keefe, has gone so far as to say, “If this continues, we'll end up being a colonial outpost — not of Ottawa, but of Halifax”. He further said, “Maybe it's happened [so] often, since 1949 with Confederation, that we're used to getting a kick in the rear end”. The final quote from the good mayor was, “I don't mind if we got our fair share, but we've never had our fair share of federal jobs in this province, period”.

There is no doubt that there is resentment in my home province toward the Government of Canada. Our fishery has been destroyed under Ottawa's watch. The federal presence in my province is but a faint shadow of the federal presence in other provinces. Not a single federal crown corporation is headquartered in my province.

There is resentment toward Ottawa, but there is particular resentment toward the Conservative Prime Minister who, to quote my people, “is no friend of Newfoundland and Labrador”.

Let me highlight some of the federal jobs that would be lost in my province as a result of the latest Conservative budget.

The Veterans Affairs office in Corner Brook will be gone. The Canada Border Services Agency is losing its director in my province. While the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to build its cruise ship industry, the federal Conservatives are doing their best to stop it dead in the water. Border Services is also losing its only dog, trained to sniff out drugs and guns in Newfoundland and Labrador. Maybe we could get some psychics to step forward and volunteer their time.

Seafood inspection provided by the Food Inspection Agency will move to Prince Edward Island. I can see the sense in that, though. The federal Conservatives have written off the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery, so why not move food inspection to P.E.I.?

The St. John's food inspection lab is slated to close with transfers to other provinces. There are cuts to Marine Atlantic, which operates the Gulf of St. Lawrence ferry link, which will likely drive up the fares and the cost of everything. There are also cuts to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, although not in the federal riding of Labrador, which a Conservative member represents. It is all good there for some reason.

Public Internet will be shut down at 96 provincial libraries around Newfoundland and Labrador. Parks Canada is also cutting back at national parks and historic sites in Newfoundland and Labrador. While the province of Newfoundland and Labrador spends millions of dollars on tourism campaigns to try to get Canadians and the world, to come to Newfoundland and Labrador, the Conservatives cut back on the amount of time the parks are open and they increase ferry rates. I do not get that.

Cuts to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans will amount to nearly $80 million by 2015. DFO is closing the marine rescue sub-centre in St. John's, transferring the jobs to Halifax and Ontario.

I do not know if all Canadians realize this, but Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have a unique dialect, a lot worse than mine and a lot better than mine. A skipper from outport Newfoundland, with seconds to send off a mayday before abandoning ship, may not be understood by a mainlander. That is the simple truth of it. Here is a quote from Merv Wiseman who works at the marine rescue sub-centre, and retires today. He said, “We know as professionals that people will die and we've expressed that view right on up the line, right up to the ministers themselves — to no avail”.

People will die. What could possibly be more important than the lives of our mariners? The answer is the dollar. The answer is a desire to stamp out a culture of defeat, as the Prime Minister has described us. I can tell the Prime Minister this. There is fight yet where I come from, and he will see that in 2015.

On a national level, the Conservatives are pushing through their plan to raise the eligibility age for old age pension and guaranteed income supplement to 67 from 65. That is not on with Newfoundlanders and Labradorians. They say that Canada is in danger of losing its soul. They say that Canada is in danger of losing her social programs that separate our great country from so many others. They do not like what they see in the Ottawa mirror. The Conservative face is a frightening face.

The budget implementation act will also see the word “habitat” removed from the Federal Fisheries Act. Let me quote from Otto Langer, a renowned fisheries scientists who came out against the changes to the act. More than 600 scientists actually came out against changes to the act. He said, “This proposed move by the Harper government is a travesty for our fishery resources and the health of the entire ecosystem and it ignores the needs of our future generations”.

A full one-third of Bill C-38 is dedicated to the gutting of environmental legislation and protection.

Again, Bill C-38 is an absolutely massive bill. What do the Conservatives do to ensure the debate is a healthy debate and in the best interests of the country they look after? The Conservatives limit debate and that is not good enough.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Just a reminder to all hon. members not to use proper names but to use the names of ridings or titles. This is something we encourage and it is a good habit for members in the House.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, the member makes reference to how the budget is going to have a tangible impact on Atlantic Canada in particular.

I think Canadians are aware that this budget is going to cut just over 19,000 civil servant jobs. That will have a significant impact on all Canadians from coast to coast. No doubt that in itself warrants a great deal of debate.

Towards the end of his remarks, the member made reference to the limitations that the government has put on debate on this budget bill.

That aside, the member spoke about environmental legislation.

There are some 70 different pieces of legislation that would be affected through the back door in passing this budget. I am wondering if the member might want to further comment on that? This is in essence an entire legislative agenda that the government is trying to sneak through the back door, which is a slap in the face to democracy. This is what the Prime Minister is doing by not respecting the need for due diligence and fair process in a democratic state.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member hit the nail on the head when he spoke about environmental legislation that is included in this omnibus bill. The Conservatives are trying to sneak this legislation through the back door. With everything in life, there has to be balance. The balance between economic development and the environment has been lost with the Conservative government. It is not being up front with the Canadian people.

If the government were doing things right, it would pull this environmental legislation out and we would debate it separately from this budget implementation bill. However, the Conservatives, more and more, have a tendency not to do things right.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canadians may be confused. They hear opposition members saying that with Bill C-38 the government is gutting environmental laws, and they hear the Conservative members of Parliament saying that they are strengthening the laws.

The reality is clear when we look at the legislation. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act is repealed. An entirely new act of 67 pages replaces it, which lacks the fundamental elements that have been there since 1992 when that act was passed.

I would like to ask my hon. friend if, in looking at this bill in relation to Fisheries Act provisions and the protection of fisheries habitat, he has concerns that are particularly applicable to his community of Newfoundland and Labrador?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, I have concerns. As a representative for St. John's South—Mount Pearl, for Newfoundland and Labrador, I have concerns about anything fisheries-related from the Government of Canada, from the Conservative government.

Our groundfish fisheries, fisheries for species such as cod and flounder, were wiped out 20 years ago. There are no rebuilding plans and no rebuilding targets under the government, for the last six years under the Conservative government and under Liberal governments before it.

I have a concern about anything fisheries-related because the trust in the government is not there. It is absolutely non-existent.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:50 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash NDP Parkdale—High Park, ON

Mr. Speaker, one of the main concerns that many have been raising in this House is that there are so many things in this act that have nothing to do with the budget. This is the first new budget that the government has brought in since the last election, and it has many things it never campaigned on.

The member has pointed out that there are many items in here that have nothing to do with the budget. I would like to ask him what he thinks will happen if members of the finance committee are responsible for examining changes to the Fisheries Act or other environmental changes? What does the member think could be the danger of that happening?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Ryan Cleary NDP St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Mr. Speaker, the danger, for example, of members of the finance committee examining changes to the Fisheries Act is that they would not have a clue what to look for. Again, it is part of the agenda and the reason why the Conservatives are doing it this way. They can sneak things through the back door, as the hon. Liberal member just mentioned.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to share with the House the widespread support of the constituents of Brampton—Springdale for economic action plan 2012. Leading up to the introduction of this budget, my constituents repeatedly applauded the Conservative government's focus and direction when it comes to our economy. Their support has never wavered. They trust and know that the Conservative government is the only choice when it comes to creating jobs and keeping our economy stable.

Before the budget was introduced, I held budget consultations and round tables and I spoke with thousands of constituents. There was a common theme during these conversations. Constituents wanted our government to look ahead not only for the next few years, but for generations to come.

My constituents understand the importance of looking forward when it comes to sustainability and growth. They understand and acknowledge that our country is changing. That is why they continue to stand side by side with our Conservative government. They want their children to grow up in an environment where opportunities are plenty. They have every reason to be confident in the Conservative government and economic action plan 2012. The constituents of Brampton—Springdale want opportunities. They want a government that will act in their best interest. They want a government that will take realistic, pragmatic and responsible action.

The measures contained in economic action plan 2012 are substantial, but they are reasonable and, more importantly, necessary. While others spend their time fear-mongering, the Conservative government is tackling the real issues head-on.

My constituents were appalled by opposition parties that, instead of supporting realistic measures that met the needs of all Canadians, wanted to take our economy down the wrong path. This is not what my constituents or Canadians in general need at this point. While other countries are facing the risk of long-term economic decline, Canada is in a position of opportunity. We are seizing that opportunity and making decisions that will position our nation for sustainable, long-term growth.

Brampton—Springdale is a diverse community that is home to thousands of hard-working families and Canadians who deserve to have a government that acts in their best interest. I vote for economic action plan 2012 because it is a practical strategy that ensures our economy will create good jobs and sustain a higher quality of life for generations to come.

The economic action plan was developed with all Canadians in mind. It proposes measures that would assist each and every one of my constituents, from seniors, children, students, families to workers in every industry. We are taking major steps forward that will build on the proven foundation that we have worked to lay since 2006.

The global economic landscape, along with the shifting environment in Canada, exemplifies the need to make important decisions. Instead of ignoring foreseeable problems such as the inevitable demographic changes in Canada, we are taking action that will allow Canada to avoid these dangers. We are also working to seize new opportunities for today and for the future.

Throughout the past year I have had the opportunity to speak with thousands of constituents about our economy and where our country is headed. What is remarkable is the fact that although this riding was held by a Liberal for many years, the constituents have praised our government for keeping taxes low and creating jobs in some of the toughest economic climates. They have expressed their appreciation for the Conservative government's focus and determination.

Brampton—Springdale is a community that is part of a growing city. The city of Brampton is home to more than 8,000 businesses and employs approximately 153,000 hard-working Bramptonians. These companies, entrepreneurs, workers and families depend on the government to ensure that their futures are brighter. I am always proud to tell others about Brampton's small business, manufacturing and entrepreneurial base. It is a city that is innovative, creative and successful.

When I announced that the Conservative government would be delivering more than $1.1 billion in significant investments for research and development with another $500 million for venture capital, constituents from across my riding were thrilled. These are actions that mean something to my constituents. We are not delivering mere words or promises, we are delivering action and results. Innovation, creativity and growth are by-products of a strong business sector. With the Conservative government at the helm, Brampton will continue to excel on the national and international stages. Investment in entrepreneurship, innovation and research is a fundamental necessity for our country. It simply is not enough to maintain our advantage in the global economy, we need to constantly strive for better. We need to always aim higher. These investments would allow us to position Canada not only to compete on the world stage but to excel there. Our country has enormous potential in almost every industry. This potential and our talent have been recognized around the world. We need to foster that success, sustain growth and innovation, and create new opportunities.

To help achieve that long-term prosperity and growth, our government is making it easier for students and companies to exceed objectives and benchmarks. As I mentioned, Brampton is home to a rapidly expanding small-business sector. By extending the hiring tax credit for small businesses, we are helping thousands of Brampton companies expand their workforce and capabilities. This initiative has already helped many businesses in my riding to grow within the marketplace and create well-paying jobs for my constituents of Brampton—Springdale.

Many, if not all, of us in this House would agree that youth are our future. That is why we have invested and will continue to invest in programs that help youth get into the workforce. We allocated $50 million to the youth employment strategy to assist more young people in gaining tangible skills and experience that will allow them to compete in the job market. Brampton is home to thousands of students looking to make their way in a very unpredictable world. They are looking to make a name for themselves and to start their careers. They need and deserve to be provided with the opportunity to achieve their aspirations. We are working to provide our younger generation with the proper training and assistance that will make their dreams a reality.

More and more people are choosing to start their families in Brampton. The Conservative government knows the importance of providing relief for our hard-working families. Economic action plan 2012 highlights that focus. From improving the registered disability savings plan to increasing the travellers' exemption to promoting a more active lifestyle through continued support of Participaction, our government is standing behind our families. This relief comes after six years of increased support across the board for families by our government. The residents of Brampton—Springdale are leading happier, healthier and more prosperous lives because of the Conservative government's continued support and assistance. My constituents are proud of their government because they have tangible results through our efforts.

Whether they are young people, students, families, hard-working citizens, seniors or business owners, these constituents know that they can count on the Conservative government to always be there for them. While the Liberals gutted transfers to health care and education when in power, our Conservative government is protecting and growing them to help support the services that Ontario families need. We are standing up for Canadians across this country because we know it comes down to opportunities that they are provided with. We will remain focused on job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity. This will help our country not only to remain stable but to excel in every industry. It all comes down to opportunities.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed listening to the member's presentation. He talked for the most part about how he supported the direction the government is going in terms of its allocation of resources, of money, in the budget. He mentioned a couple of programs that he supported.

That is the kind of thing we expect in a budget. That is the kind of stuff that we saw when the Minister of Finance brought down the budget, and that is what we fully expected to be debating here in the House. and that is what we expected to be going forward to the finance committee.

Instead—and I ask the member for his thoughts on this—what we have is a bill that makes significant and fundamental legislative changes to a whole myriad of legislation. Would the member not agree that we should be dealing with budget items and that legislative items should be dealt with in another forum?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the hon. member, as mentioned earlier by my other colleagues, that this budget was brought forward after conducting massive consultations with Canadians throughout the country.

Canadians gave our government a strong mandate for a reason: they expect results. They expect us to deliver. That is exactly what the government's intention is, and that is exactly what the Prime Minister and finance minister are focused on: creating jobs, creating prosperity and creating long-term growth. That is what Canadians expect us to do and that is what we will continue to do.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know how the member can indicate that the Prime Minister led a government that had “massive consultations”. “Consultations” gives the impression that they might have been listening to what Canadians have to say, and we know very clearly what Canadians had to say in regard to the senior pension issue: a vast majority of Canadians believe the government is wrong to increase the age from 65 to 67. A vast majority of Canadians want to be able to ensure that they have the future ability to retire at the age of 65. That is what Canadians have told the Liberal Party, and I suspect that is the same message that they have told the Conservative government. Therefore, how can the member or the government claim that it consulted Canadians, when we know full well that some of the major platforms that the budget has taken go against what Canadians really want?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is taking steps that Canadians expect us to take by ensuring OAS remains strong and there for future generations by gradually raising the eligibility age of OAS and GIS benefits from 65 to 67 between 2023 and 2029. The changes are limited to those who are 54 or younger as of March 31, 2012, and will not affect current OAS or GIS beneficiaries in any way.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for his very insightful speech. Hopefully members of the opposition listened.

Would the member speculate on why the NDP and Liberal members are voting against what Canadians want? The budget provides jobs. It provides what families need. It provides a plan of prosperity and growth for the future. Why would they vote against that? Why would they vote against improving environment policies? Could the member speculate as to why they would vote against what is good for Canada?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

Conservative

Parm Gill Conservative Brampton—Springdale, ON

Mr. Speaker, the reason the opposition parties are refusing to support this very important budget for all Canadians is actually beyond my understanding. I would encourage all members of the opposition parties to review the budget carefully, read it through, take the time and consider supporting the budget so that we can get on with what Canadians expect all parliamentarians to do: to work on their behalf and to continue to focus on their priorities, rather than playing political games.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:10 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on the very reasoned amendment from the member for Parkdale—High Park to Bill C-38.

I rose a moment ago and asked the previous speaker a question about the fact that a budget was introduced a few weeks ago when the Minister of Finance, on behalf of the government, talked about the government's direction and where it wants to allocate resources. While Conservatives talked about it as a jobs and prosperity budget, we know they are laying off tens of thousands of workers at a time when they are talking about creating jobs and we know that they have made a frontal assault on senior citizens in this country, yet lo and behold, when we see Bill C-38, we find that the damage and the destruction the government is intent on waging in this country are much greater than we would have imagined.

The previous speaker talked about how the government has engaged in massive consultation with Canadians and how Bill C-38 is exactly what Canadians want. I understand that the finance committee travelled across the country and held pre-budget consultations with Canadians, but never once was it suggested to Canadians that the government was going to gut environmental laws. Never once in those consultations or any of the consultations that happened in Nova Scotia on behalf of the Minister of Finance was there ever any discussion about the fact that the government was going to gut the Fisheries Act—completely turn it on its head and take away the power that existed in the Fisheries Act to protect fish habitat. Never once did it say anything to Canadians about its intention to do that.

I will give Conservatives credit. They did give us a bit of a heads-up on the OAS. There was an announcement by the Prime Minister. When he was in Davos drinking Chablis with his friends and talking off the cuff, he said that he was going to transform this country and that he would start by ripping dollars out of the pockets of senior citizens in 2023. I do not care if it is in 2012, 2015 or 2023; it is an attack on seniors in this country. That is what the government has done.

Now we have Bill C-38, which goes after the environment, fisheries, workers and seniors, as well as the accountability of the Auditor General to ensure that taxpayers' dollars being properly spent by a whole host of agencies. The complexity of the changes being proposed in this bill boggle the mind.

I had a conversation with a retired scientist from DFO who had been involved in the environment for over 35 years. When he initially examined the changes that were being proposed, he said the initial changes to subsection 35(1) were not too bad and that they would strengthen a bit of the problem with this and a bit of the problem with that. However, he then said the that other shoe drops, with the government bringing in changes that are going to completely wipe out any of the improvements that were brought in and wipe out the effectiveness of the provisions in the Fisheries Act that deal with the protection of fish habitat.

The most damaging part of this whole bill is the attack being waged on fishing communities across this country and on the ecosystem, frankly, because fish habitat is about the ecosystem. It is about the interrelatedness of the water and the land to ensure that we have a variety of species in this world to contribute to the betterment of our society. Some of it may be commercially viable, but that is not the reason it is protected; habitat is protected because we want to make sure we have a strong and viable ecosystem. Habitat is the water and land necessary for the survival of all species, including fish. Habitat destruction is the most common reason for species decline, and the Fisheries Act has been essential in protecting fish habitats and the fisheries they support.

I have spent the last couple of weeks sitting in on the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans, where we heard witnesses talk about the problems with invasive species in the Great Lakes. I am from the east coast and I do not know a whole lot about invasive species in the Great Lakes. I know a lot about the cod moratorium and how it devastated the coastal communities in Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I., and New Brunswick. I also know how lobsters, scallops and other crustaceans have rebounded to fill the gap and I know that the fishery is critical to hundreds of thousands of families in this country—to communities, to families, to children, to our very way of being.

What I have learned over the past couple of days is just how closely connected our whole system is. Members have heard about the zebra mussel and how it clogs up the bottom of many of the Great Lakes and attaches itself to the outfalls of power plants and creates a great deal of problems. The quagga mussel is now also part of that.

There is another invasive species, a fish. I have forgotten its name, but it eats the mussels. The combination of the two creates botulism and results in huge fish kills, as well as killing waterfowl. Who would have thought that connection, that level of chemistry, would take place and affect the Great Lakes? It is a serious problem.

There are also problems with the sea lamprey and others. What was interesting was what we were told about the science, the ways to prevent these invasive species and how to mitigate their negative effects to ensure the return of more commercially viable fisheries. Those things are not known when an invasive species is initially identified; it takes science, time and the dedication of DFO and the Minister of Natural Resources in order to come to that conclusion.

My point is that the changes being proposed by the government, simply as they relate to the Fisheries Act and the definition with respect to the protection of fish habitat, are destructive beyond belief, and we cannot allow that to happen. For the government to be so gutless as to hide behind this omnibus bill rather than to bring about these changes in a bill that would go before a legislative committee in order for us to bring experts in to deal with the issue is absolutely wrong. It is fundamentally wrong.

I am talking to Canadians, as are my colleagues, and Canadians are waking up to what the government is doing. We will stand both here in the House and in our communities and do everything we can to ensure that Canadians understand what the government is intending for the fisheries, for the environment and for our society. We will do everything we can, along with lots of Canadians, to ensure that this does not happen.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Conservative

Leon Benoit Conservative Vegreville—Wainwright, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was somewhat surprised by many of the things that the hon. member said.

Many of the members over there have been complaining that there is not enough time to speak to the bill. The reality is that the member for Burnaby—New Westminster took 11 hours on this bill. That would have given 44 of their speakers time to speak to the bill, but they are complaining that there is not enough time. That simply does not wash.

They then said that they did not know about things in the budget like the OAS but that member had to acknowledge that he did but then said that he did not know about the changes to the regulatory system. He was not paying any attention then, because we have talked about the need for that in the House.

I chair the natural resources committee and that party has members on the committee. We hear again and again about the need to streamline the regulatory system. We have done it in a way that will protect the environment better because everybody involved would put their information into one stream. We would have a better environmental impact study but done in less time.

Why is the member complaining about these things? We need to look at this from a realistic point of view.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are gutting environmental regulations in order to allow for the development of natural resources, in most cases, oil, unfettered.

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the Westray Mine disaster in which 26 miners died simply because the government of the day was not paying attention to its own rules and regulations and was not ensuring that the enforcement happened and that those workers were being protected.

That is what happens when a government does not pay attention to its own rules and waters them down to the point where they have no effect. The Conservative government better start recognizing that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, we are talking about Bill C-38, a budget bill that typically would be less than 40 pages at best. This bill has in excess of 400 pages and it impacts some 70 pieces of legislation. Over 120 pages deal with the environment.

That is why we argue that the government is using the back door of the budget, not only to limit debate on the budget but to sneak through legislation that should be set aside to go through the system separately. Would the member agree with the Liberal Party and acknowledge that the bill should be a number of different bills?

If the Prime Minister has any belief in democracy, he should break up the bill before it even comes to a vote.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:25 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Mr. Speaker, a motion to the effect of splitting up the bill in order that it receive proper scrutiny has already been made by the House leader of the official opposition, and we certainly support that.

In terms of the specifics of the bill being scrutinized, in the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans we heard the other day from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. It works closely with DFO, commercial groups and environmental groups on the whole ecosystem and fish habitat in the Great Lakes. Those officials do not know what the impact of these changes will be. They want to be part of the discussion before the changes go through to ensure they will be able to make them work to protect fish habitat and to protect the ecosystem of the Great Lakes for all Ontarians.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

May 8th, 2012 / 1:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ray Boughen Conservative Palliser, SK

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to budget 2012 on behalf of the residents in my riding of Palliser in southern Saskatchewan.

Our government has developed a positive, responsible plan to help keep Canada's economy growing, fuel job creation and secure the long-term prosperity for Canadians. It is a solid plan that will help businesses and individuals within my riding, within Saskatchewan and, indeed, within the boundary called Canada.

In the international financial community, there is admiration for Canada's stable position. These accolades include the World Economic Forum stating that our banks are the soundest the world, and Forbes magazine ranking Canada as the best place in the world to do business, to grow business and to create jobs.

In fact, since July 2009, our economy has created more than 700,000 net new jobs.

I will talk about four parts of budget 2012 that would support businesses, families and communities in my riding: First, creating a more efficient immigration system; second, managing our resources better; third, expanding our trade opportunities; and fourth, creating a sustainable old age security program for future generations.

There are Canadians who are out of work or underemployed. At the same time, there is a labour shortage in Saskatchewan, as well as other parts of the country, for some jobs. This budget contains measures to create new, high quality jobs for Canadians while providing measures to fill vacancies through improving the temporary foreign worker program if, and that is a big if, there are no Canadians to fill these positions.

Since 2006, the government has pursued much needed reforms to focus Canada's immigration system on increasing economic prosperity for Canadians. We need to move to an increasingly fast and flexible immigration system that responds to the needs of the labour market in order to sustain Canada's economic growth.

During the pre-budget consultations, a business owner within my riding mentioned that the processing time for skilled workers needed to be reduced. He also mentioned that there was too much red tape during this process. I heard that from a number of constituents. I am proud to say that the government listened and committed to lessen the processing time for temporary foreign workers who made applications, while reducing the paper burden on all employers.

We propose further improvements to recognize foreign professionals, such as physicians, nurses and engineers, among other much needed roles within the Canadian economy.

Looking at the second pillar, I will talk about how budget 2012 will help to manage our resources.

My home province of Saskatchewan is blessed with many resources that drive the economy and there is demand for these resources worldwide. If we are to compete with other resource rich countries, which would create some of those high quality jobs that I mentioned, we need to put in place an effective, efficient regulatory system to review major projects.

We propose to streamline the review process to encourage responsible resource development. The proposed review process will include fixed timelines and a one project, one review process, while introducing stronger penalties for those who violate our environmental laws.

Turning to number three, I will talk about how our plan will help expand trade. I am supportive of the focus on international trade, as it create jobs for residents in my riding and in Canada. Since 2006, we have finalized nine free trade agreements with other nations and we continue to deepen trade agreements with other nations, including those with fast growing economies. In fact, a Canada-European Union free trade agreement would bring a 20% boost in bilateral trade, which would create approximately 80,000 new jobs.

Agriculture contributes enormously to our country's economy, with nearly $35.5 billion in exports, which makes Canada the world's fifth largest exporter of agriculture and food products.

Our plan includes measures to help our farmers and ranchers succeed, which is good news for my riding where agriculture is the number one industry. They are succeeding partially thanks to efforts in opening markets for our Canadian beef, pork, canola, pulse crops, wheat and more.

We will continue to work on behalf of farmers and ranchers to ensure that people in other countries have access to our high quality Canadian food.

Our efforts and successes have been well recognized by the agricultural sector. Additionally, exporters within my riding would benefit through extending the provision of domestic financing by Export Development Canada.

I would like to take a minute to talk about the old age security program.

Budget 2012 proposes changes to the OAS program to ensure that it will be sustainable for future generations. Our plan outlines that changes will not be introduced until 2023, which means that seniors or those who are nearing retirement will not be affected. Our government is providing many years of lead time to allow individuals to make adjustments to their savings plan as necessary to meet their own goals and aspirations.

I will provide a comment from a constituent who stated, when we were talking about pensions, “The pension reforms are acceptable, seeing that the age change will only take place after 2023 or 2029, allowing the next generation to prepare, and thus manage their economies of scale accordingly”.

Our seniors are realists.

We are also eliminating the application process for OAS and GIS, which has been warmly received by many constituents who contacted my office.

I support changes for the sustainability of the OAS program on behalf of residents in my riding who may need the OAS in future years.

I would ask all hon. colleagues to support Bill C-38, a positive, reasonable plan that encourages job creation and growth within sound fiscal principles and without reducing transfer to persons. It is the right plan for Palliser, for Saskatchewan and for Canada.

Thanks to our elected majority government, I am excited for the opportunities facing Saskatchewan and Canada as our government works to allow businessed to flourish and families and communities to grow and strengthen.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Mr. Speaker, I heard the hon. member talking about trade. I have two very simple questions for him.

Make no mistake: the United States is currently our largest trade partner. I know that the government wants to distance itself and all that, but what is the meaning of this? The government has announced $143 million in cuts to border services. This will have an impact on the safety of Canadians and on wait times at the Canadian border, and it will have a direct impact on our small and medium-sized businesses. How are these cuts supposed to improve trade with our largest trading partner?

The government has also announced millions of dollars of cuts to consular services in the United States, South America and Europe. The hon. member spoke of a free trade agreement with the European Union and other free trade agreements. These cuts show that Canada is not at all interested, because the cuts to consular services will hinder our economic relations with other countries. I would like the hon. member to tell us how these cuts are going to allow Canada to improve—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order. I have to interrupt the hon. member because time is limited.

The hon. member for Palliser.