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House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was c-38.

Topics

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Conservative

John Carmichael Conservative Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, the changes that have been proposed would create greater efficiency and greater opportunity for those in the farming world to deal with their issues and those who are dealing with the habitat of fisheries to clearly focus on those issues directly.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have the great pleasure this evening of taking the floor in the House to debate Bill C-38.

I will honour my colleagues across the way, who truly love superlatives—they thirst for them—and congratulate each other a lot. I must admit that, to my eyes, to my knowledge, Bill C-38 is an important, if not a crucial, part of the greatest plan to dismantle the country ever seen since Confederation. It is a massive and destructive operation that my colleagues opposite are praising and supporting without it weighing on their conscience, despite the millions of victims it will create in Canada.

it is very important to frame it this way because not all of our actions are innocent, on the contrary. Our actions have significant immediate and, of course, future consequences.

One of the very important aspects of Bill C-38 is that it is just one step more after many steps of significant cuts to the Canadian state, to various government operations, be they direct operations involving individuals or operations involving all the provinces of the Canadian confederation.

This reminds me of another sad, dark time in recent history: in the mid-1990s, Chrétien and his finance minister made harsh cuts that hurt everyone in Canada.

Obviously, there are many ways to address certain problems, and the government just needs a little imagination and a little willingness to talk to and co-operate with other partners to seek and find solutions that are the lesser evil—as they say—to problems that seem insurmountable or inescapable. At the very least, the government must avoid subjecting vulnerable members of society to pointless suffering. That is truly inescapable.

As Christ said, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” He did not want his disciples to collect money for the poor at the risk of forgetting to concentrate on his message.

Here is another parable, an important one, to illustrate just how drastically this government is compromising our heritage and the future of all Canadians of all ages. I will focus on young people, but people of all ages—including seniors—may find themselves paying a heavy price.

It is the parable of the prodigal son, who asks his father for his share of the inheritance immediately. He quickly wastes every last bit of his money on strangers.

That is what is happening here. Instead of taking care of things at home, the Conservatives are slashing taxes, adding counter-productive exemptions, being careless and adopting questionable practices vis-a-vis foreign investors. I know what I am talking about because I can see this in my very own riding. Much to my chagrin the members opposite told me in their responses that I am against investors and against economic growth.

I have a question. When an honest worker or a retiree is deprived of tens of thousands of dollars, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, that he worked hard to put aside in a private pension fund, through the fault of a foreigner who does not care about the fate of those who work for him, and this happens because of loopholes in the Canadian legislation, what type of society are we building for the future?

It will be a society of the poor who will serve the very small, very wealthy minority. Does the government opposite want the New Democrats to be a party to this operation? I am saying no. I am shouting no. We especially do not want to be party to that, absolutely not.

This government has used the absolutely—or probably, I will hold back a little—most simplistic arguments to defend its bill. They are the most simplistic arguments ever presented in this House. It is absolutely incredible to be given a mess of figures without any context, which flies in the face of reality and shows contempt for the truth.

It is truly appalling to see this government, in its operation of massive destruction, clearly targeting all those with the necessary empirical knowledge to understand what will happen now and in future years with Bill C-38. An incredible number of scientists have been fired, attacked, muzzled, and told to shut up. We are talking about people who have spent many years of their lives studying and, furthermore, dedicating themselves to a vocation: to serve the truth and all of society.

How can a government be so mean and contemptuous toward the intellectual elite of our society? It is a true horror to see that. Bill C-38 sanctions it. The government sets itself up as an enemy to science, to intellectuals and to people who have knowledge they can use to the benefit of society. Let us call a spade a spade. That is exactly what is going on here.

When you get down to it, Bill C-38 is a massive attack on millions of Canadians, be they retired or entrepreneurs. When we talk about employment insurance-related measures, it is mainly an attack on entrepreneurs who do seasonal work in logging, agriculture and fishing operations. Even in urban areas, let us think about people who work in construction and road repair. Quebec City is one of Canada's snowiest cities, and every winter in Beauport—Limoilou I have seen hundreds of skilled tradespeople and operators of heavy machinery clearing snow during the night after storms or heavy snowfalls. All these people depend on employment insurance not only to make ends meet, obviously, and to find a way to meet the city's needs, but also to preserve and protect their particular expertise that cannot be applied year-round.

This government is deaf and blind to this reality that affects millions of Canadians. It is absolutely unbelievable to see this kind of thing.

One of the clearest signs—and I will end with this—that the government does not care in the slightest about those millions of Canadians, is that they are constantly boasting about the fact that this is going to bring a lot of prosperity to all Canadians.

But one of the clearest signs that many Canadian households spend every last dollar of their income each week or month is that, currently, there is $500 billion in unused RRSP contributions, unused RRSP tax credits. It means that those millions of Canadian do not even have the means to save and this government does not care. Actually, the only thing that it seems to care about is to force them to save at the expense of the bread and butter that they could be putting on the table.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

NDP

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

Mr. Speaker, we are not completely opposed to everything in this budget. For example, we are not opposed to the elimination of the penny nor to the funding for employers to hire new employees. That was in our NDP program, actually.

But we are opposed to the government interfering with old age security and employment insurance, when we know that the government has not contributed one penny to the EI fund since 1990. The workers, the employees and the employers contribute to it.

But we are also opposed to the government interfering with the environment, especially—and I would like to have the hon. member's opinion on this—when it introduces a bill in which it hides about 70 pieces of legislation—legislation that should not be there because this is not an omnibus bill—of which 30% deal with the environment and are all very well concealed. People may say that we are opposed to the budget. But we are not opposed to everything in the budget; we are against this way of doing things and we are against the fact that the government is hiding all these things in it.

Could the hon. member comment on that?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles for her question. She has actually raised a very important point and that is how incredibly mean-spirited the government is in conducting the business of the House.

It is really unfortunate and I have been able to observe it a number of times at the Standing Committee on International Trade, as well as at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. On many occasions, we have reached out to this government to work together for the well-being of all Canadians and to try to find the best solution in a friendly way.

The hon. member brought up a very important point and that is that, by putting forward this assortment of poison pills, the toxic and corrosive cocktail that is Bill C-38, this government is simply eliminating any good little measures that we could have approved.

Ultimately, the government is simply trying to kill the opposition and to bend any form of opposition to its almighty will. This lack of insight and this disrespect for the majority of the Canadian population are completely unbelievable.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Liberal

Frank Valeriote Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I had earlier asked the member for Hamilton East—Stoney Creek about the community access program, and I know that my friend opposite is from Quebec. I am wondering about the following.

The community access program is used by so many urban people who would otherwise not have access to computers or to the Internet, particularly in rural areas where they do not have 100% connectivity. It is very important for those who are marginalized, who have little income and certainly not enough income to afford computers or Internet access. I wonder to what degree the entire removal of that program would affect the people from Quebec.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Guelph for his question. Both my son and I have used this program because there were computers available in a community centre just steps away from my house. I was able to see how this was in the interest of the people who could not afford computers or Internet services, which are still quite expensive.

Let me go back to the fact that $500 billion in RRSP exemptions are unused. That represents millions of Canadians with modest incomes. I remember very well that the community access centre was used by retirees and young people. At the time, I was a warehouse worker and my income was more limited. Without such a program, my son would have not been able to have access to the Internet, just like a number of his school friends.

The loss of this program is tragic given how little it costs. Let me repeat that the government is very mean-spirited to cut this program, which is actually working very well.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, last week we were treated to the unbelievable sight of the Leader of the Opposition demanding that Canadian taxpayers bail out failing European banks. I confess I initially gave the Leader of the Opposition the benefit of the doubt. I assumed that he had misunderstood the situation because as an honourable Canadian, clearly he could not seriously have been proposing that the ordinary working people of this country, the people the NDP members claim to represent, should, from their hard-earned tax dollars, relieve the distress of Europeans who have lived for far too long on money borrowed from the next generation. No, I could believe no such thing; it was preposterous.

However, over the weekend, my hon. friend from Markham—Unionville, in fact a former finance critic for the Liberal Party and in a past incarnation a prominent banker of a leading Canadian bank no less, called for a massive bail out. It is impossible that he does not understand economics and I know the member to be a patriot. So I wondered what malign influence could possibly have come upon him, in his disturbed slumber perhaps, and vexed his waking hours with doubt over what is clearly in the best interests of the very people who entrusted him with their vote. Alas, I am sorry to say that his confusion about who is actually responsible for European debt, that is, either European taxpayers or Canadian workers, could be traced to none other than the leader of his party, the hon. member for Toronto Centre.

Unbelievably, my hon. friend stood in this very House today and said that any Canadian transfer to the IMF “goes on our books as an asset”. Perhaps I should not say “unbelievably”, for some who have known my colleague from Toronto Centre for a long time and are all too familiar with how he looks at government finances would say that his reaction was to be expected. Indeed, it is completely believable that the former NDP Premier of Ontario would have an auto worker from Windsor, or a fisherman from my own New Brunswick riding, or a hard-working grain farmer on the Prairies stake his or her meagre assets upon the management expertise of a European bank, or the financial acumen of the people who continued to lend money to European governments long after debt loads had climbed into the red zone; and completely believable that Canadian taxpayers, in need perhaps of a medical procedure for which he or she must wait in line, should instead use his or her dollars to refinance the medical procedure enjoyed by a citizen of the eurozone some 10 or 20 years ago and paid for with borrowed funds. “Yes,” they would say, because for those who have carefully followed what the opposition members have had to say about public finances over the last 10 years, it is all very believable.

That is why those members are the opposition and should remain so. They do not understand economics 101. I am not even sure they understand the simple reality that if something cannot go on forever, it will eventually stop. We know we cannot fight debt with debt, we cannot borrow our way to prosperity and we cannot expect to run deficits forever without hitting the wall. The question is, will Europe stop before it hits this wall or will it simply crash into it?

Europe is a rich continent. It has 10 times the population of Canada. Many Canadians trace their ancestry to the countries of Europe and forever hold dear the heritage of their forefathers. Indeed, their fathers and grandfathers fought to liberate their ancestral homes from tyrannies. Therefore, we wish them well. However, Europe has lived too well for too long on borrowed money and the time has come for Europeans to deal with it. We do them no favours if we facilitate their addiction to borrowed money by sending them some of our own, for yes, we too have a debt.

Perhaps this is a good time for us all to review first principles. As former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once said, the facts of life are conservative. Well here are a few facts. One, people are better able to spend their own money than the government is able to spend it for them. Two, government does not create wealth; it only consumes, by way of taxes and usually even more taxes, the wealth created by entrepreneurs, labourers and investors. Three, if society wants less of something, they tax it and, similarly, if governments want to encourage an activity like job creation, it ought to remove barriers, be those regulations that tie businesses in red tape or high taxes that drive away investment and encourage people to work less.

These are not new ideas but they are appropriate ones when the goal is to foster a nation's long-term economic prosperity and they are ideas that Europe should adopt rather than asking other nations to bail it out.

That is why our government met the recession with a package of measures to make the economy grow, our economic action plan. That is why our government has made it a priority in that plan to eliminate the deficit. That is why our government has introduced vital reforms to labour, employment insurance, immigration and to regulatory review processes. This is done to stimulate growth, to build employment and to give people hope that their tomorrows will be better than their yesterdays and to spare them the hardships of a government that does not know its place.

We have two paths ahead of us: prudence today or austerity tomorrow. I choose prudence. That is why we keep taxes low and work to spend within our means. Low taxes reward the industrious. They encourage the enterprising. They lead to higher employment and they give ordinary people more power over their own lives to dispose of their income in their own interest as they see best.

It is no accident that Canada flourishes while others do not. It is not by chance that our Prime Minister says that Canada is an island of stability in a hostile world. This is the result of good, sound economic and fiscal policy.

I note that today, June 11, is tax freedom day. This is the day Canadian taxpayers stop working to pay taxes to all levels of government and, instead ,start working for themselves and providing for their families. When our government won office this day fell on June 6 some six years ago. That is over two weeks later than it is today. This is an accomplishment we can be proud of for it has benefited millions of Canadians. I for one hope tax freedom day continues to arrive earlier and earlier and we as lawmakers push for that day to fall in April some day. That would be a tax freedom day for which we could all be proud.

Canadians have worked hard, paid their taxes and trusted their government to do the right thing by them. We respected their hard work, as they deserve. We have been good stewards of their taxes, as we should. We have delivered on that trust, as we are obliged to do. We will not repay them now by rewarding the foolhardy. We will not help the entitled in other lands to meet their exaggerated expectations.

I believe the measures in the budget will reduce Canada's overspending, which will ensure our economy remains strong and jobs continue to be created and generated here in Canada. That in turn will allow us to fulfill our election promises to provide income tax cuts for middle-class families.

This is a lesson Europe should learn. The path to prosperity and economic renewal is not the road that involves ever more debt and higher taxes. It will begin when nations live within their means and there is less debt and lower taxes. Regrettably, this would seem a lesson the leaders of the two opposition parties ought to know. No wonder they do not know how to respond to the crisis in Europe. They would have us follow them on the road to fiscal ruin here at home. To that we stand with taxpayers and we say no.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Tremblay NDP Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the sole purpose of the government is to spend money, what is our purpose? What purpose does the government serve? What is the point of adding more members of Parliament?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, as a government, we are spending billions of dollars to make sure our country will be strong in the future. But we are spending only what we can, and we are asking taxpayers to pay only what they can. Giving money also to the Europeans because they have problems too is not a priority for us. It is up to them to find solutions.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my hon. colleague about what we have heard from the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. The minister acknowledged that her department did not conduct consultations on the changes to employment insurance that are in Bill C-38. She said that she had consulted members of Parliament from places like New Brunswick, like my hon. colleague.

I wonder if the member could confirm that the minister consulted him and that he among other Conservative MPs are really the source of these changes to employment insurance.

I wonder if my colleague feels that this will not have any negative effects on his riding, on companies like Ganong, on seasonal industries like the tourism industry in his riding and others. Is he really only representing the elite of taxpayers?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, our party is the party that cut the GST. The member's party is the party that proposed we increase the GST.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

What about EI?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

I will get to all that, but I want to start by pointing out that the member's party is the party of tax cuts for the elite and our party is the party of tax cuts for ordinary hard-working Canadians.

As to the reforms to employment insurance, I am proud to say that, yes, I was a member who was consulted by the minister. These are comprehensive reform packages that I believe will connect the unemployed with jobs that are available in their area. These are modest reforms that will lead to a better labour market. I do not believe there will be a negative adverse impact that the opposition continues to fear-monger about. These are--

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will just stop the hon. member there to allow for some more questions and comments.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, that was an excellent presentation on what our government proposes to do for Canadians and what the opposition, with its left wing, very socialist ideology, is presenting to Canadians. I think it is very evident what Canadians have chosen.

Could my hon. colleague comment on the fact that the Liberals have moved so far to the left? In fact, I think they have talked about standing shoulder to shoulder with their union bosses. We know that members of the NDP are socially incredibly ideological and, in some cases, some of them are separatists and Communists.

Could my hon. colleague talk about the Liberals and their extreme move to the left, what danger that has to the Canadian public and what the alternative is as far as our Conservative government?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

John Williamson Conservative New Brunswick Southwest, NB

Mr. Speaker, I do not like to speak ill of the third party. In the past, it has offered great leadership to this country at times but I do worry about its future given that its presumptive leader finds himself in a difficult situation. On one hand, when he is questioned by the official opposition, he is forced to defend the Liberal measures in the mid-1990s, which involved restraint and balancing the budget, measures that, I would concede, helped Canada through the downturn and measures we have built on and improved on.

At the same time, with the same measures, the leader of the third party is also rightly criticized for his record as the former and, I believe, failed premier of Ontario, which is a very difficult position to be in because Canadian taxpayers can never be sure which policy the member would champion, that of taxpayers or, more likely, that of failed policies, which were on display today when he called for a bailout of European banks.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

8:55 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-38, the 425 page omnibus budget implementation act. It would, among other things, gut Canada's environmental laws; break the Conservatives' election promise by raising the age of eligibility for OAS from 65 to 67; create uncertainty for businesses, workers and seasonal industries with changes to EI that attack rural Canada, Atlantic Canada and the provinces; and that would hurt Canada's international brand by tearing up 100,000 immigration applications.

Bill C-38 imposes the Conservatives' unilateral decision to reduce health transfers to the provinces and territories. It allows the Conservatives to target charitable organizations they disagree with.

It would wipe out groups such as the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Rights & Democracy and the National Council on Welfare. All of these groups have one thing in common. Over the last 30 years, and in some cases more, these groups were independent. They were funded through the government but they took independent positions based on evidence that was sometimes contrary to the governing party, which was, in some cases, Liberal governments, in other cases, Progressive Conservative governments. However, the current Conservative government is the first government that actually de-funded these groups simply because they disagreed with the governing party.

Bill C-38 would reduce the Auditor General's oversight on a number of government agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Northern Pipeline Agency. It would reduce oversight on Canada's spy agency by abolishing the office of the Inspector General. It would repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. It would eliminate a number of the government's reporting requirements on climate change and public service jobs. It would make changes that experts warn are unconstitutional to parole hearings.

The finance committee spent a few days studying the legislation since the House last debated the bill. A finance subcommittee was struck to examine part 3 of the bill, which was focused on environmental measures. However, this study took place while the environment committee was travelling to Alberta and Nova Scotia, which limited the ability of key MPs with expertise on the environment to participate in the Bill C-38 study.

The subcommittee's report on Bill C-38 was a disgraceful whitewash. The main report did not include any reference to public opposition to the bill, with the exception of a single reference that completely misrepresented the testimony of former Progressive Conservative fisheries minister, Tom Siddon. Mr. Siddon, who was the fisheries minister from 1985 to 1990 in the Mulroney government, said:

They are totally watering down and emasculating the Fisheries Act.

They are really taking the guts out of the Fisheries Act and it’s in devious little ways if you read all the fine print...they are making a Swiss cheese out of [it].

That was said by a former minister of fisheries, a Progressive Conservative activist and minister.

Mr. Siddon was part of a group of four former fisheries ministers, two Liberal and two Progressive Conservatives, who wrote a letter warning the government of the disastrous effect the bill would have on our fisheries.

The subcommittee's report endorsed the changes made to the National Energy Board despite having heard from witnesses who were overwhelmingly opposed to these changes.

Today, Barrie McKenna's article in the The Globe and Mail argues that Bill C-38 undermines:

...the NEB’s authority and independence [and] turns back the clock on five decades of credible resource regulation.... The omnibus bill gives Ottawa carte blanche over as many as 750 decisions a year. That is a lot of authority for Canadians with their X mark in the voting booth to grant a cabinet dominated by one man. It delegitimizes the NEB and injects needless uncertainty into the process.

Furthermore, industry was not calling for a lot of these changes. In fact, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, CAPP, stated that the NEB plays “a very important role in ensuring that we’ve got [a] secure, reliable, affordable energy supply for Canadians, and sustainably develop our abundant energy resources”.

The main finance committee studied parts 1, 2 and 4 of the bill. We heard from officials and a total of 57 witnesses on the 636 clauses contained in parts 1, 2 and 4. To be blunt, the study was a farce. The committee's timeline was rushed, leaving us unable to examine many aspects of the legislation.

We were not given the chance to hear from a single witness outside of the government on a large number of the issues. For instance, we did not hear from any municipal leaders, despite the impact of Bill C-38 on communities.

The main finance committee did not hear from any witnesses from aboriginal groups, even though this bill proposes a number of changes that will impact them directly, such as changes to the First Nations Land Management Act. Parliament has a responsibility to consult with Canada's aboriginal peoples before making these changes.

National Chief Shawn Atleo did appear before the subcommittee. He said:

To date, first nations have not been engaged or consulted on any of the changes to the environmental and resource development regime proposed within Bill C-38....In its current form, part 3 of C-38 clearly represents a derogation of established and asserted first nations rights. If enacted, it will increase the time, costs, and effort for all parties and governments, as first nations will take every opportunity to challenge these provisions.

That testimony, by the way, before the subcommittee was expunged from the subcommittee's report, which the government of course controlled and basically wrote at the committee level.

We did not hear from any railway companies, even though Bill C-38 would increase their share of costs for railway crossings by 500%. The government did not allow us enough time to conduct a proper study of this bill.

The finance committee heard from only one witness on the issue of the changes to the oversight of Canada's spy agency, outside of government officials. That was Paul Kennedy, a former senior assistant deputy minister at public safety, responsible for national security activities and former chief counsel to CSIS, who called these changes to CSIS “sheer insanity”.

The finance committee only heard from one witness on the changes to parole hearings who described the changes as unconstitutional. The Canadian Bar Association also wrote to the finance committee to warn us that these changes in Bill C-38 were unconstitutional.

Many of the witnesses we did hear from were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the changes in the bill. Tyler Sommers of Democracy Watch told the committee:

I don't think that anyone, to the best of their abilities, could represent their constituents when there's a 500-page bill that affects virtually every aspect of Canadian society.

The issue here is not just the length of the bill; it is the breadth of the bill and the number of sweeping changes that are totally unrelated. The reality is we have an environment committee with members of Parliament, with expertise in the environment. We have an aboriginal northern affairs committee with members of Parliament, with an expertise in that area.

If we broke down this bill and not only enabled individual legislators at the committee to study the changes and the legislation in separate bills, but ultimately to vote on them, we would actually be respecting democracy and we would be respecting Parliament. However, the Prime Minister is not interested in that.

In terms of some of the changes on old age security and EI, the government is targeting some of the most vulnerable Canadians. Old age security changes are being rushed through. The Conservatives are saying that we should not to worry, that they will not take effect for 11 years and that if people are 53 years old, they can start saving more money. For goodness sake, 40% of Canadians make less than $20,000 per year. How are they supposed to save money on that? Who gets OAS? The reality is that 40% of the people getting OAS make $20,000 a year or less and 53% make less than $25,000 a year.

This is targeting Canada's most vulnerable. It is an affront to democracy and it is an affront to Canada's most vulnerable who will pay a price for this neo-conservative agenda, which is not well thought out and is an attack on some of Canada's lowest income people, an attack on rural Canada and an attack on Atlantic Canada.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2012 / 9:05 p.m.

NDP

Francine Raynault NDP Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question about division 19 of part 4 of Bill C-38, which reduces government transparency when it comes to food safety by giving the minister the power to get around the law.

I would like to know how Canadians can be sure that what they eat will be monitored, checked and compliant so that they do not get sick and they do not have to sue certain companies because they or their children get sick.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, I appreciate that question very much.

I share the hon. member's concerns. A reduction in government accountability for food safety is a very serious issue. This is another case where the government is making potentially very significant, negative or dangerous changes without involving experts or hearing their testimony.

I agree completely with my colleague on that.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague recently wrote an excellent article in the Halifax Chronicle Herald about the issue of income disparity across Canada. How does he feel the bill will effect that problem, which is a real problem across the country?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:05 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Brison Liberal Kings—Hants, NS

Madam Speaker, that is an important question because income inequality is a growing issue in Canada. It is important to say that this is not a partisan issue. It has grown over the last 30 years under different governments of different political stripes. Provincially, governments from the Parti Québécois to NDP, Liberal and Conservative, the issue of income inequality is not a partisan issue and we ought not approach it as such. I am concerned about certain measures in the budget, particularly around OAS, because they will hurt some of Canada's most vulnerable citizens, the lowest income citizens.

There have been some measures over the years which both Liberal and Conservative governments have put in place that have actually helped on the issue of income inequality, helping people get over the welfare wall. I will cite one.

In the fall of 2005, in the last mini budget of the Liberal government, we introduced something called the working income tax benefit. We were defeated a few months later, in January. However, the Conservatives brought the working income tax benefit back. I believe that tax benefit helps people get over the welfare wall. That is an example where two governments of different political stripes both believed in the working income tax benefit. That tax benefit can actually help address the issue of income inequality and barriers to progress faced by low income Canadians. That is an example of the kind of best practice where we can work together across party lines in the House.

On Wednesday night, I believe we are looking at 5:30 p.m. for the vote on my private member's motion on income inequality. It simply calls for the House of Commons finance committee to study the issue and report back to the House on not only the causes of income inequality, but also some of the measures that can potentially help it, including best practice models and policy ideas from other countries, to address the issue. I certainly hope we see a good level of support from all parties for the bill. It is a good opportunity for us to work together on an important issue.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:10 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, it is an honour and a privilege, as the member of Parliament for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, to speak on behalf of the people of my riding to Bill C-38, the budget implementation act, which speaks to the economic action plan for 2012, Canada's blueprint for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

As has been stated elsewhere, under our current Prime Minister, Canada can fairly claim to be the best governed country among advanced democracies in the world. This year's federal budget would lock up Canada's lead.

I have listened very carefully to the comments made by the official opposition with regard to the legislation. What I found, and this is reflected in the comments I have received from my constituents who have followed the debate around the legislation, is that Canadians support the legislation, the efforts of our government to provide steady leadership on the economy.

There is a difference between questions about legislation, as opposed to opposition just for the sake of opposing.

As a member of this government, I am pleased to respond with facts. The fact is that Canada is the envy of the world during this time of turbulence in international markets. As an example, the budget comments put forth by the radical left-wing leader of the opposition is the disingenuous argument that Canada should not be exporting energy in the form of unrefined hydrocarbons. Confusingly, the other members of the opposition coalition suggest we should be refining bitumen from the oil sands here in Canada.

Therefore, quite apart from their real position in that they oppose any resource extraction whatsoever, they know that under the current regulatory regime the likelihood that environmental approval within a reasonable time frame occurring is absolutely nil.

The proper role of government is to allow for science-based decision making that is based upon facts. Bill C-38 would restore the balance to a regulatory bureaucracy that has become counterproductive to the environment and to the interests of all Canadians.

Canadians will never accept the opposition inspired left-wing voodoo economics precisely because what it proposes for the environment will destroy Canada's economy.

We believe that we can help the environment without destroying jobs. This is why I absolutely believe that Parliament needs to pass the legislation as quickly as possible so the Government of Canada can get on with the business of providing jobs, growth and economic prosperity to all Canadians.

What the opposition needs to focus on are the benefits the legislation would bring to our economy. Nowhere is that more important than in my home province of Ontario. The province of Ontario was once the undisputed economic engine of Canada. This is now disputed because the manufacturing sector in Ontario is suffering, not because of some ill-conceived NDP notion about some disease that is intended to confuse and divide, but because of the policies of the Liberal Party of Ontario that have taken away one of the primary advantages that built Ontario: economic, affordable power.

The province of Ontario has siphoned off tens of millions of dollars out of the pockets of Ontario energy users, particularly from households and our manufacturing base, resulting in a hollowing out of Ontario's once vibrant manufacturing sector. This is causing severe economic hardship among seniors and anyone else on a fixed income. It is causing the decline of Ontario's manufacturing sector and the jobs in that sector, not of some disease theory that has no relevance to our made in Canada experiences.

In the Ottawa Valley, which is a net exporter of energy, we have first-hand knowledge of Ontario's controversial so-called green energy act. Rather than generate clean hydroelectricity, we watched the province of Ontario spill water over the Ottawa River power damns.

Ontario taxpayers pay American states millions of dollars to take our power. The province calls this negative wholesale electricity pricing. Most terrible of all, this situation is expected to get much worse as more hugely expensive, heavily taxpayer subsidized industrial wind turbines are being forced onto rural Ontario residents every day.

The time has come to stop this environmental madness.

In the last election, Canadians voted for our vision of Canada as a clean energy superpower. Building an economic strategy on a natural resources foundation is good for our economy and good for jobs. This strategy was good for Ontario in the past and is good for Ontario now and in the future. The time has come to move forward and take advantage of Canada's economic action plan.

Canada's economic action plan will provide $107 million over the next two years to maintain safe and reliable operations at Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Chalk River Laboratories . The Chalk River Laboratories of AECL, in collaboration with the National Research Council, have been actively involved in the development of clean, safe energy.

There is a strategic overlap between nuclear science and hydrogen technologies. Hydrogen and electricity are the only known forms of energy that offer zero emissions from motor vehicles. The challenge with using hydrogen as a fuel is not the burning of the fuel, as it burns very cleanly, with pure water as a byproduct, but the process to produce the hydrogen. A next generation nuclear reactor is one that generates electricity and processes heat with hydrogen as a byproduct.

Hydrogen can be generated from energy supplied in the form of heat electricity through high temperature electrolysis, HTE. Since some of the energy in HTE is supplied in the form of heat, less of the energy must be converted from heat to electricity and then to chemical form, so potentially far less energy is required per kilogram of hydrogen produced. While nuclear-generated electricity could be used for electrolysis, nuclear heat can be directly applied to split the hydrogen from water. Working at 950ºC to 1000ºC, high temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors have the potential to split hydrogen from water by thermochemical means, using nuclear heat. Research by Chalk River Laboratories into high temperature nuclear reactors will eventually lead to a hydrogen supply that is cost-competitive as well as reliable.

Rather than paying other jurisdictions to take electricity or spilling water over the hydro dams, Ontario could be producing low-cost hydrogen today to power public transit. The Ottawa Valley has all the building blocks to start the hydrogen economy and the green energy jobs that go with it. The New Flyer bus company, with its maintenance facilities in Arnprior, is currently involved in a hydrogen-powered bus pilot project with financial assistance from the Government of Canada in British Columbia.

Ontario, with our natural advantages to develop the hydrogen economy, should be undertaking a similar pilot project in this province. Ottawa River power dams can provide electricity to power electrolysis as a cost-effective method to make hydrogen.

The Chalk River nuclear research labs are involved in cutting-edge activities such as developing hydrogen storage applications that are safe, reliable and economical. Nuclear energy is currently the only large-scale zero greenhouse gas-emitting source of electricity in Ontario that is not limited by geography or weather. Nuclear energy has helped Ontario reduce greenhouse gas emissions safely and competitively for over four decades. CANDU reactors have a unique Canadian design and an excellent safety record, and they can fuel with uranium or thorium. Nuclear energy could provide us decades, if not centuries, of time to find ways to generate more of our energy needs from affordable renewable sources or perhaps nuclear fusion at some point in the future.

According to the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers, using nuclear generation to back up the variability of wind generation is uniquely available to Ontario because 55% of Ontario's power requirements are supplied by nuclear power plants.

Ontario needs Bill C-38 passed now so that we can start to deliver on the benefits of this legislation to the people of this province, and in doing so we help the rest of Canada.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, we wonder whether this is about natural resources or Bill C-38. That said, tonight we have heard some rather alarming things. I heard two Conservative members go after both the Liberal and NDP opposition leaders. We were called communists and leftists and were accused of being a left-wing party. I just heard a speech that had more to do with natural resources than with Bill C-38. What is going on here?

I have a question for the member about Bill C-38, a bill that destroys everything in its path.

If the government is going after seasonal workers, as well as fisheries, agriculture, the forestry industry and tourism, what can provinces that make a living off these industries do to survive in the Canada of the future?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, I will answer the first part of that convoluted, non-directional question, which was how Bill C-38 and my speech relate to the subject at hand.

As power costs increase, the manufacturing sector moves out of Canada, and with it move jobs. Bill C-38 is all about jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The Government of Canada has put the requirements in place so that the entire country can take advantage of it.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, at the beginning of her speech, my hon. colleague talked about the government's economic record. I wonder if it bothers her that the government took office with the largest surplus of any government coming into office in Canadian history, a $13 billion surplus; increased spending by 20%, three times the rate of inflation, over the next three years; and put Canada into deficit by April and May of 2008, six months before the recession began.

Second, how does she feel about the government's failure to commit to take any steps toward a new research reactor at Chalk River?