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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

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, the Canadian government is leading the G8 in terms of our economy. Since forming government, we have consistently paid down the deficit and debt. As a consequence, when the global economic downturn occurred in 2008, we were well positioned to stave off and weather the downturn.

The deficit that we are currently tackling is as a consequence of the stimulus that was provided during that time, stimulus that the opposition wanted to force the government out of office on if we did not take it. Any deficit that we are experiencing is as a consequence of the Liberal government forcing this upon the Canadian people.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:20 p.m.

Conservative

Jeff Watson Conservative Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I know the member comes from a rural riding. I want her to comment on how the changes with respect to the Fisheries Act would allow DFO to focus on critical fish habitats while allowing farmers to go about their business by not having to worry about, for example, cleaning drains. Would she comment on that?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:25 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Madam Speaker, this is an issue not only for farmers and individuals but for municipalities as well. They would be ordered by the Ministry of the Environment to clear out their culverts. When they started to do so, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans would come around, spot a minnow and stop them immediately. Then they had to wait for permits. As a consequence, they ended up not meeting deadlines and having to pay more fines.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:25 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, I gave a controversial statement last week right here on the floor of the House of Commons that made the national news and the talk of the town back home in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Although I had to later apologize for some unparliamentary language contained in that statement, which you, Madam Speaker, are familiar with, the sentiments were dead on the money. The sentiments were the opinions of my constituents, who are always right. The sentiments were direct quotes that I wrote down during a town hall meeting earlier this month in my riding of St. John's South--Mount Pearl, a town hall meeting called to discuss this Trojan Horse budget bill, a bill that is going over like a lead weight in Newfoundland and Labrador and across this country.

The controversial statement I gave last week was a top-five list of the best quotes from that town hall meeting. I intend to go over each of those five quotes, but members need not worry, because I will modify the unparliamentary language in one of those quotes to make it parliamentary, and then I will expand on each of those points.

Let me start with the number five quote. I will work my way down.

This is the number five quote, and it is in reference to various cutbacks in search and rescue:

It will come to the point where a mariner will be asked, “Are you up to your neck in water yet? No? All right, you're good, call back when it gets there.”

That quote came from Merv Wiseman, recently retired as a rescue coordinator at the now closed marine rescue sub-centre in St. John's. Merv worked in search and rescue for more than three decades. He knows what he is talking about. Ironically, Merv Wiseman, who has drilled the Conservative government for its cuts every chance he can get, is also the same former federal Conservative candidate who ran against me in the 2008 federal election.

This omnibus budget bill—or, as some people back home like to call it, this ominous Trojan Horse bill—amounts to a gutting of what is left of DFO's stomach—science, research, search and rescue, all gutted.

In recent days, DFO announced that Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue vessel, the Harp, which was stationed in St. Anthony on Newfoundland's northern peninsula, will be decommissioned as a direct result of this ominous budget bill.

Last week six fisheries offices were closed in Newfoundland and Labrador, also as a direct result of this budget. The offices were in the communities of Trepassey, Arnold's Cove, Burgeo, Roddickton, Rigolet and L'Anse-au-Loup.

Last week I asked the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans to travel with me to those outports to look the people directly impacted in the eye and explain to them how job losses and shutdowns are going to somehow make the fisheries better. I wanted the minister to explain to the people, and explain to me, how they will be able to regulate the fisheries with no local offices. I say, and the people I represent say, and the people of Newfoundland and Labrador say, there is no explanation.

What the people of Newfoundland and Labrador want to hear is why the Conservative government is abandoning them. Good luck with that.

Other cuts to search and rescue include the recent shutdown of the marine rescue sub-centre in my riding of St. John's South--Mount Pearl, with distress calls now rerouted to Halifax and Ontario, where there is a problem with language.

Some people have a problem understanding Newfoundland and Labrador's unique dialect or dialects, because the dialect varies from cove to cove. There is also a problem with understanding Newfoundland and Labrador's geography. Mainlanders often do not get us. Merv Wiseman says that will lead to the death of mariners. We cannot get a stronger statement than that. These cuts will lead to the death of mariners. People will die on the water because of these budget cuts.

His quote about it getting to the point where a mariner will be asked, “Are you up to your neck in water yet?”, and to “call back when it gets there” may sound flippant, but there is truth in it. It is almost to that point. The water is rising. The Conservative government knows the water is rising and the Conservative government does nothing.

The number four quote was in reference to the attack on Atlantic Canada. “Perhaps we're paranoid, but that doesn't mean they're not out to get us”, said Earle McCurdy, president of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, the largest fishermen's union in Newfoundland and Labrador. McCurdy added up all the various aspects of the ominous bill that are detrimental to Newfoundland and Labrador, including the cuts to DFO, the cuts to search and rescue, the changes to employment insurance, a reduction of air surveillance outside the 200-mile limit that keeps an eye on foreign trawlers in international waters, as well as the possible elimination of fleet separation and owner operator policies, which would kill off the traditional inshore small-boat fishery. He said when we start adding all that up and then recall how the Prime Minister described us as having a culture of defeat, it is fair to say that maybe the Conservatives do have it out for the east coast, that they do have it out for the Atlantic provinces, that they do have it out for Newfoundland and Labrador and payback for former premier Danny Williams' “anybody but Conservative” campaign.

I have news for the members. The only talk of defeat in the Atlantic provinces, despite what the Prime Minister says, is in reference to the Conservative government. People want the Conservatives brought down. They want the Conservatives and the Prime Minister defeated. That is the only talk of defeat where I come from.

The number three quote was in reference to environment legislation. “Less science equals less knowledge. It's basically like driving with the lights off”, said Chris Hogan. He is the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Environment Network. A full one-third of this massive 421-page, ominous, Trojan Horse budget bill is dedicated to environmental deregulation. The ominous budget would rip the word “habitat” right out of the Fisheries Act, cutting to the chase. Removing “habitat” would mean that if a fish does not have what is deemed to be economic value, it would be destroyed to make way for a pipeline or a mine. Fish would have even less value than they do today, if that is possible, and the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and the federal cabinet would have even more power.

How scary is that? I heard the Minister of Public Safety say in this House today that the New Democrats would be worried if a single minnow were killed. Under successive Conservative and Liberal governments, commercial stocks such as cod, flounder, capelin, herring and on and on, have all been battered, beaten and decimated, one stock after another. I would not trust the Conservative government's Minister of Public Safety with a goldfish.

The government argues that all legislation contained within this Trojan Horse bill is to the economic benefit of the country. However, jamming so many major critical changes into a single bill means the proposed changes are not getting the scrutiny they require. I say the Conservatives are out to try to get one past Canadians.

The number two quote from my town hall meeting is this. “This Prime Minister isn't my Prime Minister. He's the CEO of corporate Canada and his cabinet are the board of directors”, came from Ken Kavanagh, head of the Northeast Avalon Regional Economic Development Board. Under this ominous budget bill, development boards such as that one would lose their funding, funding that was provided by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. ACOA often goes where the chartered banks fear to tread. Add the development board funding to the list of items that make us paranoid that the Conservative government is out to get us, the growing list.

The number one quote—

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Time has elapsed. Perhaps the hon. member will have an opportunity, but I would remind the hon. member that he cannot say indirectly what he cannot say directly.

The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague opposite about the number one quote I got from my town hall, which was, “Why does the NDP leader want to give pink slips to the hundreds of thousands of people who work in the energy sector?” Why does he want to pit workers in one sector of the economy against others?

I would ask my colleague opposite why he will not support the energy sector and why he will not support the measures that are so common sense to support the long-term growth and prosperity and protect the long-term sustainability of our social programs here in this country.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, if the hon. member would like to invite me to her riding to speak to these people at her town hall, I would do it any day.

If it were not for the energy sector and the jobs in Alberta the hon. member speaks about, where I come from in rural Newfoundland and Labrador where our fisheries have been decimated, as I mentioned in my speech, would have sunk a long time ago.

What is happening in this country is that the Conservative government has lost the balance between the environment and business. Everything is at the expense of the environment. There has to be balance. The Conservatives have lost it.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Liberal Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Madam Speaker, I will ask my hon. colleague a question I asked of a government member earlier tonight and I did not get an answer because it was obvious there was not a full understanding or an appreciation for the issue.

With respect to the appeal boards, with the changes to EI that the minister is proposing, the regional appeal boards would go by the wayside and we would end up with just one mechanism for people to appeal, and they would have to do it online instead of that face-to-face opportunity where they really get to make their case.

What would that mean for people on EI? What would it mean for members of Parliament? What would it mean for families who have to rely on the appeal mechanism that would now be taken away from them?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, the short answer is this. The loss of the appeal boards would mean that more people would obviously lose their appeals. More people would be forced off employment insurance.

I was asked another similar question last week by the hon. member for Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. He asked me whether or not there is an agenda by this Conservative government to force what people are left in rural parts of the country, in rural parts of Atlantic Canada, in rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, out of the rural areas, be it with the possible elimination of owner-operator fleet separation policies, which would kill the traditional inshore fishery, or be it with the changes to EI. The bottom line answer is yes; there is an agenda by the Conservative government to force out what people we have left in rural Canada. There is an agenda.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

NDP

Fin Donnelly NDP New Westminster—Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I appreciated the hon. member's comments. I would like to ask him about the changes to 70 pieces of legislation that would happen with this omnibus bill.

However, I am on the edge of my seat. I want to hear the number one quote at his town hall meeting.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:40 p.m.

NDP

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

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question, but as the Speaker pointed out earlier, I cannot say indirectly what I said directly in that statement for the number one quote.

It was basically something to the effect that the Prime Minister does not really understand Newfoundland and Labrador. He does not understand the issues of Atlantic Canada. He views Atlantic Canada as having a culture of defeat.

As I said in my speech, the only talk of defeat in my province, in Atlantic Canada, is defeat of this government in 2015.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:40 p.m.

Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Michelle Rempel ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment

Madam Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise tonight in support of Bill C-38, jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act.

Our government has been very clear that jobs and economic growth are our top priorities, the same today as when we were first elected in 2006. In fact, nearly 760,000 net new jobs have been created since July 2009, and 90% of those are full-time jobs. Our most recent budget reflects this.

In the words of Canadian Chamber of Commerce president Perrin Beatty:

We have urged the government to focus on where Canada needs to be five or 10 years from now, even if it means taking tough decisions now. The government has acted.... The result will be a stronger economy and more jobs.

That is what the budget implementation legislation before us today is all about. It is about ensuring that our economy continues to create dependable jobs and a high quality of life today and for the future.

To talk a little about the context of the bill, there is fragility on the global economic scene. We cannot deny that Europe is certainly in a debt crisis right now. As many Canadians know, one can only spend more than one makes for so long. We are seeing that in Europe right now, which is why our government has taken strong actions to move to balance our books while putting in policy that would ensure the long-term economic prosperity of this country.

In fact, as I mentioned earlier, our country has created more than 760,000 net new jobs since the financial downturn. The IMF has praised the stability of our financial sector. The OECD has praised us for our leadership in economic development and growth. We have also been called one of the best places to do business in the world.

We now have the opportunity to set the ball in motion to cement Canada's golden age on the world stage for years to come. This is especially important for people my age, younger, contemporaries and the children of my colleagues here in the House tonight.

We have the opportunity to ensure that Canada is that world leader for decades to come, which is what the bill is about. It is about that long-term prosperity, creating jobs and growth while ensuring that our financial house is kept in order. This is one of the unifying themes of the bill.

Why is the bill so urgent?

In Europe, we can see what happens if there are no financial policies in place to spur long-term economic growth. In fact, in Canada, one of the things we have been talking about here with my colleagues is the need to have stable funding to ensure the long-term stability of our social programs that we all hold dear, across the aisle here and around the House.

How do we do that?

We feel that the policies put forward in the bill would set that ball in motion, ensure that long-term prosperity and also ensure our books are balanced in the long term.

I would like to speak a little about the responsible resource development component of Bill C-38, in particular the environmental components.

It might surprise some of my colleagues opposite that, being from Alberta, I care deeply about Canada's natural heritage. Certainly my fellow Albertans would say how important the beauty of Banff National Park and the wilderness of Canada's boreal forests are to them. This is our brand, and it is important to our health and well-being. It is something I have had the privilege of hearing about in my last year of elected office. Our government does feel we can have that balance, as my colleague opposite spoke about earlier, between environmental protection and economic growth.

In fact, as part of the bill, there are numerous measures that we put in place to strengthen environmental protection, about which I have not heard any of my colleagues opposite speak. We are focusing environmental assessments on major projects that have greater potential for significant adverse environmental effects.

The Commissioner of the Environment, in testimony at our subcommittee that reviewed this particular component of Bill C-38, spoke about how 99% of the reviews that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency conducts are what we call screenings on small projects, and 94% of those, in his words and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's words, have little to no environmental impact. This means that our major oversight body for doing environmental reviews is spending time on things like reviewing the expansion of a maple sugar bush plant or adding a park bench in a Canadian national park.

To counter that, we are trying to ensure that our resources dedicated to reviewing environmental assessments are spent on major projects that have significant environmental impact. The commissioner of the environment, in his testimony before that committee, agreed that those resources currently spent on environmental assessments with limited environmental impact could be better spent on major proposals.

For the first time we would be introducing enforceable environmental assessment decisions under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This means that proponents of major projects would have to comply with conditions set out in the decision statements or perhaps face tough financial penalties. We would require follow-up programs after all environmental assessments to verify the accuracy of predictions regarding potential environmental effects and to determine if mitigation measures were working as intended.

I could go on and on but I notice that my time is quickly elapsing. I want to talk about why it is important that we also focus on developing our natural resources in a sustainable way. The importance of our natural resources is well known in my riding of Calgary Centre-North. Their impact is felt from coast to coast. I feel a kinship with my colleague opposite who talked about how some of the people in his riding have seen the impacts of that. That is something we could all agree on.

However there are some statistics I want to talk about specifically with regard to the energy sector. New oil sands development is expected to contribute over $2.1 trillion 2010 dollars to the Canadian economy over the next 25 years. The oil sands alone will pay an estimated $766 billion in provincial and federal taxes, and provincial royalties over the next 25 years. That is our health care system. That is our OAS system. Those revenues will directly go to funding our social programs here in this country. I agree that we need to talk about how those resources are developed sustainably. That is why we have put things in place like the oil sands monitoring framework. That is why we are working with provincial governments and talking about things like land use planning.

There was something I wanted to highlight that blew my mind a bit. It happened in the subcommittee with someone I respect and have had meetings with, Mr. Stephen Hazell, a well-respected environmental lawyer.

He made a comment and I am not sure if it was tongue-in-cheek or not. I want to read the testimony into the record. I said to him, “You made a comment that was something to the effect of 'I saved Exxon $1 billion but they are not likely to thank me for it.'” This was with regard to the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline project. I asked, “Could you walk me through the line of thinking on that again?”

I encourage my colleagues opposite to read this testimony. At the end of it, the point he was trying to make was that, with the delay and the long EA process, the price of gas went from $6 to approximately $2. The project was no longer viable. Therefore, he saved the company money.

The point I wanted to make was that is not how we do business in this country. We support industry and free market principles. Business should be able to take risks. While it is absolutely true that we need to protect the environment and make sure that our environmental assessment process is robust, we also need to make sure that there is timeliness and predictability so that project proponents can ensure that the process is factored into their business decisions.

Few people talk about the window-to-market concept. For major resource projects that are very capital intensive, there is a timeline in which the project may or may not be viable.

We need to make sure as regulators that we ensure robustness in process. I feel very strongly that this is included in the new review process. We also have a duty to ensure that those processes are completed in a set period of time so that there can be predictability around planning for that window to market.

That is a principle that I hope we can just take the tone down a little bit and have a reasonable dialogue on. A strong national resource sector and energy sector is important to this economy. I agree that we need to have that strong environmental protection component, but that is locked into this process.

The opposition parties are talking about bailing out Europe when we should be talking about how we make our economy strong and prosperous over the next 25 years. Bill C-38 does that. I am so proud to be here in this House tonight with my colleagues to stand in support of it.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

NDP

Robert Chisholm NDP Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

Madam Speaker, the member says we should tone down the debate and try to get on with reasonable business just after she completely misrepresented the testimony of one of the witnesses who came before our subcommittee. The witness was making a point tongue-in-cheek, but he was making the point nonetheless. The member, again tonight, spoke in very disrespectful terms about what was said. She did the same thing the night that he appeared before committee. How does the member feel that dealing with witnesses, Canadians who come forward and give us their thoughtful and reasoned opinions, in such a disrespectful manner is in any way toning down debate?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Madam Speaker, while my colleague opposite might have felt it was a tongue-in-cheek comment, this comment was germane to how the opposition has presented the amendments put forward in the bill. Therefore, it is an absolutely valid point to go after. I encourage my colleagues opposite to read that testimony because I think it is very telling.

We are talking about dealing with witnesses. My colleagues opposite have misrepresented the consultation process on this bill so grossly in the media. We have heard from associations that represent over three million workers across the country. We should be respecting them as well.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, a few minutes ago, the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke suggested that the reason we have a deficit now is because of the stimulus spending, and that there was not one until then. I wonder if my hon. colleague agrees with that, in view of the fact that by April and May of 2008, six months before the recession began, this government had put the country back into deficit, that the budget brought down eight or nine months later, in January 2009, was for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which did not start until April 1, 2009. That was a year after the deficit of this government began. Of course, that money did not really go out the door. If we look at the record, we will see that the municipalities were complaining the following summer of 2009 that it still had not started. Really, the stimulus money did not actually start until the fall or late 2009. Therefore, how can the member opposite claim that the deficit was created because of the stimulus spending?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Madam Speaker, the stimulus funding that our government put forward was short-term, targeted and designed to create jobs while creating the infrastructure our country needed. Municipalities across the country lauded the economic action plan funding and we have a legacy of that funding. It did spur jobs and growth.

Regarding his comment about municipalities, our government was the first to make the municipal gas tax transfer payment permanent.

Also, the Liberal Party today tried to give a convoluted answer about why it was great to bail out Europe as opposed to managing our own financial house here in Canada.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Madam Speaker, I was pleased to have the Parliamentary Secretary in my riding, along with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, to hear from the municipalities of Chilliwack, Hope, Kent and Harrison Hot Springs. While we were there we discussed how some of those municipalities were spending more money on environmental consulting than on the works on their drainage ditches to keep the roads open and the fields dry.

The one story I recall was in the city of Chilliwack where DFO allowed the city to clean one half of a ditch, but it was not allowed to clean the other half. Could she talk about how ridiculous some of these policies are and how this budget will clean some of that up?

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:55 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Centre-North, AB

Madam Speaker, Bill C-38 contains common sense measures to ensure that the working landscape principle is protected and that fish habitat is still there. However, we also have to ensure that farmers can use their fields.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:55 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I rise again today to speak to Bill C-38, this time at report stage. I made a speech on May 8, 2012, at second reading of this bill. It will be very easy for me to repeat the same points.

I could repeat all of my notes word for word, since this mammoth bill made it through the Standing Committee on Finance in less than a week, and we are now at report stage with the same bill, without amendment.

The government's insistence on pushing through this bill in the face of strong opposition from across the country is, in my opinion, a serious problem. I would like to quickly remind members of some examples of problems that the official opposition has brought up in recent debates on this bill.

Bill C-38 aims to implement budget 2012, but it goes well beyond the budget. It contains not only the measures described in the budget, but also several changes that were not announced previously.

Consider the environment. My colleague opposite was talking about it five minutes ago. At least one-third of Bill C-38 is dedicated to environmental deregulation. It is 2012, and here we have a budget that promotes environmental deregulation. Yes, the government is doing what it said it would in terms of the environment, such as withdrawing from the Kyoto protocol. People did not agree with that, yet the government not only stood its ground, it also added new, previously unannounced measures.

As we all know, Bill C-38 repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, which means that the government is no longer required to report its greenhouse gas emissions. That is a major problem.

Bill C-38 also repeals the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, replacing it with a new assessment regime designed for the approval of major projects, such as oil pipelines, naturally. In my opinion and that of all environmental groups and my colleagues, this measure renders all environmental protection regulations utterly meaningless.

Bill C-38 also targets environmental groups. It changes the rules used to determine the extent to which a charity is involved in political activities.

The bill also gives the Minister of National Revenue the authority to suspend the tax-receipting privileges of a registered charity that devotes too many of its resources to political activities. What is the limit here? What exactly defines the political activities of a charitable organization that might sometimes oppose a government measure? Strangely, this attack directly targets groups that oppose the government's ideas. How interesting. Soon the Conservatives will be attacking freedom of expression.

I can also talk about our seniors who worked their whole lives, who worked hard for many years. They will be forced to work two more years before they can retire. I am sure everyone here knows that my party has been opposed to this measure for quite some time. We continue to oppose it and we will not back down.

Bill C-38 also attacks industry and agriculture. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is one of a number of agencies that will be excluded from the Auditor General's supervision. The bill eliminates all references to the Auditor General in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act. The government is giving itself yet another power.

For instance, the part of the act that was once called “Accounting and Audit” will henceforth be called simply “Accounting”. Talk about transparency.

Mandatory financial and performance audits by the Auditor General have also been eliminated—another excellent example of transparency.

I could go on and on. Bill C-38 also amends the Seeds Act to give the president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency the power to issue licences to persons authorizing them to perform activities related to controlling or assuring the quality of seeds or seed crops.

This change opens the door to allowing private entrepreneurs to do food inspection related work. It also sends a troublesome message about the growing use of privatization. In other words, the rich might get access to safe food but the government does not seem to care what everyone else gets. That is the message I am hearing.

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has been highlighting the loopholes in our food safety system for a long time and has warned that Canadians will be eating at their own risk, which is serious.

The NDP has held a series of public consultations across Canada to listen to the comments and concerns of Canadians. On June 2, I personally invited people from my riding to share their concerns and to ask questions. Representatives from Mouvement Action Chômage; the president of the local chapter of the Union des producteurs agricoles, the UPA; and the president of the Conseil québécois de l'horticulture joined the panel of guest speakers.

Mouvement Action Chômage is particularly concerned about the changes to employment insurance. We have been talking about it for several weeks. However, the government does not seem very open. The NDP is worried about seasonal workers who will have to broaden their job searches and work for less, down to 70% of their current salary. SMEs will be affected by these measures and it will be hard for them to provide their employees with enough hours, to retain their employees and to train them properly.

For a riding like mine, these changes will have considerable repercussions on the availability of qualified labour, which is also a problem. As I have said, the SMEs will have to pay the costs.

It is also interesting to point out that the SMEs represent a significant percentage of the jobs in Canada. If we want people to have jobs, it is important to help those who provide them, SMEs for example. But that does not seem to be logical for this government.

In agriculture, the UPA local in Montérégie has complained about the repercussions of the cuts on the region. In eastern Montérégie, of which my riding is part, the growing forward program represents 47% of agricultural income in Quebec. It will not be just my riding that is affected; Quebec will be affected too.

There are also repercussions on research and on the development of new types of agriculture. Canada is a highly agricultural country and my constituency is especially so. Many constituents have asked questions about agriculture. One of them also asked me what would happen with the aboriginal communities in the north. There is nothing in the budget for them. For Attawapiskat, for example, the government has done nothing, and is still not doing anything.

I also remind the House that the budget contained nothing about housing and homelessness. Even though all these measures will plunge more Canadians deeper into poverty, there is nothing to help them.

Canadians are afraid of this bill, a monster bill. People in my riding have realized that the government has very, very loose parliamentary rules. People are not stupid; they know that they still have the power and that public pressure can make a government back down. The government is fully aware that, in less than four years, it will have to be accountable to all Canadians. If the government continues to lose the confidence of the people, they will not give it a second chance.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:05 p.m.

NDP

Ève Péclet NDP La Pointe-de-l'Île, QC

Madam Speaker, I wanted to ask the hon. parliamentary secretary a question, but I will instead ask my colleague because she raised some very legitimate doubts about environmental protection.

When the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment gives us statistics on the expansion of the oil sands, we have a problem. When the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment tells us about large oil companies, we have a problem. We have a very big problem here. We are seeing where this government's priorities lie.

During her 10-minute speech, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment barely spoke about environmental protection. However, she did speak about the interests of oil companies and the oil sands. It is totally absurd.

I would like to hear what my colleague has to say about the government's utter lack of transparency and willingness to protect the environment.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:05 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her very intelligent question.

Indeed, I find it very absurd that the hon. member is not at all concerned about real environmental protection and the conservation of our environment, which is of paramount importance to Canada. Instead, the hon. member is concerned about the interests of large corporations and big oil companies.

That is a real problem, especially since environmental groups are being attacked here, when they have been doing an outstanding job for years with very limited resources. They do a lot with a little. Those groups are being attacked and large corporations are getting a hand up. That is a bit illogical, and it is very disturbing.

I do not have any children yet, but when I di, I intend to leave them a healthy country and planet. That is not what is currently happening with our government. I am particularly concerned about that.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

June 11th, 2012 / 10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the member for her insightful and very interesting discussion.

I want to ask her if she has been to the oil sands and if not, whether she is planning on going to the oil sands.

I think that if every member here were to actually go out and visit things, they would get a different perspective. We often speak in ignorance. I just want to know, has she actually been to the oil sands to see them first-hand?

The second part of my question is this. Why is the NDP actually filibustering and trying to keep the government from moving forward and doing positive things for the environment? That is exactly what the parliamentary secretary wanted to do. Indeed, we want to create that wonderful balance so that we have jobs and a healthy environment.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:05 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.

My answer to him is that I also invite him to come visit my riding so that he understands the reality of agricultural workers, the reality of agriculture in my riding. That would be very interesting. Perhaps we should also go to the riding of the hon. member who spoke previously to meet the fishermen who are seasonal workers. It might be an interesting experience to finally expand our horizons a little.

No, I have never visited the oil sands, but I would be more than happy to go if the hon. member invites me.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:05 p.m.

Portage—Lisgar Manitoba

Conservative

Candice Bergen ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate so much this opportunity to highlight some of the very important initiatives in the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, and to underline why we cannot let the NDP and the opposition more generally delay and defeat this important legislation.

Over the last few weeks we have seen the extreme left-wing ideology of the opposition members, not only in terms of their negative attitude toward such an important industry in Canada as our energy sector, but also most recently in the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, as well as the leader of the third party, in their ridiculous idea of pumping millions and billions of dollars of good money after bad into Europe. Canadians are seeing the reality and the left-wing socialist ideology behind both opposition parties.

Let me begin by reassuring Canadians that unlike the NDP opposition, our Conservative government is focused on the economy, jobs and growth. While the opposition is looking at delay and conducting partisan games, we are focused on implementing economic policies that increase the prosperity and the well-being of Canadians.

Let me quote a recent Toronto Sun editorial for the benefit of the House. This is about what Canadians are saying about the NDP and the opposition delaying tactics. It states: “As Europe stands poised on the brink of a disastrous economic wildfire that could blacken the world, NDP leader['s] hypocrisy and self-obsession is in full flame....vowing to delay the passing of [the budget] by playing silly...with amendments and procedure.... This is nothing but grandstanding.... Right now, there is only one enemy in our fight to protect Canada from the repercussions of Europe's burning. And it's [the NDP leader].... This is inarguable.”

Indeed, since 2006, our government has supported the security and prosperity of Canadians and promoted business and investment to create jobs. When the global financial and economic crisis struck, these underlying strengths helped Canada to avoid a deep and long-lasting recession. Our government's sound fiscal position prior to the crisis provided the flexibility to launch the stimulus phase of Canada's economic action plan, which was timely, targeted and temporary in order to have maximum impact. This plan was one of the strongest responses to the global recession among the Group of Seven countries. The broad-based business tax reductions are reducing the costs of operating in Canada, making investment here more attractive, thereby encouraging firms to invest more in all sectors of the Canadian economy. This is increasing wages, creating jobs and raising the standard of living for Canadians. Along with our strong fiscal position, the solid banking system, and sound monetary policy, we believe that this approach to encouraging investment is the best way to improve the productivity of our businesses and indeed the prosperity of all Canadians.

However, we also have been clear. We believe that all Canadians should pay their fair share of taxes and not use loopholes to avoid their taxes. That is why our government has closed over 40 tax loopholes in recent years to improve the fairness and integrity of the tax system. The jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act takes further action on this front by modifying the penalty for making unreported tax shelter sales, to better match the penalty to the purported tax savings of the unreported tax shelter.

We understand that taxpayers willingly and honestly provide a portion of their hard-earned income to fund health care, social programs and other vital services that benefit all Canadians, demanding only in return that governments manage their tax dollars wisely and that their taxes be kept low. For our government, this is a solemn responsibility that we take very seriously. We understand fully that sustaining a voluntary tax system rests on the foundation of tax fairness.

In that context, and as part of the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, I would like to spotlight the improvements that we are making to enhancing transparency and accountability for charities. I think I can speak on behalf of my riding of Portage—Lisgar as one of the highest givers to charities. It is also one of the strongest Conservative ridings in the country, voting with a 76% plurality. It is quite interesting that in a very strong Conservative riding, Conservatives are willing to give back and willing to give to charity. They are not looking to the government and they are not looking to taxpayers to give to charities: they take out of their own pocketbooks. I would challenge socialists and NDPers to do the same thing.

Our government recognizes the invaluable role that charities play in communities across Canada. Canada has one of the largest charitable and non-profit sectors in the world, with more than 160,000 charities and non-profit organizations that help address some of the most daunting challenges that Canada faces.

Tax support for registered charities in Canada is considered to be among the most generous in the world, and that is important because there are so many great charities in Canada that do excellent work and they do that excellent work because of the generosity of Canadians.

Registered charities are exempt from tax on their income and may issue official donation receipts for gifts received. In turn, donors can use those receipts to reduce their taxes by claiming a charitable donation tax credit for individuals or charitable donations tax deduction for corporations.

In 2011, federal tax assistance for the charitable sector was nearly $3 billion. However, when Canadians give their hard-earned dollars to a charity they need to be confident that their donation is being put to good use.

Recently, concerns have been raised that some charities may not be respecting the rules regarding political activities. There have also been calls for greater public transparency related to the political activities of charities, including the extent to which they may be funded by foreign sources. Accordingly, to enhance charities' compliance with the rules with respect to political activities, economic action plan 2012 proposes that the CRA enhance its education and compliance activities with respect to political activities by charities. The plan also proposes to improve transparency by requiring charities to provide more information on their political activities, including the extent to which these are funded by foreign sources.

In addition, the plan proposes that the Income Tax Act be amended to restrict the extent to which charities may fund the political activities of other qualified donors, and again, an important aspect of our charitable donation system. Canadian taxpayers want to ensure that when they are giving these funds that they are not going toward political activity. It also proposes that new sanctions be introduced for charities that exceed the limit on political activities or that fail to provide the Canada Revenue Agency with complete and accurate information with respect to any aspect of their annual return.

These measures will help reassure Canadians that they can give with confidence knowing that donations of their hard-earned dollars are used to support legitimate charities.

Amazingly enough, even Toronto Star columnist, Thomas Walkom, who is no friend of our Conservative government, has voiced support for this provision. He said:

When [the] Prime Minister...says charities that engage in too much politicking should be denied tax subsidies, he’s right.

There’s no good reason why environmental groups that oppose oil pipelines should be able to finance their activities, in part, on the backs of the general taxpayer.

When passed, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act will take action to provide tax relief for numerous health care services, drugs and medical devices. This is good news for Canadians across the country. This will reflect the evolving nature of the health care sector and better meet the health care needs of Canadians.

Specifically, today's legislation before us seeks to exempt from the GST pharmacists' professional services, other than their prescription drug dispensing services, as well as expand the list of medical devices eligible for tax relief under the GST and income tax systems to include blood coagulation monitors.

In my time allotted today I have had the opportunity to touch on just a few of the very important tax measures that are in the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act. I would encourage all members of the House to read the legislation and give it the support it deserves.

Report StageJobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 p.m.

NDP

Paul Dewar NDP Ottawa Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to quote an MP, who said the following:

—it has become a standard practice with governments to bring in omnibus legislation following every budget under what we might call the kitchen sink approach....

How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?

We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.

It was, of course, the Prime Minister who said that in 1994, and this is a bigger bill.

My question is about process. Does the member believe in what the Prime Minister said in 1994? How can she get behind a bill like this with the logic of the Prime Minister in 1994, which I agree with, on this approach, which is highly undemocratic?