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House of Commons Hansard #139 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was fisheries.

Topics

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Pooled Registered Pension PlansGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

(Motion agreed to)

The House resumed from June 11 consideration of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, as reported without amendment from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

The hon. member for Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel has six and a half minutes left.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:30 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday evening, I spoke about the fact that, with this bill, the government is showing its utter contempt for Parliament and for democracy; it is concentrating more and more power in the hands of the executive, to an incredible extent, in fact.

The Conservatives tell us not to worry and to trust them. How can we trust a government that does not listen to experts—indeed, that treats them with contempt—that stifles debate, that does not listen to voters, that eliminates transparency measures and that even reduces the authority of the Auditor General?

This bill simply gives more power to the cabinet, because it will no longer have to listen to the National Energy Board, for example. The Conservatives will be able to approve projects that had previously been rejected. At the same time, this bill reduces the scope of public participation in the environmental decision-making process. This means that, regardless of the number of people who are opposed to a major energy project and regardless of the grave environmental consequences it may have, Conservative ministers will have the last word.

The elimination of the position of Inspector General of the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, CSIS, is another move that will have the effect of reducing transparency in government. This move is particularly interesting because the government says that it stands for law and order and for protecting the rights of Canadians. But the Inspector General's duty is to oversee the activities of Canada's spy agency and his position was established as a guard against the breaches of Canadians' civil liberties that CSIS has the potential to commit.

Even worse, the Conservatives are eliminating the Auditor General's oversight of certain agencies. They are reducing the powers of the Auditor General, who is responsible for holding the government to account, by eliminating oversight and mandatory audits of the financial statements of 12 agencies: Northern Pipeline Agency Canada, which is subject to the Northern Pipeline Act; the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; the Canada Revenue Agency; the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board; the Canadian Institutes of Health Research; the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety; the Exchange Fund Account, which is subject to the Currency Act; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; the Canadian Polar Commission; the Yukon Surface Rights Board; and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy.

Across Canada, we are witnessing growing cynicism toward the Conservative government and a lack of confidence in the ability of our parliamentary institutions to represent it. The process by which this bill before us today will become law is an example of why that is the case. For the past several years, we have witnessed an erosion of the function of the House and now this bill is unlike anything the House has ever seen. It is making a mockery of Parliament and the very function and purpose of parliamentary democracy.

As I said earlier, the bill, at 421 pages and enveloping over 700 clauses, including widespread comprehensive changes to laws and institutions that my constituents care deeply about, is not about job creation or prosperity. It is literally a massive job killer, that will directly eliminate 19,200 jobs with a larger effect, estimated by the Parliamentary Budget Officer, of costing Canada 43,000 jobs. That is not jobs, growth and prosperity.

However, not only is this bill's purpose obscured, it also bears the misleading name of “implementing the budget”. As I spoke about this last night, it is not about implementing the budget because it goes so much further than that and it goes against many of the things the Conservatives said during the election campaign.

Bills should reflect a central theme, but this legislation only pretends that changing the role of the Auditor General, scrapping employment equity standards and removing Canada from the Kyoto protocol are issues that have anything to do with one another. It is for this reason that opposition members of the House cannot understand why the measures have all been packed into the budget implementation bill.

Over the past few weeks, opposition members have heard from thousands of Canadians, from coast to coast to coast, who are outraged by Bill C-38. It challenges the integrity of this institution by ramming through these changes in a misleading bill. We as parliamentarians and, by extension, the Canadian public are entitled to the debate and discussion that should occur in this place. Instead, with this bill and with the record number of time allocations and debate closures we have been subjected to as well, it is clear that the government has no respect for Canadians and we should all be deeply concerned.

In short, this bill is a clear and direct threat to my constituents in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel. For this reason, I will be voting against this budget implementation bill.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

Cambridge Ontario

Conservative

Gary Goodyear ConservativeMinister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario)

Mr. Speaker, does the member opposite realize that in her entire time allotted to debate the bill she never mentioned anything about the bill specifically, but talked just about the process? Is there a problem with the bill? This is the member's opportunity to debate the bill, but this is, as the government has been saying about the opposition, simply wasting time.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, given that this was my second time speaking to the bill, I really wanted to talk about the fact that this was about process. This process has made it particularly difficult for members to speak to all the issues.

Last time, I spoke about the proposed changes to OAS and the fact that the Conservatives did not tell people about those changes during the election last year. I do not think a lot of people would have voted for them if they had known about that. They knew they were taking away the pension security of their grandchildren, among other things. The bill would repeal the Kyoto protocol. Back home in Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel this is a very big concern to my constituents. It would gut the environmental assessment regime and the fish habitat protection to speed up major projects.

It is a huge bill that we cannot even debate and that is why it is important to raise the point that this is not a transparent or democratic process.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:35 p.m.

NDP

Wayne Marston NDP Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the interest she has shown in this process. This is what concerns me. I sit on the finance committee. We were about to look at a budget bill and we had environmental changes that should have been before a different committee. We had the fisheries. They belonged where they could have people come in and do the due diligence necessary, with experts brought before the committee.

We talked about OAS and, as the member said, the Conservatives did not mention this in the last election. There was not a word. As well, they did not mention changing EI.

However, the one thing that stood out to me as very odd was the Conservatives took away the civilian oversight over CSIS. The people who live in that shadowy world, we would think Canadians would say that it made no sense at all to have that a budget bill.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, the member made excellent points. I mentioned in my speech that the way CSIS is overseen is being changed. It is just ridiculous. Experts are saying it is just not going to be the same anymore. In fact, it was implemented to make sure that the proper oversight was done to protect Canadians' civil liberties. The government says it is all about an individual's liberty not being interfered with. Clearly that is not true.

What is really damaging about this bill is that we could not really study it because there are so many things in it, and in committee members had only a few minutes to question a witness on a variety of subjects. With more than 700 clauses, it is ridiculous to think we could do an indepth study of the bill and ascertain the impact all the different comprehensive changes are going to have.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Romeo Saganash NDP Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague on her speech, which was instructive as always.

Last week, the President of the Treasury Board was in Thunder Bay trying to sell the bill we are debating. This is what he said about the environmental assessment process:

“Current joint-panel review environmental assessments are duplicating the process and allowing individuals to use the assessment to discuss irrelevant issues that delay projects from mining to oil and gas that create jobs.”

I would like her comments on that.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

NDP

Mylène Freeman NDP Argenteuil—Papineau—Mirabel, QC

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou for his comments.

The environmental assessment process is a way of ensuring that projects are okay, but for the Conservatives, of course, it takes too long. The process cannot move swiftly enough for their friends' sake.

However, the fact is that the people who live in these regions have the right to say whether something will affect them. The Conservatives are using this bill to eliminate this process. I think that is one of the major problems with the bill before us.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:40 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the chance to speak to Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, and against the opposition amendments to defeat it.

Before I continue, as a member of the finance committee, let me acknowledge the detailed examination at committee stage. The finance committee and a special subcommittee studied the bill for nearly 70 hours, the longest consideration of budget legislation in committee in decades. We heard from literally hundreds of individuals and organizations, from government officials, business leaders, academics, labour groups, industry associations and many more.

As we all know, the bill proposes to legislate key measures of economic action plan 2012, measures vital to ensuring Canada's continued and ongoing economic recovery.

As its very title makes clear, it is a plan that focuses on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. In doing so, it looks ahead not only over the next few years, but over the next generation. It will help further unleash the potential of Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive in the modern economy.

Of course, in reaching this goal, Canada starts from an enviable place. For some time now our country has had one of the strongest records among the advanced economies. The World Economic Forum says our banks are the soundest in the world. Forbes magazine ranks Canada as the best country in the world to do business. The OECD and the IMF predict our economy will be among the leaders of the industrialized world over the next few years.

Our debt to GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G7 by far. Since July 2009, Canada has seen employment increase by nearly 760,000 jobs, the best job growth record in the entire G7.

However, we cannot be complacent. There are many global challenges and uncertainties still confronting the economy, especially from Europe. The recovery is not complete, and across this country too many Canadians are still looking for work. The global economy remains fragile, and any potential setback would have an impact on Canada.

It is for these very reasons we introduced Canada's economic action plan 2012. I will now describe why its passage into law is so important to our country and why these opposition amendments to defeat it and delay it are so troubling.

Let me start by highlighting one of the plan's key initiatives. All across the country throughout our consultations with Canadians, one major issue kept repeating itself: the future health of Canada's retirement system. Old age security, the single largest program of the federal government, was designed for a much different demographic future than Canada faces today. Canada has changed and OAS must change with it.

Accordingly, economic action plan 2012 and Bill C-38 will make gradual adjustments to the old age security program to ensure that the next generation can count on it. These adjustments will not affect current recipients or those close to retirement. Starting in 2023 and ending in 2029, we will gradually increase the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. This phased approach will enable younger Canadians to plan ahead with confidence.

We will also make the program more flexible for those approaching retirement. As of July 1, 2013, Canadians will be given the option to defer the start of OAS. This volunteer option will enable them to receive a higher annual old age security pension as a result.

Our government has always acted responsibly to ensure that the social programs Canadians count on will be there when they need them. With these changes, the OAS program will be on a sustainable path.

Indeed, we certainly heard plenty of support and need for these changes at finance committee from a range of independent third party witnesses. For instance, here is what the Macdonald Laurier Institute told the committee:

I think the changes to OAS are a step in the right direction.... [U]sing the traditional definition of sustainability, [OAS] was not sustainable because it either would require more resources or crowding out of other spending.

Along with retirement security, the bill also recognizes that a critical responsibility of any government, and certainly our own, is to support, encourage and protect our most vulnerable citizens. That is why it has been the number one priority in our government's budgets.

In budget 2007, we announced the introduction of the registered disability savings plan, RDSP, to help parents and others save to ensure the long-term financial security of a child with a severe disability.

In budget 2011, we introduced the new family caregiver tax credit for those who care for family members with infirmities. In the same budget the government announced that it would undertake a review of the RDSP program in 2011.

As part of the review, a consultation paper was released which included a number of questions on which Canadians were invited to provide feedback. In response, the government received more than 280 submissions from individuals and organizations. Based on the input received during the review, economic action plan 2012 proposes measures to improve the RDSP. Together they will: allow spouses, common-law partners and parents to establish RDSPs for adult individuals who might not be able to enter into a contract; provide greater access to RDSP savings by reducing the penalty associated with small withdrawals; provide greater flexibility to make withdrawals from certain RDSPs and ensure that RDSP assets are used to support the beneficiary during his or her lifetime; provide greater flexibility for parents who save in RESPs for children with disabilities; provide a better transition as well as increased potential for maintaining an RDSP without disruption for beneficiaries who cease to qualify for the DTC in certain circumstances; and improve the administration of the RDSP for financial institutions and beneficiaries.

Bill C-38 takes the first step toward implementing these changes.

Again, we heard strong support for these amendments from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities at committee, which stated:

--important and positive were the revisions to the Registered Disability Saving Plan (RDSP) that removed a significant barrier for persons with intellectual disabilities and their families to opening an RDSP [account]. The RDSP continues to be a program of significant benefit to Canadians with disabilities and their families.

I would be remiss if I ended my speech without quickly reviewing other important initiatives in Bill C-38 that we cannot have delayed by the opposition amendments.

They include: enhancing the government's oversight framework for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to ensure the corporation's commercial activities are managed in a manner that promotes the stability of the financial system; expanding the health-related tax relief to better meet the health care needs of Canadians; legislating the government's commitment to sustainable and growing transfers to provinces and territories in support of health care, education and other programs and services; and modernizing Canada's currency by gradually eliminating the penny from Canada's coinage system.

In conclusion, as I have noted today, economic action plan 2012 contains a host of benefits for every part of the country. Through this comprehensive and ambitious plan, we will maintain and strengthen our advantages by continuing to pursue our strategies that made us so resilient in the first place: responsibility, discipline and determination.

This bill marks an important milestone, the next major step in creating a brighter future for our country. I urge all members to help us pass Bill C-38.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

NDP

Pat Martin NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I honestly believe that my colleague from Chatham-Kent—Essex is too good a member of Parliament to actually believe the speech that he was sent in here to read dutifully, like a parrot, because it is the same speech we have heard over and over again. I want to tell him how much I profoundly disagree with every word that he just said.

If my colleague were any kind of a democrat, he would have prefaced his remarks by apologizing to the House of Commons and the Canadian people for the outrageous affront to democracy that Bill C-38 is. Because the government moved closure yet again and is denying us the opportunity to debate the many aspects of this bill, we will not have time to point out all the shortcomings of what he just read into the record in the House of Commons. However, I want to begin with just one point, which is all we will have time for.

Does the member believe, as I do, that fair wages benefit the whole community? If so, why would his government use this Trojan Horse to repeal a bill called the Fair Wages and Hours of Work Act? What does he have against Canadians who work—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. We need some time for the hon. member to respond.

The hon. member for Chatham—Kent—Essex.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I cannot possibly imitate that fine--

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

Order, please. The hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex has the floor. I am sure hon. members would like to hear the hon. member's response.

The hon. member for Chatham-Kent—Essex.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would not try to imitate this fine member's great acting ability. It is something I would never attempt.

I would say that I do believe everything that I said in my speech. I believe it not only because I know that the government is on the right track, but also because I served in finance and was one of those members who sat through long hours listening to witnesses and to the concerns from our members across the way as well. It is the right thing to do for our economy at this time. I believe that we need to pass the act and pass it quickly.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Wallace Conservative Burlington, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member, my seatmate, for his fine speech. I want to thank him for pointing out the changes that we are making to the registered disability savings plan, a plan that came as a result of this government. When I was on the finance committee and we were doing a tour across the country at pre-budget time, this idea was brought forward. It was fleshed out by our finance minister and brought forward in a budget. I appreciate that clarity.

My colleague is a member of the finance committee. I think it is important for the House and those listening in to understand how much time the committee has spent in listening to testimony on this measure. If he could give us an overview of the committee's schedule in hearing from Canadians on the bill over the last couple of weeks, it would be appreciated.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend, my colleague, my seatmate from Burlington for that fine question.

I do not want to sit here and pine about the hours that we spent, but I will say that it was a significant amount of time. Not only did we spend time on Bill C-38; we spent hours, days, weeks and months on consultation before the bill was an act.

This is the result of long hours, long study and long consultation. This is precisely what the people of Canada want us to do at this particular time in the history of Canada when we have such major challenges. This is the right bill at the right time.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1994 the member of Parliament for Calgary West, who is now our Prime Minister, spoke in this House about a Liberal omnibus bill, one that was much smaller than this one. He said:

In the interest of democracy, I ask: 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?

I ask if the hon. member agrees with that member from 1994 from Calgary West.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Conservative Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my colleague across the way, but the point I wanted to make on the last question from the hon. member for Burlington was that these are indeed trying times. These are times that demand a solution to problems that we have not experienced—at least, I have not in my lifetime, and possibly no one else in this House has.

A group of us travelled on a parliamentary association to the Netherlands a number of months ago. The Netherlands is a country with 16 million people, a country about the size of Nova Scotia, and it is going to trim off 15 billion euros from its budget.

We see that in order to do that, there will be a number of things that we will have to enact. Many acts are going to be affected; consequently, this is going to be a larger bill than possibly some in the past have been, but nothing has been done that does not have to be done.

That is the reason we are doing it. That is why Bill C-38 has to pass.

DemocracyStatements By Members

June 12th, 2012 / 1:55 p.m.

Independent

Bruce Hyer Independent Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON

Mr. Speaker, in 1994 the member of Parliament for Calgary West spoke in the House regarding a Liberal omnibus budget implementation bill, one that was a lot smaller than the 452-page bill before the House today. He said, “In the interest of democracy, I ask: 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?”

He went on to say, “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.”

He further went on to say, “I would also ask the government members, particularly those who have spoken on precisely this question in the previous Parliament with precisely the same concerns, to give serious consideration to this issue of democracy and the functionality of this Parliament now.”

The member is now the Prime Minister, and it is time he heeded his own words and split this undemocratic omnibus budget bill.

Classy ConcoctionsStatements By Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

David Anderson Conservative Cypress Hills—Grasslands, SK

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to students Andrew Berger, Ryley Cozart, Larissa Kurz, Ty Langer, Brett Loeppky, Corben Miller, Gina Rehbein, Laura Sawatzky, Landon Schultz, Sarah Wist and Eric Yonge, and to their teacher Colette Wilson and adviser Barbara McKinnon.

Classy Concoctions is a junior achievement company created by the 2012 graduating class of Central Butte School for the Entrepreneurship 30 course. Last month it was named the Junior Achievement of Saskatchewan's company of the year and received the production excellence and VP of marketing awards.

The students' goal was to build a food services business and provide customers access to homemade treats. Classy Concoctions supplied holiday goodies and beef jerky throughout the school year.

Initially 12 shareholders paid $20 a share. As of May 4, each share was valued at $555, and in the end the net profit to Classy Concoctions was over $7,000, split between the school, the local rink and a graduation scholarship.

What a contrast to some of the other student activity we see.

Republic of the Philippines Independence DayStatements By Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise and bring to all members' attention that today, June 12, is Independence Day in the Republic of the Philippines.

As co-chair of the Canada-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship Group, I extend congratulations and warm wishes from all parties in the House to every Canadian of Filipino descent on this important occasion.

June 12 celebrates the anniversary of the day in 1898 when the Philippines became an independent country. On that date, the official flag was revealed and the national anthem was introduced. The Declaration of Independence was written by Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista and signed by 98 people.

Today, all across Canada, Filipino Canadians are building our communities. Their labour, professional and business activities, deep contributions of culture, and renowned love of life are all making Canada a richer place for everyone.

Tonight we will mark this special occasion with a reception in Parliament graced by His Excellency the Ambassador of the Philippines. I invite all members to join us in a celebration of friendship between our two nations.

To every kabayan, salamat, and mabuhay Philippines.