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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

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, this government has invested significantly in social housing and in ensuring that vulnerable Canadians have a roof over their heads. Over 615,000 individuals in this country have benefited from the economic action plan of this government.

I will be clear. We have taken action. We are providing housing and support for vulnerable people. The NDP vote against these initiatives every time.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

June 12th, 2012 / 9:30 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the fact that the working while on claim project is a worthwhile initiative and it is something we have supported. It was first announced in February 2005 by the then minister, Lucienne Robillard, and the Conservative government has increased the amount.

The member says that it is a new program. Could she outline the differences between the program that was announced in 2005 and this current program?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, the working while on claim program is now a national program. The intent behind this program, as I mentioned in my speech, is to decrease the amount of clawback on employment insurance so that individuals who take a part-time job and are still able to claim EI are encouraged to continue to work. A number of individuals who take on part-time work then transfer into a full-time job. This is a way of creating the attachment of individual Canadians to the labour market. It is a great program. We are moving forward with it. I am delighted that it is in the budget.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:30 p.m.

Oshawa Ontario

Conservative

Colin Carrie ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask my colleague a question about certain Conservative ideology, a horrible Conservative radical idea that I mentioned earlier, called mathematics. We have been hearing the NDP members speak this evening to the cuts in the budget to health care.

I know the member is a very well-known surgeon and physician and is very supportive of our health care system. She works hard to promote the ideals that we as Canadians really do appreciate.

I know the member knows that the NDP's approach is to throw an indefinite amount of money at the health care system. However, we have a different approach. I am talking about accountability, sustainability and things like that. I wonder if the member could take a few moments to discuss the differences in the NDP, Liberal and our approach. As well, could the member throw something in about mathematics to explain that to the opposition members?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kellie Leitch Conservative Simcoe—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Oshawa for his great work on the health committee. I have had the opportunity to be at the health committee a few times.

The very simple math is that the Government of Canada has put forward, in previous budgets and in this budget, an escalator of 6%, which means that each year it is a cumulative effect. It is an increase each successive year. Following that, we will have a base of 3%, if not higher, to GDP. It is very simple math. It is just adding simple numbers. I would encourage the NDP to do just that.

The other thing that the government is doing that particularly benefits the health care field and something that I feel very strongly about is our support for innovation, science and technology. Whether it be the $37 million more for granting councils or the $60 million for high-class research at Genome Canada, these things are extremely important to ensuring we have the next set of great discoveries so that they can benefit Canadian patients.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:35 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to rise in the House today in support of Bill C-38 at report stage.

I must begin by expressing disappointment at the opposition's delay tactics which threaten the important measures contained in the bill. Instead of debating the issues that really matter to Canadians opposition members choose to engage in dire prophecies of doom and gloom and temper tantrums similar to ones by toddlers on a supermarket floor. Fortunately, Canadians can see past the opposition's melodrama.

As we heard again and again during the lengthiest consideration of a budget bill in more than 20 years, the legislation before us today focuses on what Canadians want. It would strengthen our economy, promote jobs and growth and ensure Canada's long-term prosperity. It would ensure the sustainability of programs not only for today, but also for future generations to come. For example, the changes to old age security would ensure that these benefits would remain sustainable and would be there when retired Canadians need them. The changes to employment insurance would make it easier for unemployed Canadians to get back to work in a more timely manner. Of course, we are also making changes to ensure balance when it comes to environmental regulations. Canadians want a government that balances the environment with our responsibility to promote jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

Crucial to a sound economy is law and order. In that regard, our government committed to getting tough with criminals when we were first elected. We have backed up that commitment with concrete actions. We have listened to the needs of victims, police officers and ordinary Canadians, all of whom told us that the time has come to take strong measures to deal with gangs and violent crimes.

We have taken steps to give law enforcement officials the resources and legislation they need to address crime and help ensure that law-abiding citizens are not afraid to walk down the streets. We have strengthened and modernized the Criminal Code. We have introduced measures to make sure that people convicted of a serious crime are dealt with appropriately.

Bill C-38 contains important measures which would help us do even more, specifically to combat guns, drugs and other contraband goods that often find their way onto our streets and into our school grounds due to smuggling operations by gangs and organized groups. It is those measures that I would like to speak about today.

In some cases these criminals use land ports of entry. In others, our shared waterways with the U.S. often provide a ready-made channel for criminals to smuggle these illegal products into Canada, threatening our homes, our families and our neighbours.

Many of us have heard the stories of high-powered boats skipping across the St. Lawrence or Great Lakes waterways with law enforcement agents in hot pursuit. The good news is that in some cases these criminals are stopped in their tracks, but the bad news is that in many cases they manage to get away. The criminals who smuggle illegal goods across our border with the U.S. can sometimes avoid capture and prosecution in one country by slipping across the international boundary. Law enforcement officials from the U.S. and Canada have to call off the chase at the border due to jurisdictional limitations, which means that illegal and dangerous goods can and do sometimes make their way into the hands of gangs, thugs and dangerous criminals.

Bill C-38 would help put an end to that. It would give law enforcement officials on both sides of the border the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, which is something our government has continued to do here in Canada since we were first elected in 2006.

The legislation before us today contains important measures that would ratify an agreement which our government signed with the U.S. to allow specially trained and designated Canadian and U.S. officers to work together on jointly crewed marine vessels, known as shiprider teams, in order to enforce the law on both sides of the international boundary line.

It spells out how these joint operations would be carried out, while also proposing amendments to the Customs Act, the Criminal Code, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.

The measures in Bill C-38 stipulate that all shiprider operations would be conducted in a manner respecting the rights and freedoms protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and domestic privacy protections. They would also be done in a way that respects the domestic sovereignty of both nations and in accordance with the rule of law.

For example, in Canadian waters, operations would be subject to Canadian laws and procedures and conducted under the direction and control of Canadian law enforcement officers. The opposite would apply when ships are operating in U.S. waters.

The bottom line is this: By being able to enforce the law on both sides of the border, Canadian and U.S. law enforcement officers would no longer be faced with jurisdictional challenges associated with cross-border policing that are often exploited with criminal organizations. Shiprider officers would now be able to continue pursuit of criminals trying to evade arrest and prosecution by ducking across the border.

In addition, these operations would allow Canadian and U.S. law enforcement agencies to maximize existing border law enforcement resources. Instead of mirroring operations on either side of the border, this integrated approach would allow resources to be deployed most strategically along the border and leverage enforcement capacity, range and capability.

This is just one way in which Bill C-38 would help reduce cross-border crime while protecting our economy by cracking down on the smuggling of illegal contraband.

Criminals who smuggle illegal guns and drugs across our borders will have to face the consequences of their actions. They will be caught and they will be prosecuted.

In practical terms, we know from direct experience that shiprider is an effective border law enforcement tool. In 2007, operations in the Cornwall-Massena region in the east, and British Columbia-Washington border region in the west netted a large quantity of marijuana, over one million contraband cigarettes, six vessels and a huge amount of cash. However, it is some of the images that really tell the story and I will give a few examples.

Several years ago, the United States Coast Guard took a photo of a smuggler on the Great Lakes gesturing in contempt as he crossed the maritime border. The smuggler knew that the Coast Guard could do nothing to respond as he had managed to make it into Canadian waters with the help of a hand-held GPS. The Coast Guard could only monitor the situation. What a sad story.

Fast forward to 2007, and this time the Coast Guard, working with an RCMP officer aboard a shiprider vessel, set off in pursuit of a speedboat suspected of carrying drugs from the United States to Canada. When the pilot crossed the international boundary, he kept on going, knowing that officers could arrest him on either side of the border. The officers did not catch the boat on the water, but with the assistance of local police, they were able to intercept the perpetrator on shore yielding a haul of marijuana, more than one million cigarettes and a car.

In another instance, a fleeing boat stopped after it had crossed the Canadian border only to be approached by shiprider personnel. While no contraband was found on the vessel, the boat itself tested positive for cocaine residue and was promptly seized.

That same year, local police asked for shiprider assistance in a suspected case of child abduction. Because law enforcement officials on both sides of the border were able to co-operate, the abduction was averted and the child was returned unharmed.

The presence of shiprider operations in the area also helped to displace a considerable amount of smuggling to border ports of entry. The Canada Border Services Agency noted that there was a marked increase in arrests at land-based border crossings as a result of the shiprider program.

Considering all of the examples I gave, I urge my colleagues on the other side to support the bill so that we can implement these important measures.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Mr. Speaker, shiprider is an interesting program that actually came through the Senate, the unelected chamber, in terms of its analysis, and now it has been altered significantly in the budget bill. There was a lot of evidence of problems with the shiprider program and the problems it creates for tourism and trade.

I want to focus on why the government is cutting the Canada Border Services Agency inspections officers down to 1,100 officers. In fact the government is getting rid of one-quarter of the sniffer dog teams that are directly linked to eliminating gang operations as well as drug smuggling and gun operations. It is eliminating them through the budget. How does the government square the circle that the shiprider program can do those things?

I would invite my colleague to talk about the fact that in the United States there were a couple of interesting cases where U.S. customs officers actually killed American citizens. There was also the case in Niagara Falls four years ago where an American law enforcement agent pursued an American vehicle into Canada, killing a single mother on the streets of Niagara Falls.

Maybe my colleague could talk about those cases. It would be interesting to square the circle as to how the government will have accountability for those issues in this agreement.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:45 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, the shiprider program has been operating on a pilot basis since 2005. As I mentioned in my speech, we have seen the positive outcomes. I gave the example of a child who was abducted and because of the shiprider program, the child was reunited with his parents.

This will promote economic benefits by protecting the border and cracking down on the smuggling of contraband.

As I mentioned, more than one million contraband cigarettes were confiscated in one year, and marijuana also. The target for all these drugs and contraband cigarettes ultimately is our youth, the young children in our schools.

I would ask my colleague to help us to implement these rules so that we can protect our youth from all these smugglers.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:45 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Liberal Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, my question is with regard to EI. My colleague is on the human resources and skills development committee and is certainly well aware of any of the concerns that I have been able to express with regard to the changes to the EI legislation in the bill.

The minister has said a couple of times that we need more teeth in the legislation, more teeth in the regulations. It is tough to get teeth when we are sending everybody home. We are losing a lot of sets of teeth. Six hundred people have been sent home from the EI processing centres. That is 600 sets of teeth that are being taken out of the mix.

There are more intrusive regulations coming forward, such as shaking down 58-year-old chambermaids as to whether or not they would take a job within an hour's drive and whether it is a suitable job.

The minister has not really overwhelmed anybody with her ability to handle the department.

Is my colleague confident that these new regulations can actually serve any real purpose? Is there enough bodies left in HRDC to actually carry out--

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I will stop the hon. member there. There are only 30 seconds left for the member for Calgary Northeast.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

Conservative

Devinder Shory Conservative Calgary Northeast, AB

Mr. Speaker, let me tell my colleague my view about EI. I strongly believe that the EI program was created for the people who lose their jobs, unfortunately, and are unable to find a suitable job to replace the lost job. It is not for the people who simply qualify for the program and then use the program as an entitlement, without looking for a replacement job or a reasonably suitable job. That is what I would suggest to my colleague.

To answer the other part of his question, this government believes in effectiveness. We believe that the single largest labour market program should be effective when we send more and more people back to work, not having more and more people sitting and waiting for a cheque from the government.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

9:50 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin on a general note, for Canadians who might be watching or following this debate, to try to perhaps slow down the pace of the detail being presented on all sides of the House and remind Canadians what is at stake here.

What are we talking about this evening? Why have so many amendments been produced and presented for voting very shortly? Why is all this kerfuffle happening about this budget bill?

For everyday Canadians who are busy leading just-in-time lives, raising their kids, paying their mortgages or rent and looking after loved ones, this is very complicated, but there are some simple facts that are worthy of communication for them this evening.

First, this budget document is 425 pages in length, has 753 clauses and is changing or doing away with 70 different laws that exist today in Canada. Here are a few of the things it would do in unprecedented fashion, because it is not an economic document and it is certainly not an economic transformative plan, as the minister would have us believe.

It would rewrite Canada's environmental laws, 40 years in the making. In this draft budget, they are gone.

It would break the Conservative government's election promise by raising the age to qualify for the old age supplement from 65 to 67 years of age. Does any Canadian remember hearing that in the last election campaign? Did the government run on that platform?

It would create uncertainty for our seasonal industries with changes to employment insurance, something I will come back to momentarily.

It would hurt Canada's international brand by tearing up 100,000 immigration applications with the stroke of a pen. The 100,000 human beings waiting for their immigration applications to be processed would now be out of luck.

It would impose the Conservatives' unilateral decision to reduce health care transfer payments to the provinces and territories. Did they run on that platform? No. Did they consult or negotiate with the provinces? No.

In this bill they are targeting charities that they disagree with. Did they run on that in their platform?

They are eliminating groups such as the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, Rights and Democracy and the National Council of Welfare, all groups the Conservatives disagree with. Did they run on those promises? No.

They would be reducing the Auditor General's oversight on a number of government agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Northern Pipeline Agency. How can that be a good thing?

It is reducing democratic oversight of our spy agency, CSIS, by abolishing the Office of the Inspector General.

It would repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, eliminate a number of the government's reporting requirements on climate change and public service jobs and make changes to parole hearings. Every expert who testified warned that changes to parole hearings are unconstitutional.

In short, it is anti-democratic. They are using a single omnibus budget bill to limit debate and ram these unrelated measures through Parliament. That is what this debate is about, for Canadians who are watching.

However, it is no surprise for those of us who lived through the first incarnation of the republican government in Ontario, which has ended up here. That is because the technique that was perfected in Ontario to create omnibus bills began under former premier Mike Harris and was perfected by our present-day Minister of Finance.

Let us focus on the old age supplement as an important issue for a moment. The Conservatives are breaking their election promise, as I said, by raising the age for OAS from 65 to 67. They are ignoring the advice of the OECD, Canada's chief actuarial officer, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and even the government's own experts, who have all agreed and all testified that change is not necessary because our OAS program is already sustainable. This would hurt rural Canadians, and single women in particular, who disproportionately depend on OAS and GIS.

It also hurts our physical labourers who cannot continue working. Forty percent of our OAS recipients earn less than $20,000 a year, and more than half earn less than $25,000 a year. In my riding of Ottawa South, it is no different.

This change would hurt Canada's most vulnerable seniors the hardest. It is just not right; our seniors, who have invested so much in our country, need our support now more than ever.

Let us turn to the changes under employment insurance. What have we heard? We did not hear how these changes will help solve skilled labour shortages. We did not hear how many of the current 250,000 job openings would be filled because of these changes. We did not hear how these changes will assist the 1.4 million Canadians who are out of work. We did not hear that Canadians had been consulted about these changes. We did not hear how they will help communities and workers who only have seasonal industries to foster more full-time industries.

These changes brand those who require EI during recurring periods of no-fault job loss as “repeat offenders”, in the government's language. Can members imagine thatv if people are on in EI in Canada, they are repeat offenders?

Those people had better watch out. The changes would force them to take a 30% pay cut in a lower-skill job outside of their area of training. The changes would force people to take jobs further away from home, thereby incurring higher costs for a low-skill job that pays less. Boy, that makes sense in the 21st century.

It is policy created on the fly. The Conservatives did not have a plan or a rationale for the changes. They had no information, no facts, no analysis, just a belief that EI claimants are lazy and abuse the system.

They have a desire to penalize seasonal workers and industries. It is reminiscent of the member for Ottawa West—Nepean's press conference in Ontario several years ago, when as a minister in the Harris regime he took a box of syringes, dumped them onto the floor in front of the cameras and went on to explain that the reason the government was pushing Workfare so hard was that all welfare recipients in Ontario were shooting their cheques up their arms. That is the kind of character at play here, a character that is still there.

If members do not take my word for it, let us listen to what the media has to say about the budget.

The Globe and Mail said, “The budget bill contains too much for adequate consideration by Parliament.”

The Halifax Chronicle Herald called it “a steamroller of sweeping change, from the streamlining of environmental regulations to the reform of old age security and EI”, and called it “anti-democratic”. The paper stated that “the monster budget bill introduced last week is an omnibus bill on steroids” and went on to say, “It's also nonsense to pretend one debate, one committee review and one vote will allow Parliament to competently examine this legal spaghetti.”

The Toronto Star said, “This reeks of hypocrisy.” It also stated:

This is political sleight-of-hand and message control, and it appears to be an accelerating trend. These shabby tactics keep Parliament in the dark, swamp MPs with so much legislation that they can't absorb it all, and hobble scrutiny. This is not good, accountable, transparent government. It is not what [the Prime Minister] promised to deliver.

The Montreal Gazette stated, in speaking of Bill C-38, “If more Canadians understood it, they would be horrified by the lack of time allotted to its consideration.”

The Winnipeg Free Press stated:

Under the...Conservatives, however, parliamentary committees, like Parliament itself, are mere toys of the party in power, routinely gagged the moment an opposition MP moves a motion.

We have certainly seen that behaviour.

The Ottawa Citizen asked this simple question: “What's the rush?”

It goes on and on.

The National Post stated:

As you remove the outer layers of the bill, you discover potentially far-reaching policy shifts that have no business being in any budget, far less being scrutinized by the finance committee.

Perhaps to close, my favourite, published just some hours ago at 6:20 p.m. this afternoon, from Postmedia:

Their primary justification for the omnibus bill—that all its measures together form an integrated, coherent vision and plan of economic transformation—is demonstrably nonsense.... How can reforms to the Parks Canada Agencies Act, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the elimination of the office of the inspector general for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service possibly be interpreted as economic?

It goes on to conclude, asking this question:

Why bother wasting time with the bothersome business of committee review and public debate? ...It would be far more efficient, certainly cheaper, for the prime minister to rule by decree.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, the member for Ottawa South's speech was very comprehensive and important.

I am unhappy with the fact that this bill is continually described as though it will do great things for jobs and the economy, while we have failed as parliamentarians to examine the ways in which Bill C-38 is a threat to jobs and our economy.

I am taken by the fact that many Conservative members have spoken tonight about the importance of competitiveness, research and development, and innovation, yet all the best studies in the world on competitiveness—I mentioned, for example, Michael Porter at Harvard University—have said that when the rigour of environmental regulations is reduced, the result is less competitiveness and fewer innovations.

This is the one area where Canada is really lagging, R and D and innovation. Would my hon. friend comment on whether he agrees with me that this so-called budget implementation bill will actually undermine Canada's competitiveness and reduce our ability to come up with the research and innovation to stay ahead?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member's question is spot on.

In the 21st century, we should not be racing to compete with jurisdictions that can dig up minerals, cut forests, harvest fish and move into the natural resources industry that Canada used to excel at in the early 20th century. This is not Canada's role for the future.

Where is the investment and venture capital? Why are we discussing new start-ups for Canada? Why is the Sustainable Development Technology foundation being robbed of capital to capitalize and partner with our private sector to give rise to new green technologies?

The race is on for energy efficiency all over the planet. Every jurisdiction knows this. Canada should be leading this race, but unfortunately I do not think the Prime Minister has a pair of running shoes.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10 p.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

Mr. Speaker, the hon. member gave a very good speech about this terrible budget bill.

I do not know about the member's community, but in my community I know there is a growing sense that this budget bill creates an even bigger divide in our country. It increases the gap of inequality.

I have been focusing some of my remarks tonight on housing, because this bill does not mention housing anywhere. We have a housing crisis, whether it is in Ottawa, Toronto or Vancouver. Many communities are facing this housing crisis.

I would like to ask the member if he could reflect on that and whether he too is dealing with some of the critical issues around affordable housing here in the city of Ottawa?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:05 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, yes, we are, right here in this jurisdiction, in the shadow of the Peace Tower.

There is a desperate need for housing. It is interesting to reflect back and remember that one of the first acts of the government, upon forming a minority government, was to do away with our housing department. It did away with it with one stroke of a pen.

Now where are we? Is there a national housing strategy? Are we dealing with some of the homelessness crises? Are we connecting the dots between homelessness and mental health issues and challenges? Are we connecting the dots with substance abuse? No, we are not.

This is a step back for Canada. This is a focus on harvesting the low-hanging fruit of natural resources as quickly as we can and sell as much fossil fuel as we can and as much mineral as we can.

We are not opposed to those extractive industries—do not get me wrong—but it is a race to sell as much as we can and make as much money as we can. In my estimation, the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister can stand up in three years' time and say, “Canadians, we know we have undermined the 21st century economy, but have we got a tax cut for you.”

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House this evening to talk to such an important bill, a bill that I believe will transform our country into greater prosperity and greater things to come for years and years ahead.

The first topic I will discuss this evening is on the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, specifically what is relevant to rural Canada, in my case rural Ontario, and a long-outstanding issue, long before I was elected to the House. The issue deals with municipal drains and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' responsibility and actions inside that area.

There could be as many people watching CPAC tonight as there are members in the House. It could be a limited audience, but we will just imagine we are getting big ratings tonight.

The issue regarding municipal drains arises when farmers want to drain an area. It could be a low lying area that is wet and they need to drain this to get a higher yield for their crop production. They will work with the municipality and with a group of farmers and they will create a municipal drain of an appropriate length to connect into a stream or river or whatever will work to get the water into the waterway. It never was a fish habitat, it never had been a fish habitat. However, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans deems it to be a fish habitat. Not only that, believe it or not, Transport Canada at one time deemed it to be, in addition to a fish habitat, a navigable water. This has posed tremendous issues, not only for getting it built but, as time moves on, these municipal drains need to be dug out and cleaned out to ensure they operate in a proper manner and format.

Therefore, the proposed changes to the Fisheries Act in this budget bill will really solve a lot of problems for rural Canadians and especially rural Canadians who are farmers. This will be a tremendous benefit. We have all heard stories in the media about how this act has been applied incorrectly time and time again at a direct cost to the farmer.

In my riding, there is a number of large rivers that flow through into Lake Huron. There are the Saugeen River north of where I live, the Maitland River and the Bayfield River. What many people may not understand is that years ago the Department of Fisheries and Oceans made an agreement with the conservation authorities that basically allowed them to do about 95% of the work and, on rare occasions, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans was actually brought in. The changes that the opposition members are so concerned and fearful about are, by and large in most areas of Canada, being conducted. At the very end, the biologists from DFO will come in and take a look at the project and carry on. When the project is completed, they will sign off.

Some of the issues around this specifically, where this was inefficient and caused tremendous delays, concerned the biologists not being from the area and not having knowledge of the particular river, creek or farm the way somebody from the conservation authority would have. Someone who lives and works in the area knows the farmers, the people who work for the municipality and knows the engineering firms and makes it all happen. This will be a tremendous improvement.

Then, when we consider the fact that there is also the issue around where the province comes in, the Ministry of Natural Resources, and how it deals with species at risk. Is it terrestrial, meaning is it on land or is it on water? Once we have that, we have multiple jurisdictions dealing with an issue that these conservation authorities can handle quite aptly. Therefore, that will be a great change.

Ray Orb is the vice-president of Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities. I am from Ontario but to get a different flavour from western Canada, I thought I would bring his comments in. This is from the May 28 subcommittee meeting. The association represents 296 rural municipalities in Saskatchewan and acts as the common voice. Members do not have to think it is just him, this is the voice of 296 different municipalities that are not too far different than my own.

Mr. Orb applauded the federal government for the changes to the Fisheries Act that were announced in April by federal Minister of Fisheries, Keith Ashfield. He said, “The changes to the act provide the long-awaited distinction between—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:10 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a small but not unimportant point of order. I believe the hon. member misspoke when he named the current Minister of Fisheries by name.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I was quoting somebody else's statement, but I digress.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I did not catch it but I would remind the hon. member for Huron—Bruce that even when quoting from other documents or articles, members are still not supposed to use proper names.

I will give the floor back to the hon. member for Huron—Bruce.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:10 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure the member for Avalon is paying attention.

To continue with what Mr. Orb said:

—vital Canadian waterways that support fish populations and smaller bodies of water that do not house fish. It is our understanding that the amendments to the Fisheries Act will focus protection rules on significant threats to fish and will set clear standards for routine projects concerning smaller fish-free water bodies.

In addition he said:

Currently the Fisheries Act applies the same protection to rivers and streams as municipal drains and farmers' irrigation canals. This adds unnecessary costs and extended timelines to routine municipal road construction projects....For example, in 2011, in my municipality, we were involved with a culvert replacement project in a non-fish-bearing area. DFO required us to attain a permit, which caused a time delay, and the overall cost was increased significantly.

I can attest to this personally. My father-in-law works for a municipality as a road foreman and he says that when it is time to do a culvert, he pulls out a book about five inches thick. That is the first thing he does before he starts to go through the process of replacing a municipal culvert that may not even have any water in it or ever had any water in it.

This is a change. I know the Liberals have a hard time understanding this change because they no longer have any rural members. They had 13 years to get it right, but they continuously got it wrong. We are here to ensure we get it right for all Canadians.

Another important issue—

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:10 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Easter Liberal Malpeque, PE

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. There are three rural members from the Liberal Party right here. How could the member even say that?

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I see the member for Malpeque is paying attention. He has passed the test.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I just think the member for Malpeque should get a life.

Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity ActGovernment Orders

10:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. I did not hear that. There is quite a lot of noise going back and forth. It would be easy for the Speaker to pick up on these things if there was less of that.

I will give the floor back to the hon. member for Huron—Bruce who has two minutes left to conclude his remarks.