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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was panama.

Topics

Third ReadingPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Dubé NDP Chambly—Borduas, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would first like to congratulate my colleague on his speech. I would like him to say a little more about how we can protect pensions. He gave the example of an individual who invests in RRSPs for 10 years and loses money when the value of the RRSPs then falls. So we lose money we invest for our retirement. He also said the measures proposed in the bill do nothing to provide better protection.

In addition, we might think of examples like Nortel, where the corporation came ahead of the employees. My colleague is certainly aware of that case. When we talk about retirement security for people who have worked hard all their lives and who invested their money, it is extremely important to protect their retirement pension. I would like to let my colleague talk some more about how we can better protect that, so it is better than what is proposed in this bill.

Third ReadingPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. The example of Nortel is in fact a good example, to show how unprotected pensions are. Last year, a number of people in my riding saw their pensions cut in half as a result of the liquidation of Nortel’s assets. That is simply scandalous.

We should bring back the bill that was introduced by the NDP, which proposed putting employee pension plans ahead of creditors. That would be a very good solution to protect Canadians from bankruptcies, when cases like Nortel occur. It would be an ideal solution to protect Canadians’ pension funds. However, the government bill before us simply adds another savings plan. Apart from people who are already contributing to an RRSP, there are really no more Canadians who will be contributing to it. In our opinion, it is a waste of effort.

Third ReadingPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

Conservative

Bob Zimmer Conservative Prince George—Peace River, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am confused as to why the hon. member would not take up this opportunity.

The demographic we are talking about in the pooled pension system being offered is usually a demographic that is not covered by normal pension systems. I am a little confuse as to why he would not be supportive of a measure like this since it would help people. I am curious to know what his alternative is and why he is opposed to it.

Third ReadingPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

1:45 p.m.

NDP

Sylvain Chicoine NDP Châteauguay—Saint-Constant, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question. There are a range of registered savings plans available. Unfortunately, companies do not use them very much. This will essentially be an additional plan being made available, but there are already numerous plans and they do not help Canadians to contribute to a pension plan.

We think the solution is to increase Canada pension plan and Quebec pension plan benefits. That would cover all Canadians, who could contribute more and benefit more from it. These plans already exist; they are defined benefit or defined contribution plans. People know what they will be getting when they retire and so that tool, which already exists, makes it is easier to plan for retirement.

Third ReadingPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

1:50 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to stand and take us through to the beginning of question period.

I have listened to many of the debate today, or the false information, I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, and I am sure you have been able to recognize this, having listened to many of these debates. We have certainly given this fulsome debate in the House as well as in committee. We have brought in witnesses who talked about the benefits of the pooled registered pension plan.

It has been said many times, but not enough and it deserves repeating, that this will be a low-cost option to those Canadians, 60% of those in the workforce, who do not now have available to them a workforce pension plan that their employer can choose to contribute on their behalf. That is the option of the employer.

We, on this side of the House, think that option is exactly what our businesses want. They have asked us for an opportunity so they can choose to offer this pension option, this retirement option, this savings option to their employees and, if so, they can choose to contribute as well on their behalf.

We see it as accessible, which has been mentioned many times, by any Canadian. In many forums I have been asked if this is this only for small businesses. Absolutely not. It is available to any business that chooses to offer it.

For the first time in history, this is available to self-employed Canadians who can contribute to their retirement. A lot of self-employed Canadians have not had the option to become part of a larger pool at low cost, where the administration costs are low.

I have heard lots of comments from the other side that are very much ill-informed. Canada has been accused of having very high MER rates, management expense ratios, to put it in layman's terms, and of course the industry will complain that those are required because of the complications of the pensions they offer.

We have simplified it down so the parties that are interested, once they qualify, in offering the pooled registered pension plans. They have told us that they can bring their costs down very low.

We are trying to provide a realistic low-cost option so Canadians can actually participate in a larger pool, the same type of pool that the Canada pension plan and the Quebec pension plan is. That is what makes sense for Canadians.

The NDP continues to harp on the fact that all we should do is double the Canada pension plan. That absolutely negates the position in which many Canadians are. They do not want another mandatory reduction from their paycheque, and it would be mandatory, because that is the makeup of the Canada pension plan. Many people are saving in other ways and they do not want it deducted from their paycheque.

Many businesses have said that they are struggling to hire new people and make their businesses profitable. Now is not the time to add another cost, albeit a tax, on them contributing on behalf of their employees. This gives those businesses an option if they feel comfortable to offer a savings plan for their individual employees. That is very important.

We have a very good system in our country. The NDP loves to talk down our economy, our seniors and what a great country this is in which to live. We should be proud of the fact that we have a great country, a great financial system and a great retirement system for our seniors. It is the envy of the world.

I have spoken at many pension conferences in Canada and around the world, and I have also listened. Many approach us and ask how we have done it in Canada and could they follow our model. Many have asked about the pooled registered pension plan. They think it is a good idea and they would like to adopt it in their countries. Some people recognize that, but obviously not the opposition.

The opposition members stand over there and say that we have done little for seniors. We have done a lot for seniors. We have given the largest increase in the guaranteed income supplement for those low-income seniors. We on this side of the House thought that was a great idea. Apparently, the NDP did not like it because its members voted against it. They stand in here and say that they support seniors, yet they voted to keep them as low-income seniors. That is an incredible position for them to take.

We have the Canada pension plan. As I have said before, it is actuarially sound for 75 years. We co-share the jurisdiction of that with the provinces. It is in good shape. We have discussed whether we can increase that, and that discussion continues among our officials. As well, the Quebec pension plan is there for seniors.

We have the tax-assisted registered pension plans and registered retirement savings plans. Those are good. They have had some struggles but, over the years averaged out, they have done well.

However, we think there is an option that is missing, and that is the option for so many of our Canadian workers who do not have that.

In the last few minutes I have, let me just share a bit of the chronology from where we started.

In 2008, when we saw some of the insolvent pension funds in trouble, we realized we needed to look at those that were federally regulated. The Pension Benefits Standards Act had not been changed since 1985. We took a serious look at that, through consultation. We have improved that to protect the federally-regulated ones. We moved from there. We saw the challenges that individual pension funds were facing, so we moved to make improvements to them through a working group.

We did extensive analysis and we found out what segment of the Canadian population was not saving enough for their retirement. This is directed toward the middle section of income earners who need the support to help them save. This process will help them save and they are sharing in the contributions for that. Most Canadians think that is only fair that they help save for their own retirement.

We know the socialists love to share everybody else's money but their own. We would like to suggest that is probably not the way most Canadians think.

We have shared this challenge with our partners, the provinces.

I mentioned earlier how progressive the Quebec government had been on this. In fact, in its last two budgets, it has addressed this. It wants to move forward with it.

It is very unfortunate that the NDP is the sole roadblock in us being able to move forward, the Quebec government being able to move forward and other governments that actually want to put in place mirror legislation to this so we are able to provide pooled registered pension plans to those Canadians who want them and those Canadians who need them.

Third ReadingPooled Registered Pension Plans ActGovernment Orders

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Order, please. The time for government orders has expired. The hon. minister of state will have 11 minutes remaining when this matter returns before the House.

WorldSkills CompetitionStatements by Members

1:55 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Mr. Speaker, one of my constituents has made his fellow citizens very proud. Jordy Bartman won the gold medal for post-secondary auto repair at the Skills Canada competition in Edmonton a short while ago. His win in the autobody repair apprentice division means that Jordy will now go on to represent Canada at the WorldSkills competition in Leipzig, Germany in July 2013.

At just 20 years old, Jordy is a journeyman welder and is working on his autobody repair apprenticeship with Pat Stenger of Brooks Collision. Jordy credits his mechanically inclined family members, like his dad Sandy, for having supported him and taught him many of the things he knows today. Jordy's mom Cindy said, “I'm over-the-top proud”, and she has every right to be so.

We salute Jordy and we are rooting for him to come home victorious from Leipzig, Germany.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency ActStatements by Members

2 p.m.

NDP

Isabelle Morin NDP Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine, QC

Mr. Speaker, today, I am calling upon the members of the House to address an issue that has been discussed many times over, but the impacts of which are still affecting the people of my riding, who are writing to me every day and are still just as distraught.

This issue is the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the main file associated with it, that of Nortel. I would also like to add that, soon, the Aveos employees will find themselves in the same situation as Nortel employees, whose pension funds are being given away to private entities.

If the government stubbornly refuses to amend this law so that, from now on, employees are considered preferred creditors, thousands of people will continue to feel the effects of someone else's poor choices.

I would really like to know when the government is going to decide to change this law. As it now stands, it clearly does not serve the people who are not only one of the most vulnerable segments of our population but who have also worked all their lives to make our wonderful society work. The government must start acting in the best interest of Canadian workers rather than in the interest of its friends, the banks and corporations.

Huron—BruceStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Ben Lobb Conservative Huron—Bruce, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House to recognize one of Canada's greatest tourist destinations. Huron—Bruce borders on Lake Huron and boasts over 100 kilometres of coastline with world-class beaches and breathtaking sunsets.

People can take the lighthouse tour starting at Point Clark or the Bruce county adventure passport. Tourists can hike the renowned Bruce and Maitland Trail or dock at the picturesque marinas. If theatre is their style, they can experience a play at the Blyth Festival, Huron Country Playhouse or the Bluewater Summer Playhouse.

How about festivals? Huron—Bruce is host to the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival, Goderich Bluesfest, Kincardine Scottish Festival, the Kincardine Summer Music Festival and the Bach Music Festival in Exeter.

Huron—Bruce also boasts Canada's largest motocross event at Walton TransCan and Lucknow's Music in the Fields, this year featuring Travis Tritt and Terri Clark. How about Port Elgin's Pumpkinfest?

I encourage all members and their constituents to visit Huron—Bruce and experience Ontario's west coast.

1972 Summer OlympicsStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Liberal

Irwin Cotler Liberal Mount Royal, QC

Mr. Speaker, the 2012 London Olympics marks the 40th anniversary of the worst terrorist atrocity in Olympic history: the hostage murder of 11 Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 that would spawn the wave of international terrorism. For 40 years, there has been no official Olympic remembrance, no honouring of memory, no moment of silence.

An international coalition of civil society groups and political leaders has called on the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence at the opening ceremonies of the summer games to commemorate the Munich massacre. This week the Prime Minister of Australia joined her opposition counterpart in sending a letter expressing all party support for such a moment of silence.

I believe Canada should join in this movement and recall the victims of 1972 at this poignant moment of remembrance and reminder. I will be seeking unanimous consent on a motion in this regard soon.

Let us solemnly observe this 40th anniversary of remembrance.

It is our duty to observe a moment of silence to remember. We remember. Never again.

Never again, not for Jews, not for anyone.

National Capital RegionStatements by Members

2 p.m.

Conservative

Royal Galipeau Conservative Ottawa—Orléans, ON

Mr. Speaker, since the 1950s, one of the projects that has attracted much attention in the national capital region has been the construction of a fourth interprovincial bridge linking Ottawa and Gatineau.

As yet another round of public consultations on this project is about to begin, I reaffirm my commitment to protect the greenbelt. It must remain as envisaged by the great urban planner, Jacques Gréber.

We must respect the integrity of the Gréber plan, which provided for a link between the Aviation Parkway and Montée Paiement.

Every study in the past 60 years has confirmed the wisdom of the Gréber plan. The bridge must span Kettle Island.

At the last minute, however, the provincial governments on both sides of the river have begun meddling in this project and are jeopardizing the future of the narrow greenbelt bordering on Orléans.

I urge all residents of Orléans to attend the next public consultation which will take place Tuesday, June 12, from 3:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Shenkman Arts Centre next to my office.

Tributes to Jack LaytonStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, as Parliament will not be in session in August, I want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues for their support this year. I rise to thank Canadians everywhere for their inspiring tributes to the former leader of the opposition, Jack Layton.

I thank the City of Toronto for naming the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal and the Town of Hudson, Quebec, for the Jack Layton Memorial Park.

The Layton family thanks the many organizations that have named buildings, lounges and rooms in Jack's honour, planted trees, created sculptures and mosaics and carried out many other creative forms of commemoration.

There are also many inspiring fellowships and scholarships named to encourage young people to participate in making our country a better place for everyone.

Most of all, I thank the many Canadians, young and old, who have created poems, paintings, songs and films, keeping alive the spirit of love, hope and optimism.

Thank you.

We must continue to work together to build a better world.

Tyee ha'wilth Bert MackStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

Conservative

James Lunney Conservative Nanaimo—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is with great sadness that I rise in the House to announce the passing of Tyee ha'wilth Bert Mack, hereditary chief of the Toquaht First Nation on Vancouver Island. He was in his 89th year.

Chief Mack worked in the forestry industry for 40 years. He was instrumental in the development of a community forest. He was one of the driving forces that saw his people persevere in treaty negotiations with Canada and British Columbia as part of the Maa-nulth Treaty. The treaty means a new world of opportunity for the Toquaht people, through cash settlements and lands adjacent to spectacular Barkley Sound.

For 67 years Chief Mack, affectionately known as King Bert, led his community with grace and compassion. He had a great love for learning, for his culture and his people, and especially his family. He was married to his wife Lil for over 60 years and had three children.

In 2009 his youngest daughter, Anne, inherited the chieftainship from Mack.

Bert's vision and leadership have positioned his people to carry on with a great legacy. Respected by all and a gentleman, King Bert will be sadly missed but fondly remembered by all who knew him.

Events in Winnipeg South CentreStatements by Members

June 7th, 2012 / 2:05 p.m.

Conservative

Joyce Bateman Conservative Winnipeg South Centre, MB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to share highlights from my riding this past weekend.

Friday night I was at Grant Park High School's outstanding production of Les Misérables.

Saturday morning, I wished almost 1,500 ALS walk participants well and then enjoyed meting constituents at the Academy Road carnival. One of the highlights was the concert by the jazz bands of École River Heights and École Kelvin high schools.

Saturday night, I was pleased to meet past and present students of St. Ignatius School for their 100th anniversary celebration.

On Sunday I attended the Coptic Heritage Festival, which was a wonderful celebration of community. That night, I celebrated with the Jewish community's GrowForward group.

Late Sunday night, I represented the Minister of Veterans Affairs at the moving candlelight remembrance service for the Diamond Jubilee.

I am privileged to serve a constituency that is so active and so engaged.

Lamarche SlaughterhouseStatements by Members

2:05 p.m.

NDP

Réjean Genest NDP Shefford, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to extend my sincere congratulations to the Lamarche slaughterhouse in Racine for obtaining its operating licence from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Over 20 direct jobs and a number of indirect jobs have now been created in Racine and its neighbouring communities through the hard work and perseverance of François Lamarche, his wife, his son and their associate, and through the ongoing support of their family.

These visionaries believed in their skills and potential. They believed in the importance of creating a business in the region that would reduce the impact on the environment and contribute to reducing animal cruelty.

The cuts that the government made to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency are having a direct negative impact on small and medium—

Lamarche SlaughterhouseStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

The hon. member for Saint Boniface.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Shelly Glover Conservative Saint Boniface, MB

Mr. Speaker, the NDP leader is yet again advocating reckless economic policies that would hurt Canada in these times of global economic uncertainty.

Our government's economic policies, such as economic action plan 2012, which is a plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, have made Canada an island of stability in a troubled global economy, but the NDP leader wants to send billions of Canadian dollars to bail out wealthy European countries before those countries take necessary actions to fix their own problems.

Unlike Canada, Europe has refused to address its own economic problems. This is not the time to twiddle our thumbs and wait for Europe's financial situation to improve. Action must be taken to boost investor confidence.

The last thing Canada needs is the dangerous economic incompetence of the NDP leader, who would pose a serious threat to Canada's economic recovery.

Quebec's Disability Awareness WeekStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

José Nunez-Melo NDP Laval, QC

Mr. Speaker, this year, the Semaine québécoise des personnes handicapées has run from June 1 to 7. The theme is “Living Life to the Fullest”. I would like to take this opportunity to renew my support for the many organizations in my riding that help persons with disabilities, especially the Regroupement des organismes de promotion de personnes handicapées de Laval.

This week provides an opportunity to remember the importance of working together to help all people achieve their potential. The goal is to raise public awareness of the importance of respecting differences in society. Bringing to light aspects of the lives of persons with disabilities will promote their professional and social integration. This week is also a unique opportunity to fight prejudice and discrimination against persons with disabilities.

The Conservative government is ignoring this message. According to human resources departments, almost 85%—

Quebec's Disability Awareness WeekStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I regret to have to interrupt the member for Laval. I now recognize the hon. member for Prince Albert.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, the NDP thought it was not enough to promote policies that will cripple the Canadian economy and kill Canadian jobs, nor was it enough to divide Canadians between east and west and badmouth entire sectors of the Canadian economy. The leader of the NDP now wants Canadians to tighten their belts so they can hand out billions of dollars to Europe to pay for Greece's excessive welfare state and its gigantic debt.

If NDP members bothered doing the math, granted that they are able to do it, they would realize that such a reckless plan would kill jobs and put a huge burden on the economy here at home.

This is another example of why the NDP is dangerous for the Canadian economy and dangerous for Canadian families.

Brain Injury AwarenessStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Liberal

Kirsty Duncan Liberal Etobicoke North, ON

Mr. Speaker, June is National Brain Injury Awareness Month and highlights awareness of the causes and effects of brain injury.

Automobile and cycling accidents, falls, sports injuries, strokes, tumours and other non-degenerative conditions are leading causes of brain injury in Canada. A silent epidemic, brain injury is the number one killer of people under the age of 44. Unfortunately, there are no drugs or techniques that can cure a brain injury, and the emotional, social and economic costs are devastating to families.

It is time to take concerted action on the brain, to designate 2014 as the year of the brain and to fight for a national brain strategy to improve the quality of life for all Canadians, families and caregivers living with a neurological disease, disorder or injury.

We honour the courage and strength of all families living with a brain condition.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Trottier Conservative Etobicoke—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Speaker, the NDPs dangerous economic ideas are a threat to the Canadian economy and the recovery.

While our government's economic action plan 2012 has contributed to making Canada an island of stability in a troubled global economy, the NDP leader wants to send billions of Canadian tax dollars to Europe to bail out wealthy European countries before Europeans take their own action to fix their problems. Europe's refusal to deal with its economic problems should be the priority of Europeans.

The socialist, high-tax, anti-trade, anti-development, anti-jobs NDP should reconsider its reckless economic ideas. That party is a threat to Canadian families and to the Canadian economy.

Gender EqualityStatements by Members

2:10 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, BC

Mr. Speaker, last night was an historic occasion for Canada, the LGBTQ community and transgender, transsexual and gender variant Canadians.

I want to thank the 150 members of Parliament who voted in favour of my legislation on gender identity and gender expression as members from all parties joined together to get Bill C-279 to committee. I want to thank them all sincerely for their support.

I want to thank in particular the Conservative members of Parliament who helped demonstrate that through dialogue across the aisle we can make progress in the interests of all Canadians. Together we have taken an important step toward full equality for transgender Canadians.

I look forward to continuing to work with members of all parties on Bill C-279 in committee and when the bill returns to the House. I look forward to the day when full equality and full inclusion for all Canadians becomes a reality.

The EconomyStatements by Members

2:15 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Poilievre Conservative Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the NDP leader attacked our government for refusing to provide a bailout to European debtor nations with Canadian tax dollars. However, many of them have governed abroad the way the NDP and Liberals would govern at home.

Greek and Portuguese debt has been downgraded to junk. Nine other euro-currency countries have now been reduced in their credit status. They have taxed to the max, borrowed to the brink and are seeking a bailout to continue spending what they do not have. They will not get it from Canada.

This Prime Minister will not force hard-working Canadian taxpayers to bail out sumptuous European welfare state countries and the wealthy bankers that lend to them. Under our government, Canadian money will stay in the Canadian economy to create Canadian jobs.

PensionsOral Questions

2:15 p.m.

Outremont Québec

NDP

Thomas Mulcair NDPLeader of the Opposition

Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was in France today, where, I hope, he learned that they are planning to lower the retirement age from 62 to 60. The Conservatives are doing the exact opposite here—raising the retirement age from 65 to 67.

As we know—