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House of Commons Hansard #149 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was economy.

Topics

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House?

Oral QuestionsPoints of OrderOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Business of the HouseBusiness of the HouseOral Questions

3:05 p.m.

NDP

Nathan Cullen NDP Skeena—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I welcome my hon. colleague across the way back to this session. It is as boisterous as when we left it.

In an effort to provide some hope for Canadians that Parliament can work together, my Thursday question this week cites legislation that the NDP, the official opposition, would be keen to work with the government in getting these bills to committee stage. I will name them specifically and see if my hon. colleague can make some mention of them: Bill C-21, political loans; Bill C-30, the lawful access, which has only five more hours of debate until it goes to committee before second reading; Bill C-32, the civil marriage act; and Bill C-37, the victims surcharge act.

The opposition is interested in working with the government to see all of those go through to committee stage and seeks to start this parliamentary session in a hopefully more productive tone than the one that we ended with last session.

Business of the HouseBusiness of the HouseOral Questions

September 20th, 2012 / 3:05 p.m.

York—Simcoe Ontario

Conservative

Peter Van Loan ConservativeLeader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, first, let me formally welcome back all hon. members to the House of Commons from their productive summers in their ridings, which I trust they had, working with and listening to constituents.

On the government side of the House, we heard loud and clear that the priority of Canadians remains the economy. It is our priority too. Not one person raised with me a desire to see a $21 billion carbon tax implemented to raise the price of gas, groceries and winter heat. I do not expect the member will see that in our agenda.

I also want to extend a warm welcome, on behalf of Conservatives, to this year's class of pages. I am certain that their time with us, here in our hard-working, productive and, I hope, orderly House of Commons, will lead to lifelong memories.

Yesterday, we were able to pass Bill C-42, Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act, at second reading. I want to thank hon. members for their co-operation on that.

I am optimistic that we will see similar co-operation to allow us to finish second reading debate tomorrow on Bill C-37, Increasing Offenders' Accountability for Victims Act, which the hon. Leader of the Opposition talked about.

This afternoon, of course, is the conclusion of the New Democrats' opposition day. As announced earlier this week, Tuesday will be a Liberal opposition day.

On Monday, the House will start debate on Bill C-43, the faster removal of foreign criminals act. This legislation would put a stop to foreign criminals relying on endless appeals in order to delay their removal from Canada and it sends a strong signal to foreign criminals that Canada is not a safe haven. I hope we will have support from the opposition parties for rapid passage of the bill designed to make our communities safer.

Starting on Wednesday, the House will debate Bill C-44, the helping families in need act. Once the opposition caucuses have met to discuss this important bill, I am confident they would want to support the early passage of this legislation as well. It would enhance the income support provided to families whose children have been victims of crime or are critically ill.

If we have additional time tomorrow or next week, the House will consider Bill C-15, the strengthening military justice in the Defence of Canada Act; Bill S-2, the family homes on reserves and matrimonial interests or rights act; and Bill S-8, the safe drinking water for first nations act.

We are interested in Bill C-21, which deals with accountability for political loans and making that consistent with the other political contribution provisions. If we have a consensus among parties to bring that forward, we will certainly do that.

Similarly, if we can see a consensus among parties on passing Bill C-32 as it has been presented to the House, we would be pleased to do that on unanimous consent.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Resuming debate. The member for Hull—Aylmer has three minutes left for her speech.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am going to back up to put things back in context.

I was saying that we are part of a federation and that, up to now, Stephen Harper has ignored the provinces' desire to talk about the economy. The Prime Minister has even refused to attend the national economic summit that will be held in November by the Council of the Federation. This is a far cry from the open federalism Stephen Harper was calling for not too long ago—

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

Order, please. It is very important to not use members' names, but to refer to them by their riding or title.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you, and I know that is not the first time you have mentioned that.

This is a far cry from the open federalism the Prime Minister was calling for not so long ago. This is more of a closed federalism. A federalism in which the Prime Minister makes all the decisions and the provinces have no say. Canadians want nothing to do with this kind of federalism. They want a co-operative federalism, a collaborative federalism, and that is what the NDP is proposing. A government must be open to having a dialogue and listening to the ideas of others.

The current economic situation is much too unstable and complex for the Conservatives to be avoiding talking to the provinces. Does the Prime Minister have something better to do in November other than to sit down with the provinces to try to find solutions to our economic problems? What justifies having the Prime Minister miss such a discussion? The least the leader of a federation like Canada can do is consult the provinces that are facing economic challenges as big as the ones we are facing.

That is why I hope the Prime Minister will reconsider his decision and participate in the summit in November.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:10 p.m.

Macleod Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies ConservativeMinister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debates today and I am very troubled by some of the comments I have heard. I refer to the hon. member's final statement about our Prime Minister communicating and meeting with the premiers of our provinces. Just today in question period, the Prime Minister said that he had one-on-one meetings 250 times with premiers. Perhaps the hon. member should listen to what the Prime Minister said. He has, and continues to meet, with premiers as well as many ministers and Canadians all across the country.

I am from Alberta and I get a little sensitive when the NDP tries to divide the country and blames my province of Alberta for the fact that we have oil and gas resources. It blames Alberta for helping the rest of the country, which we do through the tax base from those oil resources.

I guess the NDP's response was in platform 2011 when it said that it would take $21 billion of Canadians' money, raise all their costs and put—

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Hull—Aylmer.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would say in response to my colleague that I find it difficult to understand this government's position. To help the environment, we proposed a national public transit strategy, which would help the economy, help the environment and create a future for our children, and the Conservatives said “no”. That is what we are dealing with. The Conservatives refuse to talk about a future for our young people or about the economy itself. That is the reality.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated earlier, when it comes to strong national leadership, there is a huge vacuum coming from the government benches and also a huge vacuum coming from the New Democratic Party on the issue of strong national leadership. We in the Liberal Party support the need to see conferences for first ministers take place. We know the Conservatives do not believe in first ministerial type meetings.

What is confusing is the NDP leader's position of alienating and pitting one region of Canada against another region of Canada and then refusing to meet with premiers when they asked to meet with him. As the interim leader of the NDP, could the member indicate to the House whether she would have met with premiers had they requested a meeting with her?

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, to answer my colleague's question, we are proposing a solution here today. We moved a motion that deals with the economy and would ensure that all provincial premiers could sit down together to solve a Canada-wide economic problem.

I think that is a very clear example of the kind of leadership the NDP has to offer.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe NDP Pierrefonds—Dollard, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member for Hull—Aylmer for her speech on the economy.

After hearing her remarks, I do not want to pass up the opportunity to ask her to mention the impact that the cuts to the public service will have. Without any doubt, her constituency and her region will be severely affected.

What does she think about this approach that the Conservatives are taking to improve the economy and create jobs? Do her constituents really agree that this approach is going to improve the economy and create jobs for them?

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

NDP

Nycole Turmel NDP Hull—Aylmer, QC

Mr. Speaker, my thanks to the hon. member for that very important question. I actually referred to it in my presentation.

The economic impacts on my region and on the Outaouais are very significant.

I am already seeing a reduction in the quality of life, not to mention a reduction in services to the public or the fact that no alternative solutions are being proposed to help the economy of our region. It is very regrettable; it will be felt where we live and all across Canada.

The goal of bringing together the first ministers really is to talk about the economy, whether of the national capital or of the provinces as a whole.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:15 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am grateful for the opportunity to rise in the House today against the NDP's risky economic scheme and for our Conservative government's positive record on jobs and economic growth.

I would like to focus my remarks on our government's extensive commitment to long-term prosperity through the expansion of Canada's international trade relationships, something the isolationist and anti-trade NDP strongly opposes.

Our government understands that Canadians' standard of living depends on growing trade and investment, unlike the NDP, who would destroy our future prosperity with a job-killing carbon tax. That is why economic action plan 2012 actively pursues new trade and investment opportunities, particularly with large, dynamic and fast-growing economies. Our government has already made Canada one of the most open and globally engaged economies in the world.

No matter what the NDP says, our positive record speaks for itself in the results we have achieved. Both the IMF and the OECD forecast that Canada will be among the fastest growing G7 economies in the years ahead. The economy has created almost 770,000 net new jobs since July of 2009, with approximately 90% of them in full-time employment. Canada continues to have the strongest job growth among all G7 countries.

What is more, just a month ago we received high praise from our neighbour to the south when Tom Donohue, the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, stated:

We’ve got a strong example of the positive effects of good policies...Canada. Why has our northern neighbor recovered faster and more robustly from the global recession than nearly all other major economies? Due to a series of smart policy decisions.

...Canada has effectively addressed challenges...

We cannot rest on our laurels. We will continue to stay focused on what matters to Canadians, jobs and economic growth, including by embracing trade with our international partners.

After years of neglect by the previous Liberal government, in just six years we have reached free trade agreements with nine countries and are negotiating with many more. We have also concluded foreign investment promotion and protection agreements with 11 countries and are in active negotiations with 14 others.

For example, we are optimistic that our negotiations with the European Union will soon produce an ambitious free trade agreement that facilitates greater trade and investment between Canada and Europe. This agreement would improve access for Canadian businesses to the EU's $18 trillion economy and 500 million consumers. The potential to Canadian workers and their families from a Canada-EU free trade agreement includes a 20% boost in bilateral trade and a $12 billion annual boost to Canada's economy.

That is exactly why John Kirton of the G8 Research Group at the University of Toronto praised our government's approach by stating:

...opening of negotiations for a full free trade agreement between Canada and the European Union, one of the biggest economic spaces in the world. Canada is on the offensive here and that's really the way to go.

Just a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister met with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Ottawa to strengthen dialogue on this key initiative.

Obviously our government's approach to trade and the economy is working. Chancellor Merkel herself said:

Canada's path of great budgetary discipline and a very heavy emphasis on growth and overcoming the crisis, not living on borrowed money, can be an example for the way in which problems on the other side of the Atlantic can be addressed.

Combined with our free trade commitment is our continued tariff relief to enhance the competitiveness of Canada's manufacturers and importers. In all, our Conservative government has eliminated more than 1,800 tariff items and provided more than $435 million in annual tariff relief to Canadian businesses. As a result, Canada is now the first tariff-free manufacturing zone in the G20.

Our government continues to create the right conditions to enable Canadians and Canadian businesses to feel confident to invest, create jobs, participate in the global marketplace and grow our economy. Made in Canada measures like tariff relief have helped and will continue to help create jobs for Canadians, increase investment and innovation and improve productivity.

With all its talk of tax increases, the NDP forgets that our trade exports sustain one in five Canadian jobs, including exports of value-added products manufactured right here in Canada and also in my riding of Mississauga—Streetsville.

However, we must not forget that Canada's largest historical trading partners, the United States and Europe, are going through a prolonged period of slow growth that could well continue for a long period of time. We will not be able to rely on these trading partners to the same extent we did in the past. That is why we must develop new markets and create new opportunities in dynamic parts of the world if we are to keep raising our standard of living.

Our country's long-term prosperity is linked to reaching beyond our borders for economic opportunities that serve to grow Canada's trade and investment. Deepening Canada's trade and investment relationships in large and fast-growing export markets around the world is a key part of keeping Canada strong and growing. Our government is committed to increasing Canadian exports and creating the conditions necessary for our homegrown businesses to compete in the global marketplace.

While the NDP members posture aggressively to shut down trade, they seem to forget that the total value of our imports and exports in 2011 was equivalent to about 63% of the Canadian GDP. Our Conservative government understands the role trade plays in sustainable economic growth. That is why we continue to open markets to increase Canadian exports as part of the most ambitious trade expansion plan in Canadian history.

In the past few years, our government has been aggressively expanding commercial relations with the Asia-Pacific region to create jobs and economic benefits. The opportunities for Canada in this dynamic region are vast, with an economic growth rate that is two to three times the global average.

That is why our government is actively pursuing a whole host of trade initiatives throughout this region of the world. Unlike the NDP, which opposes free trade with Norway, Liechtenstein and even our North American partners through NAFTA, our government knows that trade with the Asia-Pacific region is the key to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in Canada.

Consider the trans-Pacific partnership, for example. The TPP's current membership represents a market of 510 million people and a GDP of $17.6 trillion. Not only that, but Canadians are now exporting liquefied natural gas to the Asia-Pacific region. This initiative will allow Canada to diversify its energy exports to growing markets in the Asia-Pacific region, further strengthening its partnerships with Asian economies.

While the NDP wants to shut down the energy sector and pit regions of the country against one another and impose a massive $21 billion carbon tax, our government is committed to growing our economy, creating jobs and prosperity for all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

As our ambitious trade agenda expands, so do our export markets. Perhaps of most importance, our government continues to strengthen ties with China, now Canada's second largest trading partner and expected to become the world's largest economy by 2020. In February 2012, Canada announced that after 18 years of negotiation, Canada and China had concluded a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement. This landmark agreement will facilitate investment flows between Canada and China by providing a more stable and secure environment for investors on both sides of the Pacific.

Canada has a strong network of trade commissioners throughout China who can help Canadian businesses assess the potential of the Chinese market, find qualified contacts and resolve any problems that may arise along the way. Mississauga is home to many successful Chinese businesses that will benefit from this arrangement. This network was expanded in 2009, when Canada opened six regional trade offices to expand our presence to second-tier cities, the drivers of China's economic growth. Our country now has a total of 11 points of contact for Canadian businesses in China.

Foreign direct investment between Canada and China increased more than fivefold between 2005 and 2011, to a total of $15.4 billion. The potential for increased Canadian investment in China is, to say the least, significant. To make the most of this opportunity, earlier this month we signed the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. This landmark agreement will facilitate investment flows and provide a more stable and secure environment for investors on both sides of the Pacific, and so will the updated Canada-China tax treaty, which once implemented, will further reduce tax barriers to encourage trade and investment between Canada and China. In the future, we will continue to work with China to increase Canada's competitiveness and sustain future growth.

Our government also wants to deepen Canada's commercial presence in Africa to create opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers arising from Africa's present and future economic growth. Opportunities in Africa for Canadian companies exist in sectors such as telecommunications, agriculture, energy, transportation, infrastructure, natural resources and education. In October 2011, Canada began negotiations toward a free trade agreement with Morocco, Canada's first with an African country.

Here in the Americas, Canada has concluded trade agreements with the United States, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia and Peru. Together, Canadian exports to these countries made up over three-quarters of Canada's worldwide exports in 2010.

In 2011, our government announced that Canada is moving ahead with exploratory discussions to enhance its trade relationship with South America's largest common market, Mercosur, whose members are Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. Mercosur countries represent an export market of nearly 250 million consumers and account for almost three-quarters of all economic activity in South America.

We know that our approach is working. Even Carol Goar of the Toronto Star, certainly no fan of our government, applauded the Prime Minister's trade diversification strategy as “long overdue”. While our government is positioning Canada for prosperity, all the NDP can talk about is raising the price on everything, from gas to groceries to electricity, with a risky carbon tax and slamming the door on new trade agreements.

While the protectionist NDP is stuck in the past, we know that the pursuit of free trade is fundamental to our future growth. However, a sustainable growth agenda involves structural reforms, including trade liberalization to allow Canadian businesses and their workers to fully compete in the global market.

Our Conservative government's continued support for trade liberalization is complemented by a strong and effective trade remedy system, which acts as an important safety valve for Canadian manufacturers harmed by unfairly traded imports. Canada's trade remedy system is currently jointly administered by the Canada Border Services Agency and the CITT.

In budget 2011, the government committed to proposing initiatives to ensure that Canada operates an efficient trade remedy system. To deliver on this commitment, economic action plan 2012 will consolidate Canada's trade remedy investigation functions into one organization under the CITT. This initiative will create efficiencies that will help the government maintain and sustain an effective trade remedy system. It will also cut red tape, making it less cumbersome for Canadian businesses to take action against unfair trade practices and will result in government cost savings.

Our government continues to create the right conditions to enable Canadians and Canadian businesses to feel confident to invest, create jobs, participate in the global marketplace and grow our economy.

Compare out actions with the anti-trade policies of the NDP. As even former Liberal finance minister and deputy prime minister John Manley noted: “The current NDP with its current set of priorities, its…views that are pretty much anti-trade, higher taxes, more spending…will not be very welcomed by the Canadian business community.”

We know that free and open trade has long been a powerful engine for Canada's economy, and even more so in these globally challenging economic times. We also know that open markets create jobs and economic growth for people around the world.

When exports represent one of every five jobs in Canada and trade generates over 60% of our country's annual economic activity, it is clear proof that our government's efforts to gain deeper and broader access to the largest, most dynamic and fastest growing markets in the world is the best way to create new jobs, grow our economy and bring long-term prosperity and other consumer benefits to families across Canada.

While the NDP wants risky protectionist schemes and a job-killing carbon tax to raise the price of everything, our government knows that increased competition created by open trade leads to lower prices and greater selection of products and services, all of which helps to reduce inflation and keep money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.

Our Conservative government understands the importance of market openness to the global economy and has shown continued leadership on the world stage by opposing protectionism and trade-restrictive measures.

Bizarrely, the NDP's plan is to wait and to hold meetings down the road while voting against Canada's action plan 2012, our Conservative government's plan to help create jobs and economic growth today.

Given this strong record and future oriented agenda, I urge all members of this House to do the responsible thing to oppose the NDP's risky economic scheme and today's motion.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:35 p.m.

NDP

Dany Morin NDP Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, my Conservative colleague opposite wanted to talk about the Canada-EU comprehensive economic and trade agreement, and I am happy to do so.

I will talk a bit about my region, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean. This region is 88% forestland. You can imagine that the forestry industry is very important in this area. My region is even the primary wood-producing region in Quebec. Communities in my riding, such as Ferland-et-Boileau and Saint-Fulgence, depend on this industry.

I know that the federal government has abandoned the forestry industry over the past few years.

I have a question for my Conservative colleague. As part of the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Europe, does the government plan on requiring secondary and tertiary processing, as well as local investments for the communities that depend on the forestry industry? That would be a great help to the people in my community, the families and workers who depend on the forestry industry.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the facts speak for themselves as far as free trade agreements are concerned.

The free trade agreements signed by the government have led to increased economic opportunities for Canada's exporters. I am fairly sure that the forestry industry in the member's riding will benefit from the fact that we are going to have access to a huge, brand-new European market with a lot of wealth and customers and people they can do business with.

I would think that the Canada-European free trade agreement, once it is concluded by both parties, will be a benefit to his constituents, as it will be to all of Canada.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments about the importance of trade. If we reflect on that for a moment, members will recall that it was the Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin era that ultimately led to significant trade surpluses.

Trade does in fact generate jobs. That is one of the reasons the Liberal Party has consistently supported good free trade-type of agreements. We have also acknowledged the importance of enhancing trade with our partners to the south. Here one could challenge the government on how it turned Canada's trade surplus into a huge trade deficit.

Having said that, I am asking if the member could look at the motion we are going to be voting in favour of, which in essence says that there is a role for the federal government to meet and work with the premiers to try to build a consensus. Strong national leadership would in fact result in a meeting of first ministers to talk about the importance of Canada's economy and things like trade and the importance of trade surpluses.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the member was here during question period, so he would certainly know that the Prime Minister answered the question.

The Prime Minister meets with the premiers on a regular basis. He talks to the individual premiers regularly. He talks with them about the economy regularly. The other thing the Prime Minister does, which I think is unique, is that he actually does sit down and listen to regional concerns. He does not pit one region of the country against another region of the country to score some political gains.

The Prime Minister supports an overall strong Canadian economy and has signed more free trade deals to ensure that Canadians keep good access to foreign markets than any prime minister in the history of the country. I am proud of Prime Minister for that.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Newmarket—Aurora Ontario

Conservative

Lois Brown ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Cooperation

Mr. Speaker, I know that the member lives in a riding very much like mine in the GTA, where people are hard-working Canadians, going to work every day and paying their taxes.

I wonder if the member could comment in particular on what a $21 billion carbon tax would do to the lifestyle of the people he represents?

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, when I was knocking on doors and in the many interactions I have had with my constituents on a regular basis in my riding, through the many events and functions I go to, including the town hall meetings I have been holding, there was no doubt that Canadians already believe they pay too much tax.

They certainly are not going to accept a brand-new whopping carbon tax that is going to whack up gas prices at the pump by 10¢ a litre and significantly increase the cost of groceries and significantly increase the cost of the natural gas and electricity they need in their homes.

Even more importantly, for a party that talks a good game about public transit, just imagine how municipalities like Mississauga are going to get whacked by the increased cost of diesel fuel and the other things needed for buses and the transit system to move my constituents around.

This is an irresponsible position taken by the opposition members, who should be ashamed for suggesting that Canadians pay a $21 billion carbon tax. It is shameful.

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:40 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Speaker, I know that the hon. member talked about free trade. He also specifically mentioned our trade agreement with Mexico. Now of course that is NAFTA, our trade agreement with Mexico and the United States.

I am wondering if the member has taken the time to actually read that agreement and its side agreements. A very important side agreement to NAFTA requires Canada, as a signatory, to ensure that it never downgrades its environmental standards for economic advantage and that it takes measures to ensure that Canadians can participate in decision-making, particularly on projects that may impact the environment.

The government, as the member knows, moved in the last budget bill to downgrade all of our environmental laws.

Second, the Minister of Natural Resources has said that all these Canadians who want to participate in the pipeline review are un-Canadian and are terrorists. What would the member like to say about that?

Opposition Motion—The Canadian EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

3:45 p.m.

Conservative

Brad Butt Conservative Mississauga—Streetsville, ON

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources said nothing of the kind.

What we would do through our changes to the economic action plan is to have a streamlined, responsible, effective, one-time, proper and full environmental review, and not duplicate the processes involved but actually rely on our provincial partners who have a lot of expertise as well in environmental review. I call that working together with our partners.

We have indicated that any projects for pipelines or expansions or whatever will be approved solely on the basis of their meeting the scientific requirements, as the Prime Minister has said. That is the commitment we have made and that is what we are going to do. However, we have to be mindful as well that these projects are very important for a region like that of this member from Alberta. These projects are extremely important for the long-term economic viability of, and long-term jobs in, not just Alberta but across the country.