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House of Commons Hansard #7 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was businesses.

Topics

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments the member is making. One of the biggest concerns Canadians have is with the whole process we are expected to follow with the Conservative majority government mentality, which uses budget implementation bills to corral other legislative initiatives, pack them in and then apply time allocation, thereby preventing due diligence and an adequate amount of debate on a wide variety of bills. In fact, when he was in opposition, the Prime Minister was very upset when the Liberals introduced an omnibus bill that had 100 pages to it. The current bill is 400 pages. In the last session another was 500 pages. We had one that was 800 pages. They are huge bills.

With regard to his thoughts on providing due diligence, how does he justify putting time allocation on a bill that would change so much in terms of legislation? It is not just the budget we are talking about but many other pieces of legislation. How does he justify that to Canadians?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, at that time I actually was not in opposition. I am a new member of Parliament but that is okay, I am happy to be here now.

With respect to this particular budget—

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Sopuck Conservative Dauphin—Swan River—Marquette, MB

We're happy to have you.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Thank you, I'm happy to be here.

Every Canadian had access to pre-budget consultations. In my riding, I held budget consultations. I stood in front of city council and had budget consultations with council members. I gave them the opportunity to speak and listened to their concerns. That is what is incorporated in the budget implementation bill, the concerns of my constituents and constituents across Canada.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

3:50 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my good friend for his thoughtful words. I am reminded by not only his speech but the speech from the previous speaker, the parliamentary secretary, of a good friend of mine that I went to university with, Dr. Brent Weinhandl, a dentist in the city of Wetaskiwin. After the election in, I believe, 2000, when the Liberals somehow won and had no right by our standards to do so, I said to him, “That's it, I'm moving out of here. I can't stand these high taxes. I have the skills necessary and I'm going to move to the States”. I cooled off a little, but the next day I phoned him up and he had already made the move to sell his business and move to the States to avoid the taxes and the gross misconduct of the previous government.

I want the member to talk about the value of the low taxes that we have across the board and also what was in the throne speech about capping spending and legislating mandatory balanced budgets.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Conservative

Bryan Hayes Conservative Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Mr. Speaker, that was a great question. As a former small-business owner in my riding of Sault Ste. Marie, I cannot say enough about low taxes. They are so necessary.

For major corporate employers in Sault Ste. Marie, such as Essar Algoma Steel, Tenaris Algoma Tubes, G-P Flakeboard, it is absolutely imperative that the corporate tax rate stays where it is. This is a globally competitive economy. We need to compete and we have a government that understands that.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

3:55 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to stand in the House to speak to the debate that is ongoing here and to talk about my riding and the economy in that part of our country.

First of all, I want to thank the people of Labrador for electing me as their member of Parliament and for allowing me the great privilege of representing them in the House of Commons of Canada. I also want to acknowledge and thank my colleagues within the Liberal Party and our leader of the Liberal Party for having such a dynamic vision for Canada, for being part of a team that is out there promoting the Liberal values and morals that are the foundation of our country.

I live in a very beautiful and vast region of this country. Even to this day, very few people know of its beauty and the value of its place in our country. It is known as “the land God gave to Cain”, which was coined by an explorer, Jacques Cartier, in 1534. It is a land known for its rugged beauty and distinct culture and as the resource energy house of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a vast landscape that has spiritual beliefs steeped very deep within its roots, and these roots are far-reaching and wide.

Let me give that statement a bit of context as I tell members about Labrador. Labrador's land mass is roughly 300,000 square kilometres. To look at it another way, we could fit the entire provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and the island of Newfoundland within Labrador's borders. This is a good reason so many people call Labrador “the big land”. I do not have to tell my colleagues what it is like trying to travel through my riding when I have to cover that kind of distance over so many different communities, some that are completely isolated, others that are connected by road.

For thousands of years, the indigenous people, including the Innu and the Inuit, harvested the land and the sea for the sustenance and longevity of their communities without much involvement or interference from anyone, including governments. However, as time passed, and through the late 1700s and early 1800s, trading with European companies increased. We have heard a lot of talk about trade with Europe in recent days.

Even back in the 1800s, trading with European companies was starting to increase. More and more, the English and the French began to settle in Labrador, as well as missionaries, including the Church of England, the Methodists, the Moravians, and the Roman Catholics. All of those faiths shared a belief with the indigenous people. To this day, the Moravian and the Roman Catholic churches remain an important piece of modern-day aboriginal culture in many parts of my riding.

Labrador's history is indeed rich and indeed has been very challenging over the years. Labrador was under Quebec jurisdiction between 1774 and 1809, when it was returned to Newfoundland. Quebec disputed the decision until 1927, which is actually just less 100 years ago. It was the British Privy Council at that time that defined the western boundary of Labrador and deemed Labrador to be under the jurisdiction of Newfoundland. There was no vote. There was no referendum. In fact, at no time in our history did anyone ever ask the people of Labrador what they wanted.

That is how the evolution of the great riding I represent came to be today. The political drama of who was to own Labrador did not end there, however. In 1932, the then bankrupt Dominion of Newfoundland was embroiled in a political vote and scandal that saw the resignation of its prime minister, Sir Richard Squires, and the attempted sale of Labrador back to Canada. The deal to sell the big land fell through, and once again, without any input from Labradorians, Labrador was given back to Newfoundland.

As part of the youngest province in our great country, our history's future began to speed up with the onset of World War II. The Canadian Forces base in Goose Bay, now forever known as 5 Wing Goose Bay, was built in 1941. It was used by the United States and Canada during the war that saw thousands of military personnel change the landscape and identity of Labrador forever.

Central Labrador is now the hub of that region. It is where south meets north and west connects east. Labrador is home to roughly 30,000 people, with approximately two-thirds of them living in western and central Labrador. Western Labrador is where some of the largest and richest iron ore deposits in our country are. In fact, it has some of the largest deposits of iron ore in North America.

The natural resources available in Labrador have caught the world by storm. At no other time in history has there been so much international attention and interest in the region, from iron ore to nickel to hydro-electric power, not to mention the natural gas and oil that is being discovered off the Labrador coast. All of this development and exploration has had many effects on Labrador and on Labradorians, some of them positive and some of them negative.

What this progression has done for our province on the world stage is have a direct and undeniable effect not only in world markets but on the future of our aboriginal people.

Labrador is home to three distinct aboriginal cultures. This adds to the colourful tapestry of our history and our lineage. As I alluded to earlier, for thousands of years, the Inuit and Innu travelled throughout Labrador, hunting and fishing and later trading with Europe.

Today the indigenous people have made many positive strides in self-governance and preservation and promotion of their own culture. In 2005, the Labrador Inuit Association, the political advocacy group that represents the Inuit in Labrador transitioned to self-government with the formation of the Nunatsiavut government.

Now under the leadership of their president, Sarah Leo, the Nunatsiavut government has direct control over Labrador Inuit lands and has regional governance over five communities in northern Labrador. In fact, the impact of the Inuit in Labrador is far-reaching. In southern Labrador, there is evidence of Inuit settlements and documentation of English and French traders working with and engaging in social activities with the Inuit people.

Today, the NunatuKavut community council, which is led by former member of Parliament, Todd Russell, represents some 6,000 southern Labrador Inuit and continues to press the provincial and federal governments for their own land claims, self-government, and recognition. I will push for them, as well, under Canada's aboriginal self-governance model, because they deserve to be represented as part of the aboriginal Inuit population of Labrador.

We reference Canada as a multicultural country. Labrador being one of the most unique regions of this nation could be considered a multicultural body in its own right. Like the Inuit and Innu of Labrador, we have a deep spiritual and strong practical connection to the land and to the sea. The Innu first nations people, numbering over 2,200, are formally represented by the Innu Nation. They live mainly in two communities in Labrador: Sheshatshiu in central Labrador and Natuashish in the north coast of Labrador.

Since the formation of the Innu Nation, the Innu people have benefited greatly from many natural resource developments in the region, and like the NunatuKavut, the Innu Nation has land claim agreements and impact benefit agreements with both the provincial and federal governments.

The aboriginal peoples, along with the white settlers, who date back nearly 400 years in that area, and the Basque whalers who came from Spain over 1,500 years ago, are the people who chose Labrador as their home. They have all gifted us with their knowledge and colourful history and have shown Labrador respect, demanding only the best from those who govern and real attention from those who choose to be the decision-makers in their land.

This last year, Red Bay, which was the home of the early Basque settlers who came from the old country, was designated a world UNESCO district. I want to congratulate all those involved in making this happen for the community of Red Bay. It puts Labrador on the map of the world so that many people may learn who we really are, not just as Labradorians and Newfoundlanders but as Canadians.

Labrador is also home to Torngat Mountains National Park, which lies in the sacred lands of the Inuit and borders Ungava Bay in the north. I have had the opportunity to hike and camp in the Torngat Mountains. I have witnessed the melting of the glaciers and have seen first hand the impact of modern-day industry on our environment. Those who defy that such things are happening are living in a land that will continue to suffer because of their attitude.

In my treks through the Torngat Mountains, I have had the opportunity to learn the trails of the early Inuit who crossed over from Labrador to Quebec, and yes, I have been to the highest peak in Labrador. The view from there is breathtaking, as it is from all across our country.

Today we are focused on two other famous Canadian landmarks that lie in the heart of my riding of Labrador: the Mealy Mountain national park, which is currently in the planning and implementation phases at Parks Canada; and Battle Harbour, the 17th century fishing village that represents our fishing industry and trade with Portugal, Spain, and France as well as the link for the Newfoundland floater fishery for more than 200 years.

Battle Harbour is currently designated a national historic site, yet it is run by a non-profit board that finds it difficult to continue without core funding. This historic piece of Canada is at risk without the financial support and recognition of Heritage Canada and the Canadian government.

We are a country that takes pride in who we are and in our history. Therefore, we should always make way to ensure that it is preserved and continues to tell the story of a great nation.

As rural Canadians and distinct aboriginal cultures, our challenges as a society are compounded. We have some of the largest developments and exports of minerals, such as iron ore, nickel, and copper, and the largest energy development project in history, on the Churchill River, with another development ongoing that will add 850 megawatts of clean energy to Canada's energy warehouse. We have a fishery with export and harvesting partnerships that we share with the Arctic and other foreign jurisdictions.

We have a tiny population of 30,000 people over 300,000 square miles, but we employ at least 3,000 or more people, other Canadians who fly in and out of Labrador, on a daily basis. We are very proud of our industrial record and of what we are able to contribute to this country from such a small group of people in a corner of rural Canada.

We are Labrador's resources. We are the second largest contributor to the GDP of Newfoundland and Labrador, next to oil and gas, but we lag far behind the rest of the province and country in infrastructure. I ask you why. How could a land of such abundance be lacking in so many ways?

In the 21st century, Labrador is only now being connected by highway. While the northern portion is not yet built and the southern portion is bad, gravel-top road, the Canadian government today that governs this country has not seen its way to designate the Trans-Labrador Highway as part of our Trans-Canada Highway system. This in itself shows the real disregard for our people who live in a rural and northern society of our country.

We are one of the most industrialized regions, contributing millions in tax dollars to the country. We have the largest exports of iron ore of anywhere in North America, yet we do not have cellphone coverage in most of our communities. We do not have broadband or even Internet access. Companies say that this is an investment for governments, for there is no return for them as a private company to build the infrastructure in these northern areas.

The government opposite talks about a break on roaming fees, which is all good, but what about those who have no place to roam in the digital age? What about all of those communities in the rural and northern areas that cannot connect? As Canadians, if we cannot connect, we cannot be full players in the 21st century in this country.

Earlier in my speech, I talked about 5 Wing Goose Bay, the Canadian military base in Labrador whose assets and geographic position make it the primary location for search and rescue and training for the north, including the Arctic regions. This base, 5 Wing Goose Bay, is a valuable Canadian asset that, if mandated appropriately, could be one of the major response bases for training the military and our Canadian Rangers and for search and rescue operations. It could be the staging area to launch our jurisdictional claims to sovereignty in the Arctic. I am asking the government opposite to stop using this military base as election bait and start using it to create real opportunities for the Canadians in this country.

The government opposite has been clouding 5 Wing Goose Bay with false promises, promising the moon but delivering darkness. Show people real respect, I say to the government opposite. Follow through on commitments. Start investing and measuring up to the expectations that it has left with people. They are people who work hard on the ground in the country every day.

I will not relent on this issue because I know the potential is there. If only the naysayers within government would remove their blinders and see the real opportunity that comes with a gift such as 5 Wing Goose Bay.

I could go on extensively on many of these issues. As the House knows, I have spent my life in Labrador. I am the proud daughter of a fisherman and of a mother who crafts from seal skin in a very elegant way. I am the granddaughter of an Inuit woman, and I know the significance of being in a culture that is dependent on the land and the sea for survival. I represent people who are strong supporters of this country and who have contributed so much in building the country we know today. We are northerners. We are rural people. We deserve the same benefits in this country as all other people.

I will work hard to ensure that the economy of these regions is recognized by the government opposite and ensure that these people get the investments they so deserve.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Blaine Calkins Conservative Wetaskiwin, AB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate my colleague for her speech. I am guessing this is her maiden speech in the House, so I congratulate her on that.

I wish her all the best of luck in convincing the rest of her Liberal colleagues and former Liberal senator Mac Harb on the value of the seal hunt. I wish her well with that. We are pretty solid on this side of the House insofar as supporting rural economies and ensuring we respect those traditions.

The member for Kings—Hants cannot contain himself, so I will ask a question for the member about the member for Kings—Hants, who might be a bit worried about his position as the finance critic, given the great comments from his party's candidate in Toronto Centre if she should ever get elected. This is Chrystia Freeland speaking in the presence of a leader of the Liberal Party, the member for Kings—Hants. Here is what she had to say on jobs:

It is increasingly the case that your job prospects are correlated not with how hard you work, not with how well you did at school, but with the job that your father had.

I find those comments a bit ironic and, frankly, moronic. I just wonder if the new member for the Liberal Party would agree with that sound economic policy from the Liberals' star candidate.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, first I am going to say that we take the equality of opportunity very seriously on this side of the House. My colleague, the member for Kings—Hants, has been one of the few people who have stood up in this Parliament on a regular basis talking about what is happening clearly with young Canadians and how they have borne the brunt of the recession that we have experienced in this country. He has talked about the youth unemployment rate. He has talked about the need to reach out and extend more resources to young people all across the country. He has done a marvellous job, and we commend him for that.

On the seal hunt, I want to say this, and I want to ensure it is noted on the record. My father went to the ice. My brothers still go to the ice to hunt seal. My mother has sewn sealskin until her fingers have been sore. To this day she makes a living from making this product. I cannot determine what the views of individual members of Parliament are in this House of Commons or in the Senate. I cannot determine how other Canadians will reflect upon this industry. However, I will tell members that it is a part of who I am, and it is a part I am proud to say I belong to. We continue to promote this industry, we continue to hunt, we continue to use the product and we do so in a very humane way. It is a part of who we are, and we make no apologies for that.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris NDP St. John's East, NL

Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate the member for Labrador on her speech. I have a history with the hon. member. In fact, she and I visited southern Labrador many years ago when we were both in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature. She sat as an independent at that time, and I do not think I need to tell hon. members here today that she will be as feisty a member in this House as she was in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature for 16 years. I congratulate her on her maiden speech, that being the conventional name for this, although it is probably a little inappropriate given the member's political experience.

I was in southern Labrador recently during a provincial byelection, and I can agree with the hon. member about the road conditions and about the lack of cellphone coverage. Never mind roaming fees or fees of any kind, residents of southern Labrador, and other parts of Labrador as well, just cannot communicate in a modern way, and I know these improvements have to be made and I know the member will continue to fight for them.

I want to talk about search and rescue in Goose Bay in particular. We all know about the tragedy of last year. Is the hon. member aware that the search and rescue mandate of the squadron in Goose Bay was in fact downgraded? Instead of having, as it had before, a secondary SAR responsibility, when the report came out after the tragedy of last year, the military spokesperson said it had no role in search and rescue other than any other military aircraft anywhere. Is the member aware that this downgrade has taken place? What is she prepared to do to help fight to restore that?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, my colleague is absolutely right. My first election in politics was as an independent member in the Newfoundland and Labrador legislature in 1996, and he was at that time the leader of the New Democratic Party in Newfoundland and Labrador, and we actually shared a wing of offices. We got to discuss many issues back in those days.

I am aware of what has been happening with regard to the search and rescue operations in Labrador. It is really unfortunate that it took the loss of life of a 14-year-old Inuit boy from the small town of Makkovik, for people to start looking at where search and rescue is in this country and how we have not been able to fulfill the expectation or even meet the basic safety requirements to ensure people that comfort in many parts of the country, especially in northern regions of the country.

When that happened, people in Labrador, in Newfoundland, all over the country and in this legislature asked the government opposite to do an inquiry into the death of Burton Winters to see what went wrong. Where did the protocols go wrong? Why was the response system of search and rescue not adequate to respond at that time? Where do we need to make improvements?

We never did get the inquiry. We never did get the investigation. Instead, a government minister, who is no longer in this legislature, flew into Labrador and made an announcement that a third helicopter would be added to provide those services in Labrador. We found out a few months later that at the base in Goose Bay there was no longer a requirement to respond to those search and rescue calls. What was the point of adding the helicopter?

If there is a supplementary question, I will explain the rest of the answer in more detail.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Mr. Speaker, I ask if the member would continue on in her response. This is a supplementary question to her to finish her answer.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Yvonne Jones Liberal Labrador, NL

Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that when the announcement was made that there would be a third helicopter added at 5 Wing Goose Bay and that this would be seen as an improvement to responding to search and rescue operations, we learned two things: one was that protocols got changed and there was no longer a requirement to respond, but we also learned that when the next tragic event occurred, the helicopters were not available. They were down for maintenance, or were unable to be used or had been sent out. There was every reason why these helicopters could not respond.

It is no good to pay lip service when people's lives are in jeopardy. When Canadians need to make the call for search and rescue, someone has to respond. They cannot respond if the human resources and the infrastructure are not provided in this country to do so. That is the reason that our party has been calling upon the government on a daily basis to respond to those needs.

Just recently, my colleague, one of the senators, obtained a DND report through freedom of information, which I had an opportunity to read. In that report it highlighted very clearly the deficiencies that exist in search and rescue in northern Canada and the depleted and worn-out aircraft that are available and their inadequacy to respond in emergencies. It also talked about coastal waterways and response mechanisms of the Canadian Coast Guard and how those need to be improved as well.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Conservative Barry Devolin

Before we resume debate, it is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the question to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment is as follows: the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan, Aboriginal Affairs.

Before we resume debate I would also remind members that, with the last speaker, some of the questions and answers were a little long, which was okay, but from this point on we will go back to our normal period of time for questions and comments.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, I had a whole speech planned, and then when I was looking through this document, Dominion Coal Blocks jumped out at me on page 209.

To a lot of people here, the Dominion Coal Blocks probably do not mean a lot, but they are located in my area. I want to give a little history about them and discuss the importance of what is going to happen with the federal government and industry with regard to moving forward on things not only in my area but across Canada.

In 1905 the Dominion Coal Blocks, which are commonly referred to in my area as parcels 73 and 82, were part of lands that were received from the federal government in exchange for the subsidy to use for the construction of the Crowsnest railway, which is commonly referred to now as the Crow rate. The coal blocks were created because of the coal that was found in the Elk Valley back in 1898. As a result of that, this land has sat for the last 107 years more or less on its own, with a bit of forestry and a bit of top burden being used over the years.

The importance of these lands to Canada, British Columbia, and the Elk Valley became evident several years ago, in 2011, the year I was elected to Parliament. The importance of coal with respect to Canada's exports was highly regarded.

The federal government has decided to divest itself of the Dominion Coal Blocks. This is huge for Canada and for the export of metallurgical coal. I want to briefly explain why it is so important.

There are very few places in the world where one can find metallurgical coal, or steel-making coal, as it is referred to. One of the main places that it can be found in the world is in the very southeast corner of British Columbia, in a place called the Elk Valley.

We produce about 1% of the national GDP each year from the export of metallurgical coal, and as a result of that the Dominion Coal Blocks become very important.

The decision to consider selling a portion of the Dominion Coal Blocks is consistent with the government's commitment to effectively use public resources. Private sector ownership of the Dominion Coal Blocks could allow the property to reach its full economic potential and maximize its contribution to growth, jobs, and new investments in British Columbia and across Canada while generating revenues for taxpayers.

It is really important to understand that by selling the coal blocks, not only would we obtain the opportunity to give back to the taxpayers of Canada, but more importantly, we would get to do the three things that we promised we would do as a government: create jobs, grow the economy, and ensure that Canada's prosperity continues to move forward. The Dominion Coal Blocks would do just that.

At this point in time it has not been decided what the final sale price would be. This is very valuable land, with some of the richest metallurgical coal deposits in the world, and as a result of that, it would benefit all Canadians.

Proposals received from foreign buyers will be assessed through a standard bid evaluation process. This would ensure consistency with the new guidelines for state-owned enterprises under the Investment Canada Act announced in December 2012.

That again is very important, because we understand that investment in Canada has to be of a global nature. Most of the coal that we dig out of the ground in the southeast corner of British Columbia is exported to foreign countries to ensure that steel-making companies around the world can continue to provide their products for an ever-expanding opportunity worldwide.

The Dominion Coal Blocks are believed to contain globally significant deposits of metallurgical coal. There is an important distinction between the market for thermal coal and metallurgical coal, which is used to make steel. A lot of people get the two confused. Although thermal coal is of great importance. it is used for heating. Metallurgical coal is used for making steel.

It is important that the Dominion Coal Blocks be released by the federal government.

Coal remains a key input for the manufacture of high-quality steel. As a result, long-term price expectations for metallurgical coal remain relatively strong despite recent price volatility. It is very important to understand that coal prices, especially for metallurgical coal, have fluctuated since 2008. It used to be at $40 a tonne; it is now at $150 a tonne, and two years ago it hit a peak of $320 a tonne.

I would like say that I am splitting my time with the member for Kitchener Centre.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

The great member for Kitchener Centre.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

The great member for Kitchener Centre. I forgot to mention that.

Part of the Dominion Coal Blocks are of huge value, and they are centred in a great area. Right now, as we speak, Teck Resources has five coal mine operations in the Elk Valley. I would like to provide an understanding of what that means to Canada from the perspective of economics and job creation.

In the Elk Valley, a small community of 15,000 people, about 5,000 people are employed in the coal mines, all open pit. From that, there is a contract with CP Rail, the single largest contract with CP Rail in Canada. Thirty per cent of its gross comes from the Elk Valley. There are 15 dedicated coal trains that send coal from the Elk Valley to Roberts Bank in Vancouver, of which five go in and five come out every day. Each train is worth $2,295,000, which is equal to $11,475,000 a day for each of the five trains that are exiting the Elk Valley. With the Dominion Coal Blocks, it will only mean more for the small communities of the Elk Valley, but what it contributes to Canada and the province of British Columbia is vitally important not only for health care but for schooling and many other of the provincial responsibilities the federal government gives money to.

It is interesting to hear colleagues in British Columbia sometimes call coal the four-letter dirty word. The reality is that dirty word, as I said, is about 1% of the national GDP.

Aside from that, I want to explain that with specific regard to the Dominion Coal Blocks, first nations have been at the table right from the get-go. The Ktunaxa first nations have been there right from the get-go. They will be involved with the entire process and will have jobs in the coal industry, as they do now.

It is very important to understand that first nations are vitally important in my area of British Columbia. I believe they hold a strong, important value to the economic growth of the communities. I would like to applaud the Ktunaxa nation for being able to involve itself from the get-go.

One of the final things I want to say is that all resource development projects in British Columbia undergo a thorough environmental assessment process and face a high degree of regulatory oversight in order to manage and mitigate the environmental impacts. While the sale of the Dominion Coal Blocks would not be subject to an environmental assessment, any future development proposals would be subject to such an assessment.

I cannot say enough about the federal government divesting itself of the Dominion Coal Blocks. For the Elk Valley, it means 20, 30, or maybe even 100 more years of employment for the coal industry. Until we find a replacement for carbon, we will require metallurgical coal.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

Raymond Côté NDP Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Kootenay—Columbia for his speech on what this omnibus bill means for the coal blocks. I had the pleasure of working with him on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and I hold him in pretty high esteem.

However, I would like to talk to him about the omnibus nature of the bill and the fact that the Standing Committee on Finance, of which I am a member, will be left to do all the work. The committee will have to examine this part of the omnibus bill and many others.

Since this is such an important and delicate issue, I would like to know if my colleague believes that it would have been better to separate this part of the bill and allow members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources to examine it directly.

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4:35 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, the Dominion Coal Blocks, from the perspective of natural resources, have been studied since the 1940s, not only by the federal government but by the provincial government. The reality of the situation for the finance committee is that this will bring great value not only to the Government of Canada but to all Canadians and British Columbians. I believe that it is well suited within the bill.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, we are starting to learn a bit more about what is in the minds of the Conservatives in the budget. With regard to infrastructure, in the budget in the spring they mentioned all these billions of dollars that were going to be spent over 10 years. That said, in Cape Breton we have the CBRM, the municipality, and it puts forward a report with all the infrastructure needs it has. It is all costed and includes timelines.

With great fanfare, we are hearing some announcements on infrastructure, such as the Toronto subway. When can a place like Cape Breton, or CBRM, sit down with the federal government and get some commitment for the infrastructure dollars it needs for the upcoming year? When are the other areas going to get what they need from this infrastructure budget?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, as the former mayor of Sparwood, B.C., for six years, I know one thing, and that is that we rely on the federal and provincial governments for money, but the reality is that the municipalities had better be shovel-ready when these announcements are made. We promised $2.7 billion in the budget this year for the community improvement fund, which will be rolled out in due course. I strongly suspect that as long as they have projects that are shovel-ready, small communities in Canada will have ample opportunity to ensure that they can move forward with them, so I would encourage the member to tell his people to have shovel-ready projects ready.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very interested in this proposal. I am glad to have the opportunity to pose a question directly to the member in whose riding the Dominion Coal Blocks are found.

I think a lot of people were relieved to hear that the federal government was paying attention to the ecological sensitivity of these lands in announcing earlier this fall that not all of the Dominion Coal Blocks would be put up for sale. Those who paid attention will know that this is an area of unique ecological importance and of transboundary importance. In fact, the United Nations has spoken of the critical importance of restricting mining in the area because of any threat to the waters in Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, which at this point is the longest remaining wildlife corridor on the continent.

My question for the hon. member is this: of the 20,000 hectares in the Dominion Coal Blocks, how much will the federal government set aside to ensure ecological integrity, and not sell to metallurgical coal development?

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

David Wilks Conservative Kootenay—Columbia, BC

Mr. Speaker, part of what is referred to as parcel 82 is subdivided and will be guaranteed to have no mining extraction from it. The part that flows into the Elk River drainage will be open for mineral extraction; the part that flows into the Flathead drainage will be protected from any mining at all. Lot 73, which falls north of parcel 82, will be open for bidding.

The member brings up a very valuable response. It is important for Canadians to understand that in this very interesting part of the country, heavy industry works very well with the environment. We have learned how to play well in the sandbox. We have some of the best ecological areas in all of North America and we are working side by side with heavy industry. It is in things like this, as the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands said, that we can agree that there are certain areas that we just cannot touch. We have come to understand that in the Elk Valley, and we are very proud of it.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

October 24th, 2013 / 4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stephen Woodworth Conservative Kitchener Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today in support of budget implementation act No. 2. This act would ensure that important provisions in budget 2013 would be implemented.

Before discussing the highlights of the bill, I want to mention the government's plan for balancing the budget and I also want to mention Canada's economic success. This government has an effective plan to balance the budget by 2015. It is a challenging task, but achievable. As with budget 2013, the bill would help the government to achieve financial sustainability.

World leaders, of course, are very interested in Canada as a result of our government's example and our economic success. Canada leads the G7 in job creation, in income growth and in keeping debt levels low. Canada is among the few countries in the world with an AAA credit rating.

The government's continued sound fiscal management will generate continued respect, but despite our strong financial performance, there are still challenges that we must face. The United States is experiencing ongoing difficulties. The European Union is continuing its long upward climb.

Last week's historic trade deal between Canada and the European Union shows our government's determination to seize international opportunities for Canada. The government must reduce its deficit so Canadians will be encouraged to do the same. We must practise what we preach.

The deficit was a justified response to the 2008-09 economic recession, but it must be temporary. By 2015, the government will balance the budget and will introduce legislation to encourage balanced budgets in the future. This will ensure that in normal economic times there will be concrete guidelines for returning to balance after any economic crisis.

With an aggressive debt to GDP target of 25% by the year 2021 and a plan in place, this government is on the right track. I am proud that the government, during and after the world's worst economic recession in almost 80 years, remains recognized around the world as an example for others to follow. I am very proud of the leadership of our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance.

The bill will deliver real solutions for Canadians and it reflects the goals of reducing the country's deficit and returning to balanced budgets. I want to highlight three aspects of the bill that I am particularly pleased with. I will elaborate on how the bill would support job creators, close tax loopholes and also respect taxpayer dollars.

Job creation is especially important to me as the representative for Kitchener Centre. BlackBerry, based in Kitchener—Waterloo, has suffered losses over the past couple of years and some of my constituents are on the hunt for jobs that match their highly talented skills. We enjoy some business incubators which support start-up companies and these include the renowned Communitech and also programs at the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University, world-class leading centres of education.

As Canada's small business week wraps up tomorrow, I am grateful to say that this bill would extend the hiring credit for small business. This would benefit 560,000 job creators across Canada, and hundreds of those job creators are in my region of Kitchener—Waterloo. With over one million jobs created since the depth of the global recession, this hiring credit would create even more places for the bright minds of Canada's future.

The bill would also freeze employment insurance rates for three years, leaving $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone. EI costs employees and employers hard-earned money. When I look at small businesses employing just two, three or four individuals, I see that this freeze will help owners to balance their books just as the government is balancing its books.

The government will also help the environment through the expansion of the accelerated capital cost allowance to include investments in clean energy generation. I was very pleased to see this. It adds to the government's existing investment for small business which is given through a small business financing program offered by Industry Canada and by loans offered by the Business Development Bank and by grants from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.

Achieving clean energy solutions is a priority. The challenge business owners face is to secure initial capital to develop those long-term solutions. Finding cost-efficient clean energy solutions is critically important for our future and developing those solutions takes extensive research.

As a long-time member of the environment committee, I am always looking for ways to ensure a sustainable future. Job creators will be encouraged to continue looking for clean energy generation through the accelerated capital cost allowance measure in this bill.

I am confident that Bill C-4 will benefit small businesses, start-ups and job creators in Kitchener Centre over the next number of years based on these new initiatives.

A second focus within this bill is closing tax loopholes and combatting tax evasion. I want to highlight the importance of these measures.

Hard-working taxpayers can be confident that the bill would ensure that everyone would pay their fair share of taxes. When everyone is paying their fair share, it keeps taxes low for Canadian families and creates incentives to invest in Canada.

The government will introduce new administrative monetary penalties and offences to deter the use, possession, sale and development of software designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion.

Although this government will always keep taxes low, we insist that all citizens pay all of their required taxes. Heavier penalties will force wrongdoers to use proper software and pay what they owe.

The government will also close more tax loopholes related to money transfers to ensure that everyone pays their fair share. It has already introduced rules to prevent foreign affiliates from converting otherwise taxable surplus income into the form of loans. There is also an information reporting regime for tax avoidance transactions.

Finally, the government will extend in certain circumstances the time for the Canada Revenue Agency to reassess taxpayers who fail to report income from foreign property.

The third point that I will highlight are measures to respect taxpayer dollars through initiatives introduced in March, scheduled to be rolled out upon budget approval. For example, by modernizing the Canada student loans program with digital communication, the government will deliver efficient ways for students to pay down their debt quickly and to apply for loan approvals or extensions sooner.

Another timely measure in economic action plan 2013 are steps to prevent abuse of the temporary foreign worker program, abuses which concern my constituents. The program was created to fill acute labour needs when Canadians were not available. It was never intended to bring in temporary foreign workers to replace Canadian workers. The reforms brought forward in the spring budget stem from the government's ongoing review of this program.

The budget would increase the government's ability to revoke work permits, enabling immediate action against employers who did not comply with the rules. These changes would also require that employers using the temporary foreign workers program pay temporary foreign workers the prevailing wage for a job. These are common sense changes made to the program to remove unintended incentives to hire foreign workers. These reforms would ensure that Canadians would always be at the front of the hiring line.

Other measures will deliver important savings for Canadians. The fact is that many products needed to support families are consistently priced higher in Canada than in the United States. By removing tariffs on imported baby clothing and sports equipment, budget 2013 will ensure that difference is reduced.

We can all be pleased that budget implementation bill No. 2 delivers a solid plan for creating jobs and economic growth, all while keeping taxes low and still balancing the budget by 2015.

This bill is great news for my constituents in Kitchener Centre. I invite all members of the House to join me in supporting jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity. I ask that members vote yes to this bill.

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2Government Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Rosane Doré Lefebvre NDP Alfred-Pellan, QC

Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank my hon. colleague across the way for his speech.

A little earlier today, the President of the Treasury Board had a hard time answering one of the questions asked by my hon. colleague from Pontiac regarding how the Conservatives are changing the designation of essential services for Canadians in Bill C-4.

The definition of essential services will no longer be decided on jointly by workers and the government. Instead, the government will unilaterally decide which services are essential.

My question to my colleague opposite is simple: what services will the government designate as essential?