Mr. Speaker, let me indicate at the beginning that I will be sharing my time. Unfortunately, I do not have much of it, but being a team player, I am sharing my time with the member for Gatineau.
Let me say how disappointed I am that once again debate on this important measure has been limited. We may get 10 hours altogether in debate at second reading on the bill, which means that the vast majority, two-thirds of the members in the House, will not have an opportunity to stand and represent their constituencies. It is shameful.
We are talking about a budget implementation bill of 350 pages, almost 500 clauses, and it amends dozens of bills. The budget for the department that I am the shadow critic for, Fisheries and Oceans, has a budget of $1.6 billion, and I am being given 10 minutes in the House.
The other day we had the opportunity to talk to the minister at committee on the main estimates, and I had 10 minutes that I had to divide among my colleagues in our caucus. The level of accountability by the government is absolutely shocking, frankly. We continue to see it.
One of the things that the Conservatives are changing is something that affects the region I am from, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. Not only are they getting rid of the Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation altogether, which is losing that voice, that on the ground voice, but they are getting rid of the board of ACOA. They are taking away the requirement that the CEO of ACOA is to report on the progress of that organization in contributing to economic development in the region every five years.
Talk about removing accountability at every step along the way. It seems interesting that ECBC, for example, is being disbanded, at a time when there is an investigation under way by the Auditor General into wrongdoings in the ECBC's decision to provide $4 million in new funding for a new marina at Ben Eoin. One might say that sounds familiar; it sounds a lot like what is happening under Bill C-23, the unfair elections act. Conservatives are getting rid of the provisions that would allow Elections Canada to press forward with charges against some of the Conservative members who have been under investigation for flouting the rules in the way they have prosecuted their own elections.
Again, it is a pattern by the government. It does not seem to give a hoot about democracy and things like fair elections, or about accountability. As I said, for a $1.6 billion budget at Department of Fisheries and Oceans, we get an hour altogether, and most of that is taken up by government in discussion with the minister. It is not good enough, as far as I am concerned, and as far as the constituents that I represent from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour.
I have very few minutes, but I want to talk about some of the things that the government could have done. There are a lot of things that it did that I do not agree with. Some things I do agree with. However, there is a lot that the government did not take the opportunity to do. These are things like investing in innovation, economic development, and high-quality middle-class jobs. We had hoped that Conservatives would continue to build on an existing job creation tax credit for small and medium-size businesses. They decided not to do that.
We wanted them to develop a comprehensive strategy to deal with persistent structural youth unemployment and under-employment throughout this country, to create and help businesses create jobs for young Canadians, and to crack down on the abuse of unpaid internships to ensure young people are paid for the work that they perform.
There is a serious problem occurring in this country, where young people, whether getting out of high school or out of university, are having a terrible time trying to find jobs to match their skills. They are having a terrible time finding jobs to develop experience and pay their own way forward, whether it be supporting a family or going on to post-secondary education. The jobs are not there, and the Conservatives have not come up with a plan to help deal with that, other than the Canada jobs plan which does not help students. It was announced last year, and it is only now being agreed to by some of the provinces. It attacks labour market agreements that provide funding for the most vulnerable Canadians, literacy training and job-readiness training in my province of Nova Scotia and throughout the country.
Provinces were forced, frankly at gunpoint, to sign this deal, knowing they were going to be losing funding that they had already committed for these labour market agreements, supporting organizations like the Dartmouth Learning Network and others throughout my province, and programs throughout the country. It is extraordinarily short-sighted, and an example of the lack of appreciation that the Conservatives have for the complexities of job training in this country.
We had hoped that the government would provide explicit transparent criteria for the net benefit to Canada test in the Investment Canada Act, with an emphasis on assessing the impact of foreign investment on communities, jobs, pensions, and new capital investments. I have heard a lot of employers in my constituency asking me why the Americans can protect jobs in their country but Canada does not seem to care what happens to jobs in this country. People are extraordinarily frustrated that companies that compete in the United States are prohibited from doing that, while at the same time American companies come up and displace Canadian companies.
Finally, we had hoped there would be a study conducted into the methods to encourage value-added domestic production in the energy sector.
There is a long list of things, but one of the things I am particularly concerned about is the fact that the Conservatives failed to restore the ecoENERGY home retrofit program. It was an initiative that worked well and was an investment into the renewable energy sector. It was an investment in Canadians actually taking control of the amount of energy they use and it was a good way forward. In their lack of judgment, the Conservatives have decided not to move in that direction again.
Let me finish by saying how disappointed I am as a member of this House of Commons, the representative from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, that I participate in debate after debate where the current government is shutting down our democracy. It is taking away my rights as a member of Parliament to examine legislation, to examine budgets, to give voice to the concerns of my constituents on these issues every single day. The Conservatives have been doing it repeatedly.
I am hearing from the people in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour that it is not good enough. They want to ensure that every time I have the opportunity I send that message because they are going to be sending their own message in 2015.