House of Commons Hansard #169 of the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was rights.

Topics

Protecting Taxpayers and Revoking Pensions of Convicted Politicians ActPrivate Members' Business

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Protecting Taxpayers and Revoking Pensions of Convicted Politicians ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

Larry Miller Conservative Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound, ON

Mr. Speaker, there was a bit of fun being had over here, with the consequence that I believe I voted twice. I want my first vote to count, not the last one.

(The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)

Vote #329

Protecting Taxpayers and Revoking Pensions of Convicted Politicians ActPrivate Members' Business

7:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Conservative Andrew Scheer

I declare the motion carried.

Devastating news, colleagues. I need to inform the House that because of the delay, there will be no private members' business hour today. Accordingly, the order will be rescheduled for another sitting.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

February 4th, 2015 / 7:15 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, in December 2014, I outlined for the government the concerns that milk and cheese producers have about the impact of the Canada-Europe free trade agreement.

Although Quebec producers have developed some very high-quality fine cheeses, many producers are afraid that the arrival of several tonnes of European cheeses will weaken our young industry.

Just yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Quebec's milk producers. This agreement could have major consequences for the industry. Quebec's milk producers say that the concession given to the European Union could mean that 180 million litres of milk will not be produced or processed here. This could translate into $150 million a year in lost revenue for producers.

In the past 20 years, these producers have invested more than $100 million to develop the market. It would be quite unfortunate if these investments were in vain. It is important to add that the negative impact of this concession would be felt by Quebec in particular, as it produces more than 50% of Canada's cheese and more than 60% of its fine cheese.

Milk producers have been clear about what they want from the Government of Canada. Among other things, they want the government to invest the promised compensation in promotional measures for cheesemakers and producers, impose the same production and processing requirements on imported products, and apply the new quotas for imported cheese using a management method that will benefit the producers and cheesemakers concerned by investing a portion of the profits to promote cheese and develop new markets.

The member for Berthier—Maskinongé, who is the deputy agriculture critic, moved a motion in the House to have milk and cheese producers compensated for the potential value of their losses caused by the agreement. This motion was adopted and the Conservatives have since promised to compensate producers.

However, no compensation plan has yet materialized. I will read part of the motion because I believe it is important to discuss it:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should respect its promise to dairy and cheese producers of Quebec and Canada who will be affected by the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union, by: (a) revealing details without delay related to the compensation that will be paid; (b) providing for an implementation period for the agreement that is as long as possible; (c) putting an end to the circumvention of tariff quotas and the misclassification of products at the border; (d) maintaining high quality standards by imposing the same production and processing requirements on imported products; and (e) committing to provide support for commercialization.

However, since June 2014, no tangible measures have been proposed, and the minister even mentioned in committee that no plan will be made for compensation until producers suffer losses. No losses, no compensation. Dairy farmers are concerned that they do not know how the compensation system will work. What form will it take? How will losses be assessed?

It is important to understand that these measures are being sought to ensure the sustainability of the industry, which generates a significant number of direct and indirect jobs. Will the Conservatives keep their promise and provide cheese producers with proper compensation?

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

7:20 p.m.

South Shore—St. Margaret's Nova Scotia

Conservative

Gerald Keddy ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise this evening in reply to the member's question. I do need to correct a number of facts, though, and a number of mistakes.

To begin with, long before June 2014, the Prime Minister himself stated in October 2013 that the Conservative Party was fully committed to monitoring the potential impact of the implementation of new cheese tariff rate quotas under CETA and, if needed, providing compensation to industry producers should a negative impact be observed. This is not a blank cheque; this is only if the industry were to suffer a negative impact.

The other thing, quite frankly, that bothers me about the hon. member's statement is that she is talking about having a discussion with cheese makers in Quebec. Quebec has a very successful cheese industry, probably the most successful cheese industry in Canada.

In Nova Scotia, the small boutique fromageries have embraced this trade deal. They say the more cheese that comes in, the more cheese that is on the market, the more likely the person now buying boutique cheese for the first time will look for that product in Nova Scotia. They sell more cheese when there is more variety for the consumer. They have embraced this deal, and many of the cheese makers and fromageries in Quebec have embraced this deal as well. So, I disagree with her summation that the industry in Quebec is somehow completely against this deal.

Let us talk about the Canada-EU CETA and the position that it would put agriculture in this country. With CETA and the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, Canada will find itself in a very advantageous and preferential position. We will have access to the two of the world's largest economies, representing over 800 million very affluent consumers.

When we negotiated this agreement, our government made sure that it defended Canada's supply management system, unlike the official opposition, which only brings up supply management when it is politically advantageous, and which totally neglected it in its platform and during the last election and now, all of a sudden, is interested in it.

Unlike the opposition, it is our government that continues to ensure that the three key pillars—production control, import controls, and price controls—remain in place.

As I have said, this is an opportunity. Look at agriculture in Canada. Farm gate receipts in Canada are up straight across the board. The dependence on farm programs, meanwhile, is down across the board. Agriculture has never had a better government defending it than this Conservative government. We have done so and signed more free trade agreements than any other government in Canada's history, and have done it while defending supply management.

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

NDP

Marie-Claude Morin NDP Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his response.

Regarding supply management, it is not true that the official opposition, the NDP, only brings it up when it is politically advantageous. Supply management is part of our values, and we have always defended this system.

Also, my colleague said that Quebec producers are not saying the same thing as producers in the rest of Canada. That is not the reality.

As a member representing a riding in Quebec, I definitely plan to discuss this further with producers in Quebec. However, there is a consensus among Canada's dairy producers.

What I want to point out to the government is that producers are worried, and we need a concrete commitment concerning this agreement in order to ensure that our producers are not disadvantaged.

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Gerald Keddy Conservative South Shore—St. Margaret's, NS

Mr. Speaker, what we said very clearly is that producers will not be disadvantaged. Actually, they will have an advantage of 500 million consumers in the European marketplace to whom they will be able to sell cheese and cheese products.

Let us talk about this agreement and how this agreement was formulated. We did not just go out and sign this overnight. There were years of negotiations. There were dozens and dozens, and hundreds of stakeholders meetings. I attended many of those stakeholder meetings myself.

We were actively engaged with the cheese processors, with the provincial dairy producers and processors associations, from coast to coast. We dealt directly with the provincial governments and the municipal governments, with the cheese importers and with the downstream stakeholders. Everybody who could possibly be spoken to and consulted was given a chance to speak.

Finally, here is the deal as it is set out. If the industry has a negative effect, we will look at compensation. The reality is there will be no negative effect. There is room for extra cheese quota in Canada. Quebec has done a great job at producing it and I am sure they will continue.

InfrastructureAdjournment Proceedings

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rose in the House late last year to ask a specific question about federal infrastructure spending and referenced the city of Calgary.

I suggested that perhaps the problem Calgary was having was that it had not elected enough members of the government to this House in order to receive its fair share of infrastructure spending.

We have heard through repeated questions that the government claims it is making the largest investment in infrastructure in the history of this country. Let me explain what that means to the city of Calgary, as the big city mayors gather in Toronto as we speak to discuss the crisis on this very subject.

Last year Calgary got the grand total from the new building fund of zero dollars. There was not one penny. This year, again, zero dollars, not one penny. That is two straight years without a single investment from the government and the new building fund, despite the claims that it is a grand fund and a big fund.

Cities like Calgary, cities right across this country, and even small towns, for example we heard about Sydney, Nova Scotia this week, are getting nothing from the government this year, and they got nothing last year.

The problem with the fund as it is being proposed is that it is back-end loaded. Those of us with municipal experience and those of us who have watched government accounts know what this means. All of the money comes in the latter years of the program and none of the money is doled out on a consistent basis.

Canadian cities, and we will hear it from the big city mayors tomorrow as they meet in Toronto, are asking for a very simple commitment from the government. They do not want big funding announcements that get handed out sporadically and are back-end loaded. What they need is consistent and robust funding this year and every year.

The challenge the cities are facing is that without that funding arriving in city coffers on an annual basis, in a consistent and predictable way, they are unable to do the planning that is required to sustain growth in the cities.

In Calgary, with the oil market in decline and with oil prices dropping, and with the announcement this week that the housing market is very soft and prices dropping, it means that people are being unemployed in that city due to cuts at places like Suncor. What they also are not getting, despite the promise of the government, in terms of infrastructure support, are jobs to pick up the slack as other parts of the economy start to fail.

The call we have been making and the request we make of the government is to stop talking about these plans as being big unless they are big every year, to stop talking about them as a plan if they are simply back-end loaded, and to allow cities to move forward with constructive plans that make sense for the residents of their cities.

In the city of Calgary, it is very clear what that money is needed for. The money is needed, in particular, for transit. The request that we are going to see coming straight out of city hall will be for the Green Line transitway, $150 million; the goods and movement package which is going to refine and fix overpasses right across the city of Calgary, $78 million. They also need support for disaster resiliency funding and they are not getting it.

Zero dollars this year; zero dollars last year. When the government stands up and claims, as it will, I am sure, I have heard the speech, that this money is large, robust and is going to meet the needs of Calgary, the city of Calgary quite clearly, in concert with other big cities across this country, is saying zero dollars is not funding.

Zero dollars now is not meeting the needs of Calgary now. The challenge with receiving the funding in 10 years is, as we have seen with the government, that there is always an opportunity for governments to bail on the programs, to cut when they see recessions heading their way, and not sustain these commitments.

What we are asking the government to do is very clear. Will it make the funding available immediately? Will it roll these programs out immediately? Will the funding start to arrive at the same time the billboards come?

It is $29 million for billboards that arrive now; zero dollars for Calgary this year and zero dollars last year. That is unacceptable. Make a change, please.

InfrastructureAdjournment Proceedings

7:30 p.m.

Kitchener—Waterloo Ontario

Conservative

Peter Braid ConservativeParliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, we acknowledge the importance of infrastructure investment in cities and communities across the country. We also recognize the diversity of the needs from coast to coast to coast. That is why our government has continued to make long-term, predictable funding for public infrastructure a priority.

In 2007, we announced $33 billion in stable, flexible and predictable funding to the 7-year building Canada plan. Fresh on the heels of launching this plan, our government responded quickly to the economic crisis in 2009 with $5.25 billion more in infrastructure stimulus investments. In fact, the infrastructure stimulus fund supported over 4,000 projects across the country.

Collectively, this funding has had a significant impact. As a result of these investments, the average age of Canada's infrastructure has been steadily decreasing from 17.8 years in 2000, to 14.7 years in 2013.

More recent, economic action plan 2013 announced $70 billion for public infrastructure over the next decade. This of course includes the $53 billion new building Canada plan, the largest and the longest-term infrastructure plan in Canadian history, providing stable funding for a 10 year period. Seventy per cent of the funds available through the plan directly support infrastructure in cities and communities across the country.

In addition, just last month, our Prime Minister announced another $5.8 billion to address federal infrastructure priorities that will have long lasting benefits, including job creation. In total, that is over $75 billion that will be injected into the economy over the coming decade to support public infrastructure in communities across the country.

The new building Canada plan has been open for business since March 2014, and these programs are well under way. We are working with provinces and territories to identify projects. In fact, it is the responsibility of provinces to identify those project priorities. When they are provided to us, we are processing proposals as quickly as they come in. In fact, close to a billion dollars in federal funding for regional and national projects have already been announced, and we look forward to announcing many more in the year ahead.

Funding will begin to flow for these priority projects as construction begins and costs are incurred. This is solid stewardship of public funds and a principle we have applied since 2006.

In addition, we made close to $2 billion available to municipalities in 2014 alone under the now permanent, doubled and indexed federal gas tax fund. The city of Calgary is getting that federal gas tax funding directly.

As we clearly can see from the continuous federal investments in public infrastructure, there has been no break in federal funding since 2007, and money continues to be available to our cities and communities to address their infrastructure priorities. No federal government has ever made a stronger commitment to supporting public infrastructure.

InfrastructureAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Liberal

Adam Vaughan Liberal Trinity—Spadina, ON

Mr. Speaker, Calgary remains with the $3.2 billion deficit in infrastructure funding. Calgary got zero dollars last year and will get zero dollars this year. These facts are undisputable and they are part of the public record of the budget that the city of Calgary has produced.

We also have a softening housing market in Calgary, a 4,000 person waiting list for people looking for affordable homes in Calgary, and there is no action on this file to reduce that wait time. This is unacceptable, especially if the government spends $29 million advertising its program that will not arrive for 10 years.

We need stable funding. Continuing the Liberal policy of the gas policy is good news for cities. We applaud the moves that have been made to strengthen it. The trouble is that the infrastructure money is not arriving. Why will the government not flow the infrastructure money on an annual basis and on a consistent basis? Why do cities like Calgary have to spend zero dollars in new infrastructure when quite clearly they have transit needs, transportation needs and housing needs that are not being met and have no partner in Ottawa to help them meet those challenges? Why?

InfrastructureAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

Conservative

Peter Braid Conservative Kitchener—Waterloo, ON

Mr. Speaker, as I explained, our Conservative government remains committed to working with our partners, the municipalities and provinces, to make investments in infrastructure that encourage job creation and economic growth, and that enhance our quality of life. That is why we are investing $75 billion in public infrastructure, of which money is flowing now and over 10 years. This includes the $53 billion new building Canada plan, the largest and longest-term infrastructure plan in Canadian history.

From this plan, proponents can identify their priorities now and we will profile the funds to be delivered when proponents are ready to receive them as work gets under way. That is how the program works.

Close to $2 billion in funding was made available for municipalities in 2014 alone, supporting over 2,000 new projects, and funds continue to flow from existing federal infrastructure programs.

We continuously see infrastructure work under way in our communities, and this is a clear indication that the money is flowing.

InfrastructureAdjournment Proceedings

7:35 p.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Joe Comartin

The motion to adjourn the House is now deemed to have been adopted. Accordingly, this House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 10 a.m., pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 7:39 p.m.)