House of Commons Hansard #49 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was infrastructure.


Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:05 a.m.


Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the Minister of Finance that we also welcome the economic stimulus program announced in the budget. I want to echo Ms. Lagarde, who pointed out that economic stimulus is very important when growth is uncertain. Now is the right time, and the announced infrastructure investments are appropriate.

However, I am concerned about the time it will take to transfer the money. The Minister of Finance said that we would proceed immediately. However, the budget says that transfers to the provinces, such as Quebec, will essentially be made through the building Canada model. In the past, it took two and a half years to come up with a framework agreement, and then it took one and a half years to come up with an agreement for each project.

With this economic stimulus model, we need money to come in quickly, but that will not happen.

Why did the minister not use the gas tax transfer model?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:05 a.m.


Bill Morneau Liberal Toronto Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.

We know that it is very important to make investments and to make them as quickly as possible.

We will start with an $11.9-billion first phase of infrastructure investments. This phase will start very soon. However, we must still remain prudent. We must work with the provinces and municipalities to make sure that the projects are good projects and that they will help communities across the country.

We will try to invest as quickly as possible through the process that is working right now, but we will also be prudent with the money, which is really Canadians' money, to make sure that the investments will truly have a positive impact on our economy, now and in the future.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:05 a.m.


Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, I came across a very telling quote in the National Post. It said, “election promises are like babies: fun to make, hell to deliver”. It seems that the government is learning this lesson every day in the House.

It is kind of shocking the speed at which the Liberals have actually broken the election promises they made to the electorate during the campaign in August and September. It is almost uncanny to think about. They made a commitment to modest deficits, capping at $10 billion. They said that they would reduce the ratio of debt-to-GDP. They also had that goal of returning to a balanced budget. However, after taking power, they changed their minds.

They have nearly tripled the deficits now. They have admitted that they cannot control debt-to-GDP ratios. Finally, they decided that balancing a budget was a position that should be mocked. Needless to say, we know they probably have no intention on fulfilling that commitment to a balanced budget.

However, throughout all these changes proposed in the budget implementation legislation, the Liberals are deceiving Canadians about what the real facts are.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister took a moment to commemorate his first six months in office, but I am not quite sure what he can celebrate. After all, much of what the Liberals have done since taking office has been nothing more than simply undo the progress that we made as the Conservative government.

It does bear some time to talk about what we accomplished.

When the Liberals took office, taxes on the Canadian public were at their lowest point in 50 years. By the end of our mandate, the average family of four was saving almost $7,000 a year. The Conservatives took a $55 billion deficit, which we entered into on agreement with parties in the House in order to come out of the great recession, and in five years we had a surplus. Even during the global recession, the Conservatives ensured that we moved the economy on by creating 1.3 million net new jobs. The majority of them were in the private sector and full-time.

In fact, Canada was recognized globally as having the best job creation and economic growth records in the G7. What do we have today? Well, we have officials from the Department of Finance, the minister's own department, indicating a surplus has been left, yet the Minister of Finance stands every day in the House and denies the reality of a surplus.

The most recent “Fiscal Monitor”, which we continuously try to table as information in the House and are rejected, confirmed that there was a surplus over the first 11 months of the year of $7.5 billion. However, the government wishes to pretend that this does not exist.

The National Post again hit the nail on the head with it said that this “may be the first surplus a finance minister doesn’t want to talk about”. Earlier this week, I asked the finance minister a question on the “Fiscal Monitor” and in frustration perhaps, he said that the Conservatives would do well to get past “this whole balanced budget thing”.

I find it very surprising, and it is almost a bit baffling, that the Minister of Finance for our great country can take our economy so lightly in saying those words in this place.

My perspective of the budget is this. It is bad for Canadians and, as such, we must vote against this budget implementation act. Contrary to what the government asserts, this budget would stifle growth in our country. The excess spending that it sets out is not targeted and it will end up hurting Canadians in the long run because it will show up as future tax increases. That will nothing but saddle my kids, my grandkids and my family's kids with debt and deficits.

Even the Canadian Federation of Independent Business was not left alone in this budget. It had been promised small business tax cuts, and the Liberals have now decided to mysteriously defer this.

The parliamentary budget officer has indicated that this is going to cost small business $2.2 billion, which is a significant cost on the backs of hard-working men and women across this country who are trying to help us grow the economy.

This budget is fundamentally a betrayal of Canadians who trusted the Liberal Party to keep the promises they made in a campaign where a Liberal government breaks those promises. It is a betrayal of the middle class. They get it. They know that eventually, with the debt and deficits, they are going to have to pay for it through higher taxes themselves. It is a betrayal of families, because what family in Canada does not understand that they have to live within their means?

Right before the release of his budget, the finance minister's economic outlook showed that revenues were actually holding up better than expected. GDP growth in the last quarter of 2015 was actually higher than what was anticipated. However, here we are still on track with the Liberal government to borrow billions and billions of dollars that it does not need, to fight a recession that we are not in.

Conservatives believe fundamentally that we should always try our best to run the country like we would run our own households: not by living off credit cards, especially when the circumstances do not justify the spending, but living within our means. That is why, when we were in power, we mandated that balanced budgets be the law, not the exception to the rule.

Page 51 of the Liberal budget says, “The Government remains committed to returning to balanced budget”, but on the very next page, the budget says “The balanced budget legislation enacted under the previous Government is inconsistent with the Government’s plan to return to balanced budgets”.

The budget implementation act not only repeals the Federal Balanced Budget Act, it actually projects deficits extending longer than five years, with no plan to return to balance. This is a very curious quote. It is not just a projection to show another broken promise to Canadians, but it is an uncanny demonstration of the arrogance of the government, assuming that Canadians will re-elect them. That is not going to be an easy task after four years of the fiscal mess that the Liberals are about to plunge us into.

I would like to shine some light on other parts of this bill that set out to change the old age supplement eligibility from 67 to 65. As we know, this measure would have eliminated an estimated $11 billion in annual spending up to the year 2030. The decision was not made lightly, but it was made in keeping with OECD recommendations.

An expert on the issue said this in 2012:

The cost of OAS represents about 2.3% of GDP but the chief actuary for the Canada pension plan forecasts it would have risen to about 3.1% by 2030 had the retirement age not been increased.

That expert was none other than the now Liberal finance minister, yet Liberals are now moving to reverse this measure, even though the evidence suggests that it was better to keep it in place.

It is interesting to see what else the finance minister has said on the issue of OAS. Prior to becoming the candidate and then the minister, he wrote a book called The Real Retirement. We have given it a good read. Again, some of the things he said were quite interesting. Here is a quote from the book:

If we were to retire three years later than we do now, any concerns about having adequate retirement income would practically vanish. It would also alleviate any shortages in the workforce due to the aging...population.

These are very interesting remarks. He also wrote, “there must be moderate cutbacks in social spending phased in over time”. He also said that phasing in the eligibility age for OAS and GIS from 65 to 67 was a step in that direction. Evidently he disagrees with his own government's budgetary measures, by virtue of what he wrote not more than two years previous to that.

These are just a few examples of the Liberals' refusal to accept expert research, evidence and hard facts. Their platform is based on deception. On behalf of Canadians, I am deeply concerned.

In the budget document that was produced, there is a chart on page 63. The chart is often pointed to as showing examples of why Canadian families would be better off with the Liberals' child benefit, as opposed to the system we had in place under the Conservative government. However, if we read very closely, there is a bit of fine print at the bottom. What the fine print says is that the examples do not take into account the former measures we had, like income splitting, fitness tax credits, education tax credits, and tuition tax credits. These are all of the benefits that would be available in exactly those circumstances, which would then show that maybe not everyone is doing as well as they would under their Canada child benefit. It admits, rather cryptically, that Liberal evidence was being pulled out of thin air.

I have spent a lot of time in my career making sure that women have the opportunity and ability to enter the workplace and achieve great things. I fundamentally believe that if we want to grow our economy, we want to make sure we have great productivity and innovation, we cannot leave an entire part of our population behind. In many places in the budget, while the Liberals talk a good talk in how they are helping women, I fear it is going to be the exact opposite. I asked the finance minister in questions whether there is any hard data on what effects these measures would have on choices that women make in going into the workplace, how long they stay, and what they do there.

One of the areas I find very curious and interesting is the decision the Liberals took in small business that it was a sham set-up to allow people to avoid paying a higher level of personal tax. Why is this a problem? One of the areas I discovered in my time as a minister in the past, and in the workforce, for a lot of time now, is that women want to make different choices on where they work based on flexibility.

It is Mother's Day on Sunday, a day that we all look forward to. Being a mother is possibly the greatest job a woman could ever have, should she choose to do so. However, we also want to be active in our community and in the workplace, because we have great contributions to make. Sometimes a woman may make a choice that opening a small business or becoming an entrepreneur would allow her to balance what she wants to do in life, in terms of raising a family and also contributing to our economy. It is offensive for the government to indicate in its opinion that a lot of these cases are tax loopholes because husbands set their wives up in sham corporations.

More than that, it is a chill. It is saying that we do not really need to have them in the workplace, that we do not believe when they attempt to become small business entrepreneurs that they are doing it with great purpose. The tax cuts that were meant to go to small business, which have been deferred to the future, are another step along that continuum of chill.

It is very difficult, first, to have the courage to start a small business if someone is balancing a couple of kids at home. Second, we never want to make things happen that put the economic prosperity of our family unit in danger. Taxes do matter. It matters how much women make in their business. It matters how much they make in their life.

The reality is that getting through that threshold to take a decision to start a small business can be a very difficult one, for a lot of reasons. Now the Liberals will make it even harder, because that diminishing return will not be there for a lot of women. First they are told it is not a real business, and second they are told they will make it harder for them instead of making it easier.

It is not necessarily women-friendly. Why do I talk so much about small business and about women? It is because that is the area where women are entering the workplace in a disproportionate amount: 50% of small business start-ups are coming from women; two-thirds are from majority-owned women businesses. This is an area in which women can exceed and excel, and the door is being shut on it. They are putting a gloss over it, saying that it is not real work. I find that to be very disturbing, because after all, it is 2016.

One other aspect of the child benefit that I find of concern is one that not a lot of people will be talking about, but I will give it a go.

I grew up on Cape Breton Island. Cape Breton is a very unique and special place. I am grateful that the minister went to Sydney so he could see what it is like to be part of Cape Breton. I think it is important for people to see what it is like now, because things are not better on Cape Breton Island, despite enjoying a bit of a bump from the oil patch doing well. We sent a lot of our brothers and cousins and fathers, and a lot of our mothers as well, out there to work.

The reality is that in the eighties, when the steel plant closed, the fisheries closed, the coal mines closed, there was not a lot of work. As a result, and I am one of the examples, families split up and left.

The decision taken at the time by a series of governments was that the best way to deal with Cape Bretoners was to write them a cheque and make it easier for them to get government help. It was perhaps done with great intention, but it did not work, because the reality is that today the unemployment rate in Cape Breton is still atrocious.

Today, the saddest place in the world is Sydney airport. When kids come home from Ontario, Alberta, and B.C., or wherever they ended up, it is the grandmothers waiting for the babies to come off the plane.

I fear that when we set up a program that realistically is there to help, it can become a crutch. It will not be doing great things for women either, with entering into the workplace, taking tough decisions about being single mothers, or having the help from the government become more of a noose around their necks.

I ask the government to do very careful analysis going into the future on what effect the child care benefit will have upon decisions of young women to enter the workplace. Whether it is having an effect, detrimental or positive, I would like to see both. However, anecdotally from my past experience, being paid by the mailbox, as my friend from Saskatchewan has always said, is certainly not as good as being paid by a cheque. That is definitely the better way to deal with people's prosperity.

I appreciate the opportunity to stand in this place to talk about difficult things and the effects that policies may have on people's life choices. I appreciate very much that it is a touchy subject, and I hope that members of the House understand that it is not necessarily coming from a negative place. It is coming from an honest place of what I have experienced in my life and who I am as a result.

The budget implementation act has given a lot of great words and platitudes for Canadians to consider, but at the end of the day, the great concern I have is that Canadians will also be responsible for the billions of dollars in debt.

The Minister of Finance did say in his book, and it is very true, that debt prevents us from doing things such as sleeping well at night. Right now, knowing the kind of debt that we will be saddling our kids with, combined with the debt of the provinces across this great country, I fear that not a lot of us will be sleeping very well at night.

Conservatives will not forget the Canadians who voted for responsible fiscal management on election day. We will not forget those who voted Liberal either, because the plan that those people voted for, the plan that they were actually promised, is a far departure from what the Liberals have delivered in this legislation today. We will continue to hold the government accountable. We will continue to ask questions.

We are going to continue to fight for lower taxes. We are going to continue to fight for a balanced budget. We want to see a plan that will keep Canada growing and thriving.

At this point, I would like to move an amendment. I move:

That the motion be amended by replacing all the words after the word “that” with

“this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-15, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016 and other measures, since the bill does not support the principles of lower taxes, balanced budgets and job creation, exemplified, by among other things, repealing the Federal Balanced Budget Act.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Northumberland—Peterborough South Ontario


Kim Rudd LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I listened intently to my hon. colleague's comments, because she was describing my life. I am one of those women entrepreneurs who started a number of small businesses while raising my children.

I found it really interesting as I listened. As small businesses first start out, what the tax rate is, frankly, does not matter because owners are cashing their paycheques and putting that money back into the business, because they are growing the business and starting it.

What my small business needed and what the small business owners I talked to as president of the Chamber of Commerce needed were customers. I wonder if the member opposite would comment on whether she believes that growing the economy is the tool that would create customers for small businesses.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:30 a.m.


Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that, when individuals run a business, there are two things they care about: revenue and expenses. I do not know whether one is more important than the other. Both definitely have to be looked at in order to ensure that the bottom line does well.

On the expenses side, that is something the government could absolutely control; that is something that it could do right now to alleviate pressure on small businesses, to ensure that they do well, that they do have extra cash to invest in their business. What the government cannot guarantee, and what the government will not do through this legislation, is get more customers for small business, or increase revenue for small business. It is a plan, it is an idea, it is an ideology in some cases that putting money into the hands of the middle class will inevitably end up increasing the economy. Economists have said different things about what is going to happen to the GDP, but how Canadians feel about their security in our economy is going to determine whether or not they will spend that money.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:30 a.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have had the pleasure of sitting with my colleague on the finance committee.

Everybody knows that there is a wide ideological gap between the Conservative Party and the New Democratic Party, but there are some things on which we agree. I do remember, for example, the long crusade of my colleague Pat Martin, the former MP for Winnipeg Centre, for the abolition of the penny. We saw that measure in a previous Conservative budget.

Another element on which we can agree is the tax reduction for small and medium-sized businesses. The NDP introduced this commitment back in its 2008 platform, and in 2011 as well. We also did it in 2015. The Conservatives, once again, in a previous budget announced the gradual decrease of the tax on small businesses from 11% to 9%. The Liberals followed suit during the 2015 campaign. It is never too late to board the train. They said that they would also decrease that tax to 9%. What do we find in this budget? The Liberals have kept the first tax cut to 10.5% and cancelled the rest. This is clearly a broken promise by the Liberal government, and it will cost small and medium-sized businesses $2.2 billion.

I would like to hear my hon. colleague's comments on this.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:30 a.m.


Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the great work that the NDP did in asking the parliamentary budget officer for a true quantification of how expensive this would be for small businesses in Canada. It came out to $2.2 billion, a very large number. That is exactly the hit that small businesses are taking across this country as a result of the Liberals breaking their promise.

We do agree on a lot of things together, but we do also agree that we have to keep the government to account for the promises it made. The hon. member and I, through our work on committee, will make sure we do that every single time we meet as a committee.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:35 a.m.


Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her thoughtful comments and constructive criticism of this budget. However, a day after the government abruptly shut down debate on Bill C-14 to comply with the Supreme Court order to provide Canadians with the constitutional right to a physician-assisted death, I wonder if she does not find a bit rich the finance minister's comments about avoiding half measures, in that there is not a mention of a penny of the $3 billion promised during the campaign by the Liberals for palliative care, among other things, which would ease Canadians' constitutional right to live a full and complete life. I wonder if my colleague shares my concern about this disappointing delay of priorities.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:35 a.m.


Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the great impassioned speech he gave on the topic of assisted death in this House. He was one of the four MPs allowed to do so; three-quarters of us were prohibited from doing so as a result of the shutting down of the debate yesterday.

The hon. member brings up a very good point, which is this. There is no real policy rationale throughout this entire budget. It is half-baked at best. Promises made are promises are kept, depending on whom the Liberals wish to reward for their election last year. The saddest part of this budget is this. When we have a serious issue before this House, such as physician-assisted death, knowing that palliative care has to be that anchor on the other side, the rush on the one side and the complete ignorance to the issue on the other is breathtaking. Therefore, it is a half-baked piece of policy that we will be watching very carefully.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

May 5th, 2016 / 11:35 a.m.

Vaudreuil—Soulanges Québec


Peter Schiefke LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Youth)

Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from across the aisle used words like “cryptically”, and referred to “fine print”, with respect to some parts of the budget. She even used the word “arrogance” to describe the budget from the government. She referenced our government's decision to invest in families, in infrastructure, and in growing the economy. That was hugely problematic to the member opposite. She also referenced the fact that she sees an issue with the Canada child benefit, which would put more money into the pockets of families.

What is difficult to understand is this. When did this shift take place in the mind of the member when she suddenly had a huge issue with deficits, whereas her own government increased our debt by $150 billion? Also, when did she suddenly develop this huge issue with investing in families and providing support to families, whereas her government provided support to families?

What we have simply done is increase that investment and also made it clear for families to understand by making it tax free.

I would like to know what the date was when this shift occurred in the mind of the member opposite. I am sure it was October 19 at midnight. However, I would like clarification on that.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:35 a.m.


Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not quite know how to answer the question and still remain in the chamber. The reality is this. There are wide gaps of policy rationale difference between what the Liberals have done with the child care benefit and what we did with the universal child care benefit. The biggest difference is the term “universal”. Everybody in Canada received it and could choose to do with it what they would. As well, it was costed and within our budget to do so, and it made a lot of sense to give parents the ability to choose.

Since we are taking this walk down memory lane, I would like to ask the member this. When did his party figure out that it is okay to give money directly to parents? When did it stop being afraid they would spend it on popcorn and beer?

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:35 a.m.


Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, I have a great respect for the hon. member for Milton. I congratulate her on many of the points she made. However, I have something to ask with respect to her speech, which was very confusing. She repeatedly made mention of the importance of assisting women in this country and, in particular, assisting women in entering the workforce. She spent a great deal of her speech on that aspect. She even talked about the particular challenges facing women who are starting small businesses.

The New Democratic Party has championed having a national child care plan that would be the single biggest contributing factor to assisting women to enter the workforce, to contribute to our society, and to start those small businesses. However, the member was part of a government that, for 10 years, studiously and steadfastly resisted bringing in a national child care system that would have exactly the effect and impact that she so passionately advocated for in her speech. I wonder if she can help me understand and bridge that confusion as to why she is opposed to a national child care plan but wants us to encourage women to enter the workforce in every aspect they can.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:40 a.m.


Lisa Raitt Conservative Milton, ON

Mr. Speaker, where I land on the topic of institutional or national day care is this. It is a fact that the type and timing of child care needed in today's workplace is very different from what it was 30 years ago when we were talking about having one national day care system. Entrepreneurs have different hours, and millennials want to work different ways. I certainly wanted to work different hours that did not fit into the normal day care situation. In fact, I could not choose regular day care for my kids and ended up going to somebody in a house, who took in about five or six kids. That is how I did my child care.

It is the flexibility that I needed in my career that would be more, I would say, beneficial to women in the country, as opposed to a national day care plan. That is why I supported the universal child care benefit, because it would have enabled the mothers and the fathers to decide which way they wanted to deal with child care, which I thought would be the best way, given how technology changes the way we work.

I commend the NDP for all the work it does in ensuring that women enter either politics or the workplace. I appreciate that the member always brings up his point on national day care. I do not agree with him on it, and that is okay. That is what we do in the House, we debate those issues, but I am grateful for the question.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

11:40 a.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, the first budget implementation bill was really the first test of the new Liberal government in terms of the economy. Of course, there have been some ways and means motions, but, since the budget was tabled on March 22, 2016, this is the first concrete expression of the approach that the Liberal government plans to take.

I am saddened to say that this first test has been a failure. It has been a failure on many counts, especially with regard to the promises that the Liberal Party made during the campaign.

It has been a failure because the Liberal government promised to do things differently. I was a member here during the previous Parliament. Time and time again, twice a year, the Conservatives introduced omnibus bills that included many different elements. The omnibus bills were often 300, 400, or 500 pages long, and the Standing Committee on Finance had to study them within impossibly tight timelines, which prevented the committee from doing its work. In other words, it could not study matters that were extremely important to the social and economic well-being of this country in a careful, rigorous, and analytical manner.

During the election campaign, the Liberals promised the following in their platform:

We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny.

[The previous prime minister] has used prorogation to avoid difficult political circumstances. We will not.

Let us wait and see what happens.

[The previous prime minister] has also used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals. We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.

We are still waiting for that.

Let us now talk about the definition of the word “omnibus”. The Minister of Finance is denying that this is an omnibus bill. I will go back to the question I asked him. According to O'Brien and Bosc, our parliamentary procedure bible, an omnibus bill “seeks to amend, repeal or enact several Acts”. That is true of this 179-page bill: it seeks to amend 35 laws, it includes specific laws in their entirety, and it repeals other laws. It affects nine different departments. With that in mind, I think we can agree that Bill C-15 is an omnibus bill. It is characterized by the fact that it “is made up of a number of related but separate initiatives”.

The Minister of Finance himself said that these measures are related because they are in the budget. Instead of really doing what Canadians expect them to do, which is to take a different, transparent, and more responsible approach, the Liberals have decided to play with words by saying that all these measures are in the budget.

The budget is often 300, 400, or 500 pages long. If the Liberals now want to include all the measures in an omnibus bill by saying that they were in the budget, they are going to start changing the budget to reflect the legislative changes they want to make. That makes no sense.

This makes no sense because the size of the bills and the limited time we have to carefully study them preclude transparency. In order for the committee to do a proper job, it needs time and bills, especially when they are technical, that will allow it to conduct an analysis and present a proper report to Parliament.

It is not the case because there are many highly technical aspects of this bill that should be studied separately.

For example, the bail-in plan in the bill aims to solidify the banking system and reassure Canadians that if there is a failure in the banking system, taxpayers will not be on the hook for it. Often we are between the choices of letting the banks fail and having large consequences for the economy, or bailing them out with taxpayer money. This would bring a third possibility, which is currently being studied through OECD countries.

Why include this 20 to 25-page highly technical bill of its own modification of the Bank Act to be studied with hundreds of other measures that touch things as diverse as the Canadian Wheat Board, veterans, modifications to the GST, and so on?

This creates uncertainty right now among the Canadian population. I am not opposed to the idea of the bill. It should be studied. It actually might be a good way to protect the economy and at the same time protect the taxpayers. It is possible we will go in that direction. However, I am sure the government members, and all of the members of the House, have already received emails and communications from concerned citizens that this might touch their deposits, that the money they have invested in banks could be affected.

It would have been wise for the government to take this part and study it separately to reassure Canadians that this would not be the case, that this would not be like Cyprus, for example. However, the Liberals decided to put everything in this 179-page bill. It does not make sense.

What was the rationale of including a full bill that had been tabled in the House, Bill C-12, which aims at the reinsertion and the compensation for veterans? Honestly, I think we are all in agreement that we need to study this bill carefully. It would have been studied carefully if it had stood as its own bill.

If that had stood on its own as a bill, it would have warranted a study in committee over three or four meetings of two or more hours each, to ensure that the concerns of veterans were heard. What is going to happen now? The Standing Committee on Finance is going to review the provisions of this bill with the very few witnesses we will have for the entire study. To share their concerns and opinions veterans will have to compete with bankers and tax experts who will come to talk about other measures in the bill, including the bail-in regime.

Why draft a bill that we would debate here? We can discuss the details, but I think the House generally agrees that we should at least find a way to provide compensation to the veterans.

Do not tell me that this is not an omnibus bill, when it includes all these measures that could have and should have been studied differently.

Some of the other measures are highly questionable. Once again, they are going to have to share the stage with a myriad of other completely unrelated measures. I am thinking about employment insurance in particular. The government once again misled the House by saying that the EI surplus would be kept separate from the consolidated revenue fund and would not be used to fund government activities. However, we can clearly see in the budget that the EI surplus will be used as part of the consolidated fund.

Although the government may pat itself on the back for introducing measures to partly reverse the Conservatives' 2012 EI reform, those measures do not really meet the needs of workers and do not give them the protection they expect from the EI program.

There are measures to eliminate the discrimination between the different classes of workers, which forced frequent claimants, who are often seasonal workers, to accept jobs at 70% of their salaries and more than 100 kilometres away from their homes. We applaud those measures. We agree with them. We fought for that. Our party was the first to oppose those restrictions. Since I come from a riding where seasonal work is still important and still a major part of the economy, I am certainly in favour of eliminating those two requirements.

However, there are other very important measures that the Conservatives got rid of. I am thinking about what was known as the pilot project, which sought to bridge the gap between the end of EI benefits and the beginning of the working season. That measure was available to all workers in areas of high unemployment. For reasons that I cannot understand, the Liberals decided to restore that program but only for exactly 12 regions of Canada.

I do not take issue with these 12 regions getting an extra five weeks of employment insurance benefits. However, this measure should be available to all workers, as it was before 2012.

When I look at the Liberal members from the Atlantic provinces, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, which is really the only province to benefit from this extension, I sincerely wonder what they think of these measures. What do their workers in seasonal industries such as the fishery, tourism, and agriculture think of these measures that exclude them from the extended benefits that they were entitled to before 2012, when they had seasonal industry status? The Liberals are turning a deaf ear despite the fact that they currently have all 32 seats in Atlantic Canada. As my party's critic for the Atlantic provinces, rest assured that I will be asking them this question many times.

I still did not get an adequate answer to something else I asked the official opposition finance critic about. Why did the Liberals break their solemn promise to follow the NDP example and then that of the Conservatives who lowered taxes for SMEs? That promise has vanished.

Then they have the nerve to claim through the parliamentary secretary that they did lower the SMEs' tax rate because it has gone from 11% to 10.5%. It was not the Liberals who did that. Those measures were in place in the Conservatives' previous budget. Nonetheless, we would have liked the measure that we supported in the Conservatives' budget to be applied more quickly. It was a gradual reduction from 11% to 9%. The measure to lower the tax rate to 10.5% did not come from the Liberal government. It was a previously made decision.

I find it appalling that the Liberals want to take credit for a measure that has nothing to do with them, and that they are trying to divert attention away from the fact that they cancelled the gradual reduction that would have lowered the tax rate to 9%. This measure will cost $2.2 billion, and was harshly criticized by the small business community. The government has provided no justification whatsoever for failing to adopt that measure. It was one of the most important and most popular measures of the 2015 Liberal election platform.

The Standing Committee on Finance will have to pay particular attention to certain other measures. For instance, some elements are problematic and are causing concern and uncertainty regarding the potential disclosure of personal information to the Canada Revenue Agency. I am not saying whether that is a good or a bad idea. I am saying that, any time we are dealing with such sensitive issues, especially in light of what we have learned over the past few months regarding tax evasion and other problems that seem to abound at CRA, clearly we need to be able to take our time studying these measures. Once again, it is not my intention to block or obstruct the process, but I want to reassure Canadians that these measures are necessary and they will protect their privacy.

The government does not seem to understand that that is what should happen. It would rather bundle everything together in one big package. Then it will ask the Standing Committee on Finance to proceed as quickly as possible so the bill can be passed and we can stop talking about it. That approach flies in the face of the Liberals' commitment to transparency and to restoring the watchdog role to Parliament and committees and giving them the time they need to study and scrutinize bills.

We do not use our names in the House. I am the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. All members of the House are identified by their title or their riding. In committee, we use people's names. Why is that? Because even though our presence is determined according to the number of seats we have, we are not there on behalf of the government, the official opposition, or the third, fourth, or fifth opposition party. We are there to study the government's bills and ensure that they pass the test of legislation that will ensure well-being and progress for Canada, its economy, and its people.

We cannot do this with bills that are 179 pages long. Why is the number of pages important? The answer to this question can be found in another quote, this time from a study by Louis Massicotte published in the Canadian Parliamentary Review.

It has been computed that between 1994 and 2005, budget implementation bills averaged 73.6 pages, while since 2006 they averaged 308.9—four times longer. But the increase is even more huge than it looks. While during the first period a single budget implementation bill was presented each year (there were none in 2002 and two in 2004), bills of that nature have since then been presented twice a year except in 2008, when there was a single one. The yearly average of budget implementation legislation in recent years is therefore closer to 550 pages—this is seven times longer!

We should note that the period between 1994 and 2005 corresponds to a time when the Liberals held power. That was the last time that the Liberals were in power. Their budget implementation bills were on average 79 pages long. They sought to legislate tax measures affecting income tax, the GST, and excise taxes.

Now, we have just been casually told that a 179-page bill that affects a myriad of other measures, which may have been mentioned in the budget but are still extremely complex and should be examined separately, is not an omnibus bill.

I am not convinced by the explanation given by the Minister of Finance. I do not think the House or Canadians are either. They are not being fooled. This government, which promised to be more transparent and more accountable, is failing its first test miserably.

I would like to end my speech by talking about a point that was raised by one of my Conservative colleagues, and that is the fact that this bill repeals an entire law, the Federal Balanced Budget Act. I will admit that we did not particularly like that law, but the way the Liberals have chosen to repeal it is highly reprehensible. They are retroactively repealing an act that is currently in force and that, as of June 1, they will technically be violating.

Apparently that is not a problem for them because they are just going to retroactively repeal the law. It will be like it never existed.

We live in a country governed by the rule of law. The government cannot and must not start changing laws retroactively to exempt themselves from them. However, that is exactly what this government has done twice in three weeks.

The government wants to repeal a law, but as we are debating whether to repeal it, the act may have already been violated and the case could end up before the courts. That is completely at odds with the principles of a country governed by the rule of law and the principles of the rule of law.

For all of those reasons and others that I do not have time to get into, even though I hope to have the opportunity to answer questions from my colleagues, I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all the words after the words “since the bill” and substituting the following:

(a) is an omnibus bill that amends or repeals 35 acts and regulations, that retroactively repeals an act of Parliament, and that contains a bill that has already been introduced in the House;

(b) breaks the promise to lower taxes for small businesses;

(c) does not significantly improve access to employment insurance; and

(d) contains significant changes to benefits for veterans, changes to the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, and a new banking regulation without any review or proper parliamentary debate.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders



The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I have heard the subamendment from the hon. member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques. Normally, a subamendment can only amend the amendment currently before the House. I will therefore consider the proposal of this subamendment and come back to the House with a decision.

The hon. member for Burnaby—Coquitlam on a point of order.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders



Peter Julian NDP New Westminster—Burnaby, BC

Mr. Speaker, it was Burnaby—New Westminster and had been since 2004, but Elections Canada saw fit to change the riding and it is now the riding of New Westminster—Burnaby. It was Burnaby—New Westminster and now it is New Westminster—Burnaby, so go figure.

I want to follow up on the subamendment by asking you to consider the subamendment on the following basis. The actual amendment that the official opposition submitted a little while ago is “this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-15, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2016 and other measures...”.

Then there is a modification that has been offered by my colleague, the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, which does not change in any way the principle of the amendment that was offered by the official opposition, but does omit and add some words. The principle that the House declines to give second reading to Bill C-15 is very clearly maintained in the subamendment.

Also, if we refer to our bible, which is O'Brien and Bosc, on page 534, when it comes to subamendments, it is very clear:

Each subamendment must be strictly relevant to...the corresponding amendment and must seek to modify the amendment, and not the original question;

That is what has happened here with the subamendment that was offered by my colleague. It goes on to say:

A subamendment cannot strike out all of the words in an amendment thereby nullifying it;

As I have already mentioned, the principle is maintained that the House declines to give second reading to Bill C-15. Finally, it states:

Debate on a subamendment is restricted to the words added to or omitted from the original motion by the amendment.

This is exactly what the subamendment from my colleague does.

It is important in this House that we look at the precedents from this Parliament. I would like to cite a precedent from last month, April 11. In this House, the official opposition offered an amendment, that “this House not approve the budgetary policy of the government...”.

The subamendment that was accepted by you, Mr. Speaker, offered again from my very active and hard-working colleague, the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, was to maintain the principle of the amendment and add and omit some words that did not interfere with the principle of the amendment, but certainly sought in the subamendment to omit and add some words.

Very clearly within our bible, O'Brien and Bosc, very clearly in terms of precedents, including in the debates just last month, and very clearly from the wording that our colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, the subamendment should be considered in order.

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12:05 p.m.


The Deputy Speaker Conservative Bruce Stanton

I thank the hon. member for New Westminster—Burnaby for his intervention. I apologize for messing up his riding name. I am not accustomed to doing that. I recognize that error.

I appreciate also the clarity of his intervention in respect to this matter, and commit to get back to the House soon in terms of the issue at hand. We will take this under advisement, very carefully, and appreciate the urgency in respect to the debate of the bill and the amendment that is currently before the House.

We will get back to the House as soon as possible.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Spadina—Fort York Ontario


Adam Vaughan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs)

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's analysis of his interpretation of what an omnibus bill is. I have to say there is actually no formal definition in either the rules of the House or in terms of legal definitions of what constitutes an omnibus bill.

However, when one reads his and other assessments of what constitutes an omnibus bill, it requires that the omnibus bill not only group together legislation, which any budget implementation bill does, but it groups together legislation that is not related to the budget.

The very clauses that the member raised concern with as being complex and many—and I appreciate that even though it is not 643 pages, it is only 180-odd pages, a much smaller version of a complex bill than we have seen presented in previous budgets and certainly in the last one I was in the House for—every item the member identified is actually a budget item. In other words, they are of a family of changes to existing bills and legislation that are related not only to each other but are directly related to the budget.

I appreciate that the movement on restoring and growing benefits for veterans is a previous piece of legislation which has been sped up through this process so we can get help to veterans as quickly as possible. I appreciate his concerns on that, even though he seems to support it, that we have included it in the budget, I think is appropriate.

Additionally, the idea that EI reform and expanding EI reform is part of the budget, is part of the legislative agenda, and we are bringing it through at the same time.

A very famous New Democrat by the name of Jack Layton once said at Toronto City Council that when they argue with process, they have conceded defeat on the principle.

I am wondering if the member opposite would like to reflect on the fact that they actually support these measures in the budget, and that what they are complaining about is that they cannot support them individually often enough.

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12:05 p.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague, who is also the member for Spadina—Fort York.

We could debate this issue at length. According to our bible, this bill is an omnibus bill that includes different measures that can be found in the budget. However, just about everything the government does can be found in the budget. One could then make the argument that the budgets introduced by the Conservatives were not omnibus budgets.

We are debating the letter of the bill, but we must also debate the spirit in which the current government and the party made promises to voters during the election campaign.

The Liberals claimed that they would change things and that they would increase transparency and enhance the mechanisms intended to facilitate the work of committees and Parliament. However, that is not what this bill does, because it contains some extremely complex measures that will not be subject to a careful, comprehensive study, even though they will have serious consequences and should be carefully studied.

The committee will not be able to do so. The bill will then come back to the House and we will vote. The Liberals are doing the exact same thing as the Conservatives did before them. They are preventing even independent members from presenting their amendments in the House.

The Liberals' actions may be more subtle than the Conservatives' actions in the past, but we are still talking about introducing omnibus bills and about preventing the committees from working effectively.

In that sense, the process is unfortunately problematic. However, a number of the elements I mentioned in my speech, such as the Liberals' broken promises, will not go unnoticed. These elements could have been included, such as expanding all of the employment insurance measures and extending benefits across the country, not just in 12 regions. Some important elements in my speech should also not be overlooked.

At the end of the day, the point I want to make is that this government is no different from the previous government, despite the promises it made during the election campaign.

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12:10 p.m.


Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, for his trenchant critique of this omnibus budget bill.

I am sure he also remembers that the current government was elected promising a new health accord, yet the budget does not provide any increase in federal transfers to provincial governments, either as a share of the economy, or relative to previous projections. In fact, by 2019-20, this budget will have reduced annual transfers to provinces by $1 billion. To be specific, if we look at table 5.2.6 in budget 2015, it shows major transfers to other levels of government of $76.3 billion in 2019-20; whereas, if we look at table A1.4 in budget 2016, it shows the same figure down to $75.4 billion, again in 2019-20.

I wonder if the member for Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques would comment on why the Liberal government is cutting health transfers to Canadian provinces.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

12:10 p.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Regina—Lewvan.

This question is extremely important, and it goes to the very heart of Canadians' expectations following the last election.

On the NDP side, we clearly committed to restoring the 6% increase in health transfers to the provinces. What the Conservatives put forward limited the increase to the cost of living, with a certain minimum that was established at that time.

Clearly, this measure is completely inadequate for the provinces, which need those transfers to deal with the increased pressure being put on their health care budgets, largely due to our aging population.

It strikes me as problematic that the Liberal government is claiming that it is going to negotiate a new health accord. It is talking about negotiating one, not imposing one. However, the budget makes no mention of any increases in health transfers.

These negotiations will not be easy, because we are talking about not only the current situation facing the provinces, but also the situation they will face over the next 5, 10, or 15 years, since the demographic pressures are only going to increase.

What are the government's plans? We have no idea. Tabling the budget and introducing the budget implementation bill would have been a perfect opportunity for us to learn more about the government's intentions, but that remains very mysterious and nebulous at the moment.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

12:10 p.m.


Peter Kent Conservative Thornhill, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech

While we in the official opposition and the NDP disagree on many points and many points relative to this budget, we do have convergence in a number of areas. I wonder if the NDP shares our concern about the absence of any mention of what was an immediate commitment in the Liberal campaign for $3 billion for home care and palliative care at a time when the government is rushing to comply with the Supreme Court order for the constitutional right to physician-assisted death while putting off, we do not know for how long, the commitment to provide palliative care for Canadians' constitutional right to live a full, complete, and comfortable end of life.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

12:15 p.m.


Guy Caron NDP Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for asking that very important question. It touches on a belief that our two parties have in common.

Campaign promises were clear about investments and provincial transfers amounting to $3 billion for home care and palliative care, but there is no mention of it in the budget.

I think that is not all we should invest in immediately. For example, we can talk about restoring the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds, which help raise capital for venture capital firms. The Liberals promised to restore it to 15% right away. This year, when people filed their tax returns, it was 5%. The Liberals made a lot of promises and then shelved them. I suspect they made those promises just to get elected.

The palliative care and home care measure is extremely important because it would have helped so much with the debate we just had and will continue to have on medical assistance in dying. We missed a golden opportunity to connect a conversation about palliative care with the subject before us. The Supreme Court is expecting an answer from Parliament on that subject.

If we had debated home care and palliative care at the same time as medical assistance in dying, that would have been a very helpful perspective. It would have been very useful not only for parliamentarians in the House but also for all Canadians.

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12:15 p.m.

Winnipeg South Centre Manitoba


Jim Carr LiberalMinister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, I rise in this special place with humility and gratitude.

I rise with humility because I represent the 90,000 people of Winnipeg South Centre who, in the most magical moment of all in our democracy, have transferred their trust to me to represent them in the Parliament of Canada. They represent, really, all that is great about Canada, in all of its diversity across all of its neighbourhoods and with all of its sense of place and pride of place, as all of us in the House feel. We bring that pride of place to something that is greater than our own identities or the places in which we live: to the great country that is ours.

I rise with gratitude because I am here due to the courage of my grandparents. They left Russia in 1906, escaping the pogroms of the czar, Jewish people who were not at home in the Pale of Settlement, who could not exercise freedom, who could not own property, who had no sense of opportunity for their children or grandchildren. They came to Canada, where there was a single relative to welcome them. They came with no English, no money, and really no prospects. What they brought with them was a sense of hope, opportunity and the freedom to be who they were. They were displaced Jews from a foreign country. What they found when they came to Canada was limitless opportunity, if not for themselves, for their children and, in my case, their grandchildren.

In my mother's family, only one of the four children could go to university. Three of them went to work so one could learn. His name was David Golden. David Golden was a prisoner of war, who was captured by the Japanese in Hong Kong on Christmas day of 1941. He came back to Canada weighing 120 pounds in August of 1945. He then picked up his Rhodes scholarship and became the youngest deputy minister in Canadian history at the age of 34. His minister was C.D. Howe.

My uncle was one of a handful of public servants who rebuilt the Canadian economy after the war. What he taught my family was that citizenship in a country such as Canada and the nobility of serving that country was the greatest calling of all. I owe to my grandparents and parents a sense of what it means to serve the people of Canada. I am grateful for that opportunity, and I am humbled by it.

I come from a very special province for many reasons. We all think that our home province is special, but I want to talk about a few things that are particularly appropriate to the budget we are debating. We are all immigrants, with the exception of indigenous peoples who have been here for thousands of years.

I remember when I was president of the Business Council of Manitoba, we held a conference called Pioneers 2000. As an icebreaker, we wanted all of the delegates to see if their ancestors would have been allowed into Canada under the circumstances of today. It was remarkable because former premier Duff Roblin, a Progressive Conservative premier of Manitoba, whom I considered to be a mentor, would not have been allowed into Canada. The ancestors of Gary Doer, who was the premier of Manitoba at the time, would not have been allowed into Canada.

Therefore, I am so proud of what the country has done in accepting 25,000 Syrian refugees, with the promise of more. We realize that when we open up our country to those who are fleeing persecution from other places, we provide them the possibility of a lifetime, and that will always be repaid to the generosity of the nation that accepts them. I feel, as a Canadian, so honoured and proud to be part of a nation that understands that, as well as a nation that understands the importance of immigration as a way of building our nation.

We have a sensibility and a sense of generosity, which is really unique in the world. I was struck by the comments of the member for Outremont this morning in reflecting on the tragedy in Fort McMurray. He was probably speaking for many of us when he expressed that where else but in Canada would there have been such an outpouring of generosity, understanding, and a sense of the collective that we had a responsibility to help each other.

As a Manitoban, I also grew up with the understanding that our indigenous populations had been marginalized for decades, for generations. Therefore, I was happy to see the budget announce significant investments so children raised in remote communities would have the same opportunities that my children have for a quality education; that they live in places where the water is clean and does not have to be boiled; that they live in communities where schooling is going to prepare them to live out their lives to fulfill their aspirations, the same way my children are experiencing now. We have a historic challenge to offer indigenous communities what all of us aspire to, regardless of our ethnicity, our religion, our place of birth, and our community. I am particularly happy to be part of a government that has recognized this, not only with words but with action.

I am also very happy that within the first few weeks of us taking on this responsibility, we brought back the long form census. We asserted again the importance of evidence-based decisions and of scientific evidence as we looked at forming and informing public policy.

Then, who can forget November 4 when the cabinet was sworn in on one of those absolutely perfect days? The fall foliage was in all its resplendent colours, with not a cloud in the sky, and a gentle breeze. We walked from 24 Sussex to Rideau Hall. When the cabinet was sworn in, we saw a reflection of the nation itself. Many of us were particularly moved when our colleague, now the Minister of Justice, was sworn in. An indigenous woman, having just been appointed to be the minister of justice for Canada was in its own way a symbol of how far we had come. Remarkably, it was in 1960 when aboriginal people where given the right to vote in Canada. That is in the lifetime of many of us who sit in the House, certainly in my lifetime. Therefore, to see that the very diversity, the very texture of the country was reflected in the cabinet was very moving.

Very shortly after we were sworn into office, we were given our mandate letters by the Prime Minister. However, it was not just that I was given a copy of the mandate letter, so were you, Mr. Speaker, and 36 million Canadians. In fact, anyone around the world with access to a computer has access to what the Prime Minister has asked us to do as members of the cabinet, which is a remarkable departure from any other government.

As Minister of Natural Resources, the Prime Minister has asked me to do many important things. One of them is to work with the provinces to develop a Canadian energy strategy. I have a particular interest in the subject. In 2009, when the President of the United States came here to meet with the prime minister of the day to talk about a continental energy strategy for North America, a few of us scratched our heads and said “Well, that's a great idea, but what's the Canadian energy strategy?” There was not one.

We decided that we would put the frame around some principles, which ultimately led to the Council of the Federation publishing a Canadian energy strategy in July 2015, but the Government of Canada was not at the table. Therefore, a great national enterprise was not part of the Government of Canada's attention.

This is not the only example of how, over the last 10 years, the country has lost its sense of building national consensus over great national projects. In fact, the previous prime minister did not meet with the premiers for six years until the current Prime Minister called them to Ottawa to meet, first to prepare for the COP21 meeting in Paris, and then subsequently to begin sketching out a pan-Canadian framework on climate change, which most would agree is one of the great issues facing our time.

The whole nature of nation building by bringing leaders together to talk about those issues that were important to all Canadians had been lost. Well, not anymore. Now we are fully engaged in the business of building Canada from the top down and from the bottom up, as we have seen in the way in which the government has gone about doing its business.

Since taking on my responsibility, I have had the pleasure of representing Canada at the meeting of the International Energy Agency in Paris and of representing Canada at the G7 energy ministers' meeting in Japan just last week. My colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, has travelled to China, representing this government on energy and climate issues. Wherever we go there is a tremendous welcoming of Canada re-engaging in the forums of the world to talk about issues that are important not only to Canada, not only to Canadians, but to our partners internationally. This is a responsibility that we take seriously, and it is a responsibility that I discharge with the great humility of knowing that when I am at these places, I speak on behalf of the Government of Canada and on behalf of Canadians.

This is a government with a different approach, with a different tone, with a different way of going about its business, but also, as we see in this budget, with very precise commitments that give meaning to the promises of the campaign, that give substance to the mandate letters given to ministers by the Prime Minister and part of our commitment to the people of Canada.

I will talk about some of the elements of the budget that bear directly on the portfolio of Natural Resources, particularly on our commitment to facing the greatest challenge of our time, climate change. In many ways, Canadians are showing us the way, and I will give colleagues some examples of how Canadians are doing that.

At the north end of Howe Sound, a Canadian company is pulling carbon dioxide from the air and turning it into a fuel that can replace gasoline. In Okotoks, just south of Calgary, a community is heating its homes by collecting energy from the sun, storing it underground, and drawing on it as needed. In northern Ontario, Whitesand First Nation is looking to biomass to provide its electricity. In my own city of Winnipeg, entrepreneurs are providing streetside solar-powered stations so passersby can charge their cellphones and computers for free.

In these communities, and thousands like them across the country, Canadians are using their ingenuity to solve problems, to better their lives, and bring us to the future. They know our world must phase-out its reliance on the fossil fuels of the past and embrace the renewable energy of tomorrow. While that transition may be long, its trajectory is clear.

Our government welcomes this new direction. We recognize that as a nation rich in fossil fuels, we need to find greater ways of extracting those resources. We must also accelerate the use of renewable energy.

Some may see these two imperatives as incompatible. They may, for example, view any investments in oil and gas exploration or infrastructure as reinforcing the past rather than building the future. We disagree. We see opportunity in all forms of energy, and as the Prime Minister has said, the choice between pipelines and wind turbines is a false one. We need both to reach our goal. Here is why.

While it is exciting to think about the low-carbon economy of the future, we are not there yet. The truth is that even in light of the Paris agreement, the demand for fossil fuels will actually increase for decades to come. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency, the world will need a third more energy by 2030, and three-quarters of that energy will come from fossil fuels, nor does it end there.

By 2040, a growing middle class in developing countries will consume 26 million more barrels of oil every day. At the same time, the use of natural gas could increase as a transitional fuel, cleaner than coal or oil and more accessible than many renewables. In short, oil and gas are not going away soon.

As Canadians we have a choice. We can say shut down the oil sands and natural gas production and let others meet this global demand, let others have the jobs and reap the benefits. That certainly is one option, or we can say let us use this period of increasing demand to our advantage. Let us build the infrastructure to get our resources to global markets and use the revenues to fund Canada's transition to cleaner forms of energy. In other words, let us leverage the fossil fuel resources we have today to deliver clean energy solutions for tomorrow.

How do we get there? Our government understands that to attract investment and build the infrastructure to move our energy to market, we need to get our environmental house in order and have Canadians behind us. We have to go to work.

The Prime Minister went to Paris with our provincial and territorial colleagues and let the world know that when it came to fighting climate change, Canada would no longer be a bystander. Then he met again with the provinces and territories to craft a new approach to climate change, including the possibility of putting a price on carbon. This budget goes further, providing $50 million to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the oil and gas sector.

We are restoring credibility to the environmental assessment process, and as Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde said so well, “Before you build a respectful relationship”. We agree. All of these measures are aimed at creating environmental assessments that will carry the confidence of both Canadians and investors. That is what this budget does.

The budget also invests more than $1 billion in clean innovation and technologies, technologies that will transform traditional sectors and open up entire new industries, technologies that can strengthen our economy, preserve our planet, and expand the middle class. Worldwide investment in the clean tech sector grew by 16% in 2014 alone. In less than five years it will be a $2-trillion industry. If Canada were to earn just its fair share of that market, we could create a $50-billion industry by 2020.

This budget goes further, investing billions of dollars in clean energy and technology, energy efficiency, charging stations for electric vehicles and refuelling stations for alternative energy, and a low-carbon economy fund that will support provincial and territorial action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

All of the budget initiatives I have talked about today take us closer to our long-term vision for Canada.

I believe that Canadians are ready to embrace that vision. After all, our history is market by successive generations, dreaming big and achieving greatly. We saw that spirit in a railway that spanned a continent, a broadcasting system that connected a country, and an arm that reached into space.

Today, that same spirit animates Canadians in every corner of our country. Like their forebears, they are tackling big challenges with big ideas, creating a future that will be brighter than we can imagine. This budget brings us closer to that future.

Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1Government Orders

12:35 p.m.


Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his elegant speech. I want him to know that I share his pride in our country and look forward to a very bright future. I am paraphrasing, but he said the budget gives meaning to the commitment made by the government. One of the commitments it has made was to palliative care.

I was the parliamentary secretary for the minister of health for many years and I was here in the House during the economic downturn and I fought to make sure that there was no cut in transfers to the provinces. As a matter of fact, we continued to put more new money into health care.

I think Canadians want the priority of the government to be for people who are suffering, but frankly, there was absolutely no new money in the budget for health care, absolutely zero. The Liberals have been saying they have committed to $3 billion for palliative care. Our concern this week is that they have used closure on a bill on assisted suicide, a bill that would support an early death for those Canadians who are suffering and have no other choice without the same commitment or priority to alleviate the suffering of those Canadians while they are still alive.

I know the minister sits on cabinet and I was hoping we could get a commitment for some type of support today. Where is the $3 billion for palliative care? When will it be delivered? How does the government define its vision for palliative care?