Mr. Speaker, this has been a very wide-ranging debate today on the budget bill, as it should be. I am going to add to that wide-ranging discussion of what we are faced with here in the House. I am speaking to Bill C-63, and it is the second budget implementation bill. I regret to say that I will be voting against the bill, and I hope to outline in this speech why that is the case.
In a nutshell, there are many things in this bill. It proposes to bring into effect new spending and new regulations with which I do not agree. There are many things that are not in this bill that I would like to see; for example, money for a national pharmacare program or more money for housing, which is of such critical concern in my riding of Burnaby South. However, that money is not there.
I want to bring to the attention of the House today that I am voting against this bill in part to protest and bring attention to the way the current government presents information to the public. In many cases, data are used to promote certain economic activities; the data that are used by the government are badly distorted, whether on purpose or through incompetence; or it is just plain wrong.
In the last Parliament when I would get up and talk about budgets, especially on the science portfolio, which I oversee for the NDP, I would ask for the presentation of data adjusted for inflation, for example, if they are looking at longitudinal data. I remember the Conservatives telling me that was some socialist voodoo economics, but in fact it is just a realistic way of looking at how money is spent over time.
I have not heard back from the current government, but I expect to be heckled a bit as I go through this talk today.
I would like to bring attention to the way the government throws around job-creation figures. As we did with the Conservative government in the last Parliament, we often get hyper-inflated numbers of job creation that always tie back to the budget, the spending, and those types of things. The Prime Minister's cabinet members are talking about jobs associated with their plan to ram a pipeline through British Columbia. That is of course the Kinder Morgan pipeline. If members will recall, this project was approved and the Prime Minister broke his promise to British Columbians and said that he would thoroughly review the project to see how many jobs and what would be the effect on the environment. However, he did not do that, and the Liberals are pushing it through against the wishes of the provincial government, most first nations communities, mayors and councils, and millions of British Columbians. Therefore, what I take specific issue with is the way the Liberals portray their job-creation numbers, not only in relation to the budget but in this specific case.
When the Prime Minister announced the approval of the pipeline, he said he would create 15,000 new middle-class jobs, and we see this in the budget document where we hear about all the jobs that the spending would create. However, in this case with the pipeline, the Prime Minister and his other ministers and parliamentary secretaries have said that this would create “15,000 new middle-class jobs”. This is repeated over and over. This is a lot of jobs; 15,000 jobs is a big number, and people might be tempted to overlook the environmental damage and the damage to relations with first nations that this might create, and they might support the project if, in fact, the figure of 15,000 jobs were true, but it is not. Really, the number is straight out of the mouths of the pipeline company proponents, the spin doctors, right onto the lips of the Prime Minister and of the parliamentary secretaries who defend the pipeline, and of the entire Liberal caucus in British Columbia, which is also solidly behind pushing this pipeline through our province.
The Prime Minister's ministers in cabinet repeat this number over and over again, so I feel it is important to delve into the number because it exposes the incompetence and duplicity of the current government when it comes to its economic statements. The first thing to note is that 15,000 jobs that the pipeline supposedly is going to create is just plain wrong, according to many analysts—for example, Robyn Allan, who has written extensively on this and testified both as an expert to the National Energy Board and on her own in many publications, is taking on this number firmly and convincingly.
Ms. Allan is no slouch. She is a former president and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, the vice-president of finance at Parklane Ventures Ltd., and senior economist for the B.C. Credit Union. She is an expert witness on economic and insurance-related issues right here in Ottawa. She has taught money and banking, public finance, and micro and macroeconomics in universities. She has written numerous articles and books. If we were to call a witness to talk about how many jobs a project or a budget would actually create, this is the type of person we would want to advise us.
According to Ms. Robyn Allan, this number of 15,000 jobs associated with the Kinder Morgan pipeline is six times the number of temporary construction jobs actually presented by the company in its National Energy Board application. The Prime Minister, the parliamentary secretaries, the cabinet, and the B.C. caucus are all saying that the Kinder Morgan pipeline will create 15,000 jobs during its construction. However, that is contrary to what the company presented in its documentation to the National Energy Board. Therefore, the government has inflated this number sixfold. If we extrapolate that over other parts of the budget and other parts of the claims by the government, this makes us doubt almost everything that it is putting forward.
The 15,000 jobs number comes from a fantastical calculation based on a doubling of the amount of construction time this proposed pipeline is allowed to take. The pipeline is supposed to be constructed over two years. This 15,000 job number comes from a four-year construction period. Therefore, according to Ms. Allan, “Trans Mountain's estimate of 15,000 construction workforce jobs is a scam. The more realistic figure is less than 20 per cent of that size.”
Therefore, when Canadians are here listening to this debate in the House about the Liberals and their fiscal plans, the latter are flat out telling falsehoods about what we can expect with respect to one of the biggest projects in the country. They downplay the environmental damage that just one spill from this pipeline or its construction would create in communities right across British Columbia and have artificially inflated the number of jobs that will be created.
What is also important is the second part of the Prime Minister's statement that these jobs will be middle-class jobs. These 15,000 jobs the government claims will come from this pipeline are not permanent. This is of course from documents submitted by the company to the National Energy Board, which state, “Once the proposed Expansion Project is complete, operating and maintaining...[this] Pipeline system will result in approximately 90 new operating positions”. In fact, we will never see the Prime Minister stand up and say that he has justified this pipeline because it will create 90 permanent jobs; rather, he uses the inflated number of 15,000 jobs, which is clearly wrong.
The idea that these jobs are middle class is also wrong. Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson was here at committee and admitted that he hires temporary foreign workers, and that those are the workers who will be hired to build this pipeline. Therefore, these 15,000 are not full-time middle-class jobs, but 90 full-time jobs, and perhaps 2,000 or 3,000 temporary construction jobs filled by temporary foreign workers.
What is worse, Kinder Morgan has contracted with CLAC, which is not an official union. It is not, for example, the BC Building Trades union. Therefore, it is skirting the unions in British Columbia that would ordinarily protect workers in order to make this happen.
Once we actually start looking at the facts from the company and the National Energy Board, we see that this 15,000 job claim is wrong. We have temporary foreign workers, we have temporary jobs, and we have 90-full time jobs. That is hardly worth rupturing our entire relationship with first nations people or local communities. In fact, 45% of British Columbians oppose this pipeline, and 30% are strongly opposed and are willing to take action to stop it. Many people who have not been to British Columbia are not aware that we do not have treaties with the first nations there, and they have significant rights. We are seeing this play out right now. We have 18 court cases, many of which were filed by first nations, including one yesterday by the Squamish Nation challenging the legitimacy of the review process for the pipeline.
Therefore, I would suggest that the government go back and take a look at these numbers for real and come back with realistic numbers that we could debate more fully.