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House of Commons Hansard #136 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was ceta.

Topics

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Chair, I want to thank the member for her passionate speech. I know she cares about the people in her community, and so do we, so do British Columbians, her neighbours. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters who are struggling right now.

I am really disappointed that we are not having a conversation tonight about how we got here, how we did not protect communities, when we have downturns like this, by putting money aside, like Norway did, to buffer us from situations like this. What are we going to do now to get some money off the table from the government from its clean energy innovation fund?

What are we going to do in the future so we can diversify our economy properly and protect our children and our grandchildren from dealing with this conversation that we have been having for decades, and failing miserably?

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Chair, the government does not create jobs. Industry creates jobs.

We need to ensure that we have a climate in which jobs can be created. The infrastructure minister just laughed at this point. Why did he laugh at it? Is it because his government put in place several taxes on everything, when the economy is struggling? He has destabilized the investment climate in the energy sector by complicating the regulatory process, which was already world class. He has failed to provide any sort of infrastructure, except for a new chair for himself.

If we want to have an economy that is not boom and bust, we need to have an economy that is attractive to investors. The political instability that has been put in place across Canada by governments like Premier Notley's and the Prime Minister's is not helping us.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Glen Motz Conservative Medicine Hat—Cardston—Warner, AB

Mr. Chair, the conditions in Medicine Hat are similar to how they are around the province. Our unemployment rate is at a five-year high, or higher. Our unemployment rate rose from 2.7% in December 2014 to 6.4% in 2016. Translating that, it sounds like just 3.7%, but it means that more than 6,000 people in our community lost their jobs in the last two years.

Can the hon. member explain to me and to this House how the Conservative Party's record on stimulating the economy and creating jobs helped people in my riding in Alberta?

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Michelle Rempel Conservative Calgary Nose Hill, AB

Mr. Chair, this is not about statistics. This is about people.

In the dying seconds of my part of this debate, I want the government to understand that. This is not about $1,500 fundraisers. This is about an entire province and community that has been demoralized, because spouses, teachers, wives, and husbands are out of work. Nobody is unaffected.

While we can quote unemployment rates and quote policy, at this point, the government needs to understand that Alberta is part of Canada, and without a strong Alberta, we do not have a strong Canada.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:20 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Chair, normally I start my speeches with how pleased I am to rise to address an issue, but I am not pleased with the circumstances that have me speaking today, which is the jobs crisis in Alberta. Our communities are suffering. Families are barely getting by. An entire generation of young people have no career prospects.

I am very fortunate in my riding to be invited to speak at schools. We play a mock parliament. I play the speaker and we divide the classes in half. Recently, I was at a school and asked the principal what we should debate and talk about. At this school, it was not Trump, marijuana, or Pokémon Go. The number one issue on the kids' minds was stress. It was the stress of not knowing if their parents were going to have a job the next day, where their moms' and dads' cars were, why they are not going on vacation, and why their families are breaking up. How old were these kids? They were in grade 7, and the number one issue on their minds was stress, caused by the economy.

It is disgraceful that nothing is getting done about this. In November 2016, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement bragged about all the federal money that is being poured into her home province of Newfoundland and Labrador. She said “We don't just want our fair share. We want more than our fair share.”

In last year's budget, on infrastructure transit spending, Alberta was underfunded per capita by 14%. I have to ask, where is the fair share for Alberta? Why is the infrastructure minister not standing up, like the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, demanding an extra fair share for our province?

The very fact that we have to demand a take-note debate on this issue is proof enough there is a lack of leadership and a lack of concern for Canadians who live in a province that is not as friendly to Liberals as other provinces.

It leads me to ask where are the statements from ministers from Alberta pledging to stand up for their constituents? Where are the statements from the four Alberta Liberal MPs pledging that they will stand up for their constituents? They are nowhere. Where is the acknowledgement that there is even a crisis? Albertans have been shunned by the government, and the Liberal members' silence is deafening.

When the Prime Minister stated he wanted to phase out the oil sands, he was rightly and roundly criticized for such a blatantly inane remark, although I note the Alberta MPs did not join in the condemnation of this ridiculous statement.

Kevin Libin, writing for the National Post, noted the habits of the government to make decisions biased solely against Alberta. Libin asked, correctly, why Alberta's economy was the only one the Prime Minister was plotting to phase out. He continued by wondering when the phasing out of Ontario's vehicle manufacturing industry will begin. He stated:

While the Liberal government is clear it eventually wants Alberta out of the oil business, it says nothing about plans to shut down the other provinces' carbon-intensive industries, whether it is Ontario's auto and steel factories, Quebec's airplane makers—

—who we know just got a big bailout yesterday—

—or Saskatchewan's farmers....

He continued:

Alberta’s been put on notice that its primary industry — one that catapulted the province out of the agrarian era and is now responsible for at least one-fifth of its economy and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs — is being planned out of existence.

The Prime Minister likes to pretend he does not play the politics of division in the country, but it is easy for struggling Albertans to be a little skeptical of the Prime Minister's intentions, and be cynical of his sincerity when he says he is here to help. Trust me, Albertans can do without this kind of help.

The people in my riding of Edmonton West are not faceless statistics. They are real people who have reached out to me with stories, and I would like to share a couple with the House today.

Kathy wrote to me, “My husband works for a large firm. They have and are continuing to lay off thousands. It is very scary living this way, thinking you may be the next to go. What a terrible way for a veteran and their family to have to live, wondering if they'll have a job at the end of the day.” This constituent has served our country, and the government cannot even bother to give him and his family a sense of hope for the future.

Ewan wrote to me to just say, “Fix it.”

I received a letter from a gentleman named Mohammed, who said, “We need to encourage business, not destroy it. We need to get pipelines built, not just approved.”

These are Canadians just like us. They want to work, support their families, and pay their bills. They are husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters. These are constituents who have been searching for a job for six months, 10 months, a year. They are unemployed and underemployed. They are losing hope, and the government refuses to act.

What can we do? The Liberals can stop demonizing our oil industry because they do not like it. They can start by stopping the assault on pocketbooks and commit to no new taxes. They can ensure that the transit infrastructure funding is fairly applied across the country, not just to those areas rich in Liberal votes. They can start standing up for all out-of-work Canadians, and not just the ones that vote their way.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:25 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Chair, after 10 years of mismanagement by Conservative governments in Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador, and indeed here in Ottawa, it is nauseating to sit here listening to members on the other side say how demoralized they are at the economic situation in which we find ourselves. It is nauseating because the Conservatives had nine years to get their oil resources to market. They had nine years to put money aside in a rainy day fund. Instead, they decided to spend it on tax cuts for the wealthy, and no meaningful measures for innovation or diversifying our economy.

I think about all the wonderful things the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities has just said about how we are actually helping the people of Alberta, how we are helping the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, these are people whose children are in my kids' classes.

When I listen to members on the other side, my only question is, how can they say this to us tonight, and not just look in the mirror and give the same speech, and put the blame where it rightly belongs? This cognitive dissonance is nauseating.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Chair, I am waiting for the translation so I can hear if there was a question there.

The government across the way loves to talk. Earlier in question period today we heard a question from a colleague from the NDP about Jordan's principle. We have been talking about it for a year and nothing has been done. The Minister of Health stood up and said, “We have identified money for this. We have identified thousands of children that might be helped.” The Liberals are not actually helping them, but they have identified them.

It is all we hear from the government, that it has identified spending, that it has identified infrastructure. The Liberals have not actually done anything. All they do is talk about it. Announcements do not create jobs. Identifying does not create jobs.

My friend from Calgary Shepard often quotes a Yiddish proverb, but he is not speaking yet, so I want to say one: If his word was a bridge, I would be afraid to cross it. I would be afraid to cross any bridge that those guys talk about, because all it is is talk and there is no structure. There is nothing for Alberta or for jobs in Canada.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Chair, what troubles me is this evening we have heard a number of speakers from the Conservative Party, and I have yet to hear a single proposal to address the unemployment or how to ensure that Canadians, including Albertans, are going to participate in the new energy economy.

It is not even Canadians who are saying this, but the International Energy Agency. The International Energy Agency represents the big fossil fuel industry. It represents the major governments of the world.

Statistically, more than double the number of jobs are provided in installing solar energy, more than double in installing wind than even in natural gas. If this debate is about trying to create employment for Canadians, why is there no discussion whatsoever about diversifying our energy sector so that we can provide jobs for the future for our children and grandchildren?

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:30 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Chair, that is a very rich comment coming from the member for Edmonton Strathcona who spends her time travelling through the U.S. lobbying against Alberta interests, Alberta jobs, and Alberta oil.

It is very difficult to explain in five minutes all the things that need to be fixed with the government, but we could start with lower taxes, no carbon tax, less regulation. We could get pipelines approved instead of destroying and turning down pipelines for political reasons, as was done with Northern Gateway. We could move forward on energy east.

I have to point out that when we had a supply day debate last year on energy east, all four Liberal members of Parliament from Alberta, every single one of them, voted against the motion supporting energy east.

There are a lot of things we can discuss to get going on to create jobs, and they have been discussed all night.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

February 8th, 2017 / 8:30 p.m.

Calgary Centre Alberta

Liberal

Kent Hehr LiberalMinister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence

Mr. Chair, our government is keenly aware of the situation in Alberta. I can assure members in this House that our government has approached the economic downturn in Alberta with nothing but concern, compassion, and a dedication to assist with the economic recovery.

The former government took our great province for granted for far too many years. That was a mistake, a mistake we will not repeat.

When hard times hit the province, the federal government was there, and we have worked closely with the province to respond to the needs of Albertans. We brought in EI reform. We made historic investments in infrastructure and flood mitigation. We stood with Fort McMurray during the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta's history. We are making unprecedented investments in clean tech and the economy of tomorrow, not to mention that we approved three pipelines.

We will leverage the strength of that great province and strategically invest to ensure economic security and that Alberta's best days are yet to come.

Our employment insurance program has proven to be vital to see Albertans through the difficult time. Budget 2016 brought in a $2.7-billion reform package of Canada's employment insurance program. We extended benefits up to 50 weeks for hurting Albertans. We reduced wait times for EI applicants from two weeks down to just one. We extended EI work-sharing agreements from a maximum of 38 weeks to 76 weeks, helping companies to cope until commodity prices rebounded. These changes were made so that people of Calgary Centre, Alberta, and Canadians right across this country have access to help when they need it most.

EI was certainly there when tens of thousands of people from Fort McMurray were forced to flee their homes last spring during the wildfires. When tragedy struck, our government was there ready to lend a helping hand. Our Service Canada staff were on the ground providing direct support and assistance to the community and workers in crisis. As the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee on Northern Alberta Wildfires, I saw first-hand how quickly we responded and got Albertans the help and support they needed. Our Service Canada staff were on the front lines during the wildfire crisis, and our government is proud of the work they did to help Canadians in need.

As the community came together to rebuild what was lost, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get youth involved. As such, our government provided the Infinity Metis Corporation with close to $350,000 to hire indigenous and other youth between the ages of 15 and 30 to help with the efforts to rebuild the community of Fort McMurray and the surrounding municipality of Wood Buffalo. A total of 66 youth were hired to help rebuild the devastated Fort McMurray region through the McMurray Métis youth summer work experience project.

Throughout this tragedy, Albertans and all Canadians have truly demonstrated the resilient spirit that we are innovative and that we are builders.

I am also proud to say that since taking office a little more than a year ago, we have approved over 70 infrastructure projects in Alberta. These projects will deliver much-needed improvements to our aging infrastructure and are worth more than $3 billion. This totals more funding than the previous five years combined under the former government.

This means funds for flood mitigation along Calgary's rivers and crucial public infrastructure like the Green Line LRT through downtown Calgary. These projects will mean quicker commutes and a long-term boost to the local economy, and of course, jobs. Calgarians will see better jobs as a direct result of our infrastructure plan. I am proud to see this government delivering on these promises and taking action where the former government failed.

Furthermore, in over a year since forming government, we have been able to do what the previous government could not get done in a decade. We have approved the following infrastructure programs that will create tens of thousands of jobs for Canadians: the Arnaud apatite mine, 910 jobs; Woodfibre LNG project, 700 jobs; Black Point granite quarry project, 100 jobs; Ridley Island propane export terminal, 240 jobs; NOVA Gas pipeline, 3,000 jobs; Pacific NorthWest LNG, 7,000 jobs; Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, 15,440 jobs; and Line 3, 7,000 jobs. These projects mean 30,000 jobs, and more than $26 billion injected into the Canadian economy.

Furthermore, in the previous government's 10 years in power, it failed to diversify Alberta's economy, leaving Albertans vulnerable to boom and bust energy cycles.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:35 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Chair, it is interesting to hear those members suddenly take such an interest in the plight of Albertans. Is that not the member who said Albertans feel refreshed after losing their jobs?

I am exhausted after sitting in my office having meeting after meeting with my constituents, and listening to them telling me how they are going to lose their homes and cars. They cannot pay for child care. They have to take minimum wage jobs, if they can even find them, and all that member talks about is “will create”, not have created. The Liberals have not done anything for Albertans; zero for Albertans. They have taken advantage of them. They made great promises during the election campaign and have done nothing.

Does that member agree with the Prime Minister that we should phase-out the oil sands?

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kent Hehr Liberal Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, we have stood by Albertans, and we continue to deliver on their behalf. I understand the plight of many Albertans. They are facing a difficult time. Neighbours, friends, kids I went to school with, are not working right now, and that is difficult to hear.

That is why our strategic investments in employment insurance are going to help in the short-term, as well as investing in infrastructure. How we approve pipelines is going to add jobs very quickly. Our approach to building an economy today is transitioning toward a better future for Alberta.

Although the former government talked a great deal about Alberta, very little was done. That is one of the reasons why I ran for office. We saw, in 10 years of the Conservatives in power, no access to new energy markets for our energy industry.

Very little infrastructure was delivered for Calgary in terms of LRT and flood mitigation. The city is now getting it. That party had very little diversification of our economy, if any at all. We are now delivering on this, and I am proud of what our government is delivering for Albertans.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

NDP

Cheryl Hardcastle NDP Windsor—Tecumseh, ON

Mr. Chair, it is intriguing to hear some of the comments tonight. Some of them are just purely provocative enough to provide some good literature down the road. This debate has been very narrow-minded if all we are thinking about is the here and now at this moment.

The member for Calgary Shepard talked about my area that was devastated after some of the effects of NAFTA and the auto jobs. We all look insensitive if we do not admit that we all have people coming to our constituency offices who have no jobs. We have to understand there is a culpability issue here. That is the elephant in the room here tonight.

This issue in the here and now is devastating for people. It has been a long time coming, long before the 10-year previous government that my hon. colleague was alluding to. This has been brewing for a long time. We need to have a long-term plan. This rip and ship business does not work. It is not a good tactic.

What does my hon. colleague think about the issue of raw bitumen being shipped? Should we not be maximizing our opportunities and refining our resources here? Maybe like in Norway, we could have a trust fund to take care of the tragedy cycles.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Liberal

Kent Hehr Liberal Calgary Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, I listened with great interest to that member. I will agree with her that the former federal government did not look after Alberta's interests very well in either the short-term or the long-term.

The previous government was not successful in diversifying markets for our energy industry. It was not successful at delivering infrastructure for our city and our province to build LRT and flood mitigation. Those things would have improved the economy over the long run. It did very little, in fact nothing, to diversify the economy in terms of developing a long-term plan to improve on our green economy, as well as finding new ways to do things better for our oil and gas industry.

I did not get to mention in my speech that our government has invested $75 million in the University of Calgary since taking office, transitioning to low carbon sources of energy, and working directly with the oil sands. That is our commitment to the people of Alberta, and we have been delivering time and time again for that province.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, I grew up in rural Alberta. Before entering politics, I was a business owner, and many people in Edmonton's business community are friends and supporters. I am the son of a heavy-duty mechanic on one side, and a forklift operator on the other.

Many of my family members are tradespeople. I have seen first-hand the negative impacts of this economic downturn. I have heard it at events. I have heard it at the doors. I have felt it in my own immediate family where members of my family suffered almost a year of unemployment, and the lack of dignity that comes along with that. This debate tonight is particularly poignant for me.

I serve as Alberta caucus chair, and it is critical that our government is doing everything in its power to address the economic downturn affecting our country, our region, and our province. We are providing support for those out of work, we are supporting those whose jobs are in jeopardy, and we are delivering on the creation of new jobs.

I ran for this seat in this House because I and friends, people in my riding, were fed up with being overlooked and taken for granted, both by a 44-year-long Conservative provincial government and a 10-year-long Conservative government at the federal level.

Members of Parliament would travel across the country during election time to raise money for other candidates, and ignore the people in their riding because they simply did not need to bother. We would see entire election cycles go by where those candidates would simply avoid debates because they did not think those Albertans were worth their time. People got fed up. People stood up, and we had a different election result.

My people were tired of being taken for granted by two orders of government, and they were tired of failed Conservative economic policies. There was no movement on pipelines to tidewater. There was sluggish economic development, lack of infrastructure that actually moved people and goods, and made a difference in the lives of Canadians and Albertans. There was no determination to break logjams with indigenous peoples, no outreach to people who were threatening basic infrastructure on pipelines, because it was a government that was ossified and did not know how to debate.

I am standing up with my colleagues tonight, watching an opposition that is dismayed by the fact that our government has approved three pipelines. The opposition is dismayed by the fact that we are actually going to create the conditions to have 25,000 jobs created.

I sat on the plane with the president of Ledcor the other night, who was thrilled that he can actually build for real projects that the former government promised and simply never delivered. We see tonight a stark choice between a divisive and dogmatic vision of the past, and a progressive, dynamic Alberta of today and tomorrow. An Alberta that can and will lead in green initiatives. An Alberta that can and will, with a Liberal government in Ottawa that understands its needs and will invest in infrastructure and productivity. An Alberta that can diversify its economy, and will no longer be at the whims of decisions made half a world away. An Alberta that is diverse, dynamic, and determined to showcase what its entrepreneurial spirit can do.

This debate is deeply personal for me. This is about workers, union workers and non-union workers; people with whom we talk to in our communities, on our doorsteps. They are young people, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, disabled people. They are Albertans and Canadians all. They simply want to be put back to work.

With $1.3 billion in infrastructure investment, with $750 million in loans to bridge us through the economic downturn, with $0.5 billion in more loans with Economic Development Corporation, with historic investments in infrastructure at the University of Alberta and NAIT, just to mention my city alone, this is a government that is serious about investing in Alberta.

This is a government that is serious about being here. This is a government that believes in oil, that believes in energy, that believes in the environment, and that absolutely will get more product to market in a way that the previous government was not able to do for 10 years.

I know the Conservatives wanted this to happen under a Harper-Prentice framework. It is happening under a Liberal Prime Minister-Notley framework because we committed to it. We know how to do it, and that is what this government has promised, and that is what we will deliver.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:40 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

Before we go any further, it is nice to see the excitement in the room. I am sure the hon. member appreciates the help he is getting from the opposition, but I do not think that shouting across is part of the way we work in committee of the whole. I want to remind members to respect the person who is speaking, whether he or she is asking a question, or whether he or she is giving a speech. I would appreciate it if everyone just kept their comments down.

The hon. member for St. Albert—Edmonton.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Conservative

Michael Cooper Conservative St. Albert—Edmonton, AB

Mr. Chair, talk is cheap. Where was that hon. member when his government made the approval of pipelines more difficult when it made changes to regulatory approval process? Where was that hon. member when the government imposed the mother of all taxes, a tax on everything, a carbon tax?

The member talks about pipelines, but where was he when his Prime Minister put politics ahead of science, overturned the decision of the NEB, and killed the northern gateway pipeline? Killed an opportunity to get Alberta energy to market, killed an opportunity to get 200,000 barrels of oil a day out and to the Asia-Pacific market, and killed an opportunity to get Albertans back to work.

When is the hon. member going to finally stand up for Edmonton, stand up for Alberta, and start doing his job?

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, the answer to the hon. member's question is, I have been right here all along. I have been here and in my riding. We have developed a framework that has the confidence of Canadians. It has led to three pipelines, including pipelines to tidewater, including 25,000 jobs that are going to be approved.

We are standing up for oil workers. We are standing up for pipefitters. W are standing up for the engineers and architects along the line, because this is a government that understands dialogue. It understands how to bring diverse, even competing, interests together to get three pipeline projects approved creating 25,000 jobs, #proof's in the pipelines.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Chair Liberal Anthony Rota

I want to remind hon. members when I shout “Order”, I am not running a restaurant here.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Edmonton Strathcona.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

NDP

Linda Duncan NDP Edmonton Strathcona, AB

Mr. Chair, I will let my colleague have the next question.

I would like to thank my colleague from Edmonton for his enthusiasm. Unfortunately, one thing the government does not seem to have enthusiasm for is expediting action on triggering investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

I commonly hear the phrase when I talk to my constituents, and they tell me they are getting tired of hearing the i-n-g-s. We are thinking, we are planning, we are talking, we are consulting. I mentioned tonight that the International Energy Agency is saying we need to expedite the move toward investments in the renewable and energy efficiency sectors to create jobs.

When is the government of the day going to finally plan, and start moving toward actually delivering some of the promised investments in those two sectors?

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, the government is moving on all of these files on a regular weekly basis. Most recently, we had a strategic partnership, creating an investment fund at the University of Alberta, which is in the hon. member's riding, for the exact purpose of greening the Alberta economy. The same investment is being made at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.

The Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development has been very clear about our green agenda, so has the Minister of Science. I am very proud of the record we are standing on, and the progress we are making every week and every month to greening Canada's economy.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Nick Whalen Liberal St. John's East, NL

Mr. Chair, we are happy to clean up the laundry of the previous government, but Conservatives are the ones who are wearing it. As someone who is involved in their community over the past 10 years, what could the previous government have done over the past nine years, and what are we doing now that could have avoided some of these problems in order to have a more robust economy in Alberta to withstand this cyclical and inevitable downturn in the price of oil that it should have predicted?

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:50 p.m.

Liberal

Randy Boissonnault Liberal Edmonton Centre, AB

Mr. Chair, regardless of what the last government might have done, I know what our government is doing. Our government has reached out to indigenous Canadians with leadership. We have reached out to members of environment groups. We have reached out to industry leaders. We have, as government, shown the very best of innovation in the energy sector, combined with protecting our environment, and making sure that all Canadians across any development lines benefit.

It is that kind of dialogue, that kind of constructive working together, and making sure that we have a cap on greenhouse gas emissions, that we can meet our COP22 commitments. We can then actually transition to a carbon neutral future, understanding that 20% of our economy right now comes from fossil fuels and will continue for the future.

Job Losses in the Energy SectorGovernment Orders

8:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Chair, I am very pleased to join this debate, as I was the one in the fall who kick-started the attempts to get an emergency debate on the jobs crisis. It was last fall when the government should have reacted, when Albertans were facing the worst economic headwinds in several generations, over 122,000 energy workers lost their jobs since the oil crash in Alberta, and the unemployment rate rose to 8.5%.

Before I continue, I want to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Banff—Airdrie.

The vacancy rate for lease space is climbing to record highs of 30% in Calgary. This year alone, 11,000 businesses have either failed or moved out of Calgary. We call this the small business extinction event. It is the worst people have seen in 40 years. I would know a little about it, because I used to work for the Chamber of Commerce in Calgary. It is the worst I have ever seen it in Calgary.

This is not my time. This is time for my constituents, so I will spend the rest of my time paraphrasing and reading emails I have received from them on the record of the government and their thoughts on how they have been doing.

“Albertans don't like hand-me-downs. We are proud, hard-working people that like to earn everything we have”. It was said by Louise Byez from Elgin Meadows in my riding.

Aleks in my riding said, “Abolish the carbon tax initiative. It will not provide any sort of benefits to Canada or small business. It will lead to massive job losses”. He continued, “My family and I immigrated here in the early 1990s due to civil war and eventual separation of the former Yugoslavia. I know how hard it is to find a job”.

Clint Hickman, who lives in the northern part of my riding, said, “99.999% of crude oil moved by pipeline moves safely”. He went on to say, “That's because of us. We are a world-class workforce”.

Karen Draper from Calgary in my riding had a heartbreaking story. She said, “At the same time I'm broke and will be declaring bankruptcy this week as I have responsibilities I cannot afford. My vehicle insurance payment just bounced. I have a three-year-old son. My brother is laid off, my mother is laid off. My small business that was once very much profitable is now failing and it will dissolve, and the four of us will be pulling together to ensure we all get through. Thousands of Albertans are waiting for this weight off our backs. Please help us and stand up for people like us.”

I spent the last few weeks asking businesses in my riding how much the carbon tax would cost each and every one of them, because it is a direct correlation to job losses to be expected. One business in my riding, which exports agricultural products, said that in 2017, it would cost $588,000 and in 2018, it would cost $883,000.

John Odin owns an automotive technology company. He expects to pay $8,230 more in carbon taxes. Carmen works for General Downhole, which is likely an oil and gas technology company. She said it would cost $2,248 more in carbon taxes. Angela at Western Drilling Tools said it would cost $94,958.52. As I said before, this is my constituents' time.

Cesar Ballestrini said, “It's too expensive to become an entrepreneur. High rents, high taxes, high electricity bill, high wages, high gas, low or no profit just to survive”.

Penelope Moses said, “No carbon tax. Learn from Australia and France, why they are repealing their carbon taxes”.

Rick Smith in Riverbend said, “Governments do not create jobs. They facilitate industry and private business to create the jobs. It is long past time to do just that.

Mr. Folden in Douglas Woods said, “Aggressively pursue getting new pipeline capacity built to export oil, aggressively pursue getting LNG facilities built in place”.

Iva Georgieva on Mount Norquay, which is in McKenzie Lake, said, “Lobby energy east pipeline and get Canadian product to markets. We don't need a carbon tax”, she went on to say.

Larry and Carol Wentz said, “Scrap the carbon tax and build those pipelines a.s.a.p. east and west. Quit giving money away to foreigners and invest in Canada”.

Carlos Santos from Mahogany said, “We need a low-tax environment, business-friendly legislation, and support for our oil industry. We don't need uninformed protesters, bad, unstable government policy, a carbon tax, unfair legislation, and cumbersome causation payments”.