House of Commons Hansard #161 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was place.

Topics

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Resuming debate. Seeing none, the hon. member for Ottawa South has the right to reply.

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:15 p.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Liberal Ottawa South, ON

Mr. Speaker, I thank the colleagues who have contributed. I would like to take a moment to thank, in particular, the members for Pontiac, Lac-Saint-Louis, and Ottawa West—Nepean for their thoughtful remarks on this motion. I thank all of my colleagues, all 11 MPs in the national capital region caucus, for their encouragement and collaboration on Motion No. 104. I would also like to pay a special tribute to and thank the Minister of Environment for her ongoing support for the Ottawa River watershed council. I look forward to working with her and her department on this important initiative.

Some 15 years ago, I wrote an op-ed in The Globe and Mail that I entitled “Overdraft at the Nature Bank”. The piece was about trying to illustrate for Canadians that our economy, our daily lives, and the way in which we order our affairs continues to draw down and rely intensely on nature. We need nature for its carrying capacity. There is no replacement for a functioning air and water filtration system, for example, as is provided through the hundreds of millions of hectares of wetlands on this planet, yet we continue to deplete wetlands without really knowing the effect on our long-term sustainability. We continue to draw down species on the planet without knowing necessarily what will happen when they are depleted or cease to exist. My point at that time was that we needed a new form of reporting and wealth measurement and that all countries should begin to measure and report on their natural capital, on the wealth that surrounds us, which is beyond the typical economic reporting we use, for example, in the budget-making process.

Similarly, this motion looks to push out our thinking in another way, which is to rethink the way in which we manage the natural assets around us.

One of the world's top economic environmental economists once said that the economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, and not the other way around. We would be foolish as a species, as a people, to knowingly draw down the capital on this planet without replenishing it or investing in it. No corporation would do such a thing. No company would ever try to run its affairs knowingly drawing down and losing its capital base. On the contrary, it would look to increase its capital base. This new form of management we are trying to examine in the study is one where we recognize a fundamental truth, which is that we are not organized by geopolitical lines; we are organized through natural lines.

The Ottawa River watershed is massive. It is mighty. It is the jewel in the crown of this entire part of our beautiful country. It does not understand that it is divided by province. It does not understand that it is divided by municipalities and that we have many different actors working within it. What we know is that it is one integral watershed. We know that it is subject to all kinds of stressors. We know that there are many kinds of activities in the watershed. For Canadians who might be listening or watching, this watershed is bigger than the province of New Brunswick. However, we do not sit down together in any one place and deal with this situation. We do not have business, first nations, governments, NGOs, labour groups, and community groups sitting down together and saying that there is one watershed, just one watershed. We can knowingly draw it down, or we can stop for a moment and look at the possibility of creating a council where we would respect the fact that it is one and understand that keeping it sustainable for all of us is the end game.

When Lord Stern did the most comprehensive study in history on climate change in the U.K., what he illustrated for the world was that we could take action on climate now. Yes, it would cost some money to deal with the climate crisis, while giving rise to all kinds of new economic activity. We could do it now and pay some price, or we could delay and pay so much more later.

I believe it is time for us to really clearly examine co-management going forward, integrated water management. That is why this motion is so important. It is time for us to admit what is true. It is time for us to come together and deal with the watershed as one whole.

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

Is the House ready for the question?

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Question.

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The question is on the amendment. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the amendment?

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those in favour of the amendment will please say yea.

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Ottawa River WatershedPrivate Members' Business

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my opinion the yeas have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to order made on Monday, April 3, 2017, the division stands deferred until Wednesday May 3, 2017, immediately before the time provided for private members' business.

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

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

April 6th, 2017 / 6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am always pleased to rise in the House to take part in adjournment proceedings because it gives us the opportunity to expand on topics that are touched on rather quickly during question period.

On February 24, I had the opportunity to ask the hon. Minister of Finance a question. That was before the government's budget was tabled. I asked the government when it was going to get around to lowering taxes on businesses and the middle class and help those working hard to join the middle class, as the parliamentary secretary likes to say, to promote job creation.

Unfortunately, over successive question periods and successive budgets, this being their second, this government has gotten us accustomed to wordy budgets full of slogans. For example, they come up with empty slogans, as in their plan to help Canadian businesses create jobs, and slogans on infrastructure investment or the environment to justify a new carbon tax. This government specializes in empty rhetoric and marketing slogans. It is no wonder, when we see how the Prime Minister is running this government with selfies all the time. It seems like image counts for everything.

It is always a pleasure for me to express myself enthusiastically and to use my arms when I am passionate about a topic. I do it, sometimes even during oral question period. I surely did it when I was addressing my question to the hon. Minister of Finance. It is important to highlight the government’s weaknesses. I think waving my arms like that lets me tell people that they need to look closely at what is going on, at what the government is doing, because if they do not look, they will not see anything. Why? Because, ultimately, the Liberals are not doing much. That is the reality.

Mr. Morneau answered the question by saying—

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I would remind the hon. member that he cannot name members.

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, I got carried away again.

The Minister of Finance had responded with a series of slogans.

Before I gave my remarks on the budget, I was fortunate to meet with two interns from the Université de Sherbrooke. I asked them what they thought of the last budget tabled by the Minister of Finance, especially with respect to employment and youth. They helped write the speech I gave on the budget. I will read two quotations from these students, who were particularly concerned about the fate of small and medium-sized businesses.

Growing deficits will affect their generation for many years to come, even though they are already facing the loss of many full-time jobs, specifically 42,000 jobs over the past year.

That is what was concerning these two young students. They went on to say:

…how small businesses are supposed to grow in the absence of tax relief. We believe that creating the right conditions for businesses to hone their competitive edge is the only way to help Canadian businesses hold their own against U.S. competitors.

These university students are lecturing us. I hope that the Minister of Finance will hear their message. It is not too late to act, change the situation, present a plan to return to balanced budgets that will ensure that our businesses can start creating jobs again.

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

6:30 p.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Mégantic—L'Érable for his question.

Before I provide more details and actually emphasize what the government has been doing to help grow the middle class, I would like to make the hon. member aware of some of the facts on job creation in Canada, as he just mentioned it.

The steps we have taken to date are having a real, positive impact on our economy and on Canadians. Optimism is on the rise and with good reason. Forecasters are expecting Canada's economy to grow even faster in the next two years due in part to the action that we have taken to invest in Canadians, including historic investments in infrastructure and the Canada child benefit. The pace of our economic growth is expected to pick up in 2017.

Between mid-2016 and early 2017, the economy created one-quarter of a million new jobs, 250,000 new jobs, the largest seven month growth in the past decade. We understand that despite these positive signs, people are still feeling anxious about the future. Canadians want to be assured that their hard work will pay off with a better future for their kids and grandkids.

That is why we have taken the steps we have in budget 2017. We want every Canadian to benefit from a new innovative economy, which is why we are not just creating jobs of today, we are getting people ready for the jobs of tomorrow. The next job should be a better job for them.

We call that our innovation and skills plan. With it, we will support a culture of lifelong learning to help workers adapt to the changing demands of our time.

Canada already has one of the best, one of the most educated workforces in the world. However, in an increasingly competitive global economy, more needs to be done to ensure that Canadian workers can learn, adapt, and get good jobs throughout their working lives.

To ensure our skills training effectively helps unemployed and underemployed Canadians get good jobs in the new economy, budget 2017 significantly boosts federal support through the labour market transfer agreement with provinces and territories by $2.7 billion over the next six years. For Canadians looking for work, this means more opportunities to upgrade their skills, gain experience, or get help to start their own business. It also means more support, such as employment counselling, to help them plan for their careers.

The budget also proposes to establish a new agency that would work with the provinces and territories, the private sector, educational institutions, and not-for-profit organizations to study new and innovative approaches to skills training and development.

For Canadians who have lost their jobs, budget 2017 will make better use of existing flexibility within the employment insurance programs that allow claimants to pursue self-funded training while remaining eligible for EI benefits. This will provide greater security for unemployed Canadians and their families as they get the skills they need to find their next job.

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Luc Berthold Conservative Mégantic—L'Érable, QC

Mr. Speaker, if I knew that the members here were interested, I would seek unanimous consent to speak longer. Responding to what I just heard would take me at least 30 minutes. I will be quick, knowing that I would not get consent to speak longer.

So many things were said during this brief speech. It always makes me laugh when those in the government responsible for finance refer to our children and grandchildren and when they say they want to work today so that our children and grandchildren can have better jobs tomorrow.

Given the deficit that the Liberal government will be leaving us by 2055, a $1,500-billion deficit, they will certainly need to start working so that our children will have jobs. One job will not be enough. Our grandchildren are going to need three jobs just to be able to pay back the deficit that the government will be leaving them, our young people later. That is what concerns us.

My students came to an extraordinary conclusion. It is time for the Liberal government to get the public finances under control and to stop increasing the tax burden. Growing the economy and supporting job creation is the only way to do it.

EmploymentAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, our government is taking significant action to help businesses, one of our most essential economic engines, to succeed. We have taken significant action to help spur business innovation and to help small and medium-sized businesses in particular grow.

Through initiatives such as the new global skills strategy, Canadian businesses will be able to recruit the best talent more quickly in order to bring people with new skills into the country and help create jobs.

Our new innovation and skills plan imagines a Canada where more Canadian firms can access the capital they need to grow, where strong and growing businesses become global, where women are predominantly featured in positions of leadership, and where groundbreaking research happens here, attracting world-class scientists to Canadian institutions.

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

6:35 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the deputy minister for Public Services and Procurement Canada shamefully confirmed that those involved in the Liberal Phoenix fiasco are going to be receiving performance pay in spite of the colossal failure of the rollout. The minister and the government are content rewarding failure and avoiding responsibility for the issues that continue to hurt tens of thousands of Canadian public servants.

Every step of the way, the minister has avoided responsibility for her role in the fiasco. We know it was her decision to launch a system that was not ready. We know she was warned repeatedly of the consequences of rushing the launch, but she did so anyway. Every day since her decision, she tried to blame someone else and hide from the spotlight.

Public Services and Procurement Canada has provided almost 20 technical briefings since the launch of Phoenix, and the minister has been at exactly zero of them. Elvis has been spotted more often than the Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

My point is that the minister has an utterly dismal track record of competence and accountability, and given her track record, how can Canadians trust her on such a major file as purchase of new jets for our air force?

How can Canadians trust that, when she updates the House or the public, she is not providing spin as opposed to facts?

We have repeatedly asked the government why it was moving so fast on the sole-source Super Hornet purchase, an enormous cost to taxpayers, all the while breaking its promise to launch an open and transparent competition to replace our CF-18s. The minister and the government are content relying on their manufactured capability gap to keep a flawed election promise.

Let us be clear. The people who are getting hurt by this decision are the men and women in uniform in our Armed Forces, who are going to be forced to fly out-of-date fighter jets, and Canadian taxpayers, who will have to fork out billions of dollars more for this interim fleet.

Unlike any parts of the Super Hornet, we know the capability gap was manufactured in Canada by the Liberal government. We have heard from military and procurement experts, academic experts, and former commanders in the military and the air force that there is no capability gap.

Just two days ago, the air force unveiled a custom-painted CF-18 that is going to be taking to the skies across Canada this summer to celebrate the Canada 150 celebrations. There is hardly much of a capability gap if we have spare CF-18s around to fly in air shows.

I also want to emphasize that there is no practical reason to delay launching an open competition to replace our CF-18s today. The government says it will take five years, but that is frankly ridiculous. Belgium recently declared it is going to conduct a competition to replace its fighter jets and it needed only one year to do so. Here are some other comparisons: Norway, 23 months; South Korea, 16 months; Denmark, 11 months. Why does Canada need five years? Are our capabilities that different? Are we unique, or is the government hiding behind political mistakes and forcing our military and taxpayers to take a hit so the Liberals do not have to?

We asked PSPC procurement officials why Canada's procurement timelines are 300% longer than our allies'. We were told it is because our situation is unique. Well, it is unique, because Canada's military is subject to the political whims and poorly thought out campaign promises of the Liberal government.

We know there is no capability gap. We know there are no practical reasons why it takes five years to run an open competition. We know that, with such a track record of failure and hiding from responsibility, Canadians cannot trust the minister to buy the right jet at the right price for our air force.

I have to ask this. Why should Canadians trust the government? How can Canadians be assured that if something goes wrong, the minister will actually stand up and take responsibility for her actions? Her words say one thing, but her actions say something completely different.

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

6:40 p.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague. This is kind of déjà vu. His colleague, the national defence critic, raised the issue the other night.

Nevertheless, I am pleased to reiterate the government's position, which I believe is quite clear and in keeping with the election promises we made to all Canadians during the 2015 election.

I want to speak briefly, as my hon. colleague did, about the Phoenix pay system. We inherited this system from a government that had fired 700 of the people needed to effect the Phoenix change, booked $75 million in savings, and then said to start the project. It started on completely flawed grounds. This government is taking that project and turning it around.

If it were not the end of the week, I would remind my hon. colleague that nine years passed under the previous government and not a single military fighter jet was purchased for our men and women in uniform. This government has put us, within months of taking office, on a very clear path to filling the capability gap that exists, and it does exist, to extending the life our current fleet. I do not have the exact numbers, but in rough numbers, they went from 125 down to 75 CF-18 jets currently. We are extending the life of those in my home province of Quebec, and I am very pleased we are doing that.

We have initiated discussions with the U.S. government. We submitted a letter, and await negotiations with Boeing and others with respect to procuring an interim fleet of Super Hornets, something we are very excited to do. If we look at some of the literature that is being published, clearly the Canadian industry is very excited we are doing this. We have put a very clear process before Canadians, and that is to meet our NORAD and NATO requirements. With the horrors we see in Syria and other places and not knowing where Canadians may be pressed into service in other parts of the world, heaven knows there are other places we are going to need fighter jets as well.

Finally, we have committed to an open, transparent, and long-term purchase of fighter aircraft for our men and women in uniform. We have committed, at every step of the way, to consult with industry, obviously consult with our men and women in uniform, as well as the military, which will be very engaged on defining capabilities and ensuring we get the right aircraft for our country, the right aircraft at the right price and at the right time.

I can only conclude by assuring the hon. member that we have a unique geography, we have a unique climate, and we are a unique player in NATO and other alliances. Canada has specific and special requirements when it comes to purchases that total hundreds of billions of dollars over their life cycle, and we will take the time to get it right.

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned that Elvis had been spotted more than the minister. I wish he were here, because he would have given more sensible answers.

I will go to Phoenix quickly. Every bit of access to information shows clearly that the government was told not to go ahead and delay it a bit longer, but it went ahead with it for no reason. We are still paying the consequences today.

Getting back to the jets, I asked the assistant deputy minister why it was taking so long and what was going on. She said that the government chose a foreign military sales process because it was the fastest way to get aircraft. It is not the best way, not the best plane, not at the best price, and it is certainly not best for our aerospace industry. Not one piece of the Super Hornet is manufactured in Canada, zero. Therefore, it is ridiculous to say that this is going to help industry.

When we asked why it is taking five years, which is one year past what is in the mandate letter to the minister, to run an open competition compared to a shorter time for Denmark, we were told it was not—

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Steven MacKinnon Liberal Gatineau, QC

We have a disagreement on the issue, Mr. Speaker. It is a very fundamental issue and it is an honest disagreement, but one thing is very clear. This government has set out a clear path to risk managing its military assets to procure the right aircraft for Canada, aircraft that helps us meet our international and domestic commitments, and results in the quickest possible acquisition to fill that capability gap. We have set a clear path, which should begin with a process in about 2019, of an open and transparent international competition for the procurement of new fighter aircraft for our country. It is a very important decision and one that I know we will continue to have exchanges about.

I thank the hon. member for his intervention. I am sure it will not be the last one. I can tell the women and men in the Canadian Forces—

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

The hon. member for Beauport—Limoilou.

Public Services and ProcurementAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, somebody needs to get the situation at Public Services and Procurement Canada under control yesterday. Just look at the outrageous bonuses paid to executives involved with the Phoenix fiasco in various capacities.

I wish my colleague from Miramichi—Grand Lake were still here so I could tell him that the fact is, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement launched the Phoenix pay system on February 24, 2016. All of the access to information requests and all of the questions that we put on the House of Commons Order Paper leave no room for doubt, and the member for Gatineau knows it.

We initiated the Phoenix project as any responsible government would have done. We realized the previous pay system was outdated and had to be changed. However, we were not the ones who implemented it. Again, all of the access to information requests show that expert reports to the minister of the day said the system was not ready.

This evening, I want to talk about the Super Hornets, which the government plans to acquire very soon. My colleague from Edmonton West spoke about the advisability of procuring these aircraft and how long it would take. I would like to address another aspect of the problem.

The Government Contracts Regulations must apply to the Department of Public Services and Procurement because, in the end, that department's minister must give the go-ahead to the department that wants to enter into procurement contracts. The reason we have a framework for government procurement, the Government Contracts Regulations, is to prevent questionable acquisitions of this magnitude.

What I suspect, and I am confident in saying that my party colleagues agree, is that the exceptions in the regulations were rigged by the Liberal Party because it often mentions the exception contained in subsection 3(1)(g), which allows a contract to fulfill an interim requirement for defence supplies. I would like the record to show that this is not simply a legal void that the Liberal Party can use to contravene the Government Contracts Regulations.

For greater clarity, if the Minister of Public Services and Procurement approved the future purchase of the Super Hornets without a tender, she must have a letter from the Department of National Defence stating, in black and white, why an exception is being made to proceed without a tender. There are four possible reasons for the exception: state of war, an emergency, a gap, and so forth. In this case, the Liberals are saying that there is a capability gap. I do not believe it, and my party does not either. Where is the proof?

Can the parliamentary secretary show us a document from the Department of National Defence, signed by the minister, that proves there is a capability gap?