House of Commons Hansard #191 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was journalists.

Topics

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The member for Montcalm has given notice of a question of privilege.

Rights of Non-Recognized PartiesPrivilege

10:05 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, today we begin our last day of debate on Bill C-44, and all we have left is two hours and fifteen minutes.

We will not have an opportunity to speak at third reading because we are 34th in line at the eleventh hour of debate. I therefore submit to you that my parliamentary privilege has been violated. What had not yet happened three days ago is happening now. Time allocation is preventing a political party from speaking on a bill.

I would like to remind you that, last month, I raised a question of privilege about the government's plan to use more closure motions, thereby preventing members of non-recognized parties from participating in debate, stifling diversity of opinion, and basically bypassing the views and interests Bloc Québécois voters in what looks an awful lot like democracy denied.

In your ruling of June 6, 2017, you recognized that my concerns were legitimate:

The privilege of freedom of speech is undoubtedly the most important right accorded to members of this House.

However, you refused to fully endorse my arguments:

As the member's claims are more speculative in nature at this point, it would be premature and presumptive for the Chair to rule based on assumptions of what might transpire.

Well, now we are no longer speculating. Things that had not yet transpired three days ago are happening today. The Bloc Québécois will not be able to speak to Bill C-44, the budget implementation bill, the most important bill of the parliamentary session. However, the Bloc Québécois is the only party that caught one worrisome aspect of the bill.

By giving the infrastructure bank the status of agent of the crown, even on projects that are entirely private, Bill C-44 puts the financial sector above Quebec's laws. With the infrastructure bank, after an order of the government, agricultural zoning, environmental protections, and municipal bylaws will no longer apply. This raises serious constitutional issues.

For a private construction project to be exempt from Quebec law, an old colonial-inspired power must be invoked, namely, declaratory power, but that needs to be done by Parliament on a project-by-project basis. Bill C-44 therefore invokes the government's power over public property to federalize the bank's projects. However, we are not talking about public property. We are talking about private investors. Bill C-44 may be unconstitutional. The Quebec National Assembly is unanimously opposed to this bill and the Government of Quebec is prepared to challenge it in court.

I know what you are thinking, Mr. Speaker. You are thinking that I am raising a point of debate. You are partly right. This issue definitely deserves to be debated, but that debate will never happen because the Bloc Québécois, the only party to raise this issue, would not be able to participate because of the discriminatory rules of the House.

In your June 6 ruling, you said that you cannot go against the will of the House. I find that unfortunate, but I understand. That being said, it is not time allocation motions alone that exclude the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party from debate. It is time allocation motions and the fact that we are relegated to 34th place in the speaking order.

Mr. Speaker, the hypothetical question that was asked three days ago has become a reality today. I am asking you to find that my parliamentary privileges have been violated. I am asking you to review the speaking order for debates in the House to ensure that all points of view can be heard, despite the repeated gag orders. That is the basis of our democracy. I am asking that all parties, recognized or not, be able to speak in the House in the first round of speeches.

Rights of Non-Recognized PartiesPrivilege

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

®I thank the hon. member for Montcalm for his question of privilege. I note that he took the opportunity to include some aspects of the arguments concerning the bill being debated today. He cited a portion of my June 6 ruling, but I invite him to reread the ruling in its entirety. In it, I indicated the following:

The privilege of freedom of speech is undoubtedly the most important right accorded to members of this House. At the same time, there is an important distinction to be made between the right to freedom of speech and the right to participate in the proceedings of the House and its committees. Asked to rule on the right of members to make statements in the House pursuant to Standing Order 31, my predecessor stated on April 23, 2013, at page 15800 of Debates:

“...there are inherent limits to the privilege of freedom of speech. Aside from the well-known prohibitions on unparliamentary language, the need to refer to other members by title, the rules on repetition and relevance, the sub judice constraints and other limitations designed to ensure that discourse is conducted in a civil and courteous manner, the biggest limitation of all is the availability of time.”

I thank hon. members for their attention.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:10 a.m.

Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe New Brunswick

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak today about the budget implementation act, also known as Bill C-44. Passage of the bill would implement the next chapter of the government's plan to strengthen the economy and grow the middle class. It would allow the government to continue making the necessary targeted investments that would create jobs, grow the economy, and provide more opportunities for Canadians.

A strong and growing middle class is the engine of our economy, and truly it is our highest priority.

When we were elected, we promised Canadians that we would make middle class families our priority and that is what we have done. We began by asking the wealthiest 1% to pay a bit more so that we could give a tax cut to the middle class. We then introduced the new Canada child benefit. This non-taxable benefit is much simpler, more generous, and better targeted to those who need it than the former system, the universal child care benefit.

We then reached a historic agreement with the provinces to help people retire with more dignity, by strengthening the Canada pension plan. We went even further to support Canadian families by investing $6 billion over 10 years for home care and $5 billion over 10 years for support for mental health initiatives. With the passage of Bill C-44, the government would provide funding for the first year for home care and mental health services to provinces and territories that have accepted the federal offer of $11 billion over the next 10 years.

The steps we have taken to date are having a real, positive impact on our economy and on Canadians as a whole.

The steps we would be taking through Bill C-44 would have a positive impact on our parliamentary budget officer, also known as the PBO. Our government is committed to openness and transparency. That is why we have taken steps to strengthen the PBO in ways to make the office truly independent. Bill C-44 would recast the head of the PBO as an officer of Parliament, supported by a team that was separate from the Library of Parliament, with the authority to report directly to Parliament. It would expand the PBO's right to access government information and would give the office a new mandate to provide costing platform proposals during elections so that voters could make informed decisions based on an independent financial analysis.

The government believes that the work of the PBO is fundamental to Parliament's ability to debate and to consider the economic and fiscal considerations of the day. That is why we listened and took action when we heard that more could be done to further strengthen the PBO's independence. The government took action by introducing 12 amendments to Bill C-44 at the House of Commons finance committee that would further strengthen the mandate of the PBO. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the committee, in both this place and on the Senate side, for the work they did and also for the collaboration in improving this legislation. It was through their efforts and those amendments that were brought forward that we found broad support. In fact, The Globe and Mail reported that “The government has placed Canada’s PBO on strong legislative footing.”

I want to turn now to some major elements of Bill C-44, starting with a priority I know members of this House broadly support. One of the best ways we can bring confidence back to the middle class is by investing in public infrastructure to build stronger communities.

These days, governments around the world are facing a challenge. They have to figure out how to finance and build huge public works projects that are efficient, dynamic, affordable, and, most importantly, long-lasting.

This is why the government has laid out a historic plan to invest more than $180 billion in infrastructure over the next 12 years. This investment will be unprecedented in Canadian history and will come at a time when we need it most. However, no level of government can accomplish this ambitious infrastructure goal alone. The Government of Canada will invest in a historic infrastructure plan, so we set our sights on a new kind of partnership, the kind that can leverage the strength of private sector investors and put their skills, talent, and capital to work for Canadians.

Bill C-44 would enact the Canada infrastructure bank act, which would establish the new Canada infrastructure bank as a crown corporation. The bank would amplify federal investments by bridging private sector and institutional investors at the table. Through this new bank, we would work with our partners to build world-class infrastructure that would transform communities, create good jobs, and build a stronger and greener economy. By establishing a new organization capable of working with the private sector where it makes sense, public dollars would go further and be used in a smarter, more targeted manner, transforming communities with projects that would not otherwise be built without the bank. To this end, the bank would only make investments in infrastructure projects that were in the public interest. I have to underline that. The bank would work with partners to determine whether projects were suitable candidates, including whether project sponsors were willing to consider robust revenue models and partnering with private investors in a new way. As a result, we would see more innovative approaches for large and transformational types of projects, and we would build more of them.

The bank would also have strong governance protocols for accountability and risk management. The bank would be structured as an arm's-length corporation.

Despite being at arm's length, the Canada infrastructure bank will be accountable to the government and Parliament through an appropriate minister. The bank will be required to seek government approval for its business plan every year and submit its annual report to Parliament. It will also be accountable to the Auditor General and a private sector auditor, which is the highest accountability standard applicable to crown corporations.

In addition, the minister responsible and Parliament will undertake a five-year review of the bank's enabling legislation and its implementation.

The government would be responsible for setting the overall policy direction and high-level investment priorities. In addition, the bank would work with all orders of government as well as investors to identify the pipeline of potential projects and potential investment opportunities.

With the Canada infrastructure bank, Canadians will enjoy the advantage of transformational infrastructures built to meet their needs and that help their communities thrive.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Senate for its thorough prestudy of Bill C-44, which the government followed with close interest, particularly as it pertained to the Canada infrastructure bank. I would like to thank Senator Harder and the government representatives in the Senate, as well as Senator Woo, the independent senator sponsoring this legislation. They have done tremendous work.

The scrutiny and the in-depth study that the Senate applied to Bill C-44 has been an important element in our parliamentary process. Their work has informed our deliberation by providing us with the benefits of independent legislative review during the course of the House proceedings. Senators, including independents and Senate Liberals and Conservatives, raised issues that the government has, as a result, given additional consideration and careful consideration.

In the case of infrastructure bank, the Minister of Finance was pleased to appear on May 31 to answer questions from the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. I would like to recognize the work of this committee, and its members as well, who went above and beyond to study this legislation. Once again, it was a job very well done.

Again, I would like to thank the Senate for the benefit of its prestudy, and note for the record that this scrutiny has informed the government's deliberation in advance of Bill C-44's passage.

Beyond all of the bricks and mortar, people really are at the heart of our plan. Last year, the government held broad-based consultations on how to improve the labour market transfer agreements, including the labour market development agreements.

One of the main messages we heard during the consultation is that these agreements have to be more flexible and do a better job of taking into account the diverse needs of employers and Canadians.

That is why we are planning to reform these agreements together with the provinces and territories.

This reform will ensure that more Canadians get the assistance they need to find and keep good jobs in the new economy, and build better lives for themselves and their families. We want to help Canadians get the training they need so that their first job is a great job, and their next job is an even better one. That is why we are taking steps to help working parents, who must balance the demands of raising a family while managing their own career needs in this time of transition.

Bill C-44 would allow parents to choose to receive El parental benefits over an extended period of time, up to 18 months, at a lower benefit rate of 33% of the average weekly earnings. It also proposes to do more to provide greater flexibility to pregnant working women, giving them the option of claiming El maternity benefits up to 12 weeks before their due date, expanded from the current standard of eight weeks, if they choose to do so.

Budget 2017 also takes action to support those who have put their lives on the line to make Canada a safe and secure place to live. Our women and men in uniform deserve a successful transition to civilian life.

First, we will create a new education and training benefit. This benefit will provide more money for veterans to go to college, university, or take a technical course at a technical school after they complete their service. Under the program, as of April 2018, veterans with six years of eligible service would be entitled to up to $40,000 of benefits, while veterans with more than 12 years of eligible service would be entitled to up to $80,000 of benefits. That is tremendous. This legislation will also facilitate the redesign of the career transition services program.

This program will equip veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, survivors, and veterans' spouses and common-law partners with the tools they need to successfully navigate and transition to the civilian workforce. The services offered would be expanded to include coaching and job placement, starting in April 2018, all of which would be provided through a national contractor.

Finally, Bill C-44 will provide very generous assistance to family caregivers in recognition of the essential role they play in helping ill and injured veterans. This tax-free monthly benefit will replace the existing family caregiver relief benefit and will be paid directly to family caregivers.

I want to stress that we understand that the job is not yet done and more needs to be done.

Veterans and stakeholders have told us that the existing suite of programs is complex and difficult to navigate, and that is simply not good enough. We intend to take additional action to streamline and simplify the system of financial support programs currently offered to veterans over the coming months. This is certainly a priority for this government. That will include fulfilling our commitment to re-establishing lifelong pensions as an option for injured veterans, so that veterans and their families can decide for themselves which form of compensation works best for them.

Also, recognizing that all families, military or not, must sometimes become caregivers to their relatives, the government has announced a new Canada caregiver credit program. Bill C-44 proposes to simplify the existing tax support for caregivers by replacing three credits with a single new credit.

This new non-refundable tax credit will provide better support to those who need it. It will go to family caregivers regardless of whether they live with the family member they care for, and it will help families with caregiving duties.

The new Canada caregiver credit will provide tax relief of an amount of $6,883 in 2017 in respect of care of dependent relatives with infirmities, including persons with disabilities, which includes parents, brothers, sisters, adult children, and any other specific relative. It will be $2,150 in 2017 in respect of care of a dependent spouse or common-law partner or minor child with an infirmity, including those with a disability. Families will be able to take advantage of the new Canada caregiver credit as soon as the 2017 tax year.

To conclude, the bill before us has concrete measures to move Canada forward, grow our economy, and create good jobs.

However, we can do more, and we will do more to help the middle class and those working hard to join it. We will ensure that economic growth helps all Canadians, not just the wealthy, and we will help families build a brighter future for their children and grandchildren.

I urge all members to support this bill and to work with us on those portions of it that could benefit from our own views and ideas, so that at the end of the day we meet the high standards and expectations that Canadians have put on us.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Ziad Aboultaif Conservative Edmonton Manning, AB

Mr. Speaker, on page 252 of the 2017 budget, the personal income tax is projected to grow by about 7% in 2018. However, if the government is taxing Canadians less, why is the projection of personal income tax growing by such a big margin, to 7%, in 2018? I would like to have clarification on this if possible.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, our government was elected on a promise to help middle-class Canadians and those working hard to join it. The first thing that our government actioned when we formed government was lowering taxes for middle-class Canadians. We also increased taxes for the wealthiest 1%. We put in place a very generous Canada child benefit program to make sure we could help Canadian families in need, such as those families who need help to support their kids. This is exactly what we have done. We have also put some very important measures in place with respect to helping our senior population.

All of these measures put together have been put in place to ensure we can help Canadian families succeed, which is exactly what we have been doing and what we will continue to do.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind my colleague that the Liberals roundly criticized the Conservatives when they introduced omnibus bills that contained many bills in one. On top of that, the Liberals have imposed a second time allocation motion to cut the debate short. My Bloc Québécois colleague pointed out again this morning how appalling it is that so few members have an opportunity to speak. Only one NPD member will be allowed to speak today on the most important bill of the session, Bill C-44 on the budget. This is completely undemocratic. The Liberals used to scream till they were blue in the face about how undemocratic this is.

Here is my question. The member said that this bill will help the middle class. In addition to the 30 acts that it will amend, this bill also creates an infrastructure privatization bank. Municipalities like the ones in my riding of Salaberry—Suroît, municipalities like Rivière-Beaudette, Elgin, and Ormstown, will not be able to afford infrastructure projects worth $100,000 or more and will therefore not have access to this privatization bank. Projects that are supposed to be for communities, for the middle class, but are funded by private companies that want to turn a profit will never be within their reach.

How can the hon. member say that this is for the middle class, that it is good for everyone, and that it is democratic?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, again, I thank my colleague for the question and its sub-questions.

I want to address the question of the omnibus bill. First, in our campaign platform, in 2015, we were clear that we would not use omnibus bills excessively. All the measures included in Bill C-44 are tax measures, measures that are very important for Canadians. We in no way took advantage of the bill to hide other bills that we wanted to introduce. That is my answer to the first question.

Second, the infrastructure bank will help Canadians across the country. Many communities will be able to use it for transformative projects. As far as the smaller municipalities are concerned, they will have access to money that is invested, that is set aside for these projects.

Again, the previous government under-invested in infrastructure for a decade. We are making historic investments to secure these projects, an investment of over $180 million over 12 years.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am very disappointed. The budget implementation act is a key piece of legislation. I was hoping to speak to it today. I noticed last night that we spent a lot of time talking about two bills that basically correct some issues that the Prime Minister himself created, instead of having an opportunity to debate this bill.

Having said that, I have both a large and a small concern that I would like to address. The larger concern is the dismissal of the election promise in terms of a balanced budget. Because of that, the Liberals are having to nickel and dime Canadians. It is a hot day today, and many Canadians will arrive home perhaps wanting to have a beer after a day of work. What the Liberals put in this bill is completely unprincipled, and I see it as a foreshadowing of the automatic tax increases that are to come. That is a small issue, but when people get home and have that beer on a Friday night, they will know that year after year the price will continue to increase, with no transparency. It is unheard of.

Can the minister share with the people across Canada why the government would do something that is so undemocratic?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, our government has put a plan in place to help middle-class Canadians and to grow the economy, and that is exactly what we have been doing. The good news is that more numbers have come out today, and we have seen the creation of a quarter of a million new full-time jobs over the past six months, the best six months we have seen in over 15 years. That is fantastic news. We are seeing more Canadians at work. We are seeing a Prime Minister working for Canadians. We are there to help middle-class Canadians and those who are working hard to join it.

Once again, we are making some strategic investments to make sure that these programs work. We will continue to move forward with our plan, because the evidence is clear that our plan is working and the economy is growing.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

NDP

Gord Johns NDP Courtenay—Alberni, BC

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the parliamentary secretary talking about the Canadian economy and how great it is. Maybe she should visit my riding and ask how it is working for the ask the people there.

The government always claims that its most important relationship is with Canada's indigenous people. How is that working in my riding?

The Huu-ay-aht won a special claims travel decision for $13.8 million. The government appealed it. It said it was not going to fight indigenous people in court, yet it keeps doing that.

The Nuu-Chah-Nulth won its court case 10 years ago for their right to catch and sell fish. The government appealed the decision in the Supreme Court. It was thrown out not once but twice. The Liberal government is still dragging it out, while people are living in poverty, overcrowded housing, and have serious mental health needs. Suicide is real in those communities in my riding. This is how the government treats its most important relationship?

How much money does the government have in its budget to fight Canada's indigenous people? They want to know why they are not a priority.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

June 9th, 2017 / 10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his passion and concern for aboriginal people. They are certainly a priority for our government. There is no more important relationship than the one we have with our indigenous people.

When I look at budgets 2016 and 2017, we have made historic investments to those communities, and we will continue to do even more. We have done much more than the previous government did in its 10 years in power.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her hard work on the budget.

There is so much goods in this budget for Manitoba compared to previous budgets. The new budget shows an overall increase of $148 million from 2016. As we speak, $58 million are being spent on new water treatment plants for first nations and indigenous communities, including $20 million for Freedom Road, for which which we are grateful.

Could the hon. parliamentary secretary comment on the important relationship between our government and indigenous peoples in Manitoba and in Canada as a whole?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

Ginette Petitpas Taylor Liberal Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe, NB

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for the hard work that he does in his riding.

Once again, there is no more important relationship than the one with aboriginal communities. We will continue to make the historic investments that are needed.

We recognize that every Canadian should have access to clean water. We will work hard to enure that all the boiled water orders are lifted with the investments that will be made.

We recognize that more can be done, and more will be done, but we are very proud of the historic investments we have made over the past two years.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance for her speech. I am not sure that people in her riding of Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe are happy with the budget. Contrary to what she claims, this budget does not do anything for the ordinary Canadians who work hard every day and keep this country going. This budget helps the interest groups that make up the Liberal Party of Canada's electoral base.

I find it ironic that the parliamentary secretary thanked the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance for its hard work in analyzing the 2017 budget implementation bill, since it is quite likely that the other place will ask that the infrastructure bank provisions be removed from this omnibus bill. We have many questions and concerns about the infrastructure bank, questions that have gone unanswered during question period and in committee.

The infrastructure bank protects the investments of private investors to the detriment of Canadian taxpayers. That is ironic since private companies pride themselves on taking risks. Entrepreneurs are the ones who have the moxie to take risks. They have the expertise, the ideas, the innovate spirit, and the courage needed to do things that way. Canadians are already paying taxes to keep the country running. It is not their responsibility to protect private sector investments. That is one of the things that we find worrisome about this bill.

What is more, the government has taken $15 billion away from community infrastructure projects to fund this new bank, a measure that my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent has decried before. He has said that the communities in Quebec's regions will not get any support from the infrastructure bank because it deals only with projects worth over $100 million. Rimouski or Baie-Comeau cannot afford a $100-million arena.

In reality, this bank will serve only the interests of big cities and those that have been especially selected on the basis of the votes for the Liberal Party in 2015. That was my opening statement.

The parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Finance had the audacity to say that it was a budget for people, for Canadians, when it is the complete opposite. Bill C-44, like the 2016 budget, targets Liberal interest groups, “post-national” interest groups that have very specific goals and that resort to the Supreme Court to argue their political positions instead of going through the House. This time, they certainly have the government’s ear, and their political demands are being heard loud and clear, because this budget does nothing but meet their needs.

There is something else that makes me extremely uncomfortable. The title of the budget is “Building a Strong Middle Class”. What it should have been is “building a strong country for everyone”.

Of course we want a strong middle class; I understand that, but I put myself in the shoes of millions of Canadians who are going to look at their pay and wonder whether they belong to the middle class. It is an open secret in Canadian politics that the Liberal government always talks about the middle class because most people want to be able to feel that the middle class includes them, even if they may not really be part of it, based on their income. It is a trick, a catch-all, but people subconsciously hear that the Liberals are working for the members of one class only, and not for all Canadians.

In my opinion, Bill C-44, which would implement budget 2017, does not really reflect Canada’s structural needs, both current and future. It is a bill that amends certain measures and sprinkles money here and there. There is really no overarching vision when it comes to the direction the country is going in. It is really an ideological, vote-seeking budget plan. What it actually offers is deficits and highly targeted expenditures to please a few interest groups. I will name some of them. I note in passing that these interest groups have all the right in the world to exist, but they should be not be the priority in a budget. The priority should be all Canadians in general.

This budget focuses on NGOs, groups that generate media interest, various civil society groups, and academic elites—the number of research chairs has grown. All universities are receiving incredible amounts of money. That is fine for research, but here again, that is not what helps average Canadians.

Next are the urban and financial elites, the environmentalists, the “post-nationalists”, who pretend that there is no culture or common ground in Canada, that French Canadians do not exist, and that they are just one group among many.

Then there are the civil liberties groups. The groups of litigants who have been going to the Supreme Court since 1982 to get preferential rights, to circumvent the House, to get faster decisions that change the course of Canadian politics in their favour. There are the anti-globalists, the social engineers who think that by changing social policy they will be able to make things better. They are doing it for purely ideological reasons without really stopping to think about the potential consequences of their actions, which are based on a world view rather than on rational facts and most importantly on a desire to help all Canadians.

What I am essentially saying is that Bill C-44 does not meet Canada’s continental challenges, the North American challenges we face on the economic, military, and social fronts. The bill also fails to meet the international economic, military, social, and even environmental challenges we are facing.

Since the end of the 1990s, we have been living in a highly competitive world. More than ever, the west, including Canada, is slowing down. We are seeing the emergence of new world powers, the BRICS we all know about, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. There is also Nigeria, with the largest population in Africa and an economy that is increasingly important in Africa and the world.

With their economic growth, their increasing military importance, and their now enormous populations—the countries I named easily represent half of the world’s population—these emerging countries want energy resources. In spite of what they may say in their speeches at the United Nations, they want cars, they want to be consumers, they want oil, they want to be mobile, and they want a western lifestyle. For the last 20 years, and this is certainly a good thing, we have seen a growing transfer of wealth from north to south. This is undoubtedly a consequence of the decolonization of the 1950s and 1960s. It is to be expected and it is a good thing.

However, we need a government like the previous Conservative government that understands international geopolitics and understands the major economic challenges that lie ahead. The economic crisis of 2007-08 was undeniably terrible and was perhaps the harbinger of other things to come.

There is a certain impoverishment happening in Canada, perhaps not so much for people, but in terms of infrastructure. For example, our icebreakers are completely obsolete, our highways in the Maritimes need repair, and our ports and airports should be updated, particularly Beauport 2020 in Quebec City, which really needs investments.

Sometimes I get the impression that Canada does not realize that it is losing ground in terms of its international role as an economic and diplomatic driver.

There is also the North American context. The United States is suffering from the emergence of the BRICS countries. That is one of the reasons why the current president was elected. Americans are extremely worried because 20 million people are unemployed in the U.S. Isolationism is taking hold again. The media talks about this as though it were a new phenomenon, but on the contrary, isolationism re-emerges in the U.S. roughly every 50 years.

In this isolationist context, there will be major tax cuts in the United States for businesses and individuals. This political context is reactionary on economic, social, military, and diplomatic levels. It is not up to us to decide whether this is good or bad. The Americans will develop their economic isolationism.

I see that in Bill C-44, which would implement budget 2017, the Liberal government does not seem to explain how we are going to deal with this new North American reality or how we are going to make sure that Canadian companies are competitive in the face of American isolationism and a less porous border that allows for less trade. Trade between Canada and the United States is worth $2 billion a day, so that is pretty significant. These isolationist American reactions, which will last at least three years and a few months, are going to have very significant effects on Canada, but we are not hearing the Liberals talk about this.

We are also seeing a Canadian context taking shape before our eyes. The economic health of the federation has been going downhill for two years. For example, we are astonished to see that the Liberals never talk about the significant loss of economic growth in Alberta and the major job losses for Albertans. They also do not talk about the employment problems in the Atlantic provinces. They do not talk about the importance of Montreal and Quebec City. Simply put, we are not hearing them really talk about the role of each province in our country’s economic unity.

For example, we have been telling them for several months now that it is incomprehensible that there is no free trade between the provinces in Canada, when it is right there in the Constitution. That is why we have asked them to make a reference to the Supreme Court to have the judges interpret the Constitution as it is written, and give us a definitive judgment that sets out, in black and white, that we should have free trade among the provinces. That would certainly help our businesses everywhere in Canada.

There is a real need to complete major projects for the next 100 years. Once again, this budget tell us about building a strong middle class, but it does not contain any major projects that will ensure there will be even more wealth creation in 50 years. All the interest groups that the Liberals favour in their platform and their budget are systematically opposed to any long-term major projects.

I always like to take the example of the premier of Quebec, Mr. Bourassa, who created gigantic hydro-electric projects in the 1970s, dams such as had never been seen in the history of humanity. Recently, the record was topped by a dam in China, but until very recently, we had the biggest dams in the world in Quebec. That means that today, we in Canada and Quebec are the ones who pay the lowest prices for electricity. That is one of the few things that we pay the lowest prices for, but because of that, we have a healthy welfare state in Quebec and services that are overall quite adequate.

What is there in Canada at present, however, that guarantees that in 50 years—I will still be here if I am lucky—our children and grandchildren will enjoy rising wealth? There is nothing in this bill that guarantees us that, because it focuses only on the present moment and aims simply to please vote-getting groups that make up the Liberal voting base, which is slowly but surely crumbling.

According to my own and my Conservative colleagues’ analysis, Bill C-44 shows that the Liberals are working for the financial elite of the infrastructure bank of Canada and the social elites who want to make major policy changes, not to create jobs, but to suit their own world view. There is nothing there for working people, however. That is why the Conservative opposition has a moral and political obligation to be the voice of taxpayers in the House.

As I said in the House yesterday, we might be better off talking about the responsibilities of citizenship, the Canadian Armed Forces, and how we can serve our country. Instead, we have no choice but to talk about the importance of lowering taxes and creating jobs because those two things are in peril under this government.

Taxes keep going up. This year alone, Canadians' tax burden is going up by nearly $5 billion. That includes taxes on public transit, carpooling, beer and wine, also known as the Friday and Saturday night tax, medication, child care, small business owners, oil and gas companies, which represent millions of jobs in Canada, and tourism. That is a very long list of taxes, and the government is breaking one promise after another.

Worse still is the $29-billion deficit, which has nothing to do with economic conditions. Unlike the deficit at the time of the 2007-08 economic crisis, this deficit has nothing to do with a need to stimulate the economy and create jobs. This deficit exists because the government wanted its budget to cater to the needs of the interest groups I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. Plus, these deficits have no end date.

This is the first time that we have a Canadian finance minister who is incapable of answering a simple question: when does he plan to eliminate Canada's fiscal deficit? Will it be in 2017, 2018, 2020, 2030, or 2040? He has no idea. He does not take the economy as seriously as he should.

It is important to remind Canadians that the deficit has exploded over the past two years. Through words and actions alike, the Liberal government is creating budgets to take money away from taxpayers and spread it around to certain special interest groups, rather than all Canadians. The government is trying to divide Canadians by saying that it is working for the middle class, and not for everyone else. It has no overall vision for Canada, particularly when it comes to continental and international challenges. In addition, it keeps introducing outdated bills in the House, like the one to raise the salary of ministers of state.

They should be focusing on more important matters. I am sure you are also concerned about this, Mr. Speaker, but you can rest assured. Until 2019, we will continue to stand up for Canadian taxpayers every day, until midnight if necessary, and we will make sure that this government does not win another term, so that 60 years from now, Canada will not reflect this terrible mismanagement.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Erin Weir NDP Regina—Lewvan, SK

Mr. Speaker, the member for Beauport—Limoilou is the Conservative critic for Public Services and Procurement Canada. He was previously the Conservative critic for veterans affairs. The government has recently announced major new expenditures related to both of those areas that were not in the federal budget. In the past couple of weeks, we saw another $140 million to try to fix the Phoenix pay system, which is fast becoming a billion-dollar boondoggle. We also saw billions of additional dollars for national defence, possibly in response to pressure from President Trump.

Could my colleague from Beauport—Limoilou comment on the fact that these expenditures were not in the budget, and what implications that has for the credibility of the legislation that we are debating today?

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, that is interesting because it is very hard to understand what exactly the spending in the budget is. I am not the only one saying that. It is not just the opposition saying that. The media, analysts, and economists have been saying that. It is a very complex omnibus bill with different avenues and spending going all over the place. One thing is for sure though. It is that the money goes to interest groups, not to Canadians. They take money from Canadians to give to interest groups.

Concerning veterans, there were some interesting measures put in place, but again, the new charter for veterans that was put in place by the government in 2006, just before the arrival of the new Conservative government, was the wrong paradigm. We should replace the charter with lifelong pensions. That is what the Liberals promised in the last election and that is what they should put in place, not these small measures. They should bring back the lifelong pension. That was one of their major promises and I hope they will not break it.

Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1Government Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Geoff Regan

The member will have another eight minutes for questions and comments after oral question period.

Access to InformationStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Bloc

Luc Thériault Bloc Montcalm, QC

Mr. Speaker, despite the Liberals' big promises to be open and transparent, today, the government is even less transparent than it was during the last year Stephen Harper's Conservatives were in office.

The Information Commissioner released a scathing report yesterday, which indicated that this government is even more secretive than Stephen Harper's. The conclusion that the Information Commissioner came to is that this is the information era and it is time that Ottawa got on board.

This government is hiding more than a government that was openly suspicious of the media. Documents are redacted or hidden and requests are ignored. The only things the Liberals want to show are selfies of the Prime Minister and pictures of nice dinners. When it comes to providing easier access to information, they are anything but transparent.

Just because the Liberal members from Quebec are invisible does not mean that the government is transparent.

Events in Ottawa—VanierStatements By Members

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Mona Fortier Liberal Ottawa—Vanier, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to thank the Minister of Environment for the sunshine in tomorrow's forecast.

Tomorrow there are two important charitable walks in Ottawa—Vanier.

Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group of Ottawa will celebrate its 6th annual walk of Scoliosis Awareness Month. This will support Curvy Girls Scoliosis Support Group, a peer-led support group for teens of all ages who have been diagnosed with scoliosis.

The Walk for ALS will also take place tomorrow in many Canadian cities. Walk for ALS is the largest fundraiser for ALS in Canada and is led by an impressive number of volunteers.

I look forward to joining my hon. colleague from Glengarry—Prescott—Russell who will help me lead Team Mauril as we raise money and celebrate hope for a future without ALS.

I hope my colleagues will take the time to remember our dear friend, Mauril, and will join me or make a donation to Team Mauril.

Mudcat FestivalStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Conservative

Diane Finley Conservative Haldimand—Norfolk, ON

Mr. Speaker, this weekend, a large catfish statue named “Muddy the Mudcat” will welcome visitors to Dunnville in my beautiful riding of Haldimand—Norfolk for the 43rd annual Mudcat Festival.

Named after Dunnville's popular catfish found in the waters of the Grand River, this festival draws in crowds from all over to experience its exciting parade, thrilling midways, and breathtaking fireworks. In fact, for a town of only 6,000 people, this festival attracts 10 times its population.

This year the Mudcat Festival will offer new events, such as the strong man and strong woman competitions, firefighter's street dance, the first-ever mudcat marathon, and a special tribute to our veterans.

Huge thanks go out to all of the volunteers and businesses involved in making this event possible, especially Margaret and Kimberly Clarke. Without them, this festival would not happen.

VolunteerismStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

Chandra Arya Liberal Nepean, ON

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize a large group of volunteers that donated its time and energy for a good cause in my riding of Nepean this past weekend.

On Saturday, seven churches across Nepean and Barrhaven took part in the “Big Give”, a city wide garage sale where all items were free. Hundreds of volunteers came together to spread kindness and generosity in a unified day of giving.

I would like to thank Jon Griffiths, Anne McGregor, Mark Scarr, Ryan Dawson, Dan Guther, Daniel Tjoe-A-Long, and the congregations of The Metropolitan Bible Church, Woodvale Pentecostal Church, Good Shepherd Barrhaven, Longfields Community Church, Sequoia Community Church, Cedarview Alliance Church, and Bibleway Ministries for giving back to our communities and making the Big Give a success once again this year.

French ImmersionStatements By Members

11 a.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Mr. Speaker, Canada's 150th anniversary is an important opportunity to celebrate Canada's linguistic duality as a key aspect of our collective identity and as a gift for future generations.

Despite long wait lists for French immersion programs in Vancouver, the Christy Clark Liberal government and its school board appointee are cutting French immersion enrolment for kindergarten students by one quarter next year. This will result in 135 fewer spaces, and five schools will lose one class each.

Many parents who want to register their children in this very popular program will be upset about this, and even more children will be deprived of the opportunity to be bilingual.

I urge the federal government to defend bilingualism and our official languages across the country in order to ensure that all Canadian students have access to education in French and in English.

Jack LangStatements By Members

11 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to honour the public service legacy of Jack Lang, who served the Pontiac region as mayor and councillor of Clarendon for 24 years. He set a high bar for politicians following in his footsteps.

Jack worked for many years in the forestry industry at the Smurfit-Stone pulp mill in Portage-du-Fort. He was a valued member of the congregation of Shawville's United Church, and was a volunteer with the local fire department, the Shawville Kinsmen Club, the Pontiac Agricultural Society, the Pontiac Community Hospital Foundation, the Shawville Minor Hockey Association, among so many others.

He was a true ambassador for the Pontiac. I will never forget how comfortable he made me feel at the Shawville Fair, encouraging me to join in all the activities.

Jack had such an open and welcoming manner, behaviour that bears the mark of a true leader.

For his family, I offer the condolences of an entire region. He represented that which is great about the Pontiac.