House of Commons Hansard #252 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was sexual.

Topics

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:15 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I am going to be sharing my time with the member for Essex. I am honoured in this astonishing time to be speaking to the vitally important issue of sexual harassment and violence in our public dialogue and in our workplaces.

I am going to talk about the brave young women who are coming forward, the legacy of social justice women's rights activists on whose shoulders we stand. I am going to talk about the support of my party, the NDP, for Bill C-65. I am going to affirm that no party is immune to the revelations and bad behaviour that are being reported. I am going to talk about the cost of shutting women out of politics. I am going to talk a bit about some of the changes to the bill that would help us to make it even better protection for workers.

The imperative for us to take this action as parliamentarians is fuelled by the terrible stories that we are hearing. I have a quote from a former parliamentary staffer, Beisan Zubi. She said that being a parliamentary staffer on the Hill was “a crash course in sexism and sexual harassment”. She said, “But if I’m being honest, I would have also warned them to stay away, that Parliament Hill, in my experience, was a fundamentally unsafe place for young women.” How can that be said about the Commons, the place for the people? Lauren Dobson-Hughes said, “You take your cues from people around you who are in positions of power, and if they don't think that's weird, if that didn't even momentarily give them a second glance, then you think, 'Maybe the problem is me; maybe that's just normal.'” It is not normal.

More than anything, I want to state it is a privilege for us to be in this House and to be able to make permanent change at this historic time. I want to honour the brave women who, after decades of holding these stories back, are risking themselves and their reputations and are telling their stories and ringing the alarm on deeply embedded sexism and violence in our common discourse and in our workplaces, including this workplace here. I recognize the great cost to women for coming forward. I want to say to them that I am really sorry it happened to them and that we are going to honour their bravery by doing the right thing here in this House. We recognize that we have the highest responsibility to act on the respect and importance of the words that we have been given. This is the global #MeToo movement. This is Time's Up, and time is up.

We are determined to ensure workplaces in this country are safe from sexual harassment. We know all workers everywhere deserve and are entitled to a safe and secure environment. The work before us today is to make sure there is zero tolerance for harassment and violence in our workplaces, and that when it does happen, there must be a transparent process where the complainants are confident that they will be treated with respect and privacy, and those who are accused know there is a process that will be adjudicated, and the public will have an idea about what that process is.

The labour minister's proposal, Bill C-65, amends the Canada Labour Code to include sexual violence and harassment, and it attempts to do a similar thing within parliamentary workplaces where the concern about parliamentary privilege has even prevented the Canada Labour Code from having effect in our constituency offices across the country and here on the Hill. I am very grateful to the labour movement for identifying changes that we can put in place that would improve the bill and also to my colleagues, the member for Saskatoon West, our former labour critic, and the member for Jonquière, our current labour critic, because the work by them and their staff is building our case and we are going to make this legislation even better.

I want to give thanks to the men in the NDP caucus who I serve with, as well as the members of Islands Trust Council, where I served for 12 years. I personally have had a very good experience as an elected woman in politics, maybe because Islands Trust Council had an exactly gender balanced 26-person council. Maybe that had something to do with the change in tone. However, what we are talking about today is the experience of workers and not so much about parliamentarians.

I want to acknowledge that if we can get more women into Parliament, they will change the tone. “Add women, change politics” is something we hear a lot. They will change the tone and also enact policies. We have seen across the world that by removing barriers to women's participation in public life, systems and countries protect all vulnerable people better than we do right now. We have seen this in other parts of the world. Canada is, sadly, really behind the ball on this.

The status quo policies that we have had in this Parliament have meant that the number of women elected to office has stalled out. If we could bump that number up, it might be that we would have less sexual harassment. We heard that specifically, maybe nine months ago. Daughters of the Vote was a beautiful initiative on International Women's Day, but one sister, Arezoo Najibzadeh, powerfully and symbolically left her seat empty to represent the cost of violence against women that keeps women from participating in public life and prevents them from taking their seats. Hands were raised to that sister. Both the member for Hochelaga and I saluted her efforts on that day. She is a reminder to me that we need all the diversity of voices in this House to change the country and bring proper representation.

That is the cost of keeping political staffers in an unsafe place and causing women to say that Parliament Hill is not safe for them. This is the power of social media. It makes it possible for us to transmit these stories, and it is bringing down some pretty amazing political leaders right now. Again, we are in quite a time.

I want to also acknowledge my Aunt Kim Malcolmson, who I have talked about in the House before. She was a pay equity commissioner. She was very challenging for my old grandfather. She was a hard-core feminist, a CCF-Waffle Party-Tommy Douglas aficionado. She shaped me enormously. She is in palliative care. On Friday morning, my fabulous Uncle Paul Barber told her that Patrick Brown had been forced to resign his seat, and although it was very hard for her to speak, she demanded to know more details. On Saturday, I was able to visit her in the hospital and let her know that the New Democrats were going to return to Parliament by calling out the need to act to end violence against women and sexual harassment, and at the end of the week we were going to be celebrating the two-year anniversary of the successful motion from me and the member for Jonquière in the House to legislate pay equity. I was able to let Kim know that we were coming into Parliament fighting. That was on Saturday, and yesterday she passed away.

I like to think, because she was a woman who knew she was going to Heaven, that she is looking down on this amazing time that we are living in and seeing that the work that has been done is carrying on and that the young women leaders in this country, with their deep bravery and astonishing ability to tell stories, are changing the way we will go forward with this legislation.

The labour movement is urging changes and New Democrats will be urging changes in committee. We are glad that with the new House leader of the NDP, we were able to accelerate the passage of this bill. We will debate its details and get changes as fast as we can so that we can make politics a safe place for all members of our country.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

Conservative

Garnett Genuis Conservative Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan, AB

Madam Speaker, this is a bill that I think all parties in the House support.

I want to probe the member's thoughts a bit on getting more women involved in politics. All of us agree that it is important to get more women elected in politics and sometimes the mechanism for that involves party leaders wanting to intervene more in local nominations, but there is push-back in terms of questions about the independence of local nominations. There is, I guess, a tension between different important values in terms of getting more representation but also the importance of the local process.

I would genuinely like to hear the member's thoughts on what the best mechanism would be for ensuring that outcome, from her perspective.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, I am really proud that 43% of the New Democrat candidates nominated for the federal election slate in 2015 were women, and we elected a 40% female caucus. I have a lot of strong women around me today. That is borne out again and again. If political parties offer women, voters say yes to women. I believe the Conservative Party nominated 17% women and about 16% to 17% of its caucus is female, while for the Liberals it was 30% and 30%.

My colleague, the member of Parliament for Burnaby South, proposed a private member's bill that would have given incentives for political parties to nominate more gender-balanced slates. Unfortunately, a feminist Liberal government voted that down, which was very disappointing.

We are now looking to the Liberals to see what they will bring to this Parliament that might also give political parties incentives. In the meantime, they could do what the NDP does: Riding associations are not allowed to go to a nomination vote until they show that they have exhausted all equity candidate nomination possibilities.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to thank my colleague for her intensely personal speech. Her story about her godmother or her aunt who was so devoted to these issues until her last breath was really quite moving.

I can assure you that we are all happy to see that all parties and nearly everyone here welcomes this bill and realizes the critical need for it.

A few points have been addressed more than once today, including, for example, the fact that the bill does not define what needs to be regulated. The courage it takes to report this behaviour was brought up many times.

Does my colleague believe that if we came up with a clear definition of these actions, we could create better awareness campaigns that would point specifically to the exact kind of “off-colour” behaviours that we want to stop?

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member asked a fair question. I am reminded of the words of Carleton University's Jennifer Robson, who said that harassment policies on paper do not work if workers do not have all the information and, most of all, the trust. That is up to us.

However, the member is quite right that getting as much detail as we can in here right now would make implementation and understanding much easier to get at, both from the side of the employer and from the side of the worker. We have heard concerns, for example, that the bill may not protect the privacy of the people coming forward, as much as it might, when the competent person selected as their mediator is a co-worker. It is not clear what the actual penalties for the employers would be, whether that is a federally regulated industry or, in this case, a member of Parliament. Also, it is not clear how anonymity and privacy would be protected.

There are many details we will be taking in good faith to committee, and we will try to make this as specific as possible. That is what our brothers and sisters in the labour movement have called for.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to dedicate this speech to all women who have come forward as part of the #MeToo and Time's Up movement. I want to thank them for their courage and strength. I also want to express my extreme, deep frustration that it continues to take women laying themselves bare for the public in order to agitate for change. We need to do better.

Today, I hope I am passing through the House one small part of their voices, voices that have reached out to me on social media, sending emails, and who have been thankful for those of us who are sitting in the House agitating for this change.

Women in our country are raising their voices in unison around this issue in a way we have not seen for a very long time. I am reminded of what my colleague for Nanaimo—Ladysmith mentioned of the 338 women who sat in the House in March 2017, of the power and passion they brought, of they their deep desire and hope for a political career in the House someday, which extends beyond just our seats here. It extends to everyone who works to support us in the House, right down to our pages who help support us every day. I want more than anything for all of them to be free to pursue this career and to pursue this life free of harassment. I want them to see that day come. I do not want them to have to be worried about bracing themselves to face the toxic workplace they are reading about, watching and learning about.

I came from the labour movement. I worked in an auto manufacturing facility. I was one of 15% of women in that workplace. However, being part of a union environment, having the protections, policies, and clear and very defined definitions of harassment in the workplace, went miles to ensure that everyone in that workplace understood their responsibility in doing better.

I commend those in the labour movement. They have done an incredible amount of work to eradicate this behaviour. We are not going to have to look too far for policies that work in the public, labour, and our communities because they exist. We simply need to ensure they exist here as well.

The behaviour we are talking about is not new, as has been raised by a lot my colleagues today. However, it can and must change. It is going to take all of us. To start with, there can be no more whisper campaigns in the House. There can be no more women who are warning other women about who to stay away from or who not to be alone with. That is unacceptable. It is a very deep part of our culture here. Women have been trying to protect women through these very subversive campaigns. No more to that. It has to come out to the light of day. We have to shine a light on it. We have to challenge that behaviour each and every time we see it, not just the women in the House. Every man sitting in the House has to challenge it from other men on a constant basis. Only then will we strive to create a workplace that is safe, without these hiding places and excuses for this behaviour. It is the excuses that have allowed it to continue to breed.

Earlier a colleague mentioned that some had training here throughout the years. Well, clearly it has not worked. However, I recognize this work is ongoing and will take all of us working through our lifetimes to continue to improve it, I hope, at a better pace than we have had. However, it is clear that we can and we must do better.

For people who have sat and listened to a colleague say something inappropriate and let it go by, that day is done. We can no longer do that in this place. We must challenge it. On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people we represent from our ridings and on behalf of Canadians, we cannot allow this place to become a mockery or a toxic pool that is to be avoided at all costs. We are losing the best and brightest in the next generation by not showing them better. We all hope those young people will some day take over our seats, as those young women did on International Women's Day.

We have to commit not just to the legislation, which is very important. I am so happy that everyone in the House provided consensus on the motion by the MP for Berthier—Maskinongé, which she brought up earlier, in getting the bill to committee as quickly as possible. It is critical that we get to the committee level and start this very difficult work, and that we do it with our blinders off and we do it honestly. We cannot bring to the committee the excuses, the hiding places, the reasons people think this is just the way it is here. We have to throw all of that to the side and really work to challenge the structures that have existed for 150 years in this place, but certainly beyond that, as one colleague mentioned earlier, for millennia, from the beginning of time.

We have to challenge it at the smallest root, the smallest comment that goes by that we might portray as harmless and that it is just what men say in a locker room or to other men. These are not harmless. This is the beginning of harm. This is the beginning of letting these things slide by until it affects one individual so badly that his or her life is forever altered. We see that happening with women in Canada right now. We see women who are being attacked on social media because they have come forward. That is unacceptable and if anyone in the House is aware of people being attacked, we also have a responsibility to speak out and say that attacking women who come forward is not acceptable. There is due process within the laws and there is due process hopefully within our workplace with this legislation going forward, but that in no way excuses us for not speaking up when we see it. We have to take that seriously.

I know there are men here, whom I work with every day, who do not support this culture, who think it is wrong, who do not behave this way, who do not condone it, and who do not teach their sons or daughters that this is okay. It is time for those men to start speaking out. Although this is impacting women, it impacts men too. We know that this is not a gender issue. This is not for the women to fix. This is for all of us to fix together.

I would like to dig into the bill that we have before us, but before I do that I want to say that an example of how women in the House are struggling to come forward, struggling within our own parties, within this structure, to be able to call this behaviour out, is the fact that we had a Canadian Press survey done for female MPs. It was anonymous and passed through all of our whips' offices in December and we had very low participation in the survey. It was extremely low. I believe it was below 40% participation of women MPs. Because we exist in a structure where we have parties that we have loyalties to, women in this place are afraid to call this out, but women need to be brave and we need to embolden the men that we sit with as our colleagues every day to be brave as well.

The bill is an important first step, but we have to go far beyond where the bill is going and that will involve the work at committee. That will mean things like a definition. We have had some conversation about a definition today, whether the definition should be in the bill itself, or whether the definition should be part of the regulatory piece that goes along with this legislation. Defining what harassment is allows us to challenge it. Without that very basis of understanding, how can we educate people in the House as to what it is? This is the very core of the work that we should be doing in the House.

I implore the government to please look at all the amendments that come forward, by taking that partisan hat off at the door, because this is work that we are doing for the future of the House. On International Women's Day last year when 338 women sat in the House, that was more women than have actually ever sat here elected. We are doing a poor job in Canada of attracting young women and this is one of the many reasons why. We need to do better.

I ask for commitment from all of my colleagues to look at the amendments on the basis of the amendments, to put their partisanship aside, and to let us do the hard work that is necessary to change the House to a zero tolerance workplace.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre Nantel NDP Longueuil—Saint-Hubert, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague.

A unionized workplace with very clear protocols that explicitly define the type of behaviour that is not acceptable is a very good example. I would like her to provide other examples where this type of code is in place, setting out that this very specific type of offence is not to be committed. I would like her to tell us how helpful this would be.

Quite honestly, I was even surprised many times during her speech by the shocking statistics on workplaces where certain rules of silence exist. Am I naive or just lucky to have never heard about them? Earlier, another colleague told us that, according to a certain intern, working here was literally akin to working in a snake pit.

I would like my colleague to speak a little more about a code and the definitions of what should be added to this bill.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, labour has not done an incredible job throughout our country. I will say that the NDP is proud to have unionized staff from UFCW Local 232. They have worked very hard on anti-harassment language within the collective agreement we have. One of the questions we have is how we will now mesh what some workers on this Hill have in a collective agreement with what is now being proposed. This is an important understanding.

Also, we can draw from the collective agreements that exist across our country on the best practices that exist around harassment policy and education on that policy. I am proud to have done this in my former life for the union that I belonged to. It is incredibly important work, because no matter how many times we are educated, things are shifting and changing in our world, certainly with cyberspace, cyber-bullying, and all the things that are happening outside, which really are an extension of our workplace, according to the code.

It is quite shocking to Canadians that we do not have labour law that applies to us here on the Hill. That is quite a shock to most people in Canada. They are completely unaware of that and find it appalling that this is the only space that exists in Canada where we do not really have any laws to protect people who work here every day with us.

One of the things I can point to specifically that Unifor has is a women's advocate program. This is someone who has been specifically trained in the workplace for people to access. It is an independent person who does not provide counselling per se but who does provide connections to community partners that exist, so people can receive the help they really do need. This goes along, of course, with supporting the financial aspect of needing access to those services. It is something that has worked quite effectively. It has been lauded at the United Nations as a workplace model to challenge harassment and also to provide people with the information necessary when they really are struggling under the weight of these incidents.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:40 p.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Madam Speaker, I want to raise one more thing. In the House today we are talking about our response to sexual harassment in the workplace. Bill C-65 will definitely do a lot in order to help us along that journey and make sure that individuals who come forward with allegations are heard and that action is taken.

My question is this. I am wondering if the hon. member could comment as to what measures could be taken within this place, and perhaps even within other workplaces, but giving priority to this place, that are preventive in nature to make sure that the staff who work for members of Parliament are actually free of victimization.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, it is going to take an incredible amount of work and a commitment from all of us to be a part of the solution. It is not just about those of us in the House. It is about people on the Senate side. It is about people who work for us, such as our parliamentary protective services and pages in the House. It is about everyone.

The education required is extensive. I have watched the educational video that is provided by the House and I find it to be lacking. There really is not enough there. The education that happened in the union I belonged to was a 40-hour program for each person. This was a deep commitment with a yearly follow-up. It would be one day every year. Training is updated on a constant basis. The work is never done. I hope this work will improve, will become better, and will change things. Education is key.

A commitment from everyone that they will challenge this behaviour will go an incredibly long way. If we continue to sit silent and this opportunity to improve what we have currently governing us in this place passes us by, then shame on us. We will have missed an opportunity to improve the lives of Canadians. When women can focus on their work free of harassment, that work will continue to grow and we will all reap the benefits of that.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

There being no further members rising for debate, by order made earlier this day, Bill C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence), the Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act and the Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1, is deemed read a second time.

(Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee).

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, maybe we could see the will of the House to call it the time of adjournment so we can go to adjournment proceedings.

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Is that agreed?

Canada Labour CodeGovernment Orders

6:45 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

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

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:45 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, today I am rising to follow up on a question I asked on December 2 of last year. This was a question about workers at CAMI Assembly in Ingersoll, Ontario, who at the time were on strike. They have since gone back to work, thankfully, but they have really been feeling the negative impacts of NAFTA on their community. It was wonderful to see their entire community come out in support of them and recognize the importance of auto manufacturing jobs to the health of their local economy.

NAFTA talks have continued this week and very little is focusing on its impact on working people. Before committing to any agreement, we need to ensure that Canadians' lives and our communities have been improved by this trade relationship.

Twenty-three years ago when NAFTA was originally negotiated by the Mulroney Conservatives they tried to sell Canadian workers on the idea that it would bring prosperity to everyone across the continent. Mulroney's government claimed that NAFTA would be a great equalizer and was a trade agreement that would float all boats. Labour and civil societies were deeply concerned that the weak labour side agreement would do nothing to change the alarming trend of growing income inequality in our country. However, the Conservative government pressed on, and today we know the harsh impact of this trade deal on working people.

Since 1994, successive governments have neglected to address the alarming and worsening reality that the NAFTA promise has not led to increased standards of living for all, and that the majority of the benefits have gone to those who already hold a great deal of power and influence.

Income and wealth inequality in Canada today is at a crisis level. To say that NAFTA has not played a role in that would be disingenuous. Just ask those 3,000 workers at GM's CAMI plant in Ingersoll who waged a long and bitter strike in order to get a commitment from the corporation to retain their jobs. Workers will still see their main production vehicle moved to two plants in Mexico, where workers are paid an average of $4 per hour.

This world-class facility in southwestern Ontario has provided the surrounding regions' economies with millions of dollars, but unfortunately, under NAFTA its fate is uncertain, as have been so many other production lines before it.

Often, proponents of free trade try to pass off the loss of automotive jobs as being due to an advancement in automation alone. Although automation has contributed to a small decline in jobs in manufacturing, we need to be very clear that the level of automation in a Mexican auto plant is identical to one in Canada. The real issue is that consecutive Liberal and Conservative governments have allowed corporations to take advantage of low-wage economies and workers worldwide, ignoring their rights while putting Canadian workers at a serious disadvantage.

The international standards for labour laws are codified by the International Labour Organization's eight core conventions, and although Canada signed on to ratify all of them, we cannot turn a blind eye to the reality of workers in North America. Canada must be a world leader when it comes to promoting labour standards around the world at all times. This means that the Liberal government cannot ignore labour standards while renegotiating NAFTA or other future trade agreements.

There is a question I need to ask. Is the labour chapter in NAFTA a red line for the Liberals that they will not dare cross in NAFTA or any other trade agreement we have, or like their predecessors, will they continue to protect the interests of their rich friends by raising them up while the rest of us continue to sink?

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:50 p.m.

Orléans Ontario

Liberal

Andrew Leslie LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada-U.S. Relations)

Madam Speaker, I had the privilege of going with the member for Essex to her riding. I saw first-hand the impact NAFTA has had in her community over the last 24 years.

First and foremost, I reiterate, for the House's attention, that the Prime Minister has made income inequality between workers and CEOs one of his principle themes in all his international discussions. Quite frankly, thanks to his leadership and that of the other cabinet ministers, and indeed all members of this House, this whole idea is picking up speed in the international community as one of the great issues of our time that we have to resolve.

Let me get to the question at hand posed by the hon. member for Essex. Overall, our objective has been to not only modernize NAFTA but to introduce ideas that will ensure that we do not leave workers behind. From the beginning, our intent has been to introduce progressive labour ideas, ideas that benefit women, who when they earn a fair day's wage, it will be for a fair day's work. They should not be treated one whit differently than men.

We have made good progress in Montreal over the last couple of days. I had the good fortune to be there for most of it, accompanied by members from the NDP and the Conservative Party. I am glad to say that it was a unified front we presented to our American and Mexican colleagues.

Having said that, progress is slow. At the top of this idea, in terms of modernization, is to make sure, as articulated in the Prime Minister's vision of making sure we are addressing income inequality internationally, that the workers are not left behind, as happened 24 years ago. Indeed, quite rightly, the hon. member for Essex identifies her riding as particularly hard hit.

Six days ago, I had the privilege of being in North Carolina. I met with members of Charlotte, a city of about 600,000 or 700,000 that is booming as a result of reinvestments accrued as a result of the benefits of NAFTA. At the same time, there were many workers out in the countryside who lost their jobs 24 or 25 years ago. Quite frankly, this is what our innovative labour chapter for NAFTA is meant to mitigate against. Let us not leave the workers behind.

What does this mean? We want to make sure that, for example, it is not a race to the bottom in terms of the Labour Code. As articulated by the hon. member, who is quite right, a variety of corporate decisions were made in Canada and the United States over the preceding 24 years to relocate displaced factories to Mexico, where the average cost per worker is far less. In large measure, our progressive idea about the labour standards that could be shared among the three countries tries to address the income inequalities that exist between the Mexican worker, the Canadian worker, and the American worker. Is it going to take some time to resolve? Of course it is.

We are making the assumption that NAFTA progression will continue at its slow and steady pace, but let us not forget that, quite frankly, the introduction of the labour chapter is very progressive. It is also very ambitious. There are some details to be ironed out over the next little while.

Let me also point out that I had the pleasure of meeting representatives from Unifor, the Teamsters, and PSAC, and the list goes on, not only in consultations in Montreal but elsewhere. The bottom line is that we are listening to their concerns. We have networked widely with them. We have received tremendously valuable input from front-line union managers as to what is required as we make this evolutionary leap forward.

I am very confident that subject to the will of the other two participatory nations, we will be able to get good jobs for Canadians, protect Canadian jobs, and make sure we leave no workers behind.

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, I want to say to the member that a truly progressive, labour-focused government does not allow the abuse or the poor working conditions in low-wage economies to bolster the profits of its own domestic top 1%. That has to end. It does not create advisory councils or sign on to trade agreements that have no real power to affect progressive change.

I am curious, because we have now signed on to the TPP, what the actual progressive labour standards will be in the TPP that will protect the 58,000 jobs that are projected to leave our country.

I want to tell the member opposite that as someone who has been laid off in a sector because of plants leaving our country for low-waged economies to take advantage of workers, it is incredibly important to stand up for those workers and to not sign on to any deal that will further disadvantage them. If we had a level playing field, there is no doubt that Canadian workers would thrive and excel.

It is incumbent upon the government to ensure that we do not sign trade agreements that further the—

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

NDP

International TradeAdjournment Proceedings

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Andrew Leslie Liberal Orléans, ON

Madam Speaker, as mentioned by my hon. colleague, it is vitally important that we leave no workers behind. The same is true for our indigenous population, and of course, for the environmental requirements. All of these issues combined make not only good progressive sense but good business sense.

In the context of workers, let me remind the hon. member that it was this government that raised taxes on the richest 1%. There is more work to be done in this regard, by all means. The Prime Minister and the cabinet is seized with this issue. We are in close co-operation and interaction with all the progressive unions, indeed all the unions in Canada, ranging from forestry to mill workers to the Public Service Alliance.

I can assure the hon. member that we will protect the rights of workers in these ongoing NAFTA discussions and will come up with the best proposal in the interest of Canadians.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

January 29th, 2018 / 6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in this House and address a matter that I dealt with some months ago when I directed a question to the government, more specifically a question for the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, asking the Liberals and asking the member about how shabbily small business owners in Canada have been treated under the Liberal government's new tax laws.

These tax laws were awful. I had hundreds of emails coming in from small business owners who felt that the current Liberal government that had promised lower taxes was actually breaking its word and making it more difficult for Canadian businesses. Of course, these angry Canadians ran to their MPs. The problem was that some members of Parliament did not actually engage with the members of their community who were concerned about the taxes. One of those was the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon. I am in the neighbouring riding. I had to go into his riding and hold a round table there where angry small businessmen and businesswomen from his riding shared with me how frustrated they were with the Liberal approach to small business. The changes that were being made involved the ability of business owners to sprinkle income—in other words pay money to their children and to their spouses because in many cases the whole family is involved in running the business. The heavy-handed government was coming down and saying they shall not pay money to their children unless the government, the tax department, allowed them to. We could understand why there would be such anger among our small business owners.

The people also had a problem with the fact that money that these businesses would have earned and the profits they would have made would have been set aside by them in a rainy-day fund. Perhaps, if someone in the business got sick, or perhaps the business took a turn for the worse, or perhaps there was an opportunity to grow the business and expand it, there was some cash available to invest in that. Historically, that money sitting there, worked hard for by the business owners, was taxed at a low rate. Now, the Liberals were going to tax that money at 73%. The government members have come forward and said they might make some changes there, they have amended the sprinkling provisions a bit, but they are not going to announce until the budget what they are going to do with passive income.

Small business owners found this out on the eve of Christmas. Suddenly, they were scrambling to find their accountants and their lawyers to make sense of the changes the Liberals were making, and again it was a fundamental breach of trust. That should not surprise us. When we look at the history of the Liberal Party in government, all we have seen are breaches of trust. What we have seen is the breaking of promises on deficits, breaking of promises on balanced budgets, breaking of promises on reducing the tax burden on Canadians. In fact, now we find the Prime Minister and the finance minister entangled in a web of scandal and intrigue that involves French villas. It involves Caribbean islands and the Aga Khan. It involves offshore companies, all being traced back to the Prime Minister and his finance minister.

My question for the parliamentary secretary, or whoever is here to answer this question, is threefold. First, has the government done an analysis of how much extra revenue it will receive by changing the small business rules? Second, will the tax rules apply to the Prime Minister and the finance minister? Third, why did the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon not conduct public meetings to address these concerns?

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7 p.m.

Gatineau Québec

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from British Columbia, the hon. member for Abbotsford, for his speech.

Unfortunately, my hon. colleague seems to have taken some liberties. I will address our record of accomplishments on small business taxation so that he can learn from our example.

This government has shown that it is attentive to the small business sector by virtue of keeping its commitment to lower the small business tax. In fact, since we last met in this chamber, today small businesses are now paying 10% instead of the previous rate they were paying in 2017. Next year they will pay 9%.

The small businesses in Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon or in the riding of Gatineau, and I suspect in the riding of Abbotsford, are very happy with the lowering of taxes, money they can now reinvest in the business, buy a new computes, hire a new employee, or make plans to expand, knowing those funds will be available to assist them in whatever their business plans are. We certainly want to reward success in our country.

My colleague from Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, indeed all my colleagues, were very vocal and instrumental in helping the finance minister consult as broadly as possible and bring back to the House of Commons a plan that would reward success in the country, that would clarify the rules, and that would require companies remunerate only people who were working, present, and contributing to the business. This can include family members, as we see on farms. My grandfather was a dairy farmer and my grandmother participated as equally in that enterprise as did my grandfather.

In the agricultural and small business sector anywhere, family members right now are contributing to those businesses. That may continue and that may continues to be deductable. However, those family members who are not participating in the businesses, as most Canadians would acknowledge, should not be a write off unavailable to other Canadians.

With respect to passive income, I was very pleased, and I know the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon was pleased, that the passive income measures will now essentially only apply to less than 3% of Canadian-controlled private corporations, those with huge cash piles. They will not come under the threshold the minister has set. However, 97% or more of Canadian-controlled private corporations will see no impact from the provisions. One hundred per cent of small businesses will see no retroactive impact from all this.

We have been very attentive to the small business sector. For my part, small business in Gatineau, and I suspect in British Columbia, are very happy with the things we have put in place.

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

Conservative

Ed Fast Conservative Abbotsford, BC

Madam Speaker, I am surprised that the member for Gatineau would presume to speak for the people from Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon, a riding I know well because I live in it, that he would presume to speak for the people of Abbotsford. He has not been there in recent memory that I know of, yet he suggests they are all happy.

In fact, the small business people in my riding, neighbouring ridings, and right across the country are angry with the Liberal government. They were promised they would see tax reductions. It was only when we put the fire to the feet of the Liberal government that it actually started to reduce the small business tax rate. Also, small business is not happy with carbon taxes being levied against them, which are going to undermine their competitiveness within a very competitive global economy. They are not happy with additional payroll taxes. They are not happy with the GST that the Liberal government charges on carbon taxes. This is a—

TaxationAdjournment Proceedings

7:05 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

The hon. parliamentary secretary.