House of Commons Hansard #364 of the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was jobs.

Topics

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, no I do not.

The Conservatives will try to make us believe that the reason they had to run deficits was all because of the economic crisis we were in and they had to do it to make sure that we rebounded out of the economic crisis. However, the reality of the situation when looking back at the last 19 budgets that the Conservative Party introduced into this House is that 16 of them ran deficits; the two that ran surpluses were on the heels of Paul Martin's $13-billion surplus; and the third one was in 2015, when they cut EI, slashed veterans services and sold shares of GM at bargain prices so that they could produce this “budget” that they could then go into the election with.

If we look back at the last 150 years, Conservatives have been in power for 38% of the time and racked up more than 70% of the debt. They have absolutely no credibility in telling this side of the House how to manage finances.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, the member mentioned the closing of the General Motors plant. I have to say that, for my community, I found his comments somewhat insensitive. However, one of the things he brought up was that businesses do not like uncertainty. He was correct in saying that the automotive sector is in a historic transition to electric and autonomous cars, but the point is that GM has decided not to do it in Canada.

These are once-in-a-generation investments, and companies do not make these investments on a five-year basis but more like over 50 years. However, one of the biggest uncertainties is this carbon tax, which is the Liberals' hidden agenda. They are telling businesses that the carbon tax, by 2022, will only be $50 per tonne, but the UN report that the environment minister is following says that it has to be up to $5,500 a tonne by 2030 to be effective.

The member could help decrease uncertainty if he could just tell the business community what the carbon tax will be in 2030. Will it be $5,500?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Liberal

Mark Gerretsen Liberal Kingston and the Islands, ON

Madam Speaker, the whole point to a price on pollution is to make sure that when people build, manufacture or purchase various goods, one of the components that goes into that, which we know is damning, is how it pollutes our environment.

If we pollute, we have to pay. Through this price on pollution, companies will be incentivized to find new, efficient, effective ways to produce products in a way that enables them to deliver them to the marketplace and at the same time create a cleaner environment.

The irony behind it is that it is a Conservative principle. Talking about how to affect an economy and the various different prices that are imposed on an economy is the underpinning to what Conservatives believe in, which is the functioning of the marketplace.

How can Conservatives not understand this? This is like economics 101. I do not get it. The Conservatives harp on and on about it. Conservatives claim to be the party of fiscal responsibility and economic management, but nothing they say in this House actually supports that.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

On Monday, November 26, General Motors announced that no more products would be allocated to the award-winning plant in Oshawa after December 2019. This was devastating for the over 2,800 workers in Oshawa, but the impact is much broader. It impacts not just the workers but also their families and all the businesses in the community that depend on the economic activity provided by the plant. We have seen time and again what a closing like this does to a community, not only to its economy but more importantly to its people.

When we say that the manufacturing sector is one of the backbones of our economy, it is not just a platitude, because it links with so many other sectors in the economy. Success in the manufacturing sector has a ripple effect on the rest of the economy. It is what is called the multiplier effect. For the auto sector, it is estimated at seven jobs for every job lost on the assembly line.

In Oshawa, we have gone through difficult times before, but our community is resilient and able to rise to the challenge. Our consolidated line was scheduled to close in 2008, but because of our tenacity and our ability to innovate, our line was able to remain open for years. At the time, we worked with the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, as well as the unions, the workers and the company, to find a solution. We did.

Today, Oshawa workers just want a chance to bid on a new product for our plant. The Prime Minister says he wants to attract the jobs of the future, the exact jobs that GM is saying it will not build in Oshawa. GM is saying it is transitioning to electric and autonomous vehicles. This is a once-in-a-generation investment, and it has decided not to make it in Oshawa or Canada. We must ask why.

This is why the Conservatives put forward a motion at the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, calling on the government to study the impacts of the plant closures in my community of Oshawa and the province in general. I cannot explain how disappointed I was when the Liberals voted it down.

Actions speak louder than words. The Prime Minister is good at sounding sincere when he says he wants to use all the tools available to help my community, but when he had the chance to act, the Liberals voted it down. The people of Oshawa are asking if the Prime Minister truly cares about our community and our jobs. It has been over a week since we heard the news, and he still has not even picked up the phone to call our mayor and offer his support.

I want to say how proud I am of our leader. When he found out about the closure of the plant, he changed his plans and came to Oshawa within hours, standing at the gates with the workers. Within 24 hours we had met with businesses, General Motors and, most importantly, the workers. They asked us on this side to fight for their jobs, and that is what we are doing.

The Prime Minister has famously said he wants to transition away from manufacturing. If we cannot transition to building the electric and autonomous vehicles of the future, what exactly does the Prime Minister want us to transition to? When will he understand that his failed policies have real consequences for real communities and real people, like those in Oshawa?

The Liberal talking points we have heard here today mention the closure of the plants in the United States, as if to say it is not just a problem in Canada. I would like to say two things to this.

First, in addition to the direct losses of over 2,800 jobs in the Oshawa plant, there will be spillover job losses of an estimated 20,000 jobs. When we compare this number to the approximately 3,600 direct jobs that will be lost in the U.S. and consider that the United States economy is more than 10 times bigger than ours, the impact is just not comparable.

Second, the government has created an environment in which companies regard Canada as a bad place for their investments, thereby depriving Canadians of good-quality manufacturing jobs. In fact the Prime Minister has implemented policies that have made it very unlikely that investors will see Canada as a worthwhile option. Under the Prime Minister, we have seen the biggest decline in Canadian energy investment in 70 years. The Liberals have chosen to implement policies that have made Canada uncompetitive on the world stage, and are making sure investors steer clear of our energy sector. The result is thousands of jobs lost in the energy industry. In Oshawa, we stand with those workers in the energy field. We think it is reprehensible that this government is standing in their way.

Canada's energy sector is instrumental to the well-being of our economy, and it seems like the Liberals are doing everything they can to ensure this industry fails. Uncertainty is an investor's worst nightmare, and under this Prime Minister we have seen project after project shut down: energy east, northern gateway, Aurora LNG, and the list goes on and on. With them, we can say goodbye to the $50 million in investment in Durham region, my neck of the woods, due to the energy sector.

In addition to uncertainty and an overly burdensome regulatory system, the Liberals have ignored calls by the business community to lower corporate tax rates to give Canada a competitive advantage. This means companies with low-margin products, like cars, are finding it hard to compete. For a Prime Minister who talks so much about the middle class, he does not seem to want to help Canadians join it.

Our corporate tax rate does not make Canada a competitive jurisdiction, and on top of that the Liberals have implemented a job-killing carbon tax that will make Canada even less competitive. The carbon tax not only ensures that companies have to pay more to the government rather than invest in growth, but also adds to the environment of uncertainty created by the Liberals. For once-in-a-lifetime, 50-year investments, companies need to know what their costs are going to be for more than five years, but the Liberals have not told us how much their carbon tax will rise after 2022.

According to a UN report, countries would need a carbon tax of up to $5,500 per tonne, which would mean a huge hit for our companies, especially when we consider that the United States and Mexico do not have one. This creates uncertainty for businesses and makes Canada unattractive for future investment.

To add insult to injury, the government has just signed on to a deal, the new NAFTA, without having the section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs removed. The Standing Committee on International Trade has been studying the impacts on these sectors, and the situation is dire. Businesses are shutting down, laying off workers, reducing shifts or moving production to other jurisdictions. Once these businesses leave, they are not coming back.

We have also been hearing from small and medium-sized businesses in these sectors that they cannot get the money the government is taking, because of the countervailing measures. The process is too long and onerous, and the owners of these businesses just do not have the time to work through the government's red tape. We need the government to give businesses their money back now.

The businesses in bigger industries such as the auto and energy sectors are struggling because of the policies of the Liberal government, so we can imagine what it is doing to small businesses in our country. Small and medium-sized businesses make up over 90% of the businesses in this country. They are one of the main drivers of our economy and the most affected by high taxes, burdensome regulations and the carbon tax.

According to a survey by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, one third of business owners are bothered so much by government regulation that they say they would have preferred not going into business in the first place. Is that not sad? When people spend all of their days running small companies and then whatever little time is left trying to navigate the never-ending government red tape, it becomes impossible to focus on growing their businesses.

Two weeks ago, the finance minister delivered an update on the state of the economy, in which he strongly underestimated the risks Canada will face in the not-so-distant future. Many economists do not share the minister's optimism when it comes to the long-term health of the Canadian economy, especially since he relied heavily on the unemployment rate to make his case. We have heard that here today. The unemployment rate falls not only when people are employed, but also when workers leave the workforce and stop looking for employment.

Demographic trends in Canada point to the fact that labour participation rates will continue to fall. There are around 2.7 million Canadians aged 15 to 24 in the labour force, compared to 3.4 million Canadians aged 55 to 64. In fact, when we look at the employment rate, the share of the labour force that is employed has been steadily declining since December 2017.

With that in mind, it is even more worrying that the Liberals have continued with their tax-and-spend strategy, rather than cutting the deficit like they promised they would do. Remember, the budget was supposed to balance itself. The Prime Minister promised Canadians the budget would be balanced, yet now the Department of Finance is projecting deficits out to 2045. This is a reckless strategy that will put Canada in jeopardy when the next recession comes.

To conclude, the Liberal government is failing Canadians. It promised to balance the budget, and it has not done so. It has raised taxes, making it harder for Canadians, and it has made Canada less competitive for business. It has increased the level of uncertainty for investors and raised their costs through the carbon tax. Is it really a surprise that businesses are moving and investors are fleeing? That is the scary point.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:10 p.m.

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Madam Speaker, to correct the record, the member laid out a number of fallacies on the status of the economy. He was correct to point out that unemployment is historically low, but we have added more than half a million jobs to the Canadian economy over the past few years. When it comes to investments, we can point to LNG Canada in the energy sector to demonstrate that, in fact, we have recently seen the largest private sector investment in the history of our country.

The member made a number of references to the government's plan to put a price on pollution. I accept that he disagrees that it is the right path forward, but does the hon. member opposite think it is important that we address the threat posed by climate change, and what is the Conservative Party's plan? I have asked a number of questions in this regard and so far, Conservatives have always gone back to criticizing our government's plan.

I am curious: Can the member point to one tangible measure the Conservative Party is going to implement to tackle the imminent threat posed by climate change?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, first of all, I am really pleased that the parliamentary secretary stood, because he is the person who can give the House the answers we need this afternoon. He is the person who has been putting forth the importance of a carbon tax and how it would fix the whole idea of climate change. Of course, we believe in that and under our government, we saw a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We were the first government to see a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the Prime Minister has actually said that it is not going to work unless other countries do it. My colleague knows that the Liberals have only stated what the price of their carbon tax is going to be to 2020. We also know that the report he is following, which is his and the minister's bible, says that it can be up to $5,500 per tonne by 2030. This is the big uncertainty. Companies in the resource and automotive sectors are not investing for five years; they are investing for 50 years.

This afternoon, while he is here in the House, could he please tell businesses what the government's carbon tax is going to be in 2050, and while he is up, in 2030?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Madam Speaker, we are all shocked and working on the problems with General Motors' plan for winding down its operations in Oshawa. When we talk about the price on pollution, General Motors itself has said it is a critical part of its new product development. Looking at how we get to the electric car, the car of the future, the 450 engineers who have been hired from Markham and the more who are coming, could the hon. member speak to the change in the automotive industry and the opportunities that brings to Oshawa?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, actually, I can tell him what the opportunity to Oshawa would be if the Liberals continue on their route forward. The opportunity would be zero. The plant is closing.

I was really disgusted yesterday. The member was at the industry committee, where we brought forward a motion and we only wanted to study the impacts this closure was going to have on my community and my province, and that member voted against it. The Prime Minister promised in this House that he would come up with a plan for jobs in Oshawa, and when the Liberals had a chance to help us understand those impacts, he said absolutely nothing. He voted against it. He shut it down. That is a shame.

We on this side of the House are going to fight for jobs. We are going to fight for certainty for our businesses. In the next election, we are going to make sure Canadians are well aware of which party in this House is killing their jobs, their future and their kids' future.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Tracey Ramsey NDP Essex, ON

Madam Speaker, while I appreciate my colleague's passion, if he is supportive of auto, I question why he supported the CPTPP, which all of auto opposed. Auto workers in Oshawa are not in favour of it because it is a direct threat to all of their jobs. Also, why did his Conservative government give money to GM without any long-term strings attached about jobs staying in our country, which could have prevented this? Last, when the member was in government, why did the Conservatives not create an auto strategy?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Colin Carrie Conservative Oshawa, ON

Madam Speaker, that is a lot. However, if the member was paying attention, when we were in government we had an automotive policy which worked quite well. When the global economic situation unfortunately happened, we took the initiative to support the entire sector, which was supported by all people in the automotive sector. We were not supporting an individual company. If we had not made those investments, we would have lost over 500,000 jobs. When we look at what would have happened, it would have been horrible for our economy.

Unfortunately, the NDP has not brought forward any positive suggestions to move forward with the automotive sector. All it does is criticize.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to follow my colleague from Oshawa in speaking to this opposition motion.

I am pleased to debate the motion moved by my colleague, the member for the riding of Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola in British Columbia. We may be separated by more than 4,000 kilometres, but my hon. colleague seems more attuned to the challenges my own riding is facing than the Liberal Prime Minister and his 40-odd members from Quebec, who insist on pushing for policies that are harmful to rural Canada.

My speech will primarily address the matter of forestry workers, who are still being affected by the Liberals' failure to settle the softwood lumber dispute during the NAFTA negotiations, as well as the matter of farmers affected by the increasing costs connected to the Liberals' carbon tax.

The softwood lumber dispute is nothing new. It has been around for almost half of NAFTA's lifetime. However, when the time came to negotiate a new agreement, now known as the USMCA, the Liberals could have resolved this issue. The tariffs imposed by the Americans hurt not only our Canadian exporters, but also the American construction industry, which has indicated that our wood is needed to supply one-third of the country's demand. They will have to pay more to buy our products, and our exporters will have to lower prices to remain competitive.

The Prime Minister's announcement that he had signed an agreement with the United States on September 30 raised all kinds of questions. The government was short on answers. Would the new free trade agreement address the tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum? No. Would the new agreement protect our dairy farmers from losing market share to the Americans? No. Would the agreement put an end to the Buy American Act rules, which prevent Canadian industries from bidding on contracts in the United States? No. Does the agreement solve the softwood lumber dispute? Once again, the answer is no.

The Prime Minister gave Donald Trump everything and asked for nothing in return. We know that the Prime Minister cares little about Canadian workers and still less about our regions. All he wanted was to score political points by putting some nice-sounding words in the new agreement. As long as the text contains some token phrases about indigenous peoples, women and unions, the Prime Minister is okay with signing all the rest of it and taking a photo, just like he did last Friday in Buenos Aires.

My riding is home to forestry producers such as Bois Daaquam in Saint-Just-de-Bretenières and Maibec and Matériaux Blanchet in Saint-Pamphile. They provide quality jobs and sustain our regions, which are already having a hard time retaining young families.

Just as our dairy farmers feel abandoned by the current government, Quebec's forestry industry is also not very pleased about the signing of the USMCA. These workers are just as Canadian as people from Montreal or Toronto. They pay their taxes like everyone else. The government has a duty not to forget about them. However, we see that that is exactly what the members opposite are doing. The Liberals are not only killing jobs in the regions by refusing to defend our interests in trade agreements, but they are also trying to increase the cost of living. It is a double whammy.

In addition to racking up annual deficits of $20 billion that help the government buy votes without having to worry too much, since future generations will be the ones to pay for it all, this government is imposing a new carbon tax nationwide. Canadians will not have the opportunity to assess the impact of that tax before the next election. My hon. colleague, the member for Carleton, regularly asks the government to tell us how much its proposed carbon tax will cost middle-class Canadian families. The government has systematically refused to answer and prefers to hide behind platitudes like “pollution is not free”. Everyone knows that pollution is not free.

This government, which claims to be open and transparent, blacked out the numbers when we asked the Liberals to reveal the results of their own study on the financial impact that the carbon tax will have on ordinary Canadians. They are not done yet, since the carbon tax is an escalator tax that will start at $20 a tonne and gradually increase to $50 a tonne by 2022. I would like to remind members that 2022 is just around the corner. It is practically 2019. In another four years, it will be 2022. The tax will more than double, going from $20 a tonne to $50 a tonne.

A lot of people say Quebec has nothing to worry about because it is already part of a carbon market that fits the bill, so the Liberal tax will not apply. That is true for now, but we will have to wait and see what happens.

According to an internal Environment Canada memo that came out in March 2017, the government admitted that its $50-a-tonne carbon tax will have no measurable impact on Canadians' GHG emissions. The government is taxing carbon to reduce emissions, but the scheme will have no impact on emissions. Quebec's carbon market is proof of that. The carbon market is now worth over $1 billion thanks to the green fund, but new studies show that it is having no effect on Quebec's GHG emissions.

The tax would have to be increased to $300 a tonne by 2050 for Canada to meet its targets. It is just a matter of time before Quebec gets caught up in this.

Why does the government not just ask Canadians to pay $300 a tonne immediately if it is so sure this will work? The reality is that the Liberals are starting with $20 a tonne, but they will increase that to $50 a tonne. However, if that is truly the magic solution, then why does the government not go straight to $300 a tonne? If the Liberals did that, I am not sure they would get re-elected in October 2019.

If the government is so reluctant to tell us how much a $50-a-tonne carbon tax will cost, just imagine how much a tax six times greater will cost.

The people in my riding are close to nature and love green spaces. When I was mayor of La Pocatière, I was one of the first to set up recycling and brown bins for organic waste for environmental reasons.

I encourage people to eat local and to support local producers. However, the reality is that in our climate, the ground is frozen six months of the year. We depend on goods being shipped in for our survival, and there is currently no alternative. The government is gearing up to tax the transportation sector, which will likely pass on the cost to consumers at the grocery store.

I can speak to this because my wife works in the transport industry. For 30 years, she has been in charge of making purchases and paying transporters. The company she works for exports daily, and costs related to transportation, and especially insurance, are literally exploding.

Public transit is a good option for people who live in Montreal, but not for the people back home, unfortunately. I will not be seeing a subway in Rivière-du-Loup in my lifetime, sadly. Subway trains are built in La Pocatière, but they are exported to big cities.

Our farming sector also relies on heavy machinery during the growing season, and there are no electric tractors. The equipment can be made more energy efficient, and I think that all the manufacturers are doing that, but diesel power remains essential in the short and medium terms. The carbon tax will increase production costs, and all Canadians will have to pay more for food, including those who own a condo downtown and walk to the grocery store. A report published yesterday estimates that in 2019, grocery bills will go up by roughly $300 to $400.

We are ready to take over in 2019. We are a party for the regions. I can assure this House that we will take care of our regions. The carbon tax is going to affect the Canadian economy, including my region.

With respect to home heating, much of my riding is made up of people who are retired or nearing retirement. I am talking about people who worked hard their entire lives just to pay for their houses and save a bit of money for their golden years. They are definitely not millionaires, unlike the Prime Minister.

Many people will have to live on a fixed income from sources like the Quebec pension plan, old age security and the guaranteed income supplement. The GIS, incidentally, was enhanced by the Conservatives.

The carbon tax means that seniors could see a drastic increase in their heating costs in the winter. The Prime Minister had better not tell them to invest in solar panels or reinsulate their houses. They are living paycheque to paycheque and cannot exactly remortgage their home at age 70 if their annual income is only $15,000.

By supporting the motion moved by my colleague from British Columbia, I hope the government will leave its fantasy world behind and finally realize what is really going on in the regions in Quebec and Canada.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

Wayne Long Liberal Saint John—Rothesay, NB

Madam Speaker, one thing the member opposite did not mention was getting pipelines approved and built to tidewater.

I am from the riding of Saint John—Rothesay, where potentially at one point a pipeline may end. I am confused at times by the stance of the party opposite on pipelines. On the one hand, the Leader of the Opposition speaks about how he is going to approve pipelines, but on the other hand the leader is in the province of Quebec advocating for its jurisdictional rights over its decisions. In fact, he has a website called “Listening to Quebecers”.

Will the member stand and say he supports energy east and that he will be a champion for that pipeline with all his Quebec colleagues?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, energy east has been dead and buried for a long time. The reality is that the Conservative Party completed four pipeline projects when it was in power. This made it possible for us to export our oil.

Just yesterday, the Premier of New Brunswick asked a very simple question. He asked if Quebec would support—

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. I want to remind the member for Saint John—Rothesay that he had an opportunity to ask a question

To the member for Banff—Airdrie, it is not the first time today I have had to mention that you cannot interrupt people while they are speaking. It is not polite to be shouting back and forth at each other.

If members have questions and comments, they should get up when it is time to ask questions and comments in order to be recognized.

The hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, in any case, it is rather hypocritical for the member from New Brunswick to support a bill like Bill C-69, which will kill pipelines in Canada, when his premier absolutely wants to have pipelines in his riding.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Sean Fraser Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Lib.

Madam Speaker, I know that the hon. member does not support our plan for the environment, but I have asked a question several times today and not had a reply.

Can he name one thing that the Conservative Party is going to do to fight climate change?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, it is ironic that the party in power is asking what we are going to do with the next election 11 months away. In 2015, the Liberal Party released its environmental platform two weeks before the end of the election. That is what happened. We have 11 months to set out our election platform.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Madam Speaker, I certainly appreciate the member's contribution to this area. Does the member believe that a carbon tax broadly applied would take away from our competitiveness, and that the Liberals' continual additions of more red tape to federally regulated enterprises is making not just Quebec but the whole country uncompetitive with our neighbours to the south?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

Bernard Généreux Conservative Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank my colleague for his excellent question.

I am an entrepreneur myself, and I have 22 or 23 employees right now. We have to fight every day, not only against our competitors, but also against the red tape imposed by governments at all levels. There is always more, particularly concerning the environment.

Just this morning, I was substituting on the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, and people from the CFIB, of which I have been a member for several years, were there. They confirmed that when measures are brought in to protect the environment, people are generally open to that. Nobody even thinks about it anymore. However, when there is more and more red tape all the time, it hurts SMEs.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:35 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Order. It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Child Care; the hon. member for Calgary Nose Hill, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; the hon. member for Courtenay—Alberni, Veterans Affairs.

Resuming debate. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2018 / 4:35 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to rise in this great House and represent the people of Timmins—James Bay. I will be sharing my time with the member for Vancouver Kingsway.

It is important that we discuss the economy in the House. Jobs and our economic vision are fundamental obligations. That said, I have to say that this opposition motion by the Conservatives kind of looks like a dog's breakfast. I can tell we are almost at the time of the House's rising, because this is where they stuff as many things into the hopper as possible, hoping that one of them will stick. It is kind of like a Black Friday sale for backbenchers and right-wing privatizers and privateers, hoping for a flat earth and demanding government intervention in the economy. They get to jump and up and down on carbon tax for the afternoon and then they will go home feeling that they have done their job.

That said, there are some important things in here and I am going to try to go through them so we can actually have a conversation. This is very long. If I read the whole thing, I might not get to make comments.

The motion states, “the House...recognize[s] the severity of the looming job crisis in Canada caused by the failed economic policies of the Liberal government”. That is an interesting point because we are certainly seeing across Canada the rising levels of precarious work, with workers on perpetual contract and suffering from massive levels of student debt. We have a finance minister who is the finance minister of the 1%, along with his former company, Morneau Shepell, which has privatized pensions across the country. With the minister saying in his position as finance minister, his company has taken over files as pensions have been failing, and the government has refused to step in. Therefore, the issue of the crisis facing workers is important.

In my region, we are seeing a very interesting time in the the economic development of the resource sector. I will point to Kirkland Lake Gold, which has made a more than $300 million shaft investment in the community, which will pay dividends for decades to come. However, we are also seeing many issues concerning our need for immigration, new families and job training. I would like to see all that in here.

As I read on, none of that stuff is here. What is the issue? Oh wait, it is the, “workers in the energy sector impacted by the Liberal carbon tax”. It is fascinating that the Conservatives raise this today when Rachel Notley stood up and finally said what everyone should have known all along, that the resources of this country belong to the people of this country. Rachel Notley stood up and started to call for a cut in oil production because Albertans were not getting their best share. The Conservatives' response is always to throw more money at the industry, but we have seen that if that industry had invested in upgraders and refineries over the years, it would be in a much better position, like Imperial and Husky and Suncor who did that work. The Conservatives are always wanting a handout without saying that we need to get more efficient. I want to compliment Rachel Notley for saying that we have to take action now in this crisis. It is a much more coherent response than the Conservatives' one of saying, “carbon tax, carbon tax, carbon tax”.

The Conservatives want a “ban on offshore oil tankers”. For the workers on the B.C. coast, where the coastline is worth billions of dollars in economic power, the Conservatives believe that if we just allow tankers up the coastline, it is going to resolve the crisis in the energy sector. It is kind of like this “flat earth” mentality, where two plus two equals one. It just does not make sense.

Let us carry on with the motion, where it refers to “workers in the auto and manufacturing sector”. Certainly that is a good issue to raise after GM walked away. What is the cause of this problem according to the Conservatives? Oh, it is the carbon tax. I find this fascinating, because we have sort of capitalist socialism here, where the Conservatives gave $14 billion to GM and Chrysler with no strings attached and then allowed them to walk away from even paying that back. We saw that when GM walked away from paying its debts, it was threatening its workers at the plants. The CAMI plant is the most efficient plant in North America and GM was still threatening to ship the jobs to Mexico because it knew that the current government and Prime Minister would never stand up for Canadian workers. It does not matter how productive and profitable they are because, as long as GM executives can find a third-world jurisdiction to go to and can pay lower wages, the know they have a government that has their back.

If we are going to spend $14 billion on the auto sector, why was there no auto strategy and commitment, so that when GM said it was going to develop electric cars, which I think is a very positive move, it would benefit Canada? It is just as we saw in the oil sector, when we bought ourselves a $4.5-billion, 65-year-old pipeline because a bunch of Texas investors threatened to leave the country. I would say goodbye, move on.

That $4.5 billion spent for that pipeline could have done amazing work in either upgrading our energy sector or starting us on the transition. However, it is not just that. There are going to be $350 million in capital costs and $2.6 billion in operating costs for three years to buy the locomotives and railcars to help industry move product.

There are other incentives of $2.1 billion to upgrade the petrochemical sector and another $1 billion investment in the feedstock infrastructure program.

Meanwhile, there have been no commitments by the federal government at all to work with Alberta on diversifying the energy economy. The number one place in the world to have green energy is Alberta. Indeed, after talking to workers in the oil patch, where many people from my region work, they are already training and getting ready for a new solar economy. It is happening in Alberta. The federal government is not there.

In Ontario, there are the new, great economic theorists for the right-wing Doug Ford. The first thing he did was cancel a whole bunch of energy projects and then say the province was open for business while watching the massively growing green sector move to other jurisdictions.

I am not finished. There is a whole bunch of other stuff the Conservatives have thrown into this motion. There is the issue of workers in the steel and aluminum sector being impacted by the Liberals' failure in the NAFTA negotiations to have the tariffs removed on those products. That is a good issue to discuss in the House: why upward of half a billion dollars has been collected by the finance minister and there have been no efforts to stand up for workers affected by the countervailing duties on steel and aluminum. It is not just the small business manufacturers across southern Ontario. In my region, both are being hit relentlessly. They are paying the finance minister and no money is coming back. That is something we could certainly talk about. How the heck did the government think it was a good idea to sign this agreement with the United States without standing up for the steel and aluminum workers? That alone was a good thing for us to be discussing.

I will support the Conservatives on their next point, the softwood lumber dispute and the absolute failure of the government to talk about workers in that industry. In my region, the EACOM mills in Elk Lake and Timmins survive because they are incredibly competitive. They are having to be extremely competitive because they are going up against the unfair duties being imposed on them, and the government has shown no interest in the sector. There has been no talk by the Prime Minister on the crisis facing workers in the forestry industry.

I will certainly support those elements in this Conservative dog's breakfast of a motion, but then they refer to all workers impacted by the toxic medley of carbon taxes, taxes, taxes, taxes. What do they say we should do? We should call on the Liberals to repeal the carbon tax and Bill C-69. That bill, for the folks back home who do not know, was the result of the Supreme Court's tossing of the plan for pipeline development by Stephen Harper and the Conservative government because they failed to consult indigenous people. They figure that if there is a motion in the House that says we can ignore indigenous people and constitutional obligations, suddenly the economy is going to move ahead. That is not how it is going to work. However, I certainly support the Conservatives' push on the softwood lumber dispute.

On carbon taxes, the problem with the Liberal government is that it seems to be establishing carbon taxes based on favours and friends. We learned that a coal plant in New Brunswick is only going to pay 92¢ a tonne for pollution. That is not any kind of credible weight to bear when ordinary people are going to be paying a carbon tax. Why are we talking about a price on carbon? The Conservatives believe that if they say it long enough, climate change will go away, but Canadians pay the cost. For example, the $47 billion in abandoned wells in Alberta have been downloaded to the ranchers, farmers and citizens because industry did not pay its share. We have to start addressing the price of pollution, particularly since the latest report shows that the three great outliers in the world right now are Russia, China and Canada. To anyone who thinks that the Liberals just saying nice things will get us there, I say that it will not. We need to invest in a green energy economy and work with the workers in the sectors being affected so we can start the transition. Talk alone will not do it.

When I look at the motion overall, I see a real opportunity to talk about jobs, but a complete failure, because the Conservatives are playing to the Conservative base without providing a credible response.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Madam Speaker, I disagree with many of my colleague's statements on such things as the principles of trade. The government has actually advanced the automobile industry in many ways here in Canada and in having this trade agreement, and the considerations the government has in regard to the importance of our automobile industry.

It is very sad that we lost the jobs in Oshawa. It would have been nice to have been able to do more. Of course, in opposition, the NDP would say we could do absolutely everything, that we could give every employee a $1 million severance and so forth. It is endless what the NDP would like to do when it is the third party. Given the voting patterns of the New Democrats on the issue of trade, recognizing the importance of things such as the Auto Pact and other agreements of the past, the reality is the NDP has always been found wanting.

Would the member not acknowledge that in order for Canada's automobile industry to excel into the future, trade is in fact a very important aspect of it?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I find it so ironic that the member throws in the Auto Pact. The Auto Pact was a very strong piece of public policy, and it was traded away by Conservatives and Liberals. In terms of the NAFTA negotiations, when we look at what was done for the auto sector, we have become, basically, a branch plant client economy of the United States. That never happened when we were 15 million and 20 million people, back in the 1960s and 1970s, and fighting for an auto sector. The government gave that up.

On the situation in Oshawa, certainly, when we see that many job losses, it is incumbent upon all of us to come together to do something more than Doug Ford's ridiculous, “Oh well, they're leaving. Too bad, so sad.” That is a failure of leadership. We all have an obligation to fight for jobs.

However, if we are going to look at the failure of what happened with GM and Chrysler, we go back to the fact that the government let them walk away on money that was owed. There were no commitments that were called upon. We paid $14 billion into an industry that, as soon as it was making record profits again, walked on us. What kind of suckers are we as a nation? Do we have “doormat” written on our foreheads to give that kind of money to any kind of industry without some level of coherent national strategy?

For years and years, one thing the New Democrats have called for is a coherent auto strategy. We have had none of that, and this is the result.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Madam Speaker, the question I have for the member is in regard to NDP policy moving forward, seeing our economy advance and progress. When we talk to New Democrats we hear their dissatisfaction with any type of trade deal. They do not think we should export, so they are telling all our farmers, our ag producers and exporters that we should not do that, that it is no good. They are telling our oil and gas workers that they are in a dirty industry. What does the member say to guys who build pipelines at EVRAZ steel in Regina, for example, who are strong union members and used to support his party, because it actually stood for them? However, that party does not do that anymore. In fact, the NDP tells them their jobs are dirty, that they are no longer relevant and they do not want them. What does he say to them when they actually require pipelines to be built so they can have these good jobs?

What does he say to the oil workers in western Canada, who are actually the best in the world? They produce oil in the most environmentally friendly way in the world. In fact, countries come to Alberta and Saskatchewan to look at the way we do things so they can actually copy it. Now the Liberals have destroyed that.

What does the member say to all those workers? What is the NDP plan to see them back to work, other than, “We'll find something in the future”?