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

December 4th, 2018 / 4:45 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, it is always fascinating how the Conservatives have to ratchet it up into misinformation.

In terms of what they are promoting, they are saying that because they have never asked the industry to do any kind of serious investment on upgrading, their economic plan is to ship raw bitumen to China. I come from mining country and I can say that one thing any miner will tell us is if we are not getting the full benefit of it, leave it in the ground.

As Rachel Notley says, Albertans are not getting the full benefit of it. Under years of the Ralph Klein government, and the government in Saskatchewan all of whom ended up in jail, they have never stood up for the industry or for the workers. They will let them get away with anything.

We need a coherent energy policy. Part of that is diversification, which is something the Conservatives think is some kind of heresy because it does not fit the flat earth theory of just burn and ship and burn more.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

I find it very troubling that I have to stand up again and ask members to be respectful of those people who are speaking.

The hon. member for Prince Albert had more than enough time to ask his question. He may not like the answer that he received, but I am sure at some point he may get up to speak to this and would want respect from the House as well.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

4:50 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today. I am reminded of the famous words of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, when he won the election in 1980, “Welcome to the 1980s.” That is exactly what I thought when I read this opposition day motion from the federal Conservatives.

In the early 1980s, we stood on the cusp of the beginning of a neo-liberal or neo-conservative economic theory that was championed by Ronald Reagan and later by Brian Mulroney. It consisted of a certain approach to public policy and public finances, and the guts of that are present in this motion. The Conservatives want to lower taxes, eliminate regulation, encourage free trade and remove tariffs. They essentially just want to bring in the neo-liberal playbook once again.

The difference now is that we have had some 40 years of empirical evidence of what the results of that neo-liberal economic plan is, and the truth is it is not good. What we have seen in the last 40 years is a completely dangerous, in fact, a potentially fatal, rise in carbon on our globe that has caused what I think is the foundational political issue of our time, which is climate change.

In our greed to overdevelop everything very quickly, we are now risking the very environment on Earth that makes all economic activity possible: clean air, clean water and clean land. We see inequality in our country, as measured by the Gini coefficient, at historic rates now, where the share of wealth in this country is owned by an increasingly small number of people at the top, where the middle class is actually shrinking and the working class has done worse.

We see a country where the social programs and the public enterprise, the public projects that were once an important part of Canadian life and that we built in the 1950s and 1960s, slowly dismantled and starved over time. Our education system, our health care system, and our ability as government to intervene positively in the economy for the benefit of all citizens have been slowly strangled by decades of Conservatives and Liberals who pursued the same failed neo-liberal economic policy.

I want to mention for people who may be listening to this debate that one of the major themes of the Conservative motion under debate today is a complete opposition to and call for the removal of a carbon tax. I think this allows us to have a very important conversation in this House about climate change.

As I said, I believe that climate change is one of the foundational issues of our time. There are thousands of issues in politics, but sometimes there are certain issues that are so fundamental that they beg us to deal with them. I think looming disastrous climate change is one such issue.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report about three or four weeks ago that I think is profoundly alarming and very disturbing. It is something that all policy-makers in the government, in the chamber, and all across the world need to pay rapt attention to.

There have been three or four iterations over the last 25 or 30 years of the statement that in order to deal with rising carbon in our atmosphere, we have to reduce so much by so much by such and such a date. I have seen Liberal and Conservative governments blow through every one of those and fail to meet every single promise and pledge that they solemnly made internationally and here. In fact, Eddie Goldenberg, former assistant to former prime minister Jean Chrétien was so bold as to say that the Liberals had no intention of ever meeting their Kyoto targets. That is how brazen and cynical the Liberals have been on climate change. We have never met any of those targets.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the 2°C rise in temperature over pre-industrial times that Paris identified as being imperative to not exceed actually is too much.

It said that if we proceed to have global temperatures rise by an average of 2°C over pre-industrial times, we will lose 99% of the coral reefs on the planet, we will lose thousands of species to extinction, and we risk the melting of the polar ice caps. It says that the world actually needs to get to a 1.5°C degree cap, not a 2°C cap.

Where are we now? At current levels on the globe, we are on a path to hit 3°C to 5°C. We risk environmental armageddon and climate change disaster. What does it mean we have to do? The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that we have to reduce by 45% our carbon emissions, as compared to 2010 levels, by 2030.

These are numbers we can all really understand, because they are stark. We can all remember 2010. Whatever Canada was producing in 2010, only eight years ago, we need to be at almost half of in terms of our national carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions, and we have to meet that target within 11 years. Are we on target for that? No.

Day after day, the Conservatives are absolutely stone silent in this place and in public about whether they take climate change seriously, whether they think it is actually real, and what their plan is to deal with it, leaving Canadians completely confused and mystified about what their plan is. Do they think it is real? Do they think the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is joking? Do they think we do not face rising sea levels, massive uncontrolled forest fires, drought, food production problems and mass migration? Do they think these things are mythical? They will not say.

For their part, what do Liberals say? They say that we just have to be balanced. They say that we can triple the export of raw bitumen through the Burrard Inlet. We can increase oil sands production in northern Alberta. We can purchase a pipeline for $4.5 billion and spend another $9 billion to $12 billion building it without any problem. However, they never tell us how they are going to meet their Paris commitments.

The truth is this. We cannot expand fossil fuel infrastructure at that rate and meet our Paris climate change targets, never mind the warnings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Liberals themselves are ignoring the foundational problem of our times.

I want to talk about the second part of this motion, which is the Conservatives' neo-liberal fixation on cutting regulations and red tape. I do not know what they mean by red tape or regulations. Just today I asked a question in the House about medical devices in this country. Over the last couple of weeks, there has been excellent investigative reporting done by CBC and other news outlets. These are the things that go into our bodies, are implanted in our bodies. They are things like pacemakers, insulin pumps, hip replacements, surgical meshes and breast implants. These are medical devices that are implanted in Canadians every day in all our communities, and what did we find out?

Health Canada does not act when other countries recall defective devices. It continues to allow the devices to be implanted today. It approves products when they have not even been tested on human beings, when they have only been tested on cadavers and animals. As well, there is voluntary reporting. What is the result? Fourteen thousand Canadians have been injured by these devices, and 1,400 Canadians have died. Is that the kind of regulation and red tape Conservatives want to see eliminated? Are we spending too much time at Health Canada? They do not identify that.

I want to finish by talking quickly about trade. Only a foolhardy government would sign a trade agreement dealing with tariffs with the U.S. without dealing with the U.S. tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel products. There is a company in my riding, La-Z-Boy furniture, a Canadian-owned and operated company. It is costing the company $55,000 per month because of these tariffs. These Liberals were so incompetent that instead of holding firm and refusing to do so, they actually signed a deal with President Trump on tariffs and trade without dealing with the single most punishing tariff being imposed on Canadian business.

That is incompetent and the New Democrats are going to continue to stand up for good trade policies, good regulations and for fair tax policy in our country.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Madam Speaker, I want to pick up on my colleague's last point with respect to the issue of tariffs.

If President Trump had said no to Canada and Mexico and there was no negotiating, there would be a very good chance there would not be a trade agreement if the NDP were in government, even if the New Democrats were to support trade agreements in principle, which we know they do not.

My question is related to the overall budgetary policy of the government. We have seen well over half a million jobs created. Those are real, tangible proof that we are moving forward.

My colleague talked about the environment and jobs in Alberta. The NDP is relatively insensitive to the province of Alberta. Rachel Notley, who is an NDP premier, seems to be more on target with what is happening in the real world, as are we. We are ensuring that we can balance the economy and the environment along with development. All can exist alongside each other.

Does my colleague believe that Rachel Notley's approach in dealing with the environment is also wrong?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, I wonder if my hon. colleague is really familiar with the concept of responsible government.

The Liberals are in government. They get to make the decisions. They have their hands on the levers of power. Whenever any of the government's foibles, or poor performance or errors are pointed out by the opposition, what does that member turn to? He turns to saying that if the NDP were in government, it would be different. That is a hypothetical speculation. We are here to talk about the Liberals' record.

My hon. friend has a record to defend and he owes the people of Canada an explanation on a couple of things.

Why did the government sign a new NAFTA without getting a resolution of the steel and aluminum tariffs, which are punishing so many companies in our country? Why does his government not have a new softwood lumber agreement when so many forestry communities and companies in our country are still hurting? Those are the questions he has an obligation to explain to the House and to Canadians.

He also has to explain his government's record. However, he will have a chance to do that in the next election and Canadians will have a chance to pass judgment.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5 p.m.

Conservative

Marilyn Gladu Conservative Sarnia—Lambton, ON

Madam Speaker, I agree with what my colleague had to say about the tariffs. In my riding of Sarnia—Lambton, we have manufacturers that can fabricate in Sarnia or in Michigan, and they are already moving jobs to Michigan because of the tariffs.

When I look at the number of jobs that have been lost by the failed actions of the Liberal government, it is not just the jobs from the tariffs. The softwood lumber agreement has been going on for nearly three years and the government has done nothing.

Could the member elaborate on all of the failures of the government with respect to job losses in Canada?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Don Davies NDP Vancouver Kingsway, BC

Madam Speaker, Canadian workers and producers are facing mill closures and job losses that will harm communities across our country.

In the last softwood lumber dispute, nearly 400 sawmills closed in Canada and that cost us over 20,000 jobs. It disproportionally hurt rural communities.

The Liberals had a one-year grace period after the previous agreement expired, and that whole year was under President Obama. Therefore, they owe a full explanation to Canadians as to why they were not able to secure a fair deal for Canadians during that time.

It is way past time for the Liberals to come clean on why they were unable to conclude a new softwood lumber agreement, tell communities that are suffering when they can expect a deal and take the necessary steps to immediately to fix this. The truth is that they have been unable to offer that explanation.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Madam Speaker, I am glad to get a chance today to talk about this motion that has been put forward. It is such a good motion. It really addresses some of the issues that so many sectors in the Canadian economy are facing.

Three years ago, when a lot of people were heading to the polls, they thought they would give this new guy a chance, give this young prime minister a chance. What kind of damage could he do? Three years later, and look at the sectors that have been destroyed.

The forestry sector is in dire straits. It is lucky right now that the U.S. economy is booming and taking everything we can give it. If not for a booming U.S. economy, we would have massive layoffs in the forestry sector. What does the government do to address that? The Liberals had their friend Obama, their bud, who could not help them. The Prime Minister could not cash in on his friendship to do something for our forestry workers, and so that file just went to the background and was ignored. Again, when I look at it, I say, “Wow, just look at how bad this could be in that sector”.

Let us talk about the oil and gas sector, a couple of years later, and a hundred thousand jobs in Alberta alone. Here is a sector that five or six years ago was looking for every person to work. Companies were breaking down barriers, hiring members of first nations and women. They were taking people and putting them in jobs they historically had never been in. They actually did the jobs and belonged in those jobs. They broke down so many barriers because of the low unemployment rate in the oil and gas sector.

I find it fascinating when we talk about global warming and the global crisis that we have going on here and across the world. If we look at the oil and gas sector today, who has the best technology? Canada does. We are not flaring off oil stacks any more. We are capturing everything. We are capturing the methane, using it and getting value out of it. What does the government do? If it was so worried about climate change and the crisis that is being created by climate change, it would actually say that we have to get our oil to market quicker and displace all this dirty oil from other countries, which is destroying our environment. Did it recognize that? No. Did it recognize the need to embrace the technologies that Canada has? No, but other countries are.

For example, I was talking to a person who was doing development in the North Sea. He said to a Canadian company, “You know how to extract the oil in an environmentally friendly way, and make sure that it happens with a conscience. We want you here.” However, we are seeing investment leave Canada, because all of these other countries around the world want that know-how and that technology. What do we do here? We throw it out of work. We protest it. We fund the protesters who protest it. It is amazing.

It is even more amazing when we look at this big country from coast to coast to coast. It is a no-brainer: we do not want dirty oil in eastern Canada. We do not want oil attached to blood and gangs and corrupt governments. We can get this great oil out of Saskatchewan. All we need to do is pipe it there. Could the government get that done? No, it could not. What did it do? It played politics with it and made it so that eastern Canada had to import its oil down the Gulf of St. Lawrence in a ship in order to get gas here to Ottawa. Does that make sense? No, it does not.

The manufacturing sector is another sector the government is destroying. The government will face the reality in this sector fairly quickly, which is why it is very important we talk about this. Bombardier and Oshawa are just the tip of the iceberg in this sector.

We talked to manufacturers all summer in round tables, with the people who are producing the goods. There are some very creative Canadian technologies out there around the world, but they are in trouble. They need help. The tariffs that the U.S. has on is one thing, but the counter tariffs that we put on, the tax that we put on, are actually doing more harm. Will the government listen to these businesses that are asking if the government can help them?

Government members talk about this fund being there to help them, but did they talk to people who tried to apply for the money that is in the fund so that they could get some relief? We heard on the trade committee over and over again that it does not work, because their companies are not big enough, they do not have enough sales and do not qualify, or they need to fill out 90 pages of paperwork in order to get the form submitted properly. These are small businesses with eight to 10 employees. The owners are working, actually going to the till and coming back to the shop floor. Now, someone is going to tell those owners that they have to spend another 60 to 100 hours to apply for relief and then maybe he or she will get something. It is crazy.

The government has its head in the sand. The Liberals are not listening to Canadians. They do not understand, yet they go around the world spending money as if they are drunken sailors.

We have serious economic problems here in this country that we did not have four years ago. We went through a great recession in 2008. We watched Americans lose house after house after house. What happened here in Canada? The Conservative government put in a responsible infrastructure program that built waterways, sewers, roads and bridges that Canadians actually used and needed.

What does the government do? We are not sure. It is spending money, but I cannot tell where it is going. It definitely is not going into the riding of Prince Albert, so I do not know where it is going. I know some of it is going to China to build pipelines there. It does not have a problem putting the money somewhere else, but it does have a huge problem putting it here in Canada. It's absolutely crazy.

There are some things the Liberals could do, though. The first is that they could listen. Like I said, they could get their heads out of the sand and go talk to Canadians. The manufacturers have some ideas on competitiveness that would really assist them. I will give them credit. The fall economic statement, which talked about the capital cost allowance and making improvements there, is a good first step. Good job. I will give them that.

If the Liberals do not deal with the regulations we are seeing coming forward, that is a problem. They have to deal with them. They have to streamline them. They have to bring in programs like we had. If one new regulation is brought in, we have to get rid of three old ones. We have to make it easier to do business here in Canada.

We have a great opportunity to attract businesses here to Canada if we are competitive. We have trade agreements that the Conservatives started and the Liberals finished, which actually give our manufacturers market access all over the world. Why are they not locating here?

Why is Oshawa shutting down? If we are talking about electric vehicles and we have all this market access all around the world, why did GM not say, “You know what? We are going to transition Oshawa, because it has a great workforce, it has a great team, it has a great community, and there are 100 years of our soul in Oshawa. Let's make it the home for electric cars.” Why did the government not do that? That is a fair question. Why did it not do that?

I know the minister was lobbied enough. He was the most lobbied person by GM in the government. I cannot believe he did not know what was going on. Maybe he had a land deal on the go and he could not talk to them. I am not sure. That is neither here nor there. The reality is that for workers in Oshawa, it is not a nice Christmas.

I have talked to a lot of companies that want to ship their goods across Canada. In my riding, CanPro Ingredients in Arborfield makes alfalfa pellets. There are two plants left in Canada that do this, and they are almost ready to shut down because of transportation issues.

The government claims to have fixed the transportation problem, but it has not. Therefore, Canfor cannot ship its lumber and Rio Tinto cannot ship its aluminum. Over and over again, we are talking to companies that cannot get their goods from A to B.

The reality is the government has done nothing in the last three years except make things worse. The Liberals need to get their heads out of the sand, talk to Canadians and take action before it is too late.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:10 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

It being 5:15 p.m. and this being the final supply day in the period ending December 10, 2018, it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings. Pursuant to order made Thursday, November 29, 2018, all questions necessary to dispose of the opposition motion are deemed put and the recorded division deemed requested and deferred until Wednesday, December 5, 2018, at the expiry of the time provided for Oral Questions.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

Kevin Lamoureux Liberal Winnipeg North, MB

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I suspect if you were to canvass the House you would find unanimous consent to call it 5:30 p.m. at this time, so that we can begin private members' hour.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

NDP

The Assistant Deputy Speaker NDP Carol Hughes

Is that agreed?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

5:15 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

The House resumed from June 19 consideration of the motion that Bill C-392, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act and other Acts (application of provincial law), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-392, which was introduced by my colleague from Repentigny. Yes, that is the riding name. One name. Not four names one after the other. I mean that with all due respect, having once, long ago and far away, sat in another legislative assembly where riding names were much easier to remember. I certainly do not have anything against riding names, but let us just say that a minor democratic revolution to deal with riding names that go on and on in the House of Commons would not be a bad thing.

Anyway, I am not here to talk about names; I am here to talk about what is in this bill. I would like to begin by pointing out that the bill's sponsor is a woman who, over the past three and a half years in the House, has developed a reputation as a person who works for the common good, who defends her points of view and her goals effectively, and who, if the L'actualité-Maclean's award voted on by all parliamentarians is any indication, works well with others. Since it is a secret ballot, I will not read out all the names of those who have won awards because that could get embarrassing.

I wanted to start by clarifying that and firmly establishing our position, because what I am going to say next may not be particularly pleasing to my colleague’s ears.

We know that my esteemed colleague from Repentigny is a duly elected Bloc Québécois member and, as I said earlier, that she proudly defends her positions. We can see that in this bill, which, in our opinion, looks more like a bill introduced by someone who wants to make Quebec a sovereign state rather than someone who is concerned with the common good of all Canadians. I say this with all due respect, since opinions may differ.

If it were to be passed, the bill in question would amend the Aeronautics Act, the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act, the National Capital Act, the National Energy Board Act, the Radiocommunication Act, the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act, the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act and the Canada Marine Act to make certain rules compliant with provincial rules concerning land use and development and environmental protection.

It aims to give more power to local and provincial authorities for projects that we consider to be of national scope. That is where we part ways. The Conservative Party has always stood out as a party that respects provincial and local authorities, but the arrangement works both ways. Respect for provincial authority is predicated on respect for federal authority.

I would like to point out that I have said this before. On Saturday, I will have been a sitting politician for 10 years. When I was a provincial MNA, the leader of Action démocratique du Québec, I gave an interview to Le Devoir. Very briefly, I pointed out the responsibilities and relationships inherent in our federation of provinces, saying that if the provinces take care of their business and the federal government takes care of its business, there should be no conflict. The arrangement works both ways.

In our opinion, although well documented and well rounded, this bill goes directly to the heart of the matter. Here we can see the desire of the member for Repentigny and her nine Bloc Québécois colleagues to achieve their goal of making Quebec a country, a goal that I respect but do not share. That is fine. Our Bloc Québécois members were duly elected. Until my last day here, I will fight for respect for their authority and jurisdiction and especially for their integrity here in the House. It is precisely because I fight for this that I respect our difference of opinion when it comes to the future of Canada and Quebec.

I am tempted to say that Quebecers passed judgment on the matter a month and a half ago, but I will not get into that.

Here is why we have reservations about this bill. In our opinion, the bill will create a shift in the way we deal with areas of jurisdiction by granting substantial powers to the provinces in areas that fall more under federal jurisdiction. There is a distinction between federal and provincial jurisdiction because there are major projects, projects which could be considered in the interest of national unity and that involve the country as a whole. That being said, if we start putting up barriers between the provinces, it will never end. The arrangement works both ways. That is why we have certain reservations.

We also have reservations about the fact that the bill would give the provinces unprecedented power to oppose projects of national interest. In a way, it would give the provinces a veto for projects intended for all Canadians.

We realize that there are needs, and that the provinces’ jurisdictions must be respected. Of course, the provinces are there to act in their own jurisdictions, but it is important to understand that, if each province has a veto, we will never succeed in implementing projects of national interest.

Obviously, some people will say that we need to respect everyone’s wishes. I agree, and that is why we cannot just steamroll over everything willy-nilly. There are jurisdictions, ways of doing things and steps that must be taken before a project can be carried out. It is the same with people.

I can already hear my Bloc Québécois colleagues bring up energy east and claim that there was no social consensus in Quebec around that project and that that is why it fortunately did not go ahead.

First, it is not because Quebeckers had reservations that the project stalled, but because the Liberal government made it even harder for the proponent. The proponent got fed up and put an end to the project. As a result, Canada is not a country that is favourable to foreign economic development, fewer and fewer investments are being made, Americans are investing far less in Canada and Canadians have been investing more in the United States since the Liberals came to power.

I would like to point out that, unfortunately, the project fell through because the standards of practice that should have been met were not met and, especially, because, as I said to the House three years ago, they did not respect the established process in place in Quebec.

When you go marching into Quebec with unilingual English documents and no one who speaks French, you are off to a bad start. Still, the pipeline remains the most environmental, economical and effective way of getting oil from point A to point B.

There are 2,000 kilometres of pipeline in Quebec. You might be surprised to hear it, but there are indeed 2,000 kilometres of pipeline. The best part, and what makes the pipeline so effective, is that it cannot be seen. That is why people are surprised when I say that. There are pipelines under the St. Lawrence River. Nine of them. Everyone is surprised when I say that. There are currently pipelines under the island of Montreal, between the east end and Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Dorval. Everyone appears to be surprised when I say that.

Unfortunately, the people promoting the other project were unable to present it properly.

Must I remind you that there is a pipeline in one of the most densely populated areas in Quebec, between Lévis and Montreal? It is called the St. Lawrence Pipeline. It took about three years to build. It was built seven or eight years ago, and it is very well built. It is 248 kilometres long and crosses 26 waterways, including the St. Lawrence River, and it was done properly.

I digress a little to talk about oil pipelines and I do not mind a bit. On the contrary, it is a subject that has aroused passions in Quebec and, unfortunately, was not explained properly, so the project is dead.

Canada will always need to transport the oil produced in landlocked Alberta that creates wealth across our country and that plays a major role in the whole issue of equalization. We will always need to find a way to export landlocked Alberta oil to the east, and eventually to the west.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach NDP Salaberry—Suroît, QC

Madam Speaker, I am a little taken aback by what I have just heard from my Conservative colleague, but I will focus on the bill that my Bloc Québécois colleague from Repentigny introduced. In the almost 14 years that I have known her, she has always been a defender of the environment and, of course, of Quebec.

Bill C-392 amends eight acts in order to bring the federal government to observe certain rules concerning land use and development, and environmental protection in particular. I will support the bill. My colleague from Repentigny introduced a very interesting bill that could force the government to take into account the assessments of the Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement, known as BAPE in Quebec.

I agree with the amendments, but I have a few questions about their application and their implications. That is why I will vote in favour of the bill so that we can study it in committee and question expert witnesses to determine the potential negative and positive impacts of the bill.

Since I arrived in the House, I have seen too many bills imposed by the federal government without any real environmental assessment. Under Stephen Harper, the Conservatives eliminated the legal safeguards and the federal administration's ability to monitor enforcement of the few environmental rules they left on the books. The environment and the protection of our forests and waterways have become priority issues, however.

Last Sunday, my office organized a town hall on climate change and the need for a solid federal framework and tools at every level to keep our commitments in the fight against global warming. One hundred twenty Canadians came to hear people such as Lorraine Simard of Comité 21, Julia Posca of IRIS and Patrick Bonin of Greenpeace.

Bonin was clear: there can be no energy development without environmental assessment or estimation of upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions. The federal government needs a short-term plan, a medium-term plan and a long-term plan to reduce GHG emissions. The advantage of this bill is that it recognizes that some provinces have effective assessment tools and allows them to use them, for example, BAPE in Quebec.

Consider the energy east pipeline. I do not disagree with the arguments put forward by my Conservative colleague. Conservatives in Quebec and across Canada would like to see the project resurrected. The Liberal Minister of Natural Resources says his government is open to a project like energy east, and yet, under the Conservatives, BAPE published a mini-study, and TransCanada refused to allow its project to be subject to Quebec's environmental legislation. Public opinion prevailed, and the vast majority of municipalities that could proffer an opinion on energy east opposed it for a number of reasons, in particular because there was no environmental assessment. Either the environmental assessments were inadequate, or there was a lack of information about the job creation potential, economic impact and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project. There was a serious lack of information, and people could see little potential for job creation.

How much GHG will be emitted because of the pipeline? Nobody knows. Will TransCanada pay for the clean-up if there is a spill? Maybe. What we know for sure, though, is that our wetlands, such as those around Sainte-Justine-de-Newton, have to be protected and that a spill in the Ottawa River could contaminate all of metropolitan Montreal's drinking water sources. No big deal, that is only about half of Quebec.

The company never told us how long it would take to contain a spill. What we do know is that it takes an hour and a half to respond to an emergency. That is how long it would take to get to the manual shut-off valve in Sainte-Justine-de-Newton. A lot of people are worried about this. The 23 municipalities in the RCM of Vaudreuil-Soulanges repeatedly asked TransCanada questions about energy east, but they never got any answers.

The region of Vaudreuil-Soulanges has the most pipelines and we need protections. The bill sponsored by my colleague from Repentigny could ensure that a BAPE study be considered if the Conservatives or Liberals decide to do further harm to our planet by approving another pipeline.

The notion of co-operative federalism is important to the NDP. It calls for mutual respect by the different levels of government, promotes co-operation on social and economic policies and guarantees the universality of social programs. To ensure that we have a healthy democracy, it is vital that we respect the jurisdictions of each level of government.

We can all cite examples of the federal government meddling in files in our riding where it has no jurisdiction or disregarding the opinion of the provincial or municipal government. A very telling example in the riding next to mine is a communications tower in Montérégie.

In 2008, Rogers informed Châteauguay that it intended to build its radiocommunication antenna system on municipal land that the company had leased since December 2007. The problem was that the people were dead set against the location. The municipal team proposed another location for the tower. Different problems arose along the way.

In 2016, in a case involving Rogers Communications Inc. and the City of Châteauguay, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the municipality had interfered in an area of federal jurisdiction when it tried to ban the construction of a Rogers telecommunications tower. The municipality had issued a notice of establishment of a reserve to prevent the construction of a radiocommunication antenna system.

The Supreme Court ultimately found that since radiocommunication comes under federal jurisdiction, the City of Châteauguay had interfered in an area of federal jurisdiction. However, the city's campaign sent a clear message about the importance of land use and forced a debate on the issue of procedings specifically, and the city ultimately won in the Quebec Court of Appeal.

How much money could have been saved if we had a real federal-municipal agreement on land use and the environment? The two levels of government probably could have saved millions of dollars in legal fees.

The NDP therefore believes it is important to respect the concept of co-operative federalism, which aims to counter unilateral actions by the federal government and ensure that multilateral decisions and negotiations take place with a long-term perspective. Bill C-392 is a positive step toward that objective.

I see nothing in this bill that would prevent the federal government from taking action. On the contrary, it promotes the need for agreements among all levels of government and strengthens necessary collaboration. We need strong institutions to deal with the coming climate storm. My constituents, and constituents in all ridings, need to be able to have faith in an environmental assessment process. This is not currently the case. A good federal process would help prevent some of the disputes addressed in Bill C-392.

I was shocked to learn that an RCM in my riding could receive what amounted to an insulting letter from the National Energy Board demanding that the RCM stop causing problems and asking questions. I think it is a problem when the federal government buys a pipeline with our money without consulting indigenous peoples and with no concern for giving $4.5 billion to a Texan company without our consent.

The government needs to step up. We all need to work together to combat climate change and support Canadians. In an open letter, my colleague from Longueuil spoke about creating a non-partisan department of war against climate change. We may disagree on the terminology, but we agree that we need to act quickly and decisively to protect our planet. We need to ensure that our planet will be soundly managed by future generations and also by us, since urgent action involves the next 12 years. Bills like these are therefore welcome.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

5:35 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame, NL

Madam Speaker, once again, it is an honour to rise in the House.

I will start by following up on the speech we just heard by the NDP member. I will start by illustrating an old saying. I come from a large hunting area where we use the term “on target”. The way the member described co-operative federalism and the need to avoid the inefficiencies that happen in jurisdictions such as this was “on target”, but unfortunately also “wide of the mark”, the “mark” of course being our Constitution. What will happen with this legislation is that it would achieve the opposite of what it originally set out to do, and create even more inefficiencies in our federal system.

We are looking at an act to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act and other Acts (application of provincial law), as brought forward by the member for Repentigny. Bill C-392 proposes to amend the Aeronautics Act, the Canada Marine Act, the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act, the National Capital Act, the Radiocommunication Act, the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act, and the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act. These areas and assets are clearly within the jurisdiction of the Government of Canada, but the bill would make them subject to compliance with provincial laws concerning land use and development and environmental protection.

As articulated during the first hour of debate at second reading some time ago, the government is firmly opposed to this idea. What the bill seeks to do is, by way of federal legislation, upset the established division of powers and decades of co-operation between all levels of government on matters of mutual interest.

This proposition is both untenable and unnecessary. We do believe in co-operative federalism, and it can be achieved without going through these measures.

This proposition is untenable because it is not a small change. One cannot simply cherry-pick certain elements of federal jurisdiction and place them under provincial control without adversely affecting the capacity of the government to carry out its constitutional obligations. It is tantamount to putting a stick in the spokes of federal jurisdiction, and it threatens to upend decades of intergovernmental relations.

I have been here for quite some time and have seen a lot of these issues come and go. There have been spats, some disagreements and some harsh words, but nevertheless we have also seen some great efficiencies created in areas of dual jurisdiction.

The Constitution Act of 1867 clearly sets out the division of powers between the federal Parliament and the provincial legislatures, which includes powers that the provinces have delegated to municipalities. Section 91 of the Constitution Act lists the matters over which the federal Parliament has power, and section 92 sets out the powers of the provincial legislatures. Some degree of overlap is inevitable in some laws, as we have pointed out.

However, this overlap is managed. In Canadian constitutional law, a number of legal doctrines such as the double aspect doctrine, the paramountcy doctrine and the interjurisdictional immunity doctrine help manage these situations and have been calibrated in recent years by the Supreme Court of Canada to encourage co-operative federalism. That is the goal the member talked about in her speech. However, as others have said, this bill would be an even more inefficient way to bring about more co-operative federalism.

It is unnecessary because each piece of legislation the proposal seeks to amend already has consultation and environmental protection provisions built into it, which those operating or managing federal assets and activities must follow in order to enable.

It has, and always will be, incumbent on anyone acting under the authority of federal legislation to abide by applicable provincial and municipal laws, or bylaws in their case, just as those acting under the authority of provincial legislation must abide by applicable municipal and federal laws.

This dynamic has lasted for over 150 years, some of it highly publicized and some not. All jurisdictions must work together on certain issues to promote and protect the interests of all Canadians. Even when we agree to work together, we must still respect our jurisdictional boundaries.

It is important to illustrate the scale of the impact Bill C-392 would have on federally regulated operations and how the subsequent uncertainty in the regulatory framework could impact the business and investment environment of these operators as well as their participation in the Canadian supply chain and in the Canadian economy in general.

Small craft harbours are very popular where I come from in northeastern Newfoundland. They are assets that are of incredible value to fish harvesters throughout the entire province as well as on the east coast, the west coast and the northern coast. The program operates and maintains a national system of harbours to provide commercial fish harvesters and other harbour users with safe and accessible facilities. More than 5,000 volunteers across this country participate in the running of our small craft harbours program and all the harbours from coast to coast to coast. Therefore, the program is crucial to the fishing industry, and by extension, to Canada's culture and economy.

As of May 2018, the program is responsible for 1,013 harbours, including 883 fishing harbours and 130 recreational harbours. Together, these harbours represent over 10,000 structures across this large country, valued at approximately $6.03 billion.

When it comes to aviation, Transport Canada works with its partners and stakeholders, including the general public, the aviation industry, of course, other federal government departments, provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous groups and international organizations to prevent and/or reduce the adverse environmental impacts of air transportation operations.

I have some experience with that myself, having a famous little airport known as Gander, or YQX. Over the years, we have practised co-operation among the three levels of government, the Town of Gander, the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, and of course, the Government of Canada and the board of the Gander airport authority.

In January 2017, in direct response to the community's concerns about aerodrome development, the government introduced a new regulatory requirement for anyone seeking to construct a new aerodrome to consult with affected stakeholders, including, but not limited to, the surrounding neighbours and the local land use authority. All stakeholders, including provincial governments, incidentally, can submit their comments and concerns during the consultation process. The proponent of the project must take these concerns into consideration and make reasonable efforts to mitigate them.

My friend from the NDP earlier talked about a lot of situations where one felt rammed by the other one and that there was an area of disrespect between two levels of government. However, this is a symptom of the people involved in that situation. The system we have helps to facilitate a better conversation. Sometimes these things happen, but it is not the fault of the system itself. Sometimes the players involved get a bit heated. I can apply the same sort of reasoning to small craft harbours as well.

Airports and aerodromes are the backbone of the aviation industry in Canada, an industry that employs 140,000 Canadians and contributes over $35 billion in GDP. In both examples, anyone managing an asset or building a new one must already comply with all federal and provincial laws pertaining to environmental protection, land use and development. If there is a conflict between the two jurisdictions, industry stakeholders know that the federal law will prevail.

With hundreds of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars at stake in the aviation sector and small craft harbour sectors alone, it is in the national interest to maintain a stable and consistent regulatory framework. The point is that sometimes federal and provincial interests and laws collide. We agree that it happens on occasion. When they do collide, there needs to be a way to determine which laws and interests should prevail. Hence, the paramountcy doctrine. Hence, the interjurisdictional immunity doctrine.

To be clear, the provinces benefit from this clear division too. They have no qualms about making the same argument when facing off against municipalities, which I have witnessed on many occasions, that seek to make changes that fall outside the jurisdiction established for them by provincial statute. Municipal bylaws, particularly those related to zoning, are routinely contested in the courts on the grounds that they are beyond the statutory authority of the municipality. Provinces do not tolerate laws that are ultra vires any more than the Government of Canada does. Of course, we are responsible for protecting those authorities.

In conclusion, what is being proposed in Bill C-392 is unworkable, because it would hamstring the federal authority rather than advance the spirit of co-operative federalism.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

5:45 p.m.

Bloc

Gabriel Ste-Marie Bloc Joliette, QC

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased to rise in the House today to support Bill C-392, which was introduced by my colleague from Repentigny. She worked long and hard before presenting it to people across Quebec. She worked tirelessly to get the support of Quebeckers, which I believe was necessary. I congratulate her from the bottom of my heart.

I am proud to be in the House to support this bill. I believe it is the kind of work that should be done here in the House. It is a job well done. I therefore want to commend my colleague for that.

Is Quebec a colony of Canada? That is a legitimate question. If we are to believe what the Liberals and Conservatives are saying, then, unfortunately, we cannot help but conclude that the answer is yes.

The situation we are dealing with here mirrors the infamous Home Rule that Great Britain introduced in the Victorian era. That is what the Liberal and Conservative members' opposition to this bill tells us.

According to the Constitution, Quebec belongs to Quebeckers. This is part of the Constitution, but are we actually masters in our own house? In most areas, we are. However, when it comes to areas that the federal government controls, we are not. Is this Home Rule? Under Home Rule, the precious little colonies are told to draft their laws as they wish, but when Queen Victoria or the federal government sets foot in their colony, Quebec, they are not subject to our laws and regulations or to the values we espouse. This is unacceptable.

We often hear the Prime Minister and his cabinet members say that it is 2018, after all.

Why, in 2018, are Quebeckers not allowed to make their own laws and regulations? They are still subject to a higher power, a neighbour that does as it sees fit.

We, the 10 Bloc Québécois members, have had many cases where we were confronted with this frustration. The case that comes up the most is the one involving the installation of cell towers. Earlier, my colleague from Salaberry—Suroît was talking about the case in Châteauguay, a highly publicized case that perfectly illustrates this deeply unacceptable situation.

A private company comes into a municipality and dictates where it wants to install its tower. As everyone knows, there are urban planning and land use rules, Quebec laws and municipal bylaws. This is not the wild west. We cannot approach development willy-nilly like this is the wild west. There are standards for implementation and harmonization. The public has to be consulted, and the infrastructure has to be built in a smart way. That is not what happens when it comes to areas of federal jurisdiction. Cell towers are considered a matter of federal jurisdiction, but the private company can disregard the law and claim that municipal regulations do not apply to it and if people do not like it, too bad.

There is a cell tower in my riding, and a rival company wants to build another one right next to it. The municipality refused and suggested that the company build its tower in a different location for a certain sector. The municipality also said that this would cost a little more but that it was willing to help the company out. In these kinds of situations, the company sometimes says yes, but it often says no. It can do whatever it wants because it is not subject to Quebec laws or municipal regulations. That is unacceptable. We are not masters in our own house, and this dates back to Victorian-era colonialism. We cannot accept that.

The member for Coast of Bays—Central—Notre Dame implied that the bill was unconstitutional. Come on. If that were true, it could not be debated in the House. The bill is completely constitutional. This bill asks the House, the government, to ensure that when federal infrastructure is built in the municipalities of Quebec, it is done in accordance with the laws and regulations. This is not about prohibiting all development. We need cell towers, but we need to make sure that companies abide by the laws and regulations.

On another note, my colleague from Montcalm could go on at length about the small airports issue. In Quebec, that happened under agriculture minister Jean Garon, whom our interim leader often quotes. He was the one who set up protection for agricultural land. It is an aggressive law, a tough but fair law, to preserve Quebec's best land for farming and protect it from being used for speculative real estate development or whatever else. We made rules. Our system is working well, and we are proud of it. Again, the purpose of the bill is not to say that there shall be no more small airports, it is just to make sure they are built according to municipal regulations and Quebec laws.

As things stand, if a developer comes along and the municipality says it cannot do whatever it wants there, the developer says it could not care less because it is a matter of federal jurisdiction and the Minister of Transport does not seem all that concerned about taking the community's wishes into account when building that kind of infrastructure. My question was, is Quebec a colony of Canada? Judging from what the Liberals and Conservatives have been saying, the answer is yes.

Earlier, my colleague from Louis-Saint-Laurent rose to present the Conservative Party's position. He implied that we must defend what is good for the whole country, even if it is contrary to the will of the people of Quebec. Quite frankly, I was expecting a little more support from a member who represents Quebec. What he implied was that they are going to push through energy east because their leader made that commitment. They will ram it through even if people oppose it. He said that the Conservatives would not vote for such a bill because it would limit their authority.

What is that argument but a colonial attitude towards Quebec on Canada's part? The people do not want it. We know that there are no economic benefits and that not one litre of this dirty oil will be consumed or refined in Quebec. It will just be transported to the Irving refinery and then exported. We do not need it. We are assuming all the risks. We are entitled to say that we do not want it. He said that even if we do not want it, the Conservatives will impose it and they will not support Bill C-392 because they want to retain colonial control so they can continue to control Quebec. That is unacceptable.

I was very disappointed to hear him say earlier that he was sad that energy east had been abandoned. He said it had nothing to do with the outcry in Quebec. Today, Éric Girard, the finance minister for Coalition Avenir Québec, which is currently in government in Quebec, was asked by a journalist whether his provincial counterparts were pressuring him about energy east. He said no, there was no social acceptability for the project, so he did not see why they would pressure him.

I found it rather odd to see the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent go to war against the party he used to lead so that he could defend oil companies in the west. We often see him stand up in the House to stand up for the interests of the west. Is he ever able to rise in the House to stand up for the interests of Quebec? The party he once led, which is currently in power in Quebec, is saying that there is no social acceptability and that there never will be. The member said that the Conservatives want to retain colonial control so that they can continue to impose it anyway. This is unacceptable.

Obviously, the bill affects all federal infrastructure that might be installed in Quebec. We are therefore talking about the Aeronautics Act for airports, the Fishing and Recreational Harbours Act, which covers wharves and small craft harbours, and the National Capital Act, which governs the activities of National Capital Commission in Ottawa and the Outaouais region. The bill also affects the Radiocommunication Act for communications infrastructure, as mentioned, including cell antennas, the Federal Real Property and Federal Immovables Act, which governs all federal properties, the Canada Marine Act for ports, and also the Canada Infrastructure Bank Act. To our understanding, it is not clear whether a project funded by the infrastructure bank would automatically be exempt from municipal regulations and Quebec laws. We would therefore no longer be masters in our own house. It is unacceptable.

Is Quebec a colony of Canada? Given what the Liberals and the Conservatives have been saying, unfortunately, we can only conclude that it is.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

5:55 p.m.

Bloc

Monique Pauzé Bloc Repentigny, QC

Mr. Speaker, after everything I heard, if I had to sum up my bill in one word, I would simply use the word “respect”.

No project located in part or as a whole on the territory of one province should avoid compliance with the environmental legislation adopted by the parliament of that province. Developing an aerodrome, expanding a port area, or building a pipeline are examples of projects that concern both the provincial and federal governments. Such projects must secure both provincial and federal approvals, so as to enhance their social acceptability.

Those few sentences are not even mine. They come from a letter from Jean-Marc Fournier, who was the Liberal minister of intergovernmental affairs when it was published in La Presse in April. It presented the Quebec government's position, but even more importantly, it represented the very strong consensus in Quebec and clearly described the impact that Bill C-392 will have.

Right now, projects under federal jurisdiction are above our laws. Proponents are above our environmental laws, above the laws that protect agricultural land, and above municipal bylaws that ensure harmonious land use. These laws and bylaws are not pulled out of thin air. They have been passed by duly elected officials who represent the people. This also reflects social acceptability.

I spent nearly a year consulting with hundreds of stakeholders from all walks of life. I attended the convention of the Union des municipalités last spring to talk to municipal representatives. I travelled across Quebec to talk to regional federations of the Union des producteurs agricoles or UPA, environmental groups and citizen groups dealing with federal projects that had been implemented without any regard for the wishes of the local communities. I also spoke with experts in environmental and constitutional law, unions and student associations.

Guess what? I did not meet anyone at all who was opposed to Bill C-392. In fact, many of them, including the UPA's regional federations, unions, municipalities, experts, elected officials from the Quebec National Assembly and environmental groups, even went to the trouble of writing to me to express their support. Everyone thinks that it is perfectly normal that all developers should have to abide by Quebec's laws.

However, during the two hours of debate on Bill C-392 and the time we have just spent together, it has become clear that the federal government, whether Liberal or Conservative, just wants to have the last word, even if it goes against the will of the public, indigenous peoples, Quebec or even the provinces. Both the Liberals and the Conservatives used their speaking time to oppose Bill C-392. They are on the same side. It is really sad.

Bill C-392 simply proposes that Ottawa respect the will of the provinces in matters of land use and environmental protection. It is important to understand that if Ottawa imposed stricter regulations than the provinces, then Ottawa would have the last word. In other words, the strictest environmental protection rules would apply to projects under federal jurisdiction. In the end, environmental protection would come out the winner.

Now, what is more important to this government and the Conservative opposition? Is it the common good, the future of the planet, sustainable development, environmental protection and social licence, or is it having the power to decide and have the last word? That is what we will find out tomorrow.

Currently, the federal government is allowing forests and protected agricultural lands to be destroyed to make way for the construction of an airport. It is allowing companies to pollute Quebec's air with red dust. It is forcing cell towers on the municipalities wherever the cell provider wants without any regard for the public. There is no respect. When it comes to protecting the land, there needs to be better public relations. There needs to be action. No one is in a better position to take action than the local populations. That is the essence of my bill.

That is why I am urging all members of the House, regardless of affiliation, to stand up for the people they are supposed to represent here in the House of Commons. That is why we are here after all, is it not?

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

No.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

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

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Yea.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

All those opposed will please say nay.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Some hon. members

Nay.

Aeronautics ActPrivate Members' Business

6 p.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

In my opinion the nays have it.

And five or more members having risen:

Pursuant to order made Thursday, November 29, the recorded division stands deferred until Wednesday, December 5, immediately after proceedings on the supply bill.

The hon. members for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot, Calgary Nose Hill and Courtenay—Alberni are not present to raise the matter for which adjournment notices have been given. Accordingly, the notices are deemed withdrawn.

It being 6:03 p.m., the House stands adjourned until tomorrow at 2 p.m. pursuant to Standing Order 24(1).

(The House adjourned at 6:03 p.m.)