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

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, Canadians expect much better than what they are receiving right now. They expect the government to implement policies that will create jobs, steward tax dollars and advocate for the most vulnerable, such as seniors, veterans and those living with a disability. They expect the government to stand up and provide good health care. They expect the government to deliver services with excellence. They expect the government to do this while cutting back on wasteful spending and bringing investment into our country.

Canadians are incredibly hard-working people with a ton of potential and that potential deserves to be realized. It is up to government to put policies in place and decrease regulation to make sure that is the case. Unfortunately, the government has failed. At a time when the government should be focused on making life more affordable by getting out of the way, it is focusing on implementing even more regulations and slamming Canadians with further taxation. It is driving investment and jobs out of our country and making life less affordable.

According to a recent Ipsos Reid poll that was released just after Christmas, almost 50% of Canadian families are within $200 a month of not being able to pay their household bills, not being able to put food on the table, not being able to pay their mortgages or rent and not being able to pay for the fuel for their vehicles that take them to work to earn their next dollar. To make matters worse, the prospect of recovering from this dreadful place in which we exist looks rather bleak under the current government and its policies. We face a looming job crisis in Canada caused by the government's failed economic policies and yet the Prime Minister insists on villainizing those who actually create the jobs that keep our economy afloat. I am talking about the women and men who dare to take a calculated risk, to invest capital and create jobs by creating local businesses.

We might remember the small business tax the government tried to sneak through in the summer of 2017. According to the Prime Minister, 1.4 million Canadians who have led by vision, have taken substantial risk and have worked hard to start and operate their businesses are nothing more than what he called tax cheats. Their businesses, according to him, are not job creators. According to him, they are simply tax havens. They are tax havens for the so-called wealthy. That is rather rich coming from the Prime Minister, who has never worked a day in his life and was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

The Prime Minister was not talking about multinational corporations when he said that. In fact, they are protected. They get the easy route. Instead, he launched an attack on locally owned businesses that sustain our communities. I am talking about the hairdresser we have relied on for years, the family doctor we go to when a child is sick, the cashier who works at the local hardware store, the farmer in Picture Butte in my riding and the college student who just got her first job as a welder. According to the Prime Minister, it is unfair for those who create these jobs to invest some of that money in their company for the further advancement of their well-being and, of course, job creation for others.

However, thanks to the resistance of Canadians and the fact that they pushed back and joined the Conservative Party of Canada in the House as the official opposition, we were successful in pushing back on those changes and making some headway. Collectively, hard-working Canadians took a stand on behalf of small business owners. It is proof that Canadians will not sit idly by as the current government damns our country to a poor future.

Once again, Conservatives are appealing. It is not just increased small business taxes and payroll taxes that are hurting local businesses; it is also the carbon tax. This summer, the federal government granted special exemption to Canada's biggest emitters, but despite providing breaks to these companies, the federal government still intends to impose a carbon tax on local businesses and families.

My question is simple: In what world does that make sense? If, in fact, the carbon tax is being put in place to reduce emissions, then would it not make sense to tax those putting the most pollution in the environment? We have no choice but to conclude that the carbon tax is not actually about reducing the carbon footprint or taking pollution out of the environment. The carbon tax is just another excuse to apply a tax to the hard-working people of this country.

Each and every day I wake up and read the news, I see that investment is fleeing. I am watching companies close their doors. When I walk through the downtown core of my local riding in the city of Lethbridge, I see signs in windows that businesses are shutting down. They are being driven away because of the Liberal government's policies.

The truth of the matter is that the government will continue to impose a huge carbon tax on families and these local businesses. However, it will not reduce the carbon footprint. We still need clothes, we still need food and we still need to drive ourselves to work. All of these things will continue to happen, because Canada needs to stay open. Canadians need to continue to live. Our country and well-being are at stake. The government is being nothing other than cruel, unkind and unfair to the Canadian people by imposing this senseless carbon tax.

Speaking of keeping Canada's economy afloat, let us talk about trade for a moment. This weekend, Canada ratified the USMCA. The fact is we have a deal, but all Canadians should be asking if we have a good deal. Ultimately, the USMCA must be judged on how Canada benefits. The deal should be evaluated based on what Canada gave up versus what it received in return. Sadly, in this case, we gave up much more than we received. There is really nothing in the USMCA that puts Canada in a better position.

The government backed down on automotive, it backed down on dairy and it backed down on pharmaceuticals. As well, for all these concessions, Canada was unable to win anything significant in return. In fact, tariffs still remain on steel, aluminum and softwood, and the U.S. has told us it has absolutely no timeline in place by which it will remove those tariffs. We signed an agreement without insisting these tariffs come off.

We have a Prime Minister who does not care enough about his country and these industries to advocate on their behalf, to ensure their well-being and to stand up for Canadian workers. That is sad.

In my riding, there is a business called Lethbridge Iron, which continues to take hit after hit with payroll taxes, small business taxes and tariffs on steel. I have met with representatives multiple times and toured the facility. They are working incredibly hard, but they are taking hit after hit and are unsure how much longer they can keep their doors open and their employees employed.

Let us talk about the pipeline for a moment. This is an example of a $400-million investment that was driven out of our country overnight. The government had an opportunity to keep that investment here. It had an opportunity to sign on the dotted line and provide Kinder Morgan with the certainty it needed to stay here and build a project. Instead, the government refused to provide that certainty and drove this investor out. Where did Kinder Morgan go? It did not stop investing. It just went south, to the U.S. We are without this pipeline.

Of course, we know this pipeline is of huge significance to Canada. Yes, it provides great-paying jobs, but more than that, it helps us get a product to market. When we can get that product to market, our country will receive an income. When we receive that income, we can build hospitals, we can build schools, and we can build roads and bridges. All Canadians benefit when we develop the oil and gas industry here in Canada.

The fact of the matter is the Prime Minister has taken tax dollars and invested them in this pipeline, and we are getting absolutely no return for this investment. It is interesting how that works. The Prime Minister takes our money and invests it, and nothing happens. However, if we were to encourage a private investor to come into our country and invest it, a ton would happen.

My point is simple. Right now, because we are refusing to develop the oil and gas industry, we are actually purchasing blood oil. We are purchasing our oil and gas from places like Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, places that have atrocious human rights records and almost no environmental standards. That is the type of industry we are choosing to support, instead of developing it right here in our country and bringing investment home.

In conclusion, we are calling on the government to act in the best interests of Canadians by eliminating the carbon tax, by repealing Bill C-69, by resolving the dispute on steel and aluminum tariffs, by resolving the softwood lumber dispute, by lowering taxes, by streamlining regulations and by opening up our markets. Let us bring Canada back. Let us put Canadians first.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

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

Mr. Speaker, I noticed a lot of rhetoric about our environmental policies, both contained in the text of today's motion but also during my hon. colleague's remarks.

I am curious. Is it her position that climate change is a serious threat that we need to take action on? If so, what specific measures will the Conservative Party put in place to combat climate change? It has been almost a year since her leader took that office, and I have yet to see a single policy designed to fight climate change coming from the Conservative side.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, here is some Liberal logic: We need to bring down the carbon footprint, therefore we will allow the largest emitters to go free. Instead, we will impose this carbon tax on local businesses and on moms, dads and other hard workers across this country.

In what world will that reduce the carbon footprint? In what world will that reduce pollution? In what world does that count as an environmental policy for the benefit of Canada?

The answer is none, because that world does not exist.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech.

She is right about one thing. The Liberal government did indeed give four industrial sectors, including the cement sector, a gift of 10% with regard to their greenhouse gas emissions. That is completely ridiculous given their rhetoric and discourse.

I would like to come back to Bill C-69 and environmental assessments. I am somewhat familiar with this file and I would like to hear my colleague's opinion.

The Liberal government gave the Minister of Environment the arbitrary power to decide which projects will be assessed. Following the environmental assessment, the government must listen to and follow the minister's recommendations.

Does my colleague not think that that approach gives the government a lot of arbitrary power to decide what it does or does not want to do?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-69 is a piece of legislation that was brought in by the Liberals.

Based on my observations and my reading of the bill, what it really does is handcuff an entire industry, and that is of course the oil and gas industry, which has supported this country for years and years and could potentially support it for years to come.

The government, for whatever reason, has decided that it is going to handcuff this industry, that it is not going to allow new pipelines to be put in the ground and that it does not want our country to benefit from the development of its natural resources.

I am unsure as to why the government feels that way. I am unsure as to why the Prime Minister feels he should bankrupt our country and drive investment out of it. Perhaps the member could explain.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Conservative

Cathay Wagantall Conservative Yorkton—Melville, SK

Mr. Speaker, Ram Industries Inc. in my riding creates steel products. It requires a very specific steel from the States to manufacture those products, and of course it sells back to the States. It is facing these aluminum and steel tariffs with much trepidation. Its passive income, the very passive income the government said it did not deserve to have, is being eaten up. Now, it is holding on by the skin of its teeth, not qualifying for support because the business does not have 200 employees.

Could the member for Lethbridge tell us a little more about what it is like for businesses that are facing the government's idea of what growth in Canada really looks like?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Rachael Harder Conservative Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, unfortunately these stories are many. There are stories of businesses from coast to coast, in all parts of this country, rural and urban, that are being impacted in negative ways by the government's economic policies.

We come back to the carbon tax alone, and we look at the dramatic impact it has on these businesses, on women and men who have taken calculated risks in order to launch a company and create jobs for Canadians. These are individuals in our country who should be honoured, respected and celebrated, but instead the current government insists on punishing them. Our Prime Minister calls them fat cats.

That is not okay. That is not the type of country I want to live in. That is clearly not the type of country many people want to invest in. That is why many of them are moving south, where they can enjoy policies that serve them to a greater extent and will help them generate wealth, not just for themselves but for future generations.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:40 a.m.

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

Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to take part in this debate today.

The motion before the House this morning seeks to pit the economy against social and environmental progress. Over the past few years in Parliament, I have come to expect this trend from the Conservative Party of Canada. While I am disappointed that we have to have this debate, in one sense I am happy to have the opportunity to highlight the progress on the economy and the environment that our government has made.

Today, the Conservatives have essentially laid bare for all to see their strategy to grow the economy. It is to simply abandon environmental and social protections that benefit our communities and grow our economy in the long term. By comparison, our plan is to grow the economy while we enhance environmental protections. The Conservatives seem to think this is somehow impossible, despite the fact that it is actually happening right before their very eyes.

Despite a lot of the rhetoric contained in today's motion, our economy is doing historically well. This cannot be disputed by anyone who is actually looking at the publicly available data. For the long-term sake of our country, it is not enough to focus on short-term economic growth alone. We need to realize that protecting our environment and enhancing social protections are essential if our communities are going to thrive and our economy is going to succeed.

Over the course of my remarks, I hope to address a few troubling aspects of the motion on the floor, but I want to start by highlighting some of the measures we have implemented to grow the economy and discussing the results of those measures, before transitioning into a discussion about the environmental measures we have put in place.

With respect, the Conservatives have offered no plan and seem committed to an agenda of trying to trick Canadians about the measures we are putting in place in order to earn the support of Canadian citizens. They fail to show the leadership that Canadians should expect of a so-called government in waiting.

Off the top, the motion seeks to attack our economic record and suggests there is a job crisis across the country as a result of our policies. Nothing could be further from the truth and, frankly, the results speak for themselves. Since coming into office, our economy has added over 550,000 full-time jobs, primarily in the private sector; the unemployment rate in our country is at a 40-year low, more or less since the time we started keeping track of these statistics, business profits are up and wages are growing. There is a good story to tell.

In fact, our rate of economic growth should make the Conservatives blush. After 10 years in office, they can boast a record of demonstrating the worst rate of economic growth since the Great Depression. This is not a coincidence. The Conservatives' strategy of giving tax breaks to their millionaire friends and taking support from middle-class families is not one that will lead to economic growth; it is one that leads to the inevitable result that we saw under 10 years of Stephen Harper.

Our government has a plan to grow the economy in a way that works for everyone, and the results are demonstrating that it is working. First and foremost, our economic growth record is characterized by support for middle-class Canadians.

We need to look no further than the Canada child benefit, which has put more money in the pockets of nine out of 10 Canadian families and stopped sending child care cheques to millionaires. At the same time, it has lifted 300,000 Canadian children out of poverty. These statistics are very important, but what matters to me is that there is a human story behind these policies.

I can point to a conversation I had with a young woman from my hometown in Pictou County, Nova Scotia. She told me that September was always a difficult time of year emotionally for her, because she could never afford a new outfit for her kids on the first day of school. After she started receiving more money from the Canada child benefit, she told me she was proud to be able to take care of her kids in the way her neighbours are able to, when she sends her kids to school in September. These are the kinds of human stories that breathe life into these policies.

It is not just the Canada child benefit. We have implemented the Canada workers benefit for those who are living in low-income households but are busting their tail to get ahead. At tax time, this is going to put up to $500 more in the pockets of hard-working Canadians.

I note in particular that the motion addresses heightened payroll taxes. The only thing I can think of that the Conservatives are referring to is our strengthening of the Canada pension plan. We want to ensure that seniors can retire in dignity, not just today but for future generations. That is why we have made these enhancements. If the Conservative Party wants to repeal that plan, the Conservatives should just come out and say so.

We have invested in a national housing strategy to the tune of $40 billion and created, for the first time, a national poverty reduction strategy. It is going to cut homelessness in half in this country. We know these investments are important, not just because they are the right thing to do, but because they are the smart thing to do. These investments are going to allow Canada to experience economic growth, not just for the wealthiest few but for all Canadians.

It is not just these social and economic policies that are helping grow our economy. We have taken steps to attract serious investment. I note in particular that LNG Canada recently announced the largest single private-sector investment in the history of our country.

This is no coincidence. We have implemented policies to encourage this kind of investment. We have reformed our immigration policies so that we can attract more talent. We are investing in innovation. Recently, in the fall economic statement, we demonstrated that we are willing to change the rules around how we tax the manufacturing sector by allowing 100% writedowns for manufacturing equipment, because we want companies to invest in their factories to create more jobs that will put Canadians to work.

At the same time, we are making historic public investments in infrastructure to the tune of $180 billion. What this translates to in my community as a local member of Parliament is a new twin highway between Sutherland’s River and Antigonish, a new trades innovation centre at the Nova Scotia Community College campus in Stellarton, and a new institute of government and centre for innovation in health on campus at StFX. We have investments in small craft harbours in excess of $15 million, which will help nine small rural fishing communities get jobs in the short term, and provide fishermen with a safe place to land their catch for generations to come. These are the kinds of investments that create jobs in the short term, but set the stage for long-term economic growth.

There is some rhetoric around high taxes in the motion today. It is interesting, because one of the very first things we did as a government was cut taxes for the middle class and raise them on the 1%, and the Conservatives voted against it. When it came time to discuss small business taxation, we are actually reducing the small business tax to 9%, which is the lowest rate in the G7.

When it comes to pursuing new trade opportunities, which the motion suggests we should do, we have secured access to the North American market by renegotiating NAFTA. We have completed the CETA negotiations. We have completed the CPTPP negotiations. We are focusing on export diversification and trying to enhance interprovincial trade. Our record on trade is impeccable, and it is helping to grow the economy and support the communities that I represent.

When it comes to innovation, we are also making serious investments, for example, by announcing the largest investment in research in the history of our country, and by investing in superclusters, like the Ocean Supercluster for Atlantic Canada, which is going to create thousands of jobs by developing expertise in regional hubs.

As I mentioned earlier, the results speak for themselves. We have had historic job gains over the past few years, the economy is doing well, we are experiencing a great rate of growth, our unemployment rate is low, wages are growing and business profits are up.

However, I will take some time in my role as parliamentary secretary to speak to some of the troubling comments in the motion and in the speeches I have heard this morning with respect to the need to combat climate change.

The motion has demonstrated that the Conservative mission in the next election is to oppose meaningful action on climate change. It is really difficult to have a debate about solutions to this threat when certain members of the opposition do not seem to believe that there is a problem to solve. It is hard to debate solutions when we cannot agree that there is a problem.

I do not like that I have to do this, but for the benefit of those present, scientists have understood the potential impact of increased pollutants in our atmosphere for about 150 years, since the middle of the 19th century. The vast majority of the world's scientists agree that climate change is not only happening but that it is the result of man-made industrial pollution. The IPCC has recently warned us that if we do not take meaningful steps to address this problem, we are going to suffer dire social and economic consequences.

The cost of ignoring climate change is too great to ignore.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

Some hon. members

Oh, oh!

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

10:45 a.m.

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

Sean Fraser

I am being chided from the other side by people sarcastically suggesting that the consequences will not be dire, as I am giving this speech. It is remarkable. Perhaps there is a generational divide, but on this side of the House I can say that there is not a single MP I have talked to in our caucus who does not believe that climate change is real.

We may not be able to point to any given weather system and say that it is the result of a single industrial player from the other side of the world, but we know with a high degree of confidence that, as the result of increased man-made industrial pollution, we are experiencing more frequent and more intense extreme weather events, and the cost of this is pushing $5 billion. I lived in Calgary when we experienced significant floods in 2013. We can look at the forest fires that are ravaging western Canada. We can also look at the floods in New Brunswick.

It is hard to tell somebody whose cultural and traditional practices in northern Canada may no longer be possible that climate change is not real. It is difficult to tell somebody who cannot get insurance for flooding that has impacted their home that climate change is not real. For those here who disagree that we should take climate action seriously, and they were elected to this House, I have hard time understanding that they deserve to be here.

The other thing that really bothers me is that there are certain Conservatives who are unwilling to accept that there is a golden opportunity to fight climate change when it comes to growing the green economy, by investing in energy efficiency, for example. There is a company in my home community, the Trinity Group of Companies, which is helping make homes more efficient, bringing power bills down for people in the communities that I represent. It started with a dream of just two guys who were doing home repairs and they have added dozens of employees and they are doing work all over Atlantic Canada. These are the kinds of investments that make it apparent that, when Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has indicated there is a $23-trillion opportunity in the green economy, it is not a joke. We want to be on the front end of that wave to take advantage of the jobs that we know can result from making investments in the clean economy.

I want to take some time to highlight some of the environmental policies we are moving forward, in particular, the fact that we are putting a price on pollution, which is very important. It is not a difficult policy to comprehend. A lot of Canadians do not appreciate that up until now, it has been free to pollute in Canada and the cost of that pollution has been downloaded to taxpayers. We want to change that. We do not think it should be free to pollute in our country. We are moving forward with a plan to put a price on pollution, so polluters will pay when they degrade our atmosphere.

At the same time, we are going to return the revenues to communities and to Canadians to ensure that families are left better off as a result of this plan. This is not a brand new policy invention that has never existed around the world. There are many jurisdictions that have implemented this with a high degree of success. In B.C., Alberta, California, Quebec, the European Union and previously in Ontario, we have seen economic growth in clean energy sectors as a result of moving forward with these kinds of plans.

In Australia, when a price on pollution was implemented, emissions actually came down and when it got rid of the price on pollution, emissions predictably started going back up. It is interesting who actually comes out to support our plan. We have leading scientific experts. We have leading experts in economics. This year's Nobel Prize winner in economics was awarded the prestigious prize for his research that identified this kind of a path forward to fight climate change as being effective and practical. In fact, he pointed to the system in British Columbia as a model that the world should be adopting.

There are religious organizations saying that this is the right path forward. There are indigenous communities saying this is the right path forward. The National Farmers Union voted overwhelmingly to intervene in the court case to demonstrate that this is the right path forward because they know that the agricultural sector faces the highest risks of climate change.

There are youth groups across the country that support putting a price on pollution. The provincial government in British Columbia supports the federal government's jurisdiction to put a price on pollution. In fact, Conservatives support a price on pollution, just not in the House. If we look at Stephen Harper's former director of policy, he has indicated the kind of policy that we are implementing today is the right path forward to fight climate change. If we look at Doug Ford's chief budget adviser, a few years ago before the Senate, he indicated that the number one thing we could be doing to transition to a low-carbon economy would be to move forward with a price on pollution.

We have former Conservative prime ministers who support this kind of an approach, whether it is Kim Campbell, Brian Mulroney or Joe Clark. The fact is that Stephen Harper indicated back in 2008 that putting a price on pollution was a sensible path forward. I suspect the opposition to our plan to put a price on pollution comes not from a place of doing the right thing by the environment, but trying to capitalize on a populous wave of politics that has been seen to succeed in other parts of the world.

The motion also refers to our effort to revamp the environmental assessment process. We are moving forward with a plan that will restore public confidence that was lost under Stephen Harper. We can build major projects in this country, but we need to respect our environment and include the perspective of indigenous peoples at the same time. We are putting in better rules that will allow one review for one project, which are going to give more predicable timelines and are going to allow us to get things done, but get them done in the right way.

I mentioned the Trinity Energy Group that is benefiting from investments in clean technology. We have serious investments in green infrastructure in excess of $9 billion that are going to improve the treatment of our water and waste water. After years of having nature and conservation budgets slashed, we have made the single largest investment in nature and conservation in the history of our country, with $1.35 billion. We are making serious investments in public transit to get more people travelling together rather than taking their individual vehicles to their workplace. We are phasing out coal by 2030. The Conservatives had no plan to do so until 2062. This is not only going to have a positive environmental impact but a positive health impact on our communities as well. We know that when Canadians live near coal plants, there are higher rates of things like childhood asthma that drive up the cost of care and do not do the right thing for our kids.

The fact is the Conservatives have failed to recognize not only that we need to take meaningful action but that if we do we can capitalize on an incredible economic opportunity.

I mentioned that it is hard to have debates about solutions when we cannot agree that there is a problem to solve. I heard a recent radio interview by the member for Cariboo—Prince George, who was asked squarely whether he believes that climate change is real and is man-made. He refused to answer the question. I have seen the member for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke suggest that this whole climate thing is just a jig of some kind. The member for Saskatoon—University has indicated that this whole thing is just a silly agenda. In an editorial recently, Joe Oliver, the former Conservative finance minister, suggested that it is not really worth doing anything about this problem. Recently, we have seen the Ontario provincial government's plan, with Doug Ford, who the hon. Leader of the Opposition seems to be taking his marching orders from, rolling something out that is not going to have a meaningful impact on climate change and has no pact to meeting any kind of goal that is going to allow us to avoid the dire consequences we are concerned about.

I mentioned that I was somewhat disappointed we had to have this debate today. Frankly, I find it remarkable that the Conservatives chose to waste a day of parliamentary debate for me to stand here and highlight the success of our economic and environmental policies to date, while confessing that their strategy to grow the economy is to abandon progress on the environment and social files. This demonstrates to me that they are suffering from a real lack of leadership and an extreme lack of vision.

In light of this, before I conclude, I would like to look at the actual text of the motion itself.

If I look at point (a), the Conservatives talk about a looming job crisis, when we have added over half a million jobs and unemployment is at a historic low.

They talk about the auto manufacturing sector. I have watched them try conflate the losses in Oshawa at GM to a price on pollution, which is disingenuous and hurtful to the people who are having a difficult time right now. It is in a jurisdiction where there is no price on pollution. It is simultaneous with other closures in states in the U.S. where there is no price on pollution. In fact, General Motors itself supports the kind of price that we are putting forward that returns revenues to families. If the opposition wants to dabble in the realm of post-truth politics, I invite its members to peddle their nonsense elsewhere.

When the Conservatives are looking at NAFTA negotiations and the steel and aluminum tariffs, I have seen one of their members stand up in the House and suggest the reason they are there is because our policies are somehow actually having a negative impact on the national security of the U.S., which is ridiculous.

When it comes to softwood lumber, we are not only investing $100 million in innovation in the forestry industry, we protected our dispute resolution clause that allows us to have an objective remedy.

I could pick from one of 100 things here. When we look at trade, we have secured NAFTA, CETA, CPTPP. The Conservatives suggest there are higher personal income taxes. The reality is the middle class is paying lower taxes today and the 1% is paying more. They talk about business taxes, which have come down to 9%, the lowest in any G7 country.

I am proud of the record we can stand on. There is hardly an element of truth in this motion.

The Conservatives' strategy in the next election seems to be to trick Canadians into supporting them, because they know they do not have the ideas to convince them. The fact is our economy is growing, our families are better off, our emissions have come down and the environment is benefiting from better protections.

As I mentioned, the motion suggests that the Conservatives' plan to grow the economy is to ignore progress on the environment and ignore policies that promote social progress as well. Their strategy seems to be to close their eyes and hope for a lucky break. On this side, luck is not part of our strategy. Rather, it is hope, hard work and planning that is going to get us to a point where more Canadians are working and our environment is protected for our kids and grandkids.

If the Conservatives do not change tack, I can tell them right now that their leader can stop beginning his tweets with the phrase, “When I am prime minister”, because they are going to be on that side of the House for a very long time.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

Dan Albas Conservative Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, BC

Mr. Speaker, it is interesting that the government decided to engage in a whole discussion on climate change when we are talking about the looming jobs crisis. The member would give cold comfort to the people of Oshawa right now. He even started his speech by saying that everything is rosy. There are more than 2,500 ancillary job losses associated with the GM plant closure that will ripple through the Ontario economy.

Does the member not realize what happens when they raise the price of inputs of Canadian businesses? The Canada pension plan premiums are going up in 2019. A carbon tax is coming up. EI premiums are going up. The cost of energy in places like Ontario is 75% higher than it is many competitors in the United States. Does the member not realize that in an integrated North American economy, when the costs of doing business are so much higher on one side, ours, it pushes Canadian investments south? Does he not realize that his policies are causing higher costs than those in the United States?

It does not take a rocket scientist—and I am sure they may have one on that side—to figure this out. Why does the member continue to say it is all about protecting just the environment and balancing the economy when they are doing neither? British Columbia's carbon tax has not stopped emissions from going up. The Quebec government said yesterday that the cap and trade system used in Quebec has not reduced emissions. Does he not understand that it is folly to say one thing while doing another?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

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

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, with respect, the critique in the member's question is that the Liberal government would dare discuss the environment in response to a motion about the economy. Here I note in particular that there are at least seven references in the motion to our government's environmental policy, which he argues is interfering with our ability to create jobs.

I do not know if the member was paying attention for the first eight minutes of my remarks, when I focused squarely on our economic policies that are driving growth in our country, but the reality is that we can grow the economy and protect the environment at the same time. Just because the Conservatives could do neither does not mean that we cannot do both.

If the hon. member is interested in record of job creation, the reality is that we can point to over 550,000 full-time, primarily private sector, jobs that have been created. We can see that unemployment is at a historic low. We can see that business profits are climbing, and wages are going up. There is a good story to tell. It is because of our measures that we are seeing the largest private sector investment in the history of our country. The fact is, there might be an individual business here or there that has experienced tough times, but we can point to a record of job creation and economic success while we enhance environmental protection. That is a record I am proud to stand on.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I want to remind hon. members how this works. The questions or comments get made, and then the answer or reply comes back. It is not a matter of the question happening and then comments coming from all sides. I know it slipped our minds, and it is difficult to keep track of, but I just thought I would remind members.

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

NDP

Alexandre Boulerice NDP Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie, QC

Mr. Speaker, those watching at home right now must be confused because what is happening on both sides is rather mind-boggling.

On one hand, we have the Conservatives, who are denying science, who think that pollution should be free and who have no plan.

On the other, we have the Liberal government, which is being melodramatic, crying crocodile tears, and saying that the planet is in bad shape and that we need to take care of our children and future generations.

Yet what are the Liberals doing? They continue to provide nearly $2 billion a year in subsidies to the oil industry, contrary to their election promise. What is worse, they are spending nearly $15 billion in taxpayers' money to buy a pipeline and thereby triple the production of the dirtiest oil in the world.

How can the government say that it is making decisions based on science and following the recommendations of the IPCC and scientists when it is buying a pipeline with taxpayers' money?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

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

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for acknowledging that at the very least we are on the same page when it comes to putting a price on pollution, and that climate change is a real threat that we need to address.

There are a number of environmental policies we are implementing that are having a very meaningful impact. Yes, we are putting a price on pollution, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. We are revamping the way we do environmental assessments to protect our environment, while we develop major projects at the same time. We are investing in clean technology. We are investing in green infrastructure. We are investing in nature and conservation. We have made the largest single investment in public transit in the history of our country. We are phasing out coal 30 years sooner than the Conservatives would have done.

The fact is, we are taking these steps to improve our environmental protections. At the same time, we are taking steps to grow the economy. We do need to get our resources to market in a sustainable way, and I only wish the NDP cared as much about growing the economy as it does about protecting the environment, because then it would have a home on this side and would be part of a government that is doing right by Canadians.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

December 4th, 2018 / 11:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mark Eyking Liberal Sydney—Victoria, NS

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Nova Scotia, the parliamentary secretary, who talked about the record of our government and the work it has done socially and economically, and the work he is doing for the people in his riding, as well as future Canadians, on the environment file.

The Conservatives keep talking about the jobs we are losing because of the price we are putting on pollution, and they always allude to the jobs in Oshawa. GM plants were closed in Michigan, Ohio and Maryland, so one would assume there must also be a price on pollution in those three states because GM closed its three operations there. Is there a price on pollution in those states that caused GM to close its plants, similar to the plant they closed in Oshawa?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

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

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, before I begin, I want to say that I know how hard it is for the community of Oshawa right now to deal with the job losses and how disappointed I am with GM's decision to close its facility there.

However, what we have seen over the past few weeks in this chamber is an attempt by the Conservatives to conflate the closure of the GM plant in Oshawa with our government's plan to put a price on pollution. The facts really matter here because we cannot put forward disingenuous arguments like that without hurting those families in Oshawa.

Ontario does not have a price on pollution. The three American states that experienced the closures the hon. member raised in his question do not have a price on pollution. General Motors, if one were to look at its website today, states that it supports a carbon pricing system that returns revenues to families, just as our policy that we are implementing does. I would be happy to share that quote with my colleagues.

We are moving forward with a price on pollution that will leave middle-class families better off. At the same time, we are making investments that will help create jobs.

In particular, GM has publicly said that it is transitioning toward manufacturing electric vehicles. We need to get in front of this wave of economic growth and green industry. Otherwise, we are going to miss out on the boat for generations to come.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:05 a.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Mr. Speaker, this is interesting. Climate change is happening. I think people would agree with that. The reality is that it is a global problem. When talking about a global problem, we need a global solution. If we want a true global solution wherein Canada can have the most benefit, we need to manufacture more, ship more oil and have more natural gas. Why? Every time we ship a litre of gas or oil, it displaces something from a non-friendly environment, let us say Venezuela or other countries, who do not produce energy with the same regulations we have here in Canada.

If we want to do something to make a difference in the world, we would work with the oil workers in Alberta to say that we can make a difference by making this even more efficient, by not flaring and by doing a variety of things that we have done here in Canada that other countries are coming here, grabbing and taking back home. What did we do? We shut down the sector. How stupid is that? It is what it is.

Can we not do something smart and do something for the world and actually increase production here in Canada? That would be doing the world a great benefit.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

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

Sean Fraser

Mr. Speaker, before I answer the question directly, I would ask a favour of my hon. colleague. After we finish this round of remarks, if he could go into the lobby and tell all of his colleagues on that side of the House that climate change in fact is real, he would be doing a service for the Parliament of Canada.

To answer the question on the oil and gas sector, I worked as a lawyer, primarily in Calgary, before entering politics. A big part of my experience was working in the natural resource sector. I have seen firsthand the impact of the growth of that sector on employment in our country, and have seen firsthand the impact of downturns. The fact is, the hon. member is right that we can expand our natural resources and get products to new markets and protect our environment at the same time.

I note, in particular, our government's support of investments at the Flux Lab at St. Francis Xavier University in my riding to develop instrumentation and technologies that can detect leaks. About 20% of natural gas projects are leaking gas into the atmosphere, and companies are missing out on production as a result.

We can move forward with the Trans Mountain pipeline in the right way to ensure that we are factoring in indigenous peoples' perspectives, as well as environmental protection. The reason this project did not go ahead years ago was that the Conservative government of the day did not take seriously the need to protect our environment and incorporate indigenous peoples' perspectives.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to mention that I will be sharing my time with the member for Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie.

Where to begin the debate on the Conservative motion, which covers so many areas? I can understand if some of the people watching us are a little lost, considering all the topics we have addressed in this debate. The Conservative motion is practically an omnibus motion. It seems they decided to throw in everything they could possibly think of when they were drafting it, without reflecting carefully and, instead, focusing on the bogeyman—

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Assistant Deputy Speaker Liberal Anthony Rota

I will remind hon. members that translation is provided. Also, it is not against the rules for them to cross the floor and speak to members instead of shouting, which prevents me from hearing the hon. member for Sherbrooke.

The hon. member for Sherbrooke.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:10 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, thank you for your intervention. Indeed, there seem to be some conversations happening while we are trying to speak, which makes it difficult to understand one another.

I was saying that the carbon tax is the Conservatives' bogeyman, which they like to trot out every chance they get. This strategy seems to have worked well, since the Conservatives used that bogeyman on a daily basis against the NDP between 2011 and 2015, as members will recall. They used to say that we were going to put a tax on carbon and that it would cause an economic apocalypse in Canada. Then, in 2015, we suddenly had a Liberal government and it, too, wants to put a price on carbon. I congratulate the Conservatives on their strategy, for it seems to have worked well.

The Conservatives still seem convinced that that is the best way to convince Canadians to vote for them. We will see next year. However, the bogeyman that they keep trotting out year after year does not seem to be working very well. Even so, according to the motion, the carbon tax is to blame for nearly every possible thing that could go wrong for Canadians.

Many things have gone wrong, of course, as we know. We have been here every time since the beginning to point out the many missteps that the Liberal government has made since 2015. However, by constantly trotting out the carbon tax bogeyman, the Conservatives are treating Canadians like idiots who can be fooled into believing that just one thing is to blame because they do not understand how economics work.

I invite my colleague from Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier to explain that to Canadians later on. He can do it in his speech, if he likes. However, what I want to explain today is that we cannot blame the carbon tax for all of our misfortunes.

The motion mentions certain misfortunes and failures. It talks about the Liberals' many failures in the energy and automotive sectors. On that note, we are the first to sympathize with auto workers in Oshawa and across Canada who are affected by the closure of the plant. The closure will affect more than just the place where the final product is assembled. It will also have an impact on related industries and suppliers of the raw materials and parts needed for assembly. The Oshawa plant will stay open for one more year. Sadly, we know that GM has decided to close this plant, even though it is widely recognized for its performance and quality. This is a very disappointing decision, and we were deeply saddened by this recent announcement.

Besides that, the Liberals also failed to have tariffs removed from steel and aluminum when they were getting ready to sign the new deal with the United States and Mexico. Unfortunately, the only bargaining chip the Prime Minister could come up with was to tell the Americans that unless they removed the steel and aluminum tariffs, he would skip the official signing ceremony photo op. That was the only leverage he had against the U.S. President. He could tell the Americans that if they did not do as he wanted, he would not show up for the photo op.

That worked well as a negotiating strategy. A few days ago, he ended up at the official signing ceremony getting his picture taken with the U.S. President and the outgoing President of Mexico, to the dismay of the many steel and aluminum workers, who are also victims of the Liberals' failures.

The Conservative motion also mentions the forestry sector. The forestry sector is calling for the unfair tariffs also weighing on that industry to be lifted. Unfortunately, the Liberals were unable to get anything done. Let us not forget that the problem started under the previous Conservative government, but the Liberals have been slow to fix the problem ever since.

In the renegotiation process with the Americans, the Liberals could have used this situation as leverage to try to break the impasse. Unfortunately, this is just another failure to add to the Liberals' record.

The motion barely mentions farmers, and I do not understand why. They are the ones most affected by the new free trade agreement with the United States and Mexico. For reasons that I do not know, the Conservatives only mentioned the carbon tax in the paragraph on farmers. There they go again trotting out their bogeyman, as if the carbon tax were responsible for all farmers' woes. They did not even mention the new breach in the supply management system.

I was wondering why the Conservatives did not mention the supply management system in their motion when it is what most angers farmers right now, especially those subject to that system. Then I remembered that it was the Conservatives who negotiated and signed the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Europe, which gave up 3% of our dairy market, and the agreement for trans-Pacific partnership, which opened a 3% breach. The Liberals have just given up another 3%. In total, we have lost 10% of our supply-managed market. Perhaps that is why the Conservatives did not mention supply management in their motion. Perhaps they are ashamed that they did the same thing a few years ago.

During those negotiations, the Conservatives opened supply managed markets, promising compensation, just as the Liberal government is doing today. The Liberals are singing from the Conservative song sheet. The Conservatives knew that these breaches would hurt farmers and that opening major sections of the dairy market would have a significant impact, but they said that they would provide compensation. The Liberals are singing the same tune and supply managed farmers do not like it.

Farmers are seeing breach after breach being opened, weakening our supply management system to the point where no one knows how much more it can take. The Liberals are claiming to have made it through the negotiations without completely sacrificing the system, but the breaches they have opened have severely undermined it. Eventually, it will become so weak as to be called into question. A former Conservative member is already casting doubt on supply management. Who knows how many other Conservative MPs are getting ready to stand up and join the hon. member for Beauce in calling for an end to this system, which serves our regions and farmers so well. I will not get into that debate today since I have only two minutes left.

The Conservative motion is essentially a grab bag of Liberal failures, and, unfortunately, it sets out very few solutions to the problem. According to the Conservative speeches that I have heard so far, the problem seems to be a lack of competitiveness with the Americans. I would argue that cutting taxes is far from the only way to make a country more competitive. Here are two important points to keep in mind. First, our health care system gives us a significant competitive edge over the Americans. That is important. Businesses need to take the health care system into account when they are looking at where to invest. The education system is also an excellent example. Obviously the Conservatives never bring up those points. They never say that we need to strengthen our health care or education systems. Those are non-issues as far as they are concerned.

When we talk about competitiveness with the Americans or any other country in the world, it is important to consider a universal pharmacare program. The Liberal government was supposed to have already implemented such a program. This is not something that they should put off until the next election. When employees have access to an affordable universal public pharmacare program, it makes businesses more competitive. We also need an affordable and accessible child care system. These types of systems would make us more competitive with foreign countries, such as the United States.

When we talk about competition for investments from around the world, we need to consider these solutions. We should not focus exclusively on the tax or carbon tax bogeyman, which is unfortunately what the Conservatives are doing.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Winnipeg North Manitoba

Liberal

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

Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on my colleague's comments on trade. I was not surprised by the NDP's position on it. Traditionally, the NDP has generally opposed any sort of trade agreement. I was a little surprised by the Conservatives' position on the trade file. It is the party that a year ago said that everything was going to fall apart because we were not getting a trade agreement.

The trade agreement we have just signed has been recognized by virtually all regions of the country. Leaders of different political entities and unions support it. I believe there is widespread general support for the trade agreement. Ultimately, this trade agreement would enable Canada to continue in a very healthy way with the United States, which is our greatest market. We are talking about Canada's middle class and those aspiring to be a part of it and how important it is that we secure our biggest trading-partner market.

I can understand the NDP's position in opposing trade for the sake of opposing it. However, does the member across the way not realize that a healthy middle class in Canada is in good part achieved by ensuring that we are able to secure the markets that are so important to a healthy economy? This is something we have clearly demonstrated by working with Canadians. There have been over 500,000 new jobs in the last three years. We are working with Canadians in developing the economy, and trade is a very important aspect of it. Would the member not recognize the importance of trade?

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Mr. Speaker, that was a long lead-up to a pretty simple question.

Yes, I recognize the importance of trade to the Canadian economy.

What my colleague failed to mention or might tend to forget is that we can trade without having a trade agreement. He seems to think the two go hand in hand, that a trade agreement is a prerequisite for trading with someone in another country. It would be quite naive of my colleague to think that does not happen.

Certainly the agreement has its critics. People in Sherbrooke think it is a bad agreement because it sold out farmers. Farmers in Sherbrooke and the whole Eastern Townships region are angry. In my part of the country, hundreds of farmers operate under supply management.

They are angry about the agreement that was signed. They are also angry that the Liberals did not seize the opportunity to resolve major trade disputes over steel, aluminum and softwood lumber. They are angry about the outcome because the Liberals broke their promises. People in my region and the Eastern Townships expected the government to keep its promises.

Opposition Motion—The EconomyBusiness of SupplyGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

Conservative

Gérard Deltell Conservative Louis-Saint-Laurent, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will be charitable and refrain from thoroughly addressing his comments about us not having the right electoral strategy. I will just draw his attention to the results of yesterday's election in Ontario: 3% of the vote for the NDP.

I am going to focus on a substantive issue. They often say that the solution to lowering greenhouse gas emissions is to put a price on pollution. We do not share that point of view.

Quebec has had a system for that in the form of a carbon market since 2013. Last Thursday, at the National Assembly, the Premier of Quebec tabled a document that takes stock of greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec under the carbon market system.

Have GHG emissions decreased a lot? No. Have they decreased a little? No. Have things stayed the same? No.

The reality is that despite the carbon market, greenhouse gas emissions in Quebec have increased.

How does the hon. member explain that?