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41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 248

CONTENTS

Tuesday, May 7, 2013




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 146 
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NUMBER 248 
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1st SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8), I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 13 petitions.

Navigable Waters Protection Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to introduce this bill to restore protection of the Don River in Toronto, running as it does from the Port Lands in Toronto—Danforth all the way to the Don's source, 28 kilometres north in the Oak Ridges Moraine. This bill, which is seconded by my colleagues from Toronto from Beaches—East York, Trinity—Spadina and Davenport, is part of the NDP's effort to urge the Conservatives to reverse reckless changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act in their last budget and to restore protection of Canada's lakes and rivers.
    The historic Don and the Don Valley through which it flows are iconic symbols of Toronto and are valued parts of our community history and environmental culture. Over the years, the rejuvenation of the Don River has been a stellar example of community-building and of the dedication of hundreds of volunteers and community organizations conscious of our need for green spaces and a healthy environment.
    The bill would seek to continue to protect and enhance the Don's natural heritage for the city of Toronto.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Expansion and Conservation of Canada's National Parks Act

     (Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Petitions

Genetically Modified Alfalfa 

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present a petition regarding genetically modified alfalfa. It is signed by constituents in my riding and the surrounding area.

Nuclear Fuel Processing Licence  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present today.
    Several months ago, the people in my riding of Davenport in Toronto awoke to the fact that for 50 years now, GE Hitachi has been operating a nuclear fuel processing facility right in the middle of the riding, right in the middle of one of the most densely populated parts of the country. Its operating licence states that it is to engage the public in a public information program, which it clearly has not done, and in fact has not done for 50 years.
    The petitioners are asking the government to reopen the licence so that the people in my riding and in the city can have their due course of public engagement on this issue.

Consumer Protection  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition I present today comes from members of my riding who are very concerned, if not angry, over the fact that many people are being charged money, $2.00 and more, just to get their paper bills in the mail.
    The petitioners call for the government to take measures to stop this practice.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to present.
    The first petition is signed by Canadians who recognize that CBC revealed some time ago that gender selection pregnancy termination is happening in Canada.
    The petitioners point out that 92% of Canadians oppose this gender selection abortion and that all parties in the House condemned this practice.
    The petitioners call upon the House of Commons, as a House, to condemn it so the world can see that we simply do not accept that here in Canada.

Rights of the Unborn  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by petitioners who point out that Canada's definition of a human being is 400 years old.
    The petitioners call upon Parliament to take into account the science of the last 400 years to redefine when life starts.

Genetically Modified Organisms  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from numerous people in my riding and beyond. The petitioners are calling attention to the issue of genetically modified organisms. They are calling on the government to conduct an independent inquiry on the safety of genetically modified organisms and to provide clear evidence that genetically modified organisms in food are not a risk to humans or the environment.

[Translation]

Telecommunications  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by residents of Prévost who are opposed to Vidéotron erecting a telecommunications tower in their community. They feel as though the rights of residents and people in neighbouring communities were not respected.

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to table. The first, which is signed by hundreds of Gatineau residents, pertains to the potential closure of the post office located at 139 Racine Street in Gatineau. These people are opposed to the closure of their post office, which is the only post office in the riding of Gatineau.

  (1010)  

Trafficking in Persons and Sexual Exploitation  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in support of Bill C-452, which seeks to combat trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation.

Health  

    Mr. Speaker, the third petition can be found on my website. I am not surprised, because health is a priority for Gatineau residents. They are calling on the Government of Canada to fully co-operate with the provinces and territories to negotiate a new health accord by 2014. This is extremely important to the people of Gatineau.

[English]

Lyme Disease  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions.
    The first is from residents of Winnipeg supporting my private member's bill, BillC-442, calling for a national Lyme disease strategy. It is particularly timely, as this Saturday, May 11, is World Lyme Disease Day.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from residents of the Vancouver area who are calling on the government and this House to support a permanent, legislated moratorium on supertanker traffic on the coast of British Columbia.

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present two petitions.
    The first is about the sad fact that last year 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius was killed by a drunk driver. A group of people, Families for Justice, who have also lost loved ones to impaired drivers want to see tougher laws and the implementation of a new mandatory minimum sentencing for those persons convicted of impaired driving causing death. They also want to see the Criminal Code changed to redefine the offence of impaired driving to be vehicular manslaughter.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is regarding sex-selective pregnancy termination. The petitioners highlight that there are over 200 million missing women and girls in the world right now because of the gendercide. They are asking Parliament to condemn this practice.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1

    The House resumed from May 6 consideration of the motion that Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
    At the culmination of the Glorious Revolution in 1689, the British Parliament allowed William III and Mary II to ascend to the throne, but there was a catch: they would need to accept the convention of the right and the Bill of Rights, which established Parliament as the ruling power of Britain. It would become the mother of all parliaments, including our own.
    While an imperfect document, some of the principles of the Bill of Rights live on to this day. One of them would later be described as no taxation without representation or, in the words of the Bill of Rights itself, that “levying money for or to the use of the Crown...without grant of Parliament...is illegal”. Simply put, the Crown can only spend the people's money with their consent, and only Parliament can grant that consent.
    Three hundred and twenty-four years later, the principle is the same. Government cannot spend what Parliament has not approved, which brings us to the Crown, or crown corporations.
    Under present rules, they may enter into a room with a union leader, negotiate an agreement and send the bill to taxpayers, who do not have a say but must pay. The people's servants in Parliament do not vote on it, nor does the elected government sign off, so in this respect it is as though we have returned to the mid-17th century, when the Crown levied money without grant of Parliament.
    What has resulted? Let us consider Canada Post. Its losses and liabilities are the burden of its owners. They are taxpayers. Seventy-one per cent of the company's costs are labour wages and benefits. To find out why, let us look at the latest collective agreement, a 500-page monstrosity. For example, if there is no work for a Canada Post employee to do within a 40-kilometre radius of where he or she is located, the union agreement prevents that person from transferring to another place where his or her skills are needed. The worker must stay at home and remain without work even while on salary. In other words, when there is nothing to do, taxpayers pay for nothing to be done.
    The union requires taxpayers to fund almost 500 corporate post offices, even though they are three times as expensive as retail outlets that provide the same service and are open for longer hours. After bankable sick days, pre-retirement leave, seven weeks of vacation and more, the amount of time the carriers spend delivering mail is only a portion of the time for which they are paid to do so.
    None of this done, by the way, in the workers' interests; their jobs, after all, are only secure when the company is successful. What is more, ambitious, talented employees are forbidden from any kind of bonus, performance or otherwise, by their union. God forbid that excellence be rewarded.
    The financial results speak for themselves. Last month's Conference Board report on Canada Post indicated “annual operating deficits of close to $1 billion by 2020”.
    On top of that, the company will have billions more in accumulated pension liabilities. Who will pay for that? It will be taxpayers, of course. They never authorized it and they cannot hold to account the unelected officials who did. Politicians can claim innocence, for it was an arm's-length body that did it. Sure, the arms had enough length to reach into the pockets of taxpayers, but never mind; these crown corporations are independent. Actually, they are dependent on the same taxpayers they are independent from. In fact, we are told their very independence depends on their right to be dependent on the people they are independent from. Simply put, they are independently dependent.

  (1015)  

     I suppose it depends on one's point of view. In the view of opposition parties, today's crown corporations are similar to the crown on King James II's head. He was the last king of England prior to the Bill of Rights. He could tax as he wished and spend as he liked. He too was independently dependent.
    However, every crown has its king. Union leaders have coronated themselves the monarchs of Canada's state-owned corporations. They have legislated monopolies on the workforce. Do as they say, or they will shut the place down with a strike. They collect mandatory union dues from workers, even those who choose not to be members—talk about taxation without representation. Employees who do want to work and build a merit-driven company are out of luck. They are banned from representing themselves in negotiations or from signing their own employment agreements. These vast union powers would make James II blush with envy.
    While the budget will not solve all of these problems, division 17 of part 3 of the bill amends the Financial Administration Act to empower the democratically elected government to reject labour agreements that abuse taxpayers. In other words, we are restoring the principle of no taxation without representation.
    We here in this chamber are that representation. The colour of this chamber is green, because in the early day of the House of commoners, the commoners came from the fields, and it was their toil in those fields that paid the levies the Crown expended.
    It is the duty, therefore, of the government to have the approval of Parliament for all that it spends. This bill does precisely that. In this sense, it restores Parliament as defender of the public purse and makes the Crown servant and not master.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the Conservative member's shameful speech.
    It is appropriate that he should speak about King James II, since, if hon. members listen carefully to what he is saying, they will realize that the Conservative member wants to take us back to the Middle Ages, a time when workers were overburdened by their employers, employers disbanded labour organizations, and workers had to work 14 hours a day in poor working conditions and did not have any rights. We get the impression from his anti-union attacks that the hon. member wants to take us back to 19th century England, as though that era is a model on which we should base the Canada of today.
    The government is telling us that it has nothing to do with the closure of post offices because Canada Post is an independent corporation. However, as the hon. member for Gatineau pointed out today, if these corporations are independent, then why does the government want to stick its nose into their collective agreement negotiations and the rights of their workers? Why is the government acting in the best interest of employers rather than workers?

  (1020)  

    Mr. Speaker, in actual fact, it is members of the NDP who want to take our country back to the Middle Ages. They are the ones who want to take away the rights that Canadians and all members of parliamentary democracies fought for so that the people would have the right to decide how their money is spent. The New Democrats are the ones who want to take this power away from Parliament and the people that parliamentarians represent here.

[English]

    It is they who want to take us back to the Middle Ages by removing the basic principle of no taxation without representation. It is they who want to take away workers' rights by denying them the ability to know how their union dues are spent or to make their own individual decisions.
    We on this side of the House respect the principles of parliamentary supremacy, and we respect the taxpayers who pay the bills. Therein lies the difference.
    Mr. Speaker, there are many examples of the Conservative majority government's lack of respect for democracy and parliamentary process. Canadians believe that there is a hidden Conservative-Reform agenda. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Canada Post are national institutions Canadians believe in. There are government members with hidden agendas who want to attack our Canadian national institutions.
    Why does the Conservative government attack our fine Canadian institutions?
    Mr. Speaker, our agenda has been out in the open since we have been in government, since 2006, and the Canadian people keep electing us with increasing mandates. I note that, correspondingly, the party in the corner has been consistently reduced by the Canadian people as our and their agendas have become known by the population.
    As for the issue of arm's-length independence, we on this side of the House believe that the Crown, or in this case the crowns, can only spend monies that are approved by the people's representatives here in Parliament. The other side believes that union bosses should be able to decide how tax dollars are spent, without the approval of Parliament. My point in referring to the original Bill of Rights was to underline the fact that the approach the opposition is proposing is a violation of a sacred tenet of parliamentary democracy, one we have respected and one this budget restores.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative member began his speech with talk of kings, queens and crowns. My speech will focus on mere mortals—ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans and Canadians—the people the Conservatives have forgotten.
    I had a public meeting in my riding of St. John's South—Mount Pearl just this past Sunday. At the start of the meeting, a 65-year-old woman approached me. She pulled me aside to speak privately about a problem. She is a single woman who rents an apartment, and the company that owns the apartment just raised her rent by $45 every two weeks. That is $90 a month. That is $1,080 a year. The problem is that she is retired and has a small pension, a fixed income, and she has no idea how to pay for the increase in her rent.
    What is in the bill, the economic action plan 2013 act, this economic inaction plan 2013 act, for that senior in my riding? There is nothing. There is no help whatsoever.
    The lady asked me not to forget her. She asked me to do something about housing and to do something for seniors, for people on fixed incomes and for low-income earners. They are having a harder and harder time getting by. I am doing that right now. I will do it at every opportunity and every chance I get to speak about the Conservative economic inaction plan, 2013.
    What is in this budget for low-income earners to help keep a roof over their heads? Nothing. The Conservatives voted down a recent New Democratic bill for a national housing strategy to fix Canada's housing crisis. What does the government do? What does their budget do? The Conservatives went a step further than just voting down the NDP plan for a housing strategy. Starting next year, they will cut homelessness funding by $15 million a year. This budget does nothing for that senior in my riding, and seniors are suffering.
    There was a story in the news back home in the last few days about an 82-year-old man from the Cornerbrook area of western Newfoundland. He was charged with theft for stealing food from a grocery store. The police say that this type of incident is rare, but a seniors' advocate says that this is only the beginning. The advocate I mentioned said in the news story that “more seniors will start to resort to petty crime, as many cannot afford to eat by the Canada Food Guide”.
    Eat by Canada's Food Guide? They cannot afford to pay rent. They cannot afford to turn on the heat in their own homes. That is what this country has come to. That is what the Conservatives have done to our country.
    What does this budget do for Newfoundland and Labrador? Of all the things in this budget, what resonates most back home? What have people been talking about? They are talking about how the price of hospital parking is going to increase, about how the poor and the sick, the most vulnerable in our society, will have to feed even more money they do not have into parking meters.
    The Conservatives can cut taxes to big business. They can give industry breaks, but who pays? It is the sick and the poor. That is who pays under the Conservative government.
    What is in this budget for Labrador specifically? It is the status quo, more of the same: dirt roads, poor Internet service. Who knows what goes on behind the scenes? When Peter Penashue was our representative in the federal cabinet, he pitted The Big Land against the island. Penashue actually boasted about his divisive politics, which is the worst kind of politics.

  (1025)  

    Penashue admitted to holding up infrastructure projects on the island in an attempt to move forward projects in Labrador. This is the type of politicking that goes on behind the scenes with the Conservatives, but they are also in our faces with it. This is the third omnibus bill. It includes 49 pieces of legislation from increased user fees for hospital parking to cuts to health care and damaging cuts to credit unions.
    Most Canadians will not realize the ramifications of this budget because it is so big with 49 pieces of legislation and because there is so little time to debate it. It denies MPs the ability to thoroughly study the bill and its implications. New Democrats would like to send so much of this omnibus bill to various House of Commons committees so we can bring in experts and analyze the true implications. However, the Conservatives deny us that opportunity and that right because they do not want the scrutiny. They do not want Canadians to know what is happening to Canada.
    The Conservatives are trying to tell Canadians that there is nothing to see in this bill. In a way that is true. There is nothing for job creation, to make life more affordable or to strengthen the services that families rely on. There is little in this budget for youth. Youth unemployment stands at more than 14%. Although the Conservatives have just announced another 5,000 paid internships in this budget, that is a drop in the bucket compared to the need. We do not hear the Conservatives speaking about the $14,000 a year those internships will pay. That is not enough for students to pay their student loans or participate in the economy. It is not enough to live on.
    There is not a word in the budget about student debt. The average student debt in this country stands at $28,000 per student. How can students participate in the economy the Conservatives like to trumpet as their success, when they begin their working lives with no work and a $28,000 anchor around their necks?
    Let us move on to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. I worked for almost twenty years as a journalist, twelve years as a daily newspaper reporter, five years as an editor-in-chief, a columnist, and another two years as an open-line radio host. Most of those years were with private media outlets. I personally know the kinds of pressures that can be exerted on newspapers or news outlets to run or not to run a story. There are incredible pressures from advertisers, government and industry. That is why the CBC is so important. I see it as the jewel in Canada's democratic crown.
    The Globe and Mail says that the Conservative government:
is taking a harder line on collective bargaining, giving itself sweeping new powers to steer independent Crown corporations in their negotiations with employees over wages and benefits. The main targets are the CBC, Canada Post and VIA Rail....Further, the bill gives the government the power to have a Treasury Board official sit in on collective bargaining negotiations at Crown corporations.
    The union representing employees at the CBC warns that the new powers are a “ridiculous“ infringement on the independence of the CBC.
    I agree with that statement.
    I will quote from Marc-Philippe Laurin, who is the CBC branch president of the Canadian Media Guild, the union that represents most employees. He stated:
    I don’t know how anybody looking at that cannot see this as turning the public broadcaster into a state broadcaster.
    Can members imagine the CBC being turned into a state broadcaster, a mouthpiece for the Conservative Party? Can members imagine a crown corporation changing the terms and conditions of employment for a non-union worker at any time?

  (1030)  

    Can members imagine a day in Canada when workers and pensions are under constant attack? Can members imagine a day in Canada when post-secondary graduates are crippled by debt, and government does not care? Can members imagine a day in Canada when a government would ignore a housing crisis? Can members imagine a day when an 82-year-old man is forced to steal food for his supper? That day has arrived under the Conservative government with this new Conservative inaction plan.

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, I do not think that the member has actually read the budget bill. That is the only conclusion I can come to.
    He talked about affordable housing. This budget would make huge investments in affordable housing, including, frankly, a requirement for new affordable housing projects in which apprentices would be given an opportunity to work on that housing. This would mean that, in his own riding, the young people would be given an opportunity to learn the skills they need while they build affordable housing.
    We have been proud to partner with Newfoundland and Labrador on a number of enormous projects. We have been proud to support seniors in the member's riding. However, what does the member stand and champion today? He champions more money for the CBC, while he points out that people in his own riding could use more support from the government.
    Does this member understand that the resources of government are finite? If he does as he proposes and provides more to CBC while he taxes individuals and businesses more, he will be able to help the people of his riding less.
    Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member what I do understand. I understand need. I understand when seniors and people on fixed incomes approach me and say that there is a housing crisis, the price of their rent is going up and they cannot afford it.
    What this party on this side of the House proposed as a bill just a few months ago was a national housing strategy. That housing strategy would have brought together the three levels of government, federal, provincial and municipal, to come up with a strategy o tackle the housing crisis. How much would that bill have cost taxpayers? The answer is nothing. It would have come up with a plan to combat the housing crisis, but cost nothing.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for the concern he is expressing, particularly for the seniors in Newfoundland.
    The member for Nepean—Carleton spoke here a few minutes ago about respect: his respect in this place and his respect for Canadians. However, I was troubled because that is the same member who voted repeatedly to shut down debate in this House, and shut down people's opportunity to learn about the various bills and legislation, more times than any other government in the history of our country or of this Parliament.
    The member for Nepean—Carleton also talked about defending the public purse. I know my friend from Newfoundland has the same kind of concern about the public purse. I wonder if he has heard any indication at all as to where the missing $3.1 billion from the public purse has gone.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not have a clue where that $3 billion has gone, but I think taxpayers have the same question. We all have the same question. However, the problem is that there is no answer.
    The hon. member mentioned the speech from the member for Nepean—Carleton across the way. I have to say, when that member began his speech, and I mentioned this off the top of my speech, he spoke about kings and queens and crowns. I was sitting here listening, and thinking that it was a prime example of how the Conservative government is so out of touch with ordinary Canadians, with ordinary Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and with people on the east and west coasts. It is absolutely out of touch.
    The hon. member just mentioned shutting down debate. What we are actually debating here is the third omnibus bill. Again, an omnibus bill is massive. This particular bill has 49 pieces of legislation.
    Why would the Conservative government take 49 pieces of legislation and cram them into one omnibus bill? It is because it does not want debate. The Conservatives do not really want to investigate or take a good look and they do not want Canadians to see what is really in this omnibus bill.
    Mr. Speaker, in my time today I would like to spotlight the really positive measures in economic action plan 2013.
    Today's bill would ensure that Canada keeps a strong position relative to so many other countries in the world and avoids the mistakes of so many others around the world as well. It would do that by promoting jobs and growth, and supporting families and communities across the country, all while respecting taxpayer dollars. There are literally so many great and positive measures in the bill that I want to quickly run down the list for Canadians at home.
    To build a strong economy and promote job growth, here are just a few of the great things in the bill: We are extending tax relief for new investments in machinery and equipment by Canadian manufacturers. We are indexing gas tax fund payments to better support job-creating infrastructure in municipalities across Canada. We are extending for one year the mineral exploration tax credit.
    Our government is providing $165 million in multi-year support for genomics research through Genome Canada. To help young entrepreneurs grow their firms, our Conservative government is providing $18 million to the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. This government is also providing $5 million to Indspire for post-secondary scholarships and bursaries for first nations and Inuit students, and there is so much more good news in the budget for Canadians.
    To support families and communities we are also doing so many great things, and I want to explain how that transpires. Our Conservative government is promoting adoption by enhancing the adoption expense tax credit to better recognize the costs of adopting a child. We are introducing a new first-time donor super credit for first-time claimants of the charitable donations tax credit to encourage all young Canadians to donate to charity. To better meet the health care needs of Canadians, our government is expanding tax relief for home care services.
    We are removing tariffs on imports of baby clothing and certain sports equipment. This will help families all across the nation. Our government is providing $30 million in the 2013-14 budget to support the construction of new housing in Nunavut. We are investing $20 million in the Nature Conservancy of Canada to continue to conserve ecologically sensitive land. We are providing $3 million to the Pallium Foundation of Canada to support training and palliative care for front-line health care providers. As members know, we have an aging demographic in our country and this is extremely important.
    Our government is committing $3 million to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to expand library services for the blind and partially sighted. I just met with some members from that community and they are so grateful for this $3 million because it will enhance their quality of life. We are supporting veterans and their families by no longer deducting veterans' disability benefits when calculating other select benefits, and we are doing so much more.
    I honestly have to ask NDP and Liberal members opposite: how can they possibly vote against these great items? How can they possibly vote against all these positive measures for Canadians? How can they oppose helping the blind get library services? How can they oppose supporting palliative care? How can they oppose helping out our veterans? Along with their constituents at home, I am waiting for the answer.
    Unlike the opposition, our government understands that Canadian businesses big and small are faced with new economic challenges originating beyond our borders. That is why Canada's economic action plan would lower taxes, slash unnecessary red tape and improve conditions for new and growing businesses. The economic action plan 2013 act proposes the next wave of initiatives to preserve these gains and create high paying, value-added jobs for Canadians.
    On the advice of the Canadian manufacturing industry, we are providing $1.4 billion of tax relief to the manufacturing sector through a two-year extension of the temporary accelerated capital cost allowance for new investment in machinery and equipment. This tax relief would encourage manufacturers and processors to continue to invest in machinery and equipment, making their operations more productive and globally competitive.

  (1040)  

    While the NDP would have us give tax breaks to Chinese companies, extending the temporary capital cost allowance for machinery and equipment would help keep our jobs where they belong, right here in Canada. We know it works.
    Listen to the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, which told us:
    Measures like the ACCA for new manufacturing machinery and equipment can make the difference between a company investing in Canada, or taking its business--and the stable, high-paying jobs that go along with it--elsewhere.
    While manufacturing and exporting are at the heart of our economic action plan, improving our infrastructure is also crucial to delivering Canadian goods and services to markets as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Bill C-60 also proposes to index gas tax fund payments to better support job-creating infrastructure in municipalities across Canada. This is a very important component of our new 10-year building Canada plan, unveiled in budget 2013, which would fund infrastructure like roads and bridges from coast to coast to coast.
    The feedback from our municipal partners has been overwhelmingly positive. Just listen to the words of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which told us that indexing the gas tax fund payments:
...recognizes that all types of municipal infrastructure can contribute to public safety, better quality of life and economic growth.
...An indexed Fund is essential so that infrastructure funding grows over time to meet inflation and the rising costs of construction.
    Bill C-60 also proposes to reform the temporary foreign worker program to ensure that the cost of the labour market opinion process would no longer be absorbed by taxpayers, and to better ensure that Canadians would be given the first chance at available jobs. We plan to support job creators, such as junior mineral exploration companies, by extending for one year the 15% mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through share investors. We would also clarify the rules for how we would treat proposed investments in Canada by foreign state-owned enterprises and would allow for the extension of timelines for national security reviews by modernizing the Investment Canada Act.
    While we remain squarely focused on jobs and growth, our government recognizes that Canadians are our country's greatest resource. As outlined earlier, we would be doing some very positive things for Canadian families in today's legislation. To help Canadians selflessly welcoming a child into their family, as I said earlier, we would adopt the adoption expense tax credit. To better help the health care needs of Canadians, we would expand tax relief for home care services. The Canadian Home Care Association said that this is:
...an important step in supporting the needs of our aging population and enabling individuals to live independently in their homes.
    Through our new measures, designed to ensure everyone pays their fair share, Bill C-60 would help to keep taxes low for everyone, providing Canadian families with greater opportunities than ever before. Not only is our plan prudent; it is an effective response to global economic changes, which still persist. By staying the course, our Conservative government will continue to promote economic growth, job creation and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
    I urge all my colleagues on all sides of the House to vote in favour of Bill C-60. I outlined today all the wonderful things that are in the budget and that hit home very closely to Canadian families, to the aging population and to the municipalities, who so welcome the indexing of the gas tax. It is so important, so we can build the infrastructure within our country.
    Today, I met with the electrical workers, and they are praising what we are doing in terms of the foreign workers, saying that jobs belong in Canada, and Canadians need those jobs.

  (1045)  

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague, the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, referenced some of the money in the budget that would go to the CNIB. We welcome that. Unfortunately, there is little else in the budget for persons with disabilities. In fact, 50% of people with disabilities in our country are unemployed. That climbs to 80% when it is developmental disabilities. There is nothing to change that. There is no action by the government on ratifying the UN convention on persons with disabilities. It owes; it is 14 months late in giving a report card to the UN. There is still no indication of where that is.
    On the gas tax, the member suggested that somehow this would be a big boon to municipalities. In fact, not one nickel of increase to the gas tax would flow until 2016 at the earliest, which is at least three years hence. Regarding the money that the Conservatives say is in the budget, there will be three more budgets before there would be any more money flowing in the gas tax indexing that they are crowing about.

  (1050)  

    Mr. Speaker, we hear daily from members across the way that the budget is no good, that nothing good is happening here in Canada. In actual fact we have seen, over every community, so many jobs created. We have heard people, like the those in the Association of Manitoba Municipalities in my province, say it makes a big difference because then municipalities know for 10 years that the funding would be coming and it would allow them to do the proper planning for the huge capital projects.
    I hear members opposite saying these are not good moves. Obviously we are one of the countries across the globe that other countries look up to, because we have a stable economy, Canadians are working and we have focused on one major thing. Well, we have focused on a lot of things, but the major thing is to keep our economy stable. The major thing is to keep people working and to promote economic growth. This country is in a really good position. Families are working and living well because of the economic expertise of our Prime Minister. I thank him for that.
    Mr. Speaker, we know there is a cabinet shuffle coming up, and if there is one thing the Prime Minister likes it is someone who can give a good message even when it is really a bad one. When we listen to the member for Kildonan—St. Paul, her remarks almost make this draconian budget, which is an attack on the middle class, look good. The Prime Minister certainly should consider her as a replacement.
    The fact of the matter is that this budget would increase taxes on middle-class Canadians by close to $2 billion every year. The Conservatives take $550 million more every year from the profits of small business owners. She talked about that, but did not mention that figure. There is the recurring payroll tax hike of another $600 million each year. She talked about some of the tariff cuts, which would reduce hockey equipment, yes, but she did not mention the tariff increases that would increase the costs for many Canadians, while not doing anything about enhancing the manufacturing base within Canada.
    In her remarks, she does not mention the hidden measures that are an attack on the middle class in our country. It is easy to see why we will oppose the budget because—
    Order, please. I ask all members to keep their questions and responses short.
    The hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul has only 45 seconds.
    Mr. Speaker, this is passing strange to hear, when I just explained how well economically placed our country is and how associations across the country are praising the government for the strong, stable economic environment it has placed in our country.
    The main thing is that we should work together as parliamentarians. The budget obviously speaks to families in our communities. It speaks to our aging demographic. It speaks to people who need jobs. As members of Parliament in the House, partisan remarks should be left by the wayside, and we should all be working very closely to ensure that our country remains economically stable for all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-60, a bill that is focused on what matters most to Canadians: jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
    Canada has experienced one of the best economic performances among the G7 countries, both during the global recession and throughout the recovery. Due to our strong economic policies, our global reputation is highly respected and admired by countries around the world. It has earned us, for the fifth year in a row, the reputation of the soundest banking system in the world from the World Economic Forum.
    Bill C-60 would only enhance this strong record with decisive action in all areas that drive economic progress and prosperity. This includes connecting Canadians with available jobs, helping manufacturers and businesses succeed in the global economy, creating a new building Canada plan, investing in world-class research and innovation, and supporting families and communities.
    Our government understands that, while we have a strong economic reputation, we need to remember that Canada is not immune to the instability of the global economy. We need strong leadership, and that is exactly what our government would provide with Bill C-60, as I will outline in my remaining time.
    In my riding of Oxford, manufacturing is the source of employment for many residents and is one of the key engines of the Canadian economy. Since 2006, our government has supported the manufacturing industry by lowering business taxes to 15%, which allows manufacturers to keep more of their money to invest and hire more employees; investing $110 million to double support to manufacturers and other entrepreneurs through the industrial research assistance program; eliminating the job-killing corporate tax; and much more.
    With Bill C-60, we would provide even more support for new investments in machinery and equipment for the manufacturing and processing sector. This would be done by extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for two years, which would increase the support for manufacturers by almost $1.4 billion. I know this support would benefit manufacturers in Oxford and across Canada.
     Our government believes in keeping taxes low for all Canadians. Since 2006, we have cut taxes more than 150 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in 50 years. That translates into a total savings of $3,200 for a typical Canadian family of four.
    We would build on these already astounding savings with even more tax relief for Canadians. In Bill C-60, we would eliminate consumer tariffs on babies' clothing, sporting goods and exercise equipment. In total, this would provide $76 million in tariff relief for Canadians.
    We would also introduce a temporary first-time donor's tax credit to encourage more Canadians, and those who had not donated recently, to give to charity. This would not only help a plethora of charities but also provide $25 million in annual tax relief. The savings just keep getting better and better under our government.
    Youth are the future, and that is why our government believes in providing young Canadians with the information and opportunities they need to make smart education and employment decisions. Our investments in youth since 2006 have included expanding the eligibility for Canada student loans through a reduction in the expected parental contribution; investing more than $300 million per year through the youth employment strategy to help young Canadians get the skills and work experience they need to transition into the workplace; and reducing the in-study interest rate for part-time students to zero, saving them approximately $5.6 million per year.
    In Bill C-60, we would support Canadian youth even more by providing funding of $18 million in multi-year support for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. This foundation is a national not-for-profit organization that works with young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 34 by helping them become the business leaders of tomorrow through mentorship, expert advice, learning resources and start-up financing. Over the past 10 years, the foundation has worked with 5,600 new entrepreneurs, helping to create 22,100 new jobs across Canadian communities.
    Canadian farmers are the backbone of our country and represent an important industry in my riding of Oxford. For generations, our farmers have fed Canadians and the world while providing jobs and opportunities across Canada.

  (1055)  

    Our government has supported Canadian farmers with strong investments and programs since 2006. We have provided over $7 billion to farmers through a new suite of business risk management programs, including AgriStability, AgriInsurance, AgriInvest and AgriRecovery; over $2.3 billion toward Growing Forward 2, which invests in innovation, competitiveness and market development for Canada's agriculture sector; $370 million to the hog industry; support for debt restructuring to help sustain the industry and much more. In Bill C-60, we would be supporting farmers across Canada.
    We would provide $165 million in multi-year support for genomics research through Genome Canada. This funding would enable Genome Canada to launch new large-scale research competitions over the next three years, would support continued participation by Canadian genomics researchers in national and international partnership initiatives, and would maintain Genome Canada's operations and the operations of the regional genome centres and science and technology innovation centres until the end of 2016-17.
    We owe a lot of gratitude to our Canadian veterans who fought with bravery and courage for the freedom we enjoy today. We will always be indebted to them for the great sacrifices they made. Our government stands up for veterans, and that is why in Bill C-60 we are improving the war veterans allowance program. This program provides assistance to low-income veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War, as well as their survivors. Under the current program, a veteran's total calculated income includes a disability pension provided by Veterans Affairs Canada. This pension is automatically deducted from the amount of benefits available to veterans and survivors under the war veterans allowance. Amendments in Bill C-60 will no longer allow the government to take the disability pension into account when determining eligibility and in calculating benefits provided under the war veterans allowance. Under this government, veterans will be taken care of and will never be forgotten.
    An investment in Canada's public infrastructure creates jobs and economic growth and provides a high quality of life for families in every city and community across the country. Canada's economic prosperity is supported by a network of highways and roads, waste water infrastructure, transit systems and recreation and cultural facilities. This network reaches into every community and touches every Canadian. In recognition of the importance of efficient prosperity and quality of life, our government has made significant investments since 2006 to build roads, bridges, subways, rail and much more.
    In Bill C-60, we are continuing this support through the community improvement fund. This fund includes $21.8 billion over 10 years through the gas tax fund payments. Currently at $2 billion per year, we are proposing that these payments be indexed at 2% per year starting in 2014-15, with increases applied in $100-million increments. The list of existing eligible investment categories would be expanded to include highways, local and regional airports, short-line rail, short-sea shipping, disaster mitigation, broadband and connectivity, brownfield redevelopment, culture, tourism, sports and recreation. The fund would also include $10.4 billion over 10 years under the incremental GST rebate for municipalities to provide communities with additional resources for the maintenance and operation of existing public infrastructure and facilities.
    Canada's gas tax fund would provide predictable and long-term funding for Canadian municipalities to help them build and revitalize their public infrastructure assets.
    I am proud of the investments our government is making with Bill C-60. I and the residents of Oxford look forward to the speedy passage of Bill C-60, and I encourage all parliamentarians to seize this opportunity of unity in Parliament and give Canadians what they deserve, and in many cases, what they desperately need.

  (1100)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his comments. However, he has not dealt with one of the biggest issues facing us, and that is the lack of democratic action on this bill. We are not permitted to discuss it in the House of Commons beyond the end of today, and we have been told that there will be only five days of debate in committee. With five days for 50 bills at two hours a day, that is about 10 minutes for each bill to be studied in committee.
    I am wondering if the member would comment on the democratic deficit we seem to have encouraged, at this Conservative government's urging, by limiting debate on things he claims are very important, such as the increase in the gas tax. As I pointed out earlier, it will not take effect until there have been three more budgets, and those three more budgets will probably not be studied in any great detail, because the government is so fond of limiting debate.

  (1105)  

    Mr. Speaker, what my colleague forgets is that this is going to a number of committees, and there will be debate at those committees, so it is not being limited.
    The member went on about the municipalities and the money. I would remind him of what the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said about budget 2013:
    Today's budget delivers significant gains for Canada's cities and communities. We applaud the government for choosing to continue moving our communities forward even as it meets its immediate fiscal challenges.... By maintaining and extending unprecedented investments in our cities' infrastructure, it will spur growth and job creation....
    I do not know why the other side would not get behind this budget and get it passed in a hurry.
    Mr. Speaker, I could not help but comment on all the smoke-and-mirrors talk about what the future is going to be. I would hope that things were just as rosy as the picture the government is painting, but the reality tells us that it is not the way previous commitments and suggestions have been.
    On infrastructure, as far as what cities require, they had no way to say anything else, because if they had said anything else, FCM and the cities would have been muzzled, the same way our scientists, researchers and many anti-poverty groups have been muzzled. As far as what FCM said in response, what else would Conservatives expect them to say?
    Mr. Speaker, I guess doing publications and papers and so on is muzzling. I would say to my hon. colleague across the floor that this is a good budget. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities knows the difference between this government and the former government.
    Workers in this country know the difference. They know about the $48-billion EI surplus taken out of their funds. Municipalities in Ontario and across the country remember the $25 billion the Liberals took out of social transfers.
    This is a good government. The municipalities in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities recognize this.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Oxford knows very well the importance of the auto industry, with Toyota in his riding and with the supporting parts sector growing as well. I wonder if the member would comment on both the renewal of the auto innovation fund and the advanced manufacturing fund. What could that mean across southern Ontario and for the Canadian economy?
    Mr. Speaker, we not only have a Toyota plant in my riding, we have a General Motors CAMI plant in my riding.
    Both of those funds are essential to the Canadian auto industry as we move forward. We compete around the world, but we also compete with our American neighbours. Keeping the Canadian auto industry strong is important to ridings, not just for the auto plants but for all the supplier industries across Ontario that supply these plants. Our government recognizes the importance of manufacturing, and certainly, my riding is a beneficiary of those things.
    Mr. Speaker, if we would just let loose a bit, we could really have quite an interesting debate on the budget in this House. We could really talk back and forth with one another about what we think should be in there versus all the fantasy comments being made.
    It is a very convincing argument, if somebody on the other side is actually listening to it and believing it. Again, that is what governments do. I have been there. We stand up and promote our budgets and say that they are the best thing since sliced bread. We all do it. However, our job on this side at the moment is to ensure that we show its flaws.
    I am happy to be standing here and speaking. This will be the 10th budget I have been asked to evaluate and vote on since I was elected to the House, so I have been around long enough to have seen them from all sides. In that time, I have seen both good and bad fiscal plans. Again, I have to say that I think budget 2013 is probably the most disappointing because of the federal fiscal strategy we are being asked to consider. It is not a strategy I think Canadians would really want us to support.
    Let us have a bit of history. In 2006, the Conservative government came to power by making outlandish guarantees, and the Canadian public, or 39% of it anyway, bought those outlandish guarantees. In fact, the Conservatives promised to leave any notion of Conservative fiscal tendencies buried in a sea of red ink. At the time, the Prime Minister made the absurd commitment that he would somehow reduce taxes while also making radical spending increases, and we all know that this does not work. Of course, what did the Prime Minister do? He increased spending, a move that erased the $14-billion surplus the Conservatives inherited from the Liberals when they came into power. What did they do with that? They immediately turned around and invested it. Some people would say that they used that $14 billion of taxpayer money to buy the votes for the next election. Whatever happened, they got $14 billion and spent it very quickly. I can only imagine that Brian Mulroney would have loved to have had something like $14 billion to spend on all the things he wanted to try to achieve with a majority government.
    Unfortunately, once the Prime Minister had recklessly spent the cupboard bare, he started increasing income taxes, payroll taxes. Then the Conservatives found new and creative ways to levy hefty fees and tariffs on everyday essentials, such as cancer wigs, household appliances, home heating oil and even blankets. Then, of course, what came? It was a severe rollback of vital income supports and social systems that low-income Canadians rely on each day for survival. The current government slashed support for seniors; attacked middle-class families; and advanced policies that all but slam the door on anyone who is sick, elderly, underemployed or generally working class.
    However, this is not the first time Canada's finances have been run into the ground at the hands of the so-called Conservative Party. The last time a Conservative government actually balanced a federal budget in Canada was 101 years ago, in 1912. I know that the Conservatives would like to rewrite history, but they cannot erase everything. That is clearly in the history books. The last time any Conservative government ever balanced a budget was 101 years ago. When we hear all this wonderful pie-in-the-sky stuff, we have to keep that in mind. That Prime Minister was Robert Borden. He too inherited a surplus from a good Liberal predecessor, Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Just as the current government did, Borden managed to maintain it for only one year before dropping into deficit. It sounds as if our current Prime Minister is following the Borden example through excessive spending and reckless budgeting.
    Between 2006 and 2008, the Conservatives put Canada back into the red, well before, not after, there was any recession. Well before, we were already in debt. Despite their rolling promises of restraint and prudence, they have not balanced the books since.
    Now in budget 2013, the Conservatives promise that they will eliminate the deficit by 2015. Of course, they have made that promise before, and they just cannot seem to hit their targets. So far, the Conservatives have missed every target, but they expect us to believe that on the eve of the next federal election, somehow they are going to have fixed up the mess and will have balanced the budget.

  (1110)  

    I think a closer look at the financial plan would provide every reason for all of us as parliamentarians, and all of us as taxpayers, to be very suspicious of the pie-in-the-sky numbers that the Conservatives are talking about.
    It has been said by my colleague from Wascana that the Conservative playbook contains seven simple tricks.
    They inflate revenues by basing their fiscal planning on optimistic projections of economic growth. They ignore the reality, as they have before, that their numbers have never been correct. Time and time again their forecasts have been proven to be wrong, as both the IMF and the Bank of Canada have done once again in the past month.
    They also create the illusion of financial flexibility. Conservatives have lowballed the reserves that should be in place to serve as fiscal shock absorbers against future economic setbacks. They have no contingency plan other than spending on the national credit card.
    When a government department does not use all of its budget, the excess money lapses back to the treasury. The Conservatives are counting on very large lapses over the next several years. In other words, they are making big announcements, hoping that everything will go the way they want it to go.
    While cracking down on those who do not pay their taxes is an absolute necessity, and for that we give them two points of credit, the Conservatives claim of a balanced budget depends heavily upon quickly collecting billions in unpaid taxes. That seems highly improbable, given that they are also chopping millions of dollars from the same agency that is supposed to be going after the cheaters.
    For big programs like infrastructure, the government claims to be increasing investments. We talked about that a bit earlier. However, any increases are actually years away, and our cities and FCM know that. It is a trick called “back-end loading”. In reality, the build Canada infrastructure budget has been slashed, not increased by $1.5 billion, in each of the next two years.
    Despite false claims to the contrary, the government is increasing taxes in dozens of nefarious ways, on everything from hospital parking fees to blankets. The two biggest types of Conservative tax hikes are higher tariffs on imported goods and higher employment insurance payroll taxes. Again, this would hurt our small businesses in Canada that we need to be promoting.
    Then there is the one that they are forever planning: using all these tricks to concoct the false illusion of a balanced budget by 2015. The Conservatives will claim to have met their fiscal objective just before an election, and before proof to the contrary can become available we will be back into another election.
    We all know that people struggle with their day-to-day expenses, from diapers to Kleenex, to formula and healthy food. The cost of raising a family is growing in Canada. We all know seniors who rely upon that monthly OAS/GIS cheque to keep their lights on and food on the table. This is in our rich Canada. We all know of someone who is desperately looking for work so they can keep their family in their home. These are the people who budget 2013 has forgotten: working-class Canadians who do not fit into the Conservative plan.
    The Conservatives are trying to trick Canadians into thinking they have the experience necessary to champion the economy, but in reality they are little more than professional grifters with a billion-dollar publicly funded advertising budget that is constantly telling us how well we are doing with the economic action plan that is paid for by them. It might be time for the Prime Minister to admit that while there are solutions, he is not thinking of them.
    The budget includes a bail-in regime that would allow banks to generate capital by dipping into the savings of their account holders. The budget increases taxes and tariffs on middle-income Canadians and businesses, and the budget abdicates federal responsibility for a range of important scientific, social and economic programs.
    I think budget 2013 betrays the trust of Canadians and shows just how devoid of compassion and trust they are.

  (1115)  

    Mr. Speaker, I feel obliged after listening to this hon. member's speech to clarify a few inaccuracies.
    First, at the tail end of her speech she talked about the bail-in clause that is in the budget. I would like anyone who is listening to this to totally disregard that statement. Obviously there is a misunderstanding. I would be happy to explain to the hon. member that there is no way on earth that the banks can touch the assets of Canadian depositors. I would think she knows that. There is $100,000 that is guaranteed by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation. I would like to reassure Canadians that does not happen. The bail-in we are talking about would use our own contingency capital.
    However, I would like to ask the hon. member if she feels she has a better understanding of economics than the top 15 economists who have continually agreed with our budget projections?

  (1120)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is important to attempt to clarify what my hon. colleague means by the bail-in regime so that Canadians do not get concerned and pull out all of their money. There is a $100,000 guarantee in protection and all of that, but I do think it is important because it is in the budget. He should make sure it is very clear to Canadians exactly what he means on that point so we do not have Canadians panicking.
    I have to say that my hon. colleague, for whom I have the utmost respect, truly believes everything he writes and says, and his ideology fits right into it. The issue is that we have had many economists say how wonderful every one of those budgets has been, and every one of them has failed to meet the point. The Conservatives have never met their budget. They project and project.
    We can always find people who believe in our pie-in-the-sky dreams and hope it will go that way, but the reality is that the Conservatives have never met any of their targets yet.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I agree with my colleague's assessment of the Conservatives' economic incompetence. The last time they eliminated the deficit was 100 years ago.
    However, I do no think that the Liberals can brag about eliminating the deficit by raiding the employment insurance fund or reducing transfers and placing a heavier burden on the provinces.
    In a federation, the provinces and their situation are part of achieving a zero deficit. I feel—as does the future NDP government, I hazard to say—that if the government transfers the entire debt load to the provinces, it has not achieved its goal.
    I would like to give my colleague the opportunity to set the record straight. The Conservatives have failed, but if we look at the impact the Liberals' so-called zero deficit had on the real world, they have no right to boast.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, when the Liberals were elected in 1993, we had an over $42 billion deficit left to us by the Conservative government. We were at a point where we were being chastised by third world countries about what had happened to Canada. There was no choice but to take very hard, swift action to try to get Canada back into the zone where it was supposed to be.
    Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien had the courage to make the kinds of cuts that had to be made to bring everything into line, and for two or three years everybody had to suffer a little bit. However, where were we 13 years later? We ended up with a $14 billion surplus, investments going into health care, a 10-year health accord, Kyoto, the Kelowna agreement, all kinds of things moving our country forward in the way it was supposed to.
    That was a tough decision to make, but the Liberals clearly had the foresight and the courage to do that. I really question the kind of budgeting there would have been if we would have had the NDP in charge at that time.
    Mr. Speaker, sometimes when I hear my Liberal colleagues give a speech in the House about their record from 20 years ago, it almost reminds me of some of the dinners we have attended for former sport athletes who are well passed their prime, talking about the good old days. However, the good old days are a long way away.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: Some want them back.
    Mr. Ben Lobb: I do not think so.
    When we focus on what we have gone through in the global economic downturn and we look at how we have come though it, there is a lot to be proud of in what this government has been able to do. Now the rest of the world is looking at Canada as the example of how to make it through and continue to provide a balance between keeping an eye on the bottom line while being able to make strategic investments to help grow our economy.
    Since July 2009, we have seen the Canadian economy add over 900,000 jobs. Our employment levels are nearly back to where they were in pre-recession levels. The typical Canadian household now pays more than $3,000 less in tax each year, and seniors pay more than $2,000 less each year. We have reduced the GST from 7% to 5% and harmonized. It has made a big difference, especially in the province of Ontario, which I represent. We on this side have a lot to be proud of.
    The opposition members have continued to criticize what we have done. However, time and time again we have proven them wrong. We continue to deliver for Canadians and the Canadian economy.
    One point I would like to highlight with respect to Bill C-60, our budget implementation bill, is the gas tax fund. This has been an important mechanism for municipalities, and in my area, the counties, to continue to deliver on key infrastructure projects. We know that in 2009 our government doubled that from $1 billion to $2 billion, which was a huge investment commitment to our communities. Whether those projects are water, sewer, roads or bridges, it has provided the municipalities with long-term stable funding. It is ironic that at a time when Ontario is clawing back what it provides to rural municipalities, our government, in spite of a deficit and tough economic times, has continued to deliver that funding to our municipalities. With this BIA, we are expanding and indexing that. More importantly, we are expanding the number of areas that can be covered and where we are making investments for municipalities, such as economic development, shipping, whether through water, rail or airports, and broadband, to allow them to continue to develop and grow.
    That is a key and important factor for economic development in the municipalities and counties in rural southwestern Ontario. Also, it is important to be able to apply some of that to economic development and tourism in the riding of Huron—Bruce, which from north to south along Lake Huron on the west side is known as Ontario's west coast. It is important that our municipalities can continue to deliver services to American tourists as well as those from the cities, so they can enjoy what we have and, more importantly, drive on safe roads and have safe reliable water and sewer services.
    I will provide some information just to give members an idea of the scope and scale dollar-wise that we are able to deliver on.
    When our government came into office in 2006, Bruce County received just a little over $600,000 in funding; Huron Country received $582,000; and Central Huron, the municipality within which I live, received $76,000.
    In the 2011-12 budget year, the annual investment made by our government into Bruce County had more than tripled, to nearly $2 million from $600,000 just a few years ago. For Huron County it was $1.8 million, and for Central Huron it was $234,000.

  (1125)  

    The opposition likes to do a lot of talking and criticizing, but the fact is that those are real dollars going into our communities that are helping to make our roads better, our sewers operate at a higher efficiency and our drinking water clean. As we move forward, it would provide great opportunities for the topics I have mentioned in the past. These are all positives.
    FCM is strongly behind us, as is the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, AMO. As well, if we look at the average age of our infrastructure, it is coming down from 17 years on average to 14 years. That is delivering.
    I have not mentioned the massive commitments we made through the downturn, through RInC and accelerations through the building Canada fund, which helped to get projects on the go. In my riding where there is a huge number of contractors and so forth, it kept them at work and allowed them to make new investments in their machinery and keep people on. I think that really helped deliver, and it is something we can all be proud of, at least on this side of the House.
    Another area we need to focus on, which some of my colleagues have touched on, is the commitment to the Last Post Fund. For people watching at home and members in opposition who are listening, I should mention that our government, in the face of recession and economic downturn, maintained our funding to veterans. We did not cut and run, we did not duck, but we maintained our investment and funding to our veterans. Members can go back just a few short years to see the investments we made with the new veterans charter. We completely enhanced it.
    I can hear the member for Malpeque pecking away, and usually when the truth and the facts start coming out, his blood pressure starts to go up. He was there 20 years ago when the Liberals went in and slashed benefits to veterans, especially our Allied vets, the whole gamut. However I will try to stay focused on the Last Post Fund at this time.
    We would double the amount we commit to veterans in need from $3,600 to more than $7,200 a year. This is important because those men and women served us well in World War II and in Korea; they put their lives on the line. When they came back from battle, some had ailments or impairments, which they likely lived with for their entire lives. However, through the hard knocks of life sometimes, maybe the finances did not come out as they would have hoped, which is why we are here for them today, so they can receive a funeral that represents their commitment and sacrifice to the country.
    It is a shame, specifically when looking at this, that the opposition would not support this bill just on that alone. It would show the support, that this can be a non-partisan event and that we can all vote together on this BIA to show veterans from one coast to the other that we are all in it together with them on this.
    The Last Post Fund runs this program in a highly efficient manner. Every dollar it receives goes toward the program and there is virtually nothing in it for administration. The fund does a great job, and I am very proud that we would be able to deliver and in a way that respects its work.
    I previously worked in the manufacturing sector, and I wanted to touch upon the fact that our accelerated capital cost allowance would be renewed for two years at 50% from the previous 30%. Basically, this would allow businesses to make investments right off their machinery in three years instead of nine years, which is hugely important, especially in Ontario because of its manufacturing and industrial base.
     I could do a 30-minute speech on all the investments we have made in manufacturing in Ontario and, Mr. Speaker, being from Windsor, you would certainly know of some of those investments that have benefited your region. However, I am sure members of the opposition have a question or two, maybe even the member for Malpeque, and I welcome them.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, is my colleague opposite aware that, on numerous occasions, we have asked to split this legislation to ensure, for example, that provisions affecting the Department of Canadian Heritage would be addressed separately? Does he not believe that it is better to have a public broadcaster as opposed to a state-controlled broadcaster?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, let me read a quote the member may be interested in. I know his province also has manufacturing. This is from Jayson Myers, the President and CEO of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters. It goes on quite a way, but it talks to the last point that I made about the accelerated capital cost. He says, “It creates an incentive because manufacturers will lose these tax savings if they do not continue to invest”. It all—
    Point of order. The member for Huron—Bruce will have to take his chair for a moment.

[Translation]

    The hon. member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I wanted to make sure that the interpretation was working because he obviously did not understand a word of my question.

  (1135)  

[English]

    That is not a point of order. Returning to the member for Huron—Bruce.
    Mr. Speaker, he can flap his gums all he wants over on the other side, but what we are talking about here is what would deliver for Canadians. It would deliver for people in my riding. If he were to get on board, it might even help people in his riding.
    We are talking about helping manufacturers. We are talking about getting people back to work. What is he talking about? We have put a billion dollars into the CBC. How much more do you want?
    I would again direct all members to direct their questions and comments to the Chair, not to each other.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Charlottetown.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Huron—Bruce for his comments. I serve with the member on the veterans committee. He is indeed one of the hard-working members of the committee and someone who I think really does have the interests of veterans at heart. This is why some of his remarks with respect to the government's record on veterans are somewhat troubling. When he trumpets the fact that the government says it has maintained funding for veterans, he forgets that there have been more than 800 job cuts. He forgets that there has been a download of services to Service Canada at the very same time that it is making cuts; cuts of 46% in my province. He forgets about the comments that were made by the Auditor General, highly critical of the case management services provided by Veterans Affairs. I would add that my province is the only one that has no case managers. They were all taken out in the last budget.
    However, I want to focus on the Last Post Fund. He trumpets the Last Post Fund. My question for the hon. member is this. There have been improvements made in the budget for the Last Post Fund, but two-thirds of all claims are rejected. Of those two-thirds that were rejected prior to these changes, how many of those two-thirds of veterans who were rejected would now receive help under the fund?
    Mr. Speaker, the member asked about four or five questions, but one I would like to answer. He did make a point about the efficiencies that have been found within the department. It is not 1972 anymore. It is 2013. We can do things differently. We can do things more efficiently. As taxpayers, we expect that.
    I choose to look at the fact that it is 2013 today. We can operate business differently. Up until a few years ago it was almost as if the highest technology Veterans Affairs had from the Liberal legacy was a typewriter. Therefore, we have made the investments. We have gone on our initiative to transform Veterans Affairs. I am proud of that. We are operating in a way that delivers funds to veterans, and they do not get spent on administration.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the Bloc Québécois members to voice our views on the Conservatives' recent budget.
    Although the federal government claimed it would negotiate pragmatic agreements with the Government of Quebec in good faith, instead it is directly attacking Quebec's unique approach with measures announced in budget 2013 and Bill C-60, the budget implementation bill.
    I would like to ask the government what happened to negotiating in good faith. Where were the negotiations on the labour program that will deprive Quebec of millions of dollars? Where were the negotiations on abolishing the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds? Where were the negotiations on higher taxes for the Caisses populaires Desjardins, which will wipe out a portion of Quebec members' dividends? Where were the negotiations following the unanimous vote by the National Assembly to retain Quebec's jurisdiction over securities? Where were the negotiations after the National Assembly's unanimous vote to keep Quebec's approach to homelessness? Where were the negotiations following the unanimous vote by the National Assembly against changes to worker training? Where were negotiations following the unanimous vote by the National Assembly against changes to employment insurance? Where were negotiations when the federal government imposed, once again, the “Ottawa knows best” doctrine to the detriment of Quebec's organizations and Quebec's approach? Where were the negotiations with Quebec when the federal government decided to finance the Lower Churchill project? Where were the negotiations with Quebec following the recognition of the Quebec nation?
    There are many eloquent examples of conflicts.
    Let us talk about employment insurance. As hon. members will recall, previous budgets have chipped away at the very foundation of our social safety net: government services and the old age security program.
    Budget implementation Bills C-38 and C-45 were also a direct attack on seasonal workers and the regional economy of some areas of Quebec.
    To justify its employment insurance reform, which harshly penalizes the economy in regions like the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gaspé, the government claims that it is trying to connect unemployed workers to available jobs, but really, it is tearing up its labour market agreement with Quebec, which helps unemployed workers find jobs.
    In the last couple of budgets, the federal government has been trying to centralize Canada's economic development at the expense of Quebec's land use strategies, the well-being of the people in the regions and regional economic development. The federal government is trying to gradually strip us of our dignity and our pride in our distinct identity.
    With last year's budget, it was clear that the Prime Minister was continuing to build his version of Canada based on his values and interests. He proved that there was no room for Quebec to develop within that model. This year's budget is simply more of the same.
    Budget 2013 is a direct attack on the way Quebec does things. As for labour market issues, Ottawa will take away millions of dollars from Quebec that helped the unemployed find jobs.
    In its place, the federal government is pushing a program that will force employers and the Quebec government to provide more money if they want the federal government to contribute. In order to hand out cheques with the maple leaf on them, the federal government is ready to axe initiatives that are working well.
    Ottawa also wants to bring in a new formula whereby the federal government, the provinces and employers would put in up to $5,000 each to train workers. Although worker training falls under provincial jurisdiction, the federal government is stubbornly forging ahead, to the detriment of our financial services industry. The Quebec Minister of Finance has also criticized this.
    Now I would like to talk about labour-sponsored funds. The elimination of the labour-sponsored funds tax credit is another direct attack on Quebec and its workers.
    In addition to impoverishing people who are trying to save for their retirement, the federal government is also going to deprive Quebec SMEs of a key economic lever. Labour-sponsored funds are an integral part of Quebec's economic organization, as demonstrated by the fact that $312 million of the $355 million Ottawa plans to take away from workers will be from Quebec.

  (1140)  

    The Chantier de l'économie sociale has strongly criticized the abolition of the federal tax credit for labour-sponsored venture capital corporations, such as the Fonds de solidarité FTQ and Fondaction CSN. Quebeckers, including unionized workers, use these funds as savings vehicles and commit to helping develop Quebec businesses, such as social economy businesses.
    Bill C-60 again includes provisions on securities, as mentioned in the latest budget. The federal government is extending the mandate of the Canadian Securities Transition Office and still insists on creating a Canada-wide securities commission, despite clear decisions from the Quebec Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
    In response to the federal government's budget, the Government of Quebec said, “Allowing the federal government to insinuate itself in securities regulation, which is within Québec’s exclusive jurisdiction, is out of the question.”
    We have long known that Canada's Minister of Finance dreams of getting his hands on Quebec securities. Even after he was turned down by the Quebec National Assembly and the Supreme Court of Canada, the minister has not concealed his intentions to interfere in Quebec's key financial sector.
    I would like to talk about homelessness and how the government does not respect Quebec's way of doing things. In its latest budget, the federal government said it supports the housing first approach, which could threaten community-based, universal homelessness initiatives that currently respond to very real needs in Quebec.
    According to the Réseau Solidarité itinérance du Québec, all of the support services for some 50,000 people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless are in jeopardy as a result of the federal government's new policy. The federal government's actions on homelessness are worrisome. In addition to reducing funding, Ottawa wants to impose its housing first approach, which will force Quebec to sacrifice its expertise and the programs tailored to its needs. The National Assembly unanimously denounced Ottawa's attitude and asked that the homelessness strategy be redesigned according to the existing model and in compliance with Quebec's policies.
    The Bloc Québécois thinks that the federal government's approach is unacceptable. It could severely hamper the work that people have done over the years on this issue. It would disregard the expertise that has been developed over time to reach the people in need most effectively. This is a direct attack on Quebec's way of doing things.
    I would now like to talk about health transfers and social programs. Budget 2013 is one step closer to a $36 billion reduction in federal health transfers. It will have devastating consequences on Quebec's finances because it imposes new agreements for equalization, health transfers and social programs and withdraws money transferred to Quebec for worker training. This is essentially a slap in the face for Quebec. To achieve a zero deficit, the Conservatives, like the Liberals before them, are lobbing the deficit into Quebec's court. Budget 2013 ushers in fiscal imbalance once again.
    For all these reasons, and many others, the Bloc Québécois will not support the next federal budget, a budget that is unfair to Quebec, takes aim at Quebec and takes away some of its fundamental powers.

  (1145)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we in the NDP have considerable concerns about the budget implementation act. In particular, I would like to bring up the issue of the direct control that the government is now going to have over crown agencies that it often describes as third party or at arm's length to the government. It seems as though the arms are getting shorter with each passing month here in Ottawa.
    I wonder if my colleague would speak to the concern that many of us have around the fact that the government has now, in a sense, placed itself in control over the agreements that the CBC and other agencies may make with their unionized and non-unionized employees.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question.
    Basically, the government is trying to interfere in various ways in the internal policies of crown corporations. This is not the first time the government has done that; it has done so in the past. That is clear once again today, and in other recent events. Among other things, the government wants to be involved in the CBC.
    As members may recall, the CBC's new code of ethics, imposed by the federal government less than a year ago, may also be dangerous, since it infringes on journalistic freedom and integrity.
    The government now wants to interfere in collective agreements, which is completely unacceptable. Crown corporations must remain at arm's length from the government to remain independent.

  (1150)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague across the way for his speech. Although we know that he does not support the government's budget, which is no surprise since he is part of the Bloc Québécois, there are measures in the budget that are good.
    I would like to ask him about one of the points in the budget and how important it is to his municipality. Every time I go to the gas station and fill up my car or my truck, there is about a 10-cent excise tax. That 10 cents that the governments collect gets transferred back through the provinces to the municipalities.
    The fuel tax rebate is a major thing for our municipalities, as we heard from the member for Huron—Bruce. It has tripled over the last number of years. Municipalities now know that they are going to be receiving that much.
    What it also does is allow the municipalities to borrow, knowing that the money is coming. The budget would also implement a measure that would not only guarantee that it is going to happen but that it would be indexed, so that as inflation goes, municipalities know that the indexed amount will be there to help.
    Could the member tell me how important that is to the municipalities in his constituency?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his excellent question.
    He is right. The government's infrastructure program is very helpful to municipalities. As a mayor in my former life, I was able to benefit from the program and passed that on to my municipality.
    This program helps municipalities complete infrastructure work within a reasonable time frame. However, the problem is that the numbers announced in the last Conservative government budget were shared with municipalities in 2010. Now it has become a permanent program, but the new money that we would have liked to see added to the program is not there.
    Unfortunately, there is no money for 2013. There is just $203 million on top of the $53 billion for 2014. There is only $203 million for 2015. In fact, municipalities will have access to all of the money only after the 2015 election.
    The government is being proactive, but the majority of the money will be available for use only after 2015.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in the House again and to speak in support not only of the budget but also of Bill C-60, which is the budget implementation bill. It lays out the measures the Conservative government will bring forward in the economic action plan for 2013 and onward.
    One of the reasons why I am pleased to stand and speak to the budget bill is the amount of work that we did in the riding of Crowfoot. Prior to the budget being given, we had meetings throughout the riding at Strathmore Town Hall and other town halls where constituents came together to say what they believed was important to have in the budget. I am going to talk a little more about how some of those ideas have been moved here and how our Minister of Finance and our government are implementing some of those ideas that come from back home and from many different constituencies across this country.
    I believe, first of all, that this is a very positive blueprint, a very positive strategy as to how we believe the Canadian economy must be advanced and built. We would be strengthening the economy in a number of ways through this budget implementation bill.
    First of all, we would be helping manufacturers to buy new equipment through tax relief. We would be helping small business create more jobs with the hiring credit. We would be helping our municipalities rebuild roads and bridges with record new support in infrastructure, and there is much more.
    This budget builds on the work our Conservative government has been doing since forming government in 2006. We are working to create an economy that will build jobs. It is not that our government is going to create jobs; we are going to create an environment in which small and medium-sized businesses can create jobs and make certain that those families that now have jobs will be able to keep more of their money in their pockets.
    Canada has been quite successful. We have over 900,000 net new jobs since the depths of this recession took place. More than 90% of those 900,000 jobs that have been created are full-time jobs, contrary to what many of the opposition members say when they say that these are the wrong kinds of jobs, part-time jobs, just not the right kinds of jobs. Some 80% of the jobs are in the private sector. This is not job creation through continuing to expand the size of government. The majority, 80%, are in the private sector.
    Canada has a very good record as far as job creation goes. In fact, we have the best record of the seven most industrialized countries in the world, the G7. The International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development project that Canada's growth will be among the strongest in the G7 for a number of years going forward.
    For the fifth straight year, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world. Canada has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment in the G7. Canada is one of the few countries that still has the Triple-A credit rating. Our combined national debt to gross domestic product ratio remains the lowest in the G7 by far. Why? It is because there is a plan and a strategy. The strategy in the past five years has been working, and the strategy moving forward is building on that and will continue to work, although the opposition feels somewhat concerned because the statistics that are coming out are exactly what Canadians, including my constituents, want to hear.
    The opposition members call for more spending—spend, spend, spend—and they have the tax increases to pay for their spending. I am not going to talk much about the $20-billion or $21-billion carbon tax they are discussing, but they have an idea on how government can be expanded, how government can get bigger, and they would love to see that happen.
    One of the reasons I am pleased with this budget is that government expansion is not going to happen under this watch. Opposition members would expand government and add to the national debt. What happens to countries that take that route? What happens to countries that choose to go down that road?

  (1155)  

    Canadians do not have to just sit back and surmise what may happen. We can take a look at what did happen in Europe. Governments burdened their citizens with unmanageable annual budgetary deficits, massive accumulated debt, huge and paralyzing government bureaucracies. What about unemployment in some of those countries? Unemployment in the eurozone tops 12%. In some of the countries, it is much higher than 12%.
    Our Conservative government understands that Canadians want us to continue to emphasize the importance of maintaining Canada's strong fiscal position, especially during current difficult global economic times. To be quite frank, that is one of the major reasons we were elected. One of the reasons we were elected to a majority government is they understood this Prime Minister is the Prime Minister Canadians want to see, especially at a time when the global economy is in turmoil. Canadians want that type of leadership. Canadians know that our Prime Minister and Minister of Finance have built a stellar reputation for Canada in the international marketplace. Canadians want a stable government, one that is capable of making decisions, sometimes swiftly, and implementing them.
    For many years I have heard from my constituents in all corners of the riding of Crowfoot that I represent about the importance of balancing our books. My constituents want our federal government to operate without having to borrow money to pay for a deficit every year. My constituents are farmers, ranchers and small business operators. The gas and oil sector is major in my riding of Crowfoot, but we also have a tourism industry in Drumheller and the Canadian badlands that is somewhat seasonal.
    All of the families in my riding, from smaller towns, villages and cities, are all very careful in how they operate, and they want to balance their budgets around their kitchen table. That is the type of discussion they have. How are we going to be able to pass this farm on to the next generation? How can we operate within a balanced budget?
    Our government is on track to balance the budget. One of the things that made me very pleased in the last budget speech was when our Minister of Finance rose and said, “...before I proceed, I need to make one thing very clear. It is simply this. Our government is committed to balancing the budget in 2015.” When he stood and said that, a burden was lifted off my shoulders, because that was the message that my constituents wanted to hear.
    On page 12 of the budget there is a chart that says in 2012-13 there is a projected deficit of just over $25 billion; in 2013-14 we will have a deficit of $18.7 billion; in 2014-15 we will have a deficit of over $6 billion; and by 2015 we will be at a surplus of almost $1 billion. In the two years after the budgetary surplus, it is projected to grow by $4 billion and then $5 billion.
    How are we projecting? We see the official opposition coming forward with these budgets with nothing costed, nothing planned out and nothing on paper. We have a very concise strategy that has worked in the past, is working now and will continue to work in the future.
    From 2006-08, our government paid down approximately $37 billion in debt. When the global recession hit, we made a deliberate decision to run temporary deficits to protect the Canadian economy, and that plan worked.
    We have helped create over 900,000 net new jobs, and we are on track to come back to balanced budgets. At the same time, we are doing things. The deficit reduction action plan is recognizing that we want to quickly come to balanced budgets.
    We have an ongoing effort to control government spending. We work continuously to eliminate wasteful and inefficient spending. In total, our government implemented measures that will reduce the deficit by over $15 billion per year in 2014, 2015 and beyond.
    Economic action plan 2013 announced saving measures that will total $2 billion by 2015-16, such as examining departmental spending to make sure we are operating efficiently, reducing travel costs, modernizing the production and distribution of government publications, and standardizing government information technology to reduce costs. We are closing tax loopholes. We are improving compliance programs to reduce tax evasion.

  (1200)  

    These are some of the things that this book of 300-plus pages lays out for Canadians to hear and see. Again, it is a pleasure to speak to this budget, and we look forward to all support on this budget.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with fascination once again to the revisionist history that comes from the Conservative benches on what caused the global crisis. The Conservatives would purport that it was social programs in Europe that crushed the world economy when in fact it was the deregulation of the banking sector and irresponsible speculation in Ireland, Iceland and Goldman Sachs in the United States. That is the record. The fact that there was not clear regulation in place was what caused it. I find it disturbing that my colleague was attempting to claim that it was social programs in Europe that destroyed it. I see the continual attack on social programs in this country, which the current government is carrying out.
    My hon. colleague talks about the fact that the Conservatives are good fiscal managers. We just had the Auditor General's report in which he said that the current government has no ability to account for $3.1 billion in spending. When Jean Chrétien said he lost $1 million and it was no big deal, the Reform backbenchers went crazy on it. They were jumping up and down in their seats. Now they cannot account for $3.1 billion. There is no trust in this government among the Canadian public.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I think do not I see a quorum.
    Order, please. It would appear that there is quorum in the House.
    The hon. member for Crowfoot, with a response.

  (1205)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to see everyone rushing in to catch the tail end of this speech. I appreciate that.
    I was just going back through my notes again. If I left the hon. member with the impression that I am saying that Europe and the social programs were the cause for this recession, that is not what I said. I said that it was the issues in Europe and certainly in the United States, the housing markets and the banking industry. In fact, I went on and spoke about the sound banking that we have in this country, and that goes back years to other governments as well that laid out certain regulations for our banking industry. I certainly do not want to leave the member with the impression that I in any way said that it was social programs in Europe. I did not say that in my speech.
    However, I would like to speak on the other point that this member brought forward. The Auditor General was very clear. He went back 10 years on the books, looked and asked if this $3 billion was from this file or that file. The Auditor General was clear that there was no money missing. It was out of the terrorism file, and going back to the former Liberal government of 2001 when all of a sudden we were thrown into quick responses on the terrorism file. Some things maybe were taken out of other departments. However, the Auditor General said that no money is missing.
    Mr. Speaker, last week the government quietly tabled a report, and it was interesting where it stated that the government reduced the number of employees from 278,092 to 262,902 from March 31 to December 31 of last year. Of the more than 15,000 jobs that were eliminated, 8,000 were full-time indeterminate positions, a reduction of about 3%. The remaining roughly 7,000 positions that were eliminated were for students and casual, or term, employees, the report indicated. The document, an annual report by the Prime Minister on the public service, shows students and casual employees, often women and younger members of the workforce, took the biggest hit.
    My question for the member is in regard to providing services to Canadians; that on the one hand, the government puts a high priority on this sort of targeting, and then on the other hand, the Prime Minister feels it is necessary to increase the number of politicians in the House of Commons—
    Order, please.
    The hon. member for Crowfoot.
    Mr. Speaker, I am quite pleased to see that the public service is being reduced in some way. As much as we can do will be done through attrition. That is, it will be done through retirements. Some of the student layoffs and some of those things that the member makes reference to, although I have not seen the report, very well could be in temporary types of jobs as the employees are between college and another initiative.
    However, this budget would bring forward a Canadian job grant that would be remarkable for students. It would allow them to retain a skill where governments and businesses help with the funding. Students today are excited about this because the studies that they will be taking will prepare them for the market and for jobs. That is what they want above anything else.
    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to rise to speak against the budget before us, both on content and on process.
    Here we go again. We have a massive budget bill, over 100 pages, impacting innumerable statutes and bills that need to be debated in this House.
    My colleagues seem to find this funny. It is not about being able to read. I can assure them I have learned to read at a fairly fast pace and comprehend. It is about Canadians' rights to have the budget debated in this House for transparency and for discussion. It is about giving duly elected members of Parliament an opportunity to do their jobs as elected officials by providing debate and discussion, and asking questions. That is what is being denied once again in this House.
    On content, the budget does very little, if anything, to grow jobs for Canadians. It does even less to protect the jobs that exist for Canadians. It does very little to address the major challenges facing everyday Canadian families as they struggle to make ends meet.
    The Conservatives are trying to say that they can just rush through the bill, maybe because they really believe there is not much in the bill and they have a lot to hide. Maybe they are too scared to have Canadians look at the bill and know that there are no job creation measures, that there is nothing to make life more affordable and nothing to strengthen the services families rely on. Once again, the government is trying to avoid public scrutiny of the measures it is trying to ram through this House at breakneck speed.
    I also want to take the opportunity today to talk a little about an area that really impacts on immigration, citizenship and multiculturalism.
    First, the bill continues a pattern with which the government has made us all too familiar. It just keeps concentrating more and more power in the hands of the ministers so they do not have to come back into this House in a parliamentary democracy to have what they are trying to do examined in any way.
    The government has made a complete mess of the temporary foreign worker program. We have seen it over and over again in the media, whether it is HD Mining in B.C.; the backlog of the live-in caregiver program, which the minister himself addressed and is facing major problems and needs major overhaul; or the temporary foreign worker program that is currently under scrutiny because of the outsourcing of jobs at RBC. Despite all of that media attention on it, what actions has the government really taken?
    Canadians were doing jobs that workers were brought in to do, but Canadians were then asked, “By the way, before you leave, can you train these new workers?” Once again, Canadians are being denied Canadian jobs.
    Over the last two weeks, several individuals have contacted my office to tell the same story. They were brought to Canada as skilled workers, only to lose their jobs once they acquired permanent residency, or were let go just before they qualified to apply for permanent residency, and therefore a new batch of temporary foreign workers could be brought in.
    Over the last number of weeks we have heard again and again about staggering abuses. The accelerated labour market opinions, only ever meant for highly skilled workers, were used and abused in a way that once again shocked Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Intra-company transfers were an abuse of the system in a massive way. Where are the investigations for all of these and where are the fixes?

  (1210)  

    The government, by the way, has had an opportunity—no, several opportunities over several years—to fix the temporary foreign worker program. There was, again, an opportunity with this bill, but rather than actually fixing a program that is wrought with flaws, a program that desperately needs an entire overhaul to function and be administered properly, the Conservatives slap Band-Aids on the holes, but only once they are exposed.
    Faulty LMOs are being doled out. It is not a problem for the government. It simply gives the minister the power to suspend or revoke work permits that have already been handed out, but only if they are caught and there is public oversight. Once again, this is being done at the same time that the government is cutting funding to CIC and, therefore, limiting the kind of oversight that can be done over these files, over the granting of LMOs and the granting of the permits that go along with them.
    Rather than addressing the full scope of the problems with this program, the Conservatives' Band-Aid in this case is another ministerial override when work permits and labour market opinions that have already been approved by them—and this is post-approval, by the way—become political hot potatoes. It is all political expediency and a public relations exercise. This bill's improvements would not get to the heart of the mismanagement of the temporary foreign worker program under the Conservative government.
    Next, this bill introduces privilege fees to be set out in regulations for employers that apply for work permits. The minister has announced that this fee would be in addition to the new fees announced in budget 2013 for servicing TFW applications. The intention of the new fee, apparently, is to act as a disincentive for unnecessary use of the program. Of course, given the government's record to date, there is no assurance that these fees would not be passed on to the temporary foreign workers themselves and there is no measure anywhere cited to ensure that they would not be.
    The government is now trying to fix problems it created. The last time it tried to fix problems, it allowed employers to pay up to 15% less and, guess what, there was a massive denial of that in the House. Then, outside at a press conference, the minister said that program was gone. The ALMO, which was hastily implemented and then not administered, with very little oversight and abuse, was allowed to happen and has been suspended temporarily—and I would say it was allowed to happen because the ALMOs that were granted went way beyond the parameters that were set out for this particular program.
    Once again, I want to say that we in the NDP are not opposed to a temporary foreign worker program that addresses the legitimate needs of skills shortages and acute labour shortages where no Canadians are available to do the work. That is what we stand for and yet, instead of protecting Canadian jobs and addressing the abuses that are happening, the government is once again looking for band-aid solutions.
    Forgive my skepticism, but we learned only yesterday that the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development completely disregarded a briefing note that told her of almost 3,000 inappropriate uses of the TFW program almost a year ago. Just a few weeks ago ministers and parliamentary secretaries all feigned surprise and said they moved quickly as soon as they found out there was a problem. In the world I live in, over a year or year and a half of waiting does not indicate that they took action quickly.
    This bill would also deny due process to refugees, and I want to mention that. There are all kinds of fees that the minister would no longer have to come to the House to put into place. New Democrats have major concerns about the lack of transparency of the usage of those fees.

  (1215)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my hon. colleague, who knows this file on the temporary foreign workers so well.
    We have this myth with the Conservatives about the market: we will just let the market decide; it is basic economics, the law of supply and demand. That is until it does not quite work for their friends in the big industry. For example, if there is a labour shortage, wages rise and there is competition.
    However, what we have seen with the temporary foreign worker program is that the Conservatives have allowed 500,000 temporary foreign workers to be brought in to actually drive down wages and make it more difficult to have a competitive labour market.
    It is clearly unfair to Canadians, but it is also clearly unfair to the people who are being brought over and treated as disposable labour. They come over here, they are supposed to do the work and then they are shipped back. Canada is left in a deficit position both in terms of local people who are not being employed and in terms of immigrant families who could actually become part of Canada and buy houses and participate; they are being left out.
    I would like to ask my hon. colleague why she thinks it is that the government has allowed this program to actually undermine social development in our country.

  (1220)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind everyone in the House, especially my colleagues across the way, that Canada has a very proud history of having immigration policies that are all about nation building. This particular program, the temporary foreign worker program, actually undermines our position in the world and makes Canadians very uncomfortable, because of the way it is being administered and because of the abuses that are being allowed.
    If we have a legitimate need for ongoing workers, whether it is in Tim Hortons, in the meat-cutting plant in Alberta or on the east coast in the fisheries area, it is not temporary work. It is ongoing work, and if there are no Canadians available, that is where the immigration system needs to kick in.
    However, the government has made a boondoggle out of this program. It is being used and abused to favour its corporate friends to increase their profits.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to pick up on the temporary foreign worker program. It is a program that, in the past, has served our country exceptionally well. There are industries that have survived only because of having access to foreign workers.
    It is important for us to recognize that, over the last couple of decades, we have seen great benefits to our nation as a direct result of the temporary foreign worker program.
    Having said that, we do recognize that in the last couple of years, the government has really turned a blind eye to it. It has allowed the temporary foreign worker program to now exceed 330,000 foreign workers coming to Canada. Even during Canada's economic peak, we had roughly 160,000 foreign workers. There is an obvious imbalance.
    My question to the member is what she, or the New Democratic Party, believes is the optimum number of temporary foreign workers that Canada should be looking at. That is if she can put it down in terms of numbers.
    Mr. Speaker, this is not about a number. This is about a time when no Canadians are available for work, whether they are Canadian citizens or whether they have just arrived in Canada as permanent residents.
    With all due respect, I would like to mention that it was under the Liberal government that the numbers started to increase in the temporary foreign worker program. Some of these lax grantings of LMOs started during that period and that has now accelerated.
    I think that to ask for an arbitrary number is not to understand the fundamental reason why the program is in place and why it needs to exist. It only exists when we have genuine labour shortages, where Canadians are not available to do the work.
    There is no number; it should just be in response to those vacancies.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be participating in the debate today on the budget implementation bill.
    The success of a nation is due to the manner in which society values its workers, its innovators and the way it allows everyone the opportunity to succeed and improve their lives through hard work and ingenuity. This is supported in a recent book, Why Nations Fail, by Daron Acemoglu from MIT and James Robinson of Harvard University.
    Why Nations Fail provides a historical study of civilizations that have succeeded and failed and determines that civilizations have fallen or thrived based on, above all else, their political institutions. Governments thrived when they provided the rule of law, secure property rights and a strong independent judiciary. Good government prevents any elite from extracting the wealth out of a country for themselves and spreads opportunity around.
    Geography, culture and resources, all gifts that Canada has in abundance, take a back seat to good government that is responsive and accountable to its citizens in this manner. When money can travel over wireless networks in a split second and investors from anywhere in the world can invest anywhere else in the world within a matter of minutes, people will invest in a nation that will secure their investments and grow them with minimal risk. The people of those nations benefit with jobs and opportunities, as Canadians do.
    Canada's economic action plan for 2013 is part of an economic process. It is in its seventh year. It began in 2006, from our Minister of Finance and Prime Minister. It prioritizes stability, prudent fiscal management and careful stewardship of our economy, something that most of Europe and the U.S. are struggling toward.
    How is Canada doing? Most Canadians know these facts. Canada has had the most stable and sound financial system in the world for five years straight. Canada is the number one place in the world to do business. Canada has the highest possible credit rating from the three major rating agencies. We are in the best fiscal position of any of the G7 countries. We have the lowest government net debt to GDP ratio in the G7. During the recent recession Canada did not have to bail out a single bank. By 2015 we will have a balanced budget without putting our hands in the pockets of taxpayers and business owners for new taxes.
    However, what some members of the House do not understand is that none of this happened by accident. This was achieved by good management and tough decisions. Let me give a few examples.
    Back in 2006, when the U.S. government allowed risky mortgages that covered the entire value of the house, plus in some cases even the furniture, our government tightened up the mortgage rules, asking for higher credit ratings and stopping the 40-year terms the banks were pitching. This helped save Canada from a U.S.-style housing crisis. Despite our deficit, created to fight the 2008 recession, and the difficult task of limiting spending now to balance our national budget, just last year the NDP and Liberals wanted to send billions of our tax dollars to Europe to bail out governments that have not made the tough decisions we are making. We said, “No way”.
    We would never consider the NDP plan to grab $60 billion out of the pockets of business owners, shareholders and workers, although personal debt is at an all-time high. Given the chance, that plan would include a death tax on the wealthy, promoted by the NDP academic branch at the Broadbent Institute. Of course, the definition of wealthy would be anyone who had perhaps $50,000 a year after they die, which is about the cost of a parking space at a condo in downtown Toronto.
    Democracy is sharing power. Sound economics and strong institutions support that sharing and ensure the security of all Canadians, not just the wealthy. That is why those who are not wealthy are often the first to support Conservative budgets. In bad times the wealthy do all right, but those who are not wealthy are at the risk of losing everything. They have the most to lose when governments overspend for decades and go bankrupt. They are the ones who line up at the EI office. A good budget must balance the interests of all citizens, while not confiscating the earnings of entrepreneurs.
    Where democracies get into financial trouble is when the public sector grows out of control and confiscates more than the private sector can afford to pay. Bill C-60 would implement a budget process that would reduce the size and cost of government, to be affordable. The budget would reduce full-time equivalents by attrition and eliminating positions and would reduce spending by another $600 million a year. The budget would be balanced by 2015.
    On the other side of the floor, there are a lot of members who believe in their heart of hearts that governments exist to decide who gets what. They want to be the ones who write the rules for everyone else to divvy up the pie. They actually think that governing is like contract bargaining. What they do not understand is where wealth comes from. That is our focus. We cut it down, dig it up, manufacture it, reap it from the soil, add value through trade, and we must do it all better through innovation. The budget would help entrepreneurs and businesses that take risks and innovate to create wealth and new jobs for others.
    There is something else they do not get. This is a free country, and when taxes get too high people and businesses leave.

  (1225)  

    I have seen this happen when the NDP, under the leadership of the then member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale, was in power as the NDP premier. The taxes in Ontario became the highest in North America: businesses left in droves; unemployment skyrocketed; government revenues crashed; and government debt more than doubled, from $38 billion to almost $100 billion. Ontario was essentially bankrupt.
    As Dr. Phil says: “How's that working for them in Europe today?” Well, how about Greece with 27% unemployment, or Cyprus where bank deposits are being confiscated, or Portugal where the unemployment rate has reached 17%? It is no surprise that these countries are not prospering.
    In Canada, we offer a vast land of opportunity which supports and rewards hard work while protecting people's human and property rights. This government values that above all else.
    Budgets must be realistic and express tough decisions made for the long-term success of our country. This budget is building a foundation and structure for a secure future for our children and grandchildren. It closes tax loopholes for tax fairness and improves the integrity of the tax system. It supports innovation and research, and it is a commitment to Canadians that their economy is on the right track. Its success is founded on two major platforms: the first is paying down the debt on time and without excuses; and the second is strategic investment in growth and innovation.
    The year 2013 began with a welcome announcement in my riding of Oakville when our Prime Minister visited Canada's largest Ford plant, the Oakville assembly plant, on January 6. The Prime Minister was there to announce an investment of $250 million in the automotive innovation fund to 1,000 CAW folks who build these high-quality low-emission cars. The fund is for auto industry firms undertaking large-scale research and development projects that are focused on innovative, greener and more fuel efficient vehicles. The fund is working.
    The money invested in Ford's Windsor engine plant originally created 450 full-time jobs, but since then it has grown to 600 full-time jobs. What is more impressive is that there are 3,000 people working at the Oakville assembly plant who now work full-time as a result of investments made by this government in 2006.
    Other projects supported by the AIF include Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada's project green light, which includes the production of the RAV4 electric vehicle at Toyota's plant in Woodstock; Magna International's development of clean vehicle technologies, including energy-efficient components and innovative powertrain parts for next-generation vehicles; and construction of a new Toyota blended assembly line that will permit the simultaneous production of both the current Lexus model and the hybrid model.
    Perhaps our single biggest problem at this point in our history is addressed in this budget. With hundreds of thousands of Canadians hitting retirement age in the next few years and the emergence of the knowledge economy, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce says that without action we could have over 500,000 unskilled workers who will not be able to find work by 2016. Without action in this budget, there could be over one million skilled job vacancies by 2016. The former president of Seneca College, Rick Miner, summarizes the problem in the title of his report, “People without Jobs, Jobs without People”.
    The most significant contribution of this budget is perhaps the creation of the Canada job grant, which could provide $15,000 or more per person, with matching funds to match people with jobs. This fund will help up to 130,000 Canadians with access to training for the jobs that are available. This will be at community colleges, career colleges and trade union training centres.
    This budget and our previous budget have demonstrated that Prime Minister Harper and our Minister of Finance are building our nation to heights we have never seen before—

  (1230)  

    I will remind the member not to refer to any members of the chamber, including the Prime Minister, by their given name.
    This budget and our previous budget have demonstrated that the Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance are building our nation to heights we have never seen before. Canada is a place where immigrants and investors want to be. We have every reason to be optimistic about our future. I will gladly support this budget and the great economic stewardship of our government.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Oakville for his speech. However, the thing that is missing in this budget is real job creation. When the Conservatives took over in 2006, there were one-quarter million fewer unemployed individuals in Canada than there are today, which speaks to the Conservatives' record. There are one-quarter million people who are now unemployed who were not unemployed in 2006. At the same time, we have one-quarter million more temporary foreign workers.
     Members can do the math, and it is very simple. The temporary foreign worker program has been increased by the government over the course of its being, which has had a direct impact on the number of people who are unemployed in this country. However, the Conservative government has done nothing about it.
     I would like the member to comment on what it is that the government is going to do to correct those numbers and bring more people to more jobs in Canada in a way that is actually going to work. We have heard it all before, and it is not working now.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know where the member opposite has been for the last few months, but since the end of the recession this government is responsible for the creation of 950,000 net new jobs, most of which are full time.
    In addition, it seems the member has totally missed what happened in 2008. I do not know where he was in 2008, but we were here dealing with the most serious recession since the 1930s. This government got this country through that recession. We purposely created a deficit through Canada's economic action plan, and now that the recession is over we are balancing the books.
    With specific regard to the member's question on this budget on job creation, in talking about the future and the need for infrastructure in our communities, the roads, bridges and transitways that our children and grandchildren will need, in budget 2013 we have pledged over $53 billion over 10 years for a new building Canada plan. It is long-term predictable funding that represents the largest and longest federal infrastructure investment in Canadian history.

  (1235)  

    Mr. Speaker, I give the member credit for sticking to the PMO notes. To what degree the member might even believe some of what he is saying is truly amazing.
    When the Conservatives took over the government reigns, the reality was that they had a huge budget surplus. Even prior to the recession taking place, they turned that surplus into a deficit. They had to be brought kicking and screaming by the Liberal Party, who was the official opposition at the time, to provide an economic action plan to keep people employed in this country.
    Now when the government members talk about having a balanced budget, members will notice they refer to 2015-16, which is post the next federal election. The Conservative government has never had a balanced budget in the last 100 years. The member should know that.
    My question to the member is this. Can he clearly and definitely tell this House when the last time was that the Conservatives, the Progressive Conservatives or the Reform Party in Ottawa have presented a balanced budget to this House.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question, but I am not so grateful for his fictitious preamble.
    I believe the last time this government balanced the budget was in 2007. However, prior to the recession, which the member might remember started in 2008, this government had a surplus which it reinvested by paying down debt. That is what we promised to do. That is why the voters made us the government. We paid down over $30 billion of debt, which is what we are supposed to do.
    When there is a recession, government money is invested to help people stay working. However, when there is a surplus, the government is supposed to pay down debt. That is acceptable fundamental economics. That is exactly what we did. We will not apologize for lowering taxes on Canadian families and putting more money into their pockets once the budget was balanced.
    Mr. Speaker, I am almost sad to get up. I was enjoying the Conservatives and the Liberals going at it on the issue of economics when they should be embracing each other because they both practice the same austerity economics.
    Before I start on the issue of Bill C-60, I do want to wish Marg Reilly a very happy birthday. Marg is a constituent of mine. It is a milestone birthday for her, and she is a person worthy of great celebration. Happy Birthday, Marg.
    Today we are talking about Bill C-60, the budget implementation act. It is the final of five days of debate on the matter, owing to another Conservative time allocation motion, which is a new record for such motions. I dare suggest that there will be more such motions. There seems to be some kind of narcotic effect to these time allocation motions for those guys. It also, perhaps, is just the arrogance of power.
    In his defence of the Conservative time allocation motion, the Minister of State for Finance described this legislation as “the blueprint of our government's mandate moving forward”. He “felt” that five days was more than enough time to debate the bill. As it turns out, what we have before us is another omnibus bill. It is certainly shorter than its predecessor, but still it involves amendments to nearly 50 pieces of legislation, and even introduces new legislation. That means that on average we have less than one hour of debate for each legislative change or legislative invention included under the bill.
    Who would have imagined that those so-called champions of transparency and accountability, these parliamentary reformers who sit on the government side, would have ever stood in this place to justify such a limited level of scrutiny—on budget implementation, no less—for parliamentarians, much less to justify it on the basis of what they felt was appropriate, that those reformers would privilege their feelings over the traditions, institutions and processes of governing and government in Canada? It is most certainly a form of tyranny.
    This is not simply an issue of process or principle, as those members like to portray it. This is about a government that is failing to do its best for this country and its citizens, a government that has deliberately set a target below the potential of Canada and its citizens. Never mind excellence, never mind maximization, never mind over-achieving, the Conservative government aspires to under-achievement, to less than what is possible, to less than our potential.
    This is the recurring narrative in the April 29 economic and fiscal outlook produced by the Parliamentary Budget Office. I want to quote a bit at length here:
    PBO projects real GDP growth in Canada to slow to 1.5 per cent in 2013 and remain below its potential growth rate until 2015. Combined with the sluggish recovery in the global economy, government spending restraint will act as an additional drag on growth and job creation. The projected weakness in growth keeps the economy well below its potential GDP through 2015 and as a result the unemployment rate remains relatively stable, averaging 7.3 per cent over 2013 to 2015.
    It goes on to talk about employment in Canada being below its potential. That is on page 10, if anybody wants to reference that. It say that employment and “average weekly hours” for Canadian workers are below potential. That is on page 11. “Labour productivity” is below, which is, again, on page 11. Gross domestic product is “below potential”, on page 11 again.
    How is all of this happening? Quite curiously, it is happening by design. As the economic and fiscal outlook says, “Over the period 2013 to 2017, PBO estimates that the net impact of [economic action plan] 2013 measures and revisions to spending levels on real GDP and employment is contractionary”. It is 67,000 jobs worth of contractionary, according to the report, which is a .57% reduction in GDP.

  (1240)  

    The PBO explains that does not mean that employment levels will be 67,000 jobs shy of where we are today. That is fair enough. The report explains it in these terms:
    Rather, it means that, in the absence of these measures and revisions to spending levels, projected employment would be higher by 67,000 jobs, all else being equal.
    The action in the government's economic action plan is:
...pushing the economy further away from its potential GDP and delaying the economic recovery.
    This is worthy of the House's time for extensive debate. I want to know, and Canadians will want to know, why the deliberate path of action chosen by of the current government is to push the economy further away from its potential.
    What is particularly perplexing is that the budget comes in the context of a Canada that is already so far shy of its potential.
    The government has presided over a $67 billion trade deficit that is expected to worsen in the year ahead. That is thousands of jobs and billions of dollars leaving this country and going overseas to enrich others.
    There are still almost 1.4 million Canadians out of work. There are 240,000 more young people unemployed today than before the recession.
    Closer to my home, in Toronto, in my riding of Beaches—East York, I would note a recent report by the United Way and McMaster University showing that nearly 50% of jobs in southwestern Ontario are precarious jobs. A recent report by the Metcalf Foundation shows that the number of working poor is growing in the greater Toronto area. Reports by the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto show the continuing income polarization in our cities, particularly in Toronto, and extrapolate current trends to show a city with a completely hollowed-out middle class.
    To be fair, this trend has carried through successive Liberal and Conservative governments, so we cannot blame it all on the guys on the other side.
    The only employment numbers growing by a significant measure are for temporary foreign workers, spurred on by the government's inducement of paying significantly lower wages than for Canadian workers.
    It is in this context that the government sees it wise to hit the brakes on the economy to constrain economic growth.
    This is a set of circumstances that calls for a different kind of action, action that would put Canadians and Canadian cities, which are after all the engines of economic growth in a modern economy, to work—to begin at long last to undo the constraints on our economy, to realize the potential of our country and to make a more equally shared prosperity a goal for this country.
    Let us look for a moment at the issue of infrastructure. Here is an economic opportunity that the government has failed to grasp.
    By many accounts, the infrastructure deficit in this country is well north of $150 billion, and it continues to grow. We need to see this problem addressed, and soon. “A penny now or a dollar later”, as the 2012 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card puts it, meaning the cost of delaying needed repairs could cost us vastly larger sums down the road, yet over the next four years, federal infrastructure funding will be $4.7 billion lower than it was last year, despite some creative advertising by the Conservative government.
    This so-called new infrastructure funding announced in budget 2013 includes funding from older, delayed projects. There is $6 billion worth announced in this new economic action plan that is masquerading as new money when it is actually existing funds that had been committed back in 2007.
    This is a budget that would provide no relief for urban congestion in Canadian cities. Owing to successive uninterested Liberal and Conservative governments, the public transit system in Toronto has not grown in any meaningful way since 1980.
    In conclusion, what the government needs to explain to Canadians is how it dares to occupy those benches over there when it puts forward a plan that would shrink this country rather than grow it, when it puts forward a plan that would take jobs from Canadians rather than create jobs for them, when it aspires to less than what we are capable of as a country.
     How does the government explain that to the youth of this country who have their futures in front of them? How does it explain it to the seniors of this country, who left what they had built up in our hands not so that we could take it down, but so that we could continue to build upon it?

  (1245)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting but somewhat troubling to hear members of the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party stand up, speaker after speaker, with an incredibly negative attitude. They can find nothing right with our budget and nothing right with our budget implementation bill. That is very disturbing, because they are totally out of touch with Canadians. In fact, our budget was extremely well received by Canadians, and our economic action plan has allowed business across this country to create 950,000 new jobs since the recession ended. That is an incredible record, yet opposition members are nothing but negative.
    I ask the member if he could maybe find one thing from our budget, one thing covered in the budget implement bill, that he thinks is right with this budget? If he cannot, could he explain why he is so out of touch with how Canadians feel about this budget and this budget implementation bill?
    Mr. Speaker, if the government did its budgeting right, then we could find something right with the budget. However, as it is, what I would suggest to the member, as we have suggested to the government side, is to divide the bill up and stop playing this game of putting everything into an omnibus bill—50 pieces of legislation, new legislation, amendments to legislation—and standing up day after day saying we disagree with it all. It is because it is all piled into one toxic budget bill.
    Let us divide it up and then let us be truthful about the facts. Conservatives talk about 950,000 net new jobs; since 2008, immigration in this country has accounted for at least one million new Canadians, so how does the government talk about net new jobs that cannot even keep up with the immigration rate since the recession?

  (1250)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Beaches—East York for a really quite eloquent speech in assessing this budget. I think he would probably agree with me that there are many things in the budget that are actually good, including first-time incentives for charitable giving and a small but certainly welcome amount of funding to CNIB. Overall, however, I think his analysis is exactly correct.
    I want to ask the member if he finds it surprising that the government would boast about programs that it has cancelled. The environment section of the budget talks about the very successful home energy retrofit program, which no longer exists. I wonder if the member would agree with me that the budget would be much improved if that program were resurrected.
    Mr. Speaker, certainly the budget would be improved and our environment would be much improved if that program still existed.
    One of the curious things about that program is that when the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources justified ending that program, they did so by trumpeting its great success and the many jobs it created, so there is no rationale for cancelling that job program.
    In fact, it becomes an extremely important program for a city like Toronto. One of the curious things about the city that I live in, because of its particular built form, is that over 60% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from heating and cooling the built environment, so a program like the eco-energy program became a critical part of dealing with climate change and with greenhouse gas emissions in a city like Toronto.
    I know my constituents very much regret the decision of the government to cancel that program, not only because of the improvements it brought to their own properties and because of their concern about the environment but also because of the great job potential that the program had.
    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to stand and speak to our budget implementation bill today.
     I want to express from the start how disappointed I am that the opposition, for some reason, cannot find something good about our budget and our budget implementation bill when Canadians have really supported our budget with open arms and very positive endorsements from third parties of all types, including business and union leaders and so on.
     However, the opposition members just cannot find it in themselves to say that there is a lot about this budget and this budget implementation bill that is good. That is very disappointing.
    They also complain about any program that has been ended by the government since we came to office. The reality is that many of these programs were put in place by previous governments to help meet a policy objective of that previous government. In many cases, that policy objective no longer exists, so why should the program continue indefinitely?
    One of those programs the opposition is complaining about was actually put in place 100 years ago. To me, the policy objective made a lot of sense 100 years ago.
    The program was the shelterbelt program. That was in the last budget, just as an example. That program was put in place almost 100 years ago to help protect our prairie soil from wind and water erosion, and it was a good program at the time.
    However, I suppose many members do not recognize that in the 1980s farmers started direct seeding crops, so this erosion that the shelterbelt program was put in place to protect against simply no longer exists because the soil is not tilled as it used to be and we do not have summer fallow as we used to have. The problem that the program was put in place to solve simply does not exist now, yet the opposition members complain about our government ending even this 100-year-old program that no longer meets a policy objective.
    I am going to guess what they would do, and that would be to just have these programs built one on top of another until we would be so far in debt that we simply could not balance the budget in this country and we ended up in the same kind of mess that our neighbours to the south are in.
    To me, that is not an acceptable route to take. Our government has committed to balancing the budget by 2015. That is an objective I want to support, even if they do not, and it is an objective that is certainly supported by my constituents.
    The opposition cannot find a thing right about the policies being implemented in this budget implementation bill. I want to run some examples by the House. It will be kind of a disjointed presentation here dealing with different issues.
    The first issue is the adoption expense tax credit. This was put in place to better recognize that adoptive parents incur costs prior to being matched with a child. A lot of expense goes into that process.
    I know that some of my colleagues have adopted children, and they understand this issue very well. There are probably some members on the other side who have adopted children, and they know the costs that go into the process even before the adoptive parents are actually matched with a child.
    My niece and her husband tried to adopt children for 10 years, and they just could not do it. They tried a lot of things to make this happen. They have incurred a lot of expenses. What they wanted was a child; they desperately wanted a child. They commented to me on several occasions that the costs are really incredible and that they would appreciate anything that could be done to help them deal with that a little.
    They have been blessed. Just a couple of years ago they completed the adoption of their little girl, and currently they have a little boy and are hoping to be able to keep the little boy and adopt him. To them this is important, yet the New Democratic MPs cannot find it in their hearts to say that it is good thing. With the Liberals, it is the same.
    What has the leader of the Liberal Party said on this? He has not made a comment on it at all, either on that or on any other policy issue. The leader of the Liberal Party is not in the picture at all.

  (1255)  

    What else do we have in this budget that would be implemented in this act? There is the mineral exploration tax credit for flow-through shares. NDP members in particular receive a lot of funding from unions, and that is not voluntary. Union members are given no choice. They are forced to pay memberships, and the unions decide whether that money goes to a particular political party. I know that the Conservative members get a lot of support from union members, but it does not come through unions.
    NDP members always claim that they are standing up for union members, yet they have not said a good thing at all about this mineral exploration tax credit that would encourage exploration and the development of new mines and that type of thing. That means jobs, and a lot of new union jobs, but can they find it in their hearts to speak on behalf of their union members and say that it makes sense because it would mean a lot of new jobs for union members? No, they cannot.
    What has the leader of the Liberal Party said about that? Actually, he has said nothing about that or about any other policy issue I have heard about. He is too busy raising money for the Liberal Party, instead of being here in the House of Commons doing his job. He had one of the worst records in the House of Commons—
    Order, please. The hon. member for Malpeque is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, members are not supposed to suggest whether people are here or not here in this place. That member is insinuating that the leader of the Liberal Party is not here. He is doing good work meeting Canadians across the country, which that Prime Minister
    Order, please. The member for Malpeque is correct that members ought not to reference who is or is not in the chamber.
     The hon. member for Vegreville—Wainwright.
    Mr. Speaker, I understand that very well. I was not commenting on whether he was here now. I was just saying that in the past, he has been gone an awful lot.
    Another thing this budget implementation bill would deal with is the accelerated capital cost allowance for manufacturing processing machinery and equipment. Again, the opposition parties always claim that they are standing up for union members and unions. Yet they cannot find it in their hearts to say that they support that accelerated capital cost allowance, which would encourage manufacturers to expand, build new plants and create new jobs here in Canada. They just cannot find it in their hearts to say that what the government is doing makes a lot of sense, that it is good for their union members and that they are going to support it. They will not do it. They just cannot be anything but negative. That is what I have heard from the NDP: negative, negative, negative. I get tired of it day after day. It is the same with the Liberals, those of them who are, in fact, here in the House.
    Another issue is the additional deduction for credit unions. I have heard one particular member in the Liberal Party, who is a big supporter of co-ops. Lots of members in our caucus are big supporters of co-ops. Probably even some New Democrats are big supporters of co-ops. We hear our members talking about the positive aspects of the additional deduction for credit unions in this budget implementation act. Credit unions, of course, already qualify for the Canadian preferential income tax rate on the first $500,000 per year of qualifying business income. This would go beyond that, for credit unions in particular. The members claim to be big supporters of co-ops, but what do we hear from them on that issue here in the House of Commons? They are nothing but negative. They cannot find it in their hearts to say that carrying on that credit union special tax exemption is something they can support, because it is good for co-ops, good for their union members and good for the country. They just will not do that.
    I just got started. There is a long list of items we would implement in this budget implementation bill that I know their constituents support. Their constituents support it, yet the opposition members cannot find it in their hearts to support their constituents. If they cannot support government or the good things we are doing, at least they should support their constituents. They are not doing that. They are failing them, and they should be ashamed. I encourage them to change their direction and start supporting the good things the government is doing.

  (1300)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to what the member opposite was saying. I must say that I am upset by this government's approach to things.
    We know that this bill is not unlike last year's omnibus bills, C-38 and C-45. We know that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance tabled a notice of motion at the Standing Committee on Finance in order to give committee members just five meetings to complete consideration of Bill C-60 and to ensure that clause-by-clause review of the bill is completed by May 27, which is just eight sitting days after the time allocation motion forces passage of the bill at second reading.
    Does the hon. member think that five committee meetings will allow enough time to study this bill properly?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am sure that the member knows that there are going to be different committees, which is my understanding, looking at different parts of this implementation bill. Certainly every member of Parliament has had the chance to read it, study it and be ready for the committee meetings. If they do that, they have ample time. I have not heard them propose better options for any of the things in this budget implementation bill.
    She complains that it is an omnibus bill. Budget bills are always omnibus bills. They deal with a lot of different issues. The last budget dealt with hundreds of different issues. Are we supposed to divide them and deal with each one separately at committee? No. Budget implementation bills are omnibus bills. They implement a budget, which is an omnibus bill. I do not think there is any other way of doing it realistically. We would be trying to implement last year's budget for the next 10 years, quite frankly, if we did it that way.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Vegreville—Wainwright was a little off base when he said that the leader of the Liberal Party has not said anything about this budget. Maybe the member for Vegreville—Wainwright has not been listening. I do not know.
    Every day that the leader of the Liberal Party has asked questions in the House, he has talked about the middle class. He has talked about the damage the Conservative Party is doing, through this budget and other measures, to the middle class in this country. He has said things such as that $550 million annually is coming out of the small business sector, which supports the middle class and is, indeed, the middle class. There is a $600-million payroll tax hike in this budget, which is hurting the middle class. The member may have slapped aside the leader of the Liberal Party, but he is absolutely wrong. The leader of the Liberal Party is standing up for the middle class.
    The member said quite often that we should find it in our hearts. Once when I was in London, England, I came out of a facility and a guy asked if I could find it in my heart to lend him a copper. Could the member find it in his heart to support the middle class?

  (1305)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member for Malpeque is defending the leader of his party. There is a lot to defend, and I commend him for that. That is his job, quite frankly.
    I was talking about the particular issues, which make up almost all of the budget, that his leader, quite frankly, has not commented on at all. He probably will not. As I say, he is too busy raising money to try to replenish the Liberal coffers. That is part of his job too, but he should be here in the House of Commons at least a good part of the time the House is sitting. He is simply not. I do not think the member will defend his leader for that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, hon. members, allow me to digress for a moment before getting to the heart of the matter.
    The new leader of the Liberal Party knows nothing about the middle class. He does not know what it is like to lose his job or to have to wait for employment insurance benefits. He does not know the problems that come with receiving an unexpected bill. He cannot understand the difficulties the middle class experiences.
    As with the last two budget implementation bills, the NDP opposes Bill C-60 for its content and for the process. I will use my time to explain why.
    The austerity measures of the past few years, both in North America and in Europe, have not produced the desired economic results, to say the least. Just recently, the staunchest supporters of austerity measures had to acknowledge two mistakes that had been made. Our Conservative friends do not seem to be aware of them or do not understand their implications.
    Last October, the International Monetary Fund—the IMF—acknowledged that it had made a calculation error in assessing the impact of those austerity measures, particularly in the southern European countries. What was the error? Simply that it used a fiscal multiplier estimated at a 0.5% drop in GDP. This was seriously underestimated, not a little, but a lot: nearly three times that ratio.
     What the IMF is admitting is that the negative factor was not 0.5, it was actually between 0.9 and 1.7. In simple terms, that means that a one-point cutback in public spending did not result in just a 0.5-point drop in GDP, but a drop of between 0.9 and 1.7 points. Understandably, that revelation has caused considerable discomfort in Europe.
     There is every reason to think that the real reason for that discomfort is ideological. Yes indeed. Greece was used as a testing ground out of which only one of the two theories of the cosmos would emerge victorious: Keynesian interventionism versus the liberalism of Friedman, which, like our colleagues opposite, hopes to see the state disappear, or at least be reduced to a minimum. The mastermind behind this operation knew all along that it would lead to the irrevocable and permanent disappearance of Keynes’s legacy, since it would prove that austerity and nothing but austerity would lead to growth. Small mistake. It is exactly that belief that is shared by our ideologue colleagues opposite.
     The IMF experiment turned into a fiasco, a huge fiasco. In Europe, it is responsible for 4,000 suicides, the impoverishment of 3.5 million people and a two-year drop in life expectancy. It is also responsible for an unemployment rate that is beyond comprehension, an explosion in the number of elective abortions, abandoned infants, the dismantling of human lives and families, homeless people in numbers that are out of control, because of the ongoing destruction of the middle class—yes, that is right, we are talking about the middle class—and the intolerable spectacle of Greeks, in the 21st century, hunting through garbage to find something to eat. Those are the horrors of austerity.
     Europe seems to be suffering the terrible consequences of a mistaken estimate, in view of the negative growth rates, approaching zero, experienced in recent years and exploding debt followed by unemployment rates that just keep going up.
     The International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, Olivier Blanchard, has in fact said that economic activity is so weak in Europe that all governments that are still able should do nothing that risks shrinking their social safety net.
     Is a shrinking social safety net not what we are seeing in Canada with the planned cuts to employment insurance?
    I would like to talk about the second economic error that was recently acknowledged by staunch supporters of austerity measures. Reinhart and Rogoff, two economists at Harvard University, asserted that a country's economic growth slowed when its debt exceeded 80% of GDP. The Conservatives, who abhor deficits, are panicking.
    This false economic assumption was used by far too many supporters of fiscal restraint. Numerous countries relied on this study, which was exploited for political purposes, and took the same stance on fiscal restraint, with serious consequences: civil servants' salaries were frozen, there was structural reform, taxes were raised and so on. That is exactly what the Conservatives are proposing with Bill C-60.

  (1310)  

    On April 17, the attention of economists around the world was focused on a discovery made by Thomas Herndon, a young economist at the University of Massachusetts. With the help of his professors, he recalculated the famous Rogoff and Reinhart numbers. They realized that when debt exceeded 90% of GDP, average growth was not -0.1%, it was 2%. The reason for this difference is that Rogoff and Reinhart do not seem to have included a number of countries in their calculations. They excluded Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Belgium between 1946 and 1950. Their calculations were inaccurate, and the premise that growth stagnates when debt exceeds 90% of GDP is false. Herndon's study proves that.
     What does all that mean for Canada? Despite these proven errors, despite the warnings of the International Monetary Fund and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the Conservative government is sticking to austerity measures by introducing Bill C-60. In a 32-page paper published by his office, the Parliamentary Budget Officer calculated that the Conservative government's 2013 budget will have a net negative impact on the labour market over three years. Employment will fall by 8,000 jobs in 2015, 14,000 in 2016 and 10,000 in 2017. The net impact of the budget-cutting measures that the Conservative government has taken since 2012 will amount to a loss of more than 67,000 jobs in 2017.
     The Conservatives, who like to boast of their job creation record, are living in an ideological bubble. In the meantime, 1.5 million Canadians are out of work and we now have 240,000 more unemployed youth than before the recession. Despite that fact, the only measure in Bill C-60 that will create jobs is the addition of new cabinet ministers.
     The Parliamentary Budget Officer has clearly stated that the Conservatives' savage cuts announced in budget 2013 are not necessary to restore a structural budget surplus. On the contrary, combined with the anemic global economic recovery, the austerity measures imposed by the Harper government will further slow economic growth and job creation.
     Budget 2013 could lower—

  (1315)  

[English]

    Order, please. Once again I remind the member not to refer to his colleagues by their given names.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I apologize for referring to the Prime Minister by his surname. I withdraw that remark.
     Budget 2013 could lower economic growth by 0.12% and eliminate thousands of jobs, reduce direct program spending and slow growth in gross domestic product. Bear in mind that this year's budget will extend $5.2 billion in cuts every year until we achieve the alleged zero deficit. Whatever the Conservatives may say, this budget, like the other austerity budgets previously introduced, will slow rather than stimulate Canada's economy.
     Why then move so quickly toward eliminating the deficit, despite the International Monetary Fund's urging to calm down, reflect, and rely on something other than known errors of economic theory?
     In fact, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's calculations, the government will achieve an even larger surplus than planned of $3.7 billion in 2015-16, when Canadians will go to the polls. Is that the reason for these reductions and cuts, the possibility that the government may have $3.7 billion in hand before the election to invest at the appropriate time for strictly political purposes?
     My colleague Peggy Nash recently mentioned this. In Bill C-60, the Harper government is doing nothing to support—
    Order, please. The use of members' surnames is prohibited.
    You have 15 seconds.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to use those 15 seconds to withdraw that remark and to underscore the excellent work done by the official opposition's finance critic.
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my hon. colleague on his excellent speech, which contained a great deal of information and was very well thought out, written and delivered.
    The Conservative member who spoke before him said that NDP members are always so negative, that we think there is absolutely nothing good about this budget, that we cannot find any good measures in it. From my perspective, and that of my constituents, this budget is very hard to support. It amends nearly 50 pieces of legislation, and unfortunately, we are under a gag order and will have only five committee meetings to examine this budget implementation bill. The Conservatives' way of doing things is extremely problematic.
    I would like to hear my colleague's comments on this, as well as what his constituents think of these measures.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.
    The Conservatives' approach, which consists of using omnibus bills to amend 50, 60 or even 70 acts, makes it impossible for us to single out any measures and give our consent for specific measures. Then, as we have seen over the past two years, we come back to the House for question period and the Conservatives keep saying that we voted against this or that measure. That is not true. I am confident that those watching us at home see what is really going on.
    We did not vote against this or that measure. We voted against the fact that some measures, which taken individually could be beneficial, have been grouped with others to try to make us swallow a bitter pill with a spoonful of honey.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, an important issue for many Canadians is assisting young people to not get involved in gangs. I know it is a huge issue in certain areas of our country, Winnipeg being one of them. What we are looking for is a government that uses a proactive approach by providing other opportunities to those individuals who are at high risk of getting involved in gang activities. We would like to see the government include in a budget document some strong, clear direction as to how it plans to deal with the issue of gangs.
     Over the last number of years in Winnipeg, gang memberships have skyrocketed to well into the thousands from the low hundreds in the late nineties. This is an issue that continues to be of great concern. I wonder if the member would provide some comment with respect to the role of government allocating resources in order to fight crime by looking at some of the causes of crime.

  (1320)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right. Providing job opportunities is the most effective way to fight youth crime and all forms of criminal behaviour. It is a proven fact: when people are working and can pay their bills and save up some money, they are less likely to turn to illegal activities.
    As for youth, indeed, employment integration measures targeting young people in particular are the best solution to the problem of crime and violent crime.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to rise today to speak to Bill C-60, the first budget implementation act of 2013.
    Economic action plan 2013 is an outstanding budget that responds to the needs of Canadians. It delivers on the priorities that matter to my constituents in Richmond Hill: jobs, a stable economy, low taxes, support for infrastructure, help for the most vulnerable, and investments in science and innovation to build the jobs of the future.
    In my time allowed today I will highlight just a few of the ways in which economic action plan 2013 would benefit communities, families and job creators.
    During my pre-budget consultations in Richmond Hill, I heard loud and clear from many constituents, local businesses, the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce and many others about how essential the gas tax fund has become. It is a source of predictable, stable, long-term funding to municipalities that helps build and revitalize public infrastructure while achieving positive environmental results. This Conservative government under the leadership of the right hon. Prime Minister doubled the gas tax fund in 2009. It was also this government that put legislation in place through economic action plan 2011 to make these funds permanent. This is not a small amount. The gas tax fund is a direct annual investment of $2 billion delivered directly to municipalities across our great country.
    In my riding, the town of Richmond Hill, this important government initiative adds $5 million each and every year to its coffers. Since we doubled the fund in 2009 that means about $20 million has helped build essential infrastructure in the town of Richmond Hill. Let me give the House a few examples: $435,000 in gas tax funds provided the energy-efficient upgrades for our rehabilitated Bond Lake Arena in addition to federal recreational infrastructure contributions of $712,000, which allowed residents in Oak Ridges and the surrounding area to continue using this important community facility; $200,000 in gas tax funds was used to install a geothermal heating and cooling system at the Richmond Hill Theatre for the Performing Arts, saving thousands of dollars in operating costs; and $1.1 million in gas tax funds went toward the rehabilitation of the aging Pioneer Park stormwater facility. Approximately 700 hectares of land, including many new neighbourhoods, are now protected from erosion and flooding.
    Millions of dollars have been used to support a collection of energy-efficient projects. These include: a solar heating and snow melting system at the Shaw House in Phyllis Rawlinson Park; a solar pool heating system at Bayview Hill Community Centre; a small wind turbine and solar electrical panels at Richmond Green Park, and the purchase of a fully electric vehicle.
    Gas tax funds in Richmond Hill helped the community achieve the honour of being Ontario's first municipality to reach its corporate greenhouse gas reduction target.
    Economic action plan 2013 goes even further by proposing to index gas tax funds at 2% per year. It also expands the list of eligible projects to include highways, short-line rail, disaster mitigation, broadband and connectivity activity, brownfield redevelopment, culture, tourism, sport and recreation.
    Our government supports infrastructure renewal. It creates jobs and is the fundamental underpinning of healthy communities. I am proud that economic action plan 2013 includes the historic building Canada plan, the largest long-term federal commitment to infrastructure in our nation's history.

  (1325)  

    The plan allocates $53.5 billion over the next 10 years for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure.
     In addition to the gas tax funds, building Canada includes a community improvement fund, which would provide $32 billion to municipalities, over and above what they now receive, for projects such as roads, public transit and recreational facilities.
    A new building Canada fund would provide $14 billion to support major projects across the country, and $1.25 billion would support innovative ways to build infrastructure projects faster and at good value for Canadians through a renewed P3 Canada fund. An additional $6 billion would be provided to provinces, territories and municipalities under the current infrastructure programs in 2014, 2015 and beyond.
    Our government is committed to helping Canadian manufacturers better compete in the global economy. That is why we have established the lowest tax burden on new business investment in the G7. Economic action plan 2013 would add to this. The temporary accelerated capital cost allowance rate for qualifying assets has been extended. Canadian manufacturers would receive an additional $1.4 billion in tax relief when investing in new machinery and equipment.
    We are also supporting our manufacturers by modernizing Canada's general preferential tariff regime for developing countries. Since 1974, Canada has granted preferential market access to imports from developing countries as a way to help those countries develop and grow economically. However, after nearly 40 years, the global economic landscape has changed considerably. Significant economic advancement has been made by some of these developing countries. In response, last year our government undertook a comprehensive review of the preferential tariff regime, including a thorough public consultation.
    Economic action plan 2013 acts on the results of these consultations and effective January 1, 2015, benefits would be removed from 72 higher income and export-competitive economies. We think it is time that certain nations that have done well in developing their economies over the years compete with Canadian manufacturers on a more even footing.
    At the same time, effective on April 1 this year, $79 million in annual tariff relief on imported baby clothing and certain sports equipment was enacted. Consumers and families will see lower prices for these items.
    Economic action plan 2013 supports the long-term competitiveness of industries in southern Ontario. It proposes almost $1 billion over five years to renew the Federal Economic Development Agency for southern Ontario. Let me give an example of how important this initiative is.
    In my riding of Richmond Hill, FedDev Ontario helped diversify our industrial base with assistance to leading-edge technology companies. One such company was Qvella Corporation. That crucial injection of capital helped develop and bring to market that company's groundbreaking bacteria identification system. The result was a faster diagnosis of bacterial infections in patients and more high-quality jobs for Richmond Hill.
    The renewal of FedDev Ontario will help many more entrepreneurial businesses like Qvella to create jobs and contribute to economic growth. I am very pleased to see its proposed renewal in economic action plan 2013.
    I will close by saying that balancing the books is important to my constituents. Upon assuming office in 2006, our Conservative government, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, undertook an aggressive plan to pay down the debt. We are working toward that, to balance the budget by 2015-16.
    I encourage all members in this House to join me in supporting the swift passage of Bill C-60 as it will assist Canadian families immediately.

  (1330)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to my colleague's comments. The problem is that he did not describe Canadians' economic reality.
    At present, the number of unemployed is going up, the participation rate is going down and household debt is increasing. That is the reality.
    If my colleague toured his riding, he would see that there are more unemployed workers today than in 2007. That is the problem. We are not talking about made-up figures. Canadians have been facing difficult economic conditions for a long time, since 2007.
    The government continues to rely on the same old measures.
    When will this government realize that these measures are not working? How does he explain the fact that there are so many unemployed people?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would urge the hon. member to put aside the talking points of the NDP and what he gets out of the office of the Leader of the Opposition and consider some of the facts. Our government has cut taxes for Canadians 150 times. That has put $3,200 each and every year in the pockets of Canadian families. We have reduced the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We have repeatedly brought measures in the House that assist Canadian families by providing more disposable funds available to them from their incomes.
    I would urge the hon. member and members of his party to put those partisan political lines aside and to vote in favour of the implementation of this budget that would benefit their constituents as much as it would benefit my constituents and indeed all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to ask the member for Richmond Hill a question, and it will not be partisan; it will be, in fact, facts. The fact of the matter is that in this budget there is a $550 million tax on small business. There is a $600 million payroll tax, and those taxes would be annual. However, the member talked about the reductions in the tariffs that would make hockey equipment and a few other items cheaper. He failed to mention the fact that the tariff changes on many products that come into this country would be changed to the extent that it would take $338 million out of ordinary Canadians' pockets. That comes right out of these pockets right here. They are empty now, and the Conservative government would be taxing middle-class Canadians even further. Why does he fail to mention that $338 million tax increase on those products, and how can he support this bill with this attack on the middle class?

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for Malpeque for his question, although I do not agree with the premise of his question. In my speech I made it abundantly clear that certain benefits to tariffs would be taken off; they were given to countries whose economies have grown, and they were initially put in place for those economies to be assisted in some way.
    We are putting Canadian businesses on an equal footing with countries that want to export their products to Canada. What I hear every day in Richmond Hill from my constituents and from Canadians across the country is that they would like to see Canadian manufacturers and Canadian products be on an equal footing so that Canadians can benefit economically.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to Bill C-60 today. I have a very difficult time supporting the bill for a wide variety of excellent reasons.
    One of the things I have noted about the government, more so than any other government I have had the opportunity to serve in opposition to over the last 20-plus years, is that this government sees the value of political spin like no other. It has no hesitation whatsoever in using taxpayer dollars to get that spin out there. We see that with member after member on the government benches talking from the speaking notes of the Prime Minister's Office.
    Listening to some of the speeches, I often wonder if it could have been a speech from the opposition benches, which could have been used against the government, especially when it starts to talk about being financially responsible, because this has not been a government that has been financially responsible with taxpayers' dollars. A good example of that, and tying into the spin, is the economic action plan. I would classify it as a dud, and I have had the opportunity to do that before. It just does not have the impact that the Government of Canada should have, given the millions and billions of dollars that are being spent.
    If we were to canvas Canadians I think we would find that they are starting to get a little upset with the government and the amount of tax dollars it is spending promoting the budget. The number of commercials is unbelievable. Whether on NHL playoffs or whatever, the commercials are there. In print and on television, the government has a message and it wants to sell that message. It will not spare a dime of taxpayer dollars doing that. Whatever it takes, it is prepared to saturate with that message.
    What I would like to do is just focus a little attention on the bigger picture, the reality of the Conservative-Reform government that Canadians have had to witness over the last number of years.
    Let us look at many of the speeches in which the Conservatives talk about the banking industry. They love to assume the credit for the banking industry and how solid the Canadian banks are today. Not only do they crow inside the House; they do it outside the House and even internationally. The reality is that it was Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, as the minister of finance, who resisted the changes that were taking place around the world regarding deregulating the banking industry and allowing banks to merge and become even larger. It was the government during the 90s that ensured we have one of the best banking industry today, and many would argue that it is the best.
    It had nothing to do with this Prime Minister. He cannot take any credit. One of his actions was that his government went ahead and increased mortgages from 25 years to 40 years. Of course, it flip-flopped on that one after it realized it had made a mistake. The Conservatives have not done anything really to solidify the banking industry.
    Let us look at the credit that would be taken away from our credit unions. For many of these credit unions, which provide competition to our banks and provide excellent consumer services, particularly in our rural regions from coast to coast to coast, millions of dollars would be taken away in the form of tax credits and so forth. Those have gone a long way in the survival of our credit unions, allowing them to grow and provide that competition. In Winnipeg's north end, we have only had a credit union, and it has actually expanded. That has been the impact they have had on that particular industry.
    If we talk about budget surpluses and deficits, historically, Conservatives have not done well in terms of having surplus budgets.

  (1340)  

    We know that for a fact. The reality with this particular government is that when it took office, it inherited a multi-billion dollar surplus. Before the recession even took place, it turned that surplus into a deficit situation. The Conservative government has presented a deficit ever since then.
    The government knows that Canadians recognize that at times the books have to be balanced. What does the government say? It says that it is going to balance them in 2015-16. That is after the next federal election.
    Why should we believe that? Why should Canadians believe that Conservatives even have the ability to balance the books when they have been such a disaster in terms of their predictions in dealing with balancing the books. They have failed miserably. They inherited this wonderful trade surplus, which brought in hundreds of millions of additional dollars to Canada and which created tens of thousands of jobs.
    That surplus turned into a multi-billion deficit. That is the record of this particular Conservative-Reform government we have today.
    Speaker after speaker likes to get up and talk about taxes. They like to give the impression that the Conservatives know how to give tax breaks. In the last three or four year, in the last three or four budgets that have been presented by the government, we have actually seen net tax increases, each one tens of millions of dollars.
    This is not a government that is friendly to the taxpayer or, in particular, to the middle class of Canada. Some of the taxes that the Conservatives have put into place make us want to give our head a shake and wonder where the compassion is. We have raised these issues in question period.
    Imagine now that people want to go to a hospital and visit someone. The government came up with an interesting tax; it is going to tax parking at the parkade or at the meters. We have a new parking tax that is being implemented by the government.
    What about victims of crime who require certain medical tests that might be necessary or that would provide peace of mind, if in fact they were able to get the medical tests that they believe are necessary for them? We are talking about victims of crime. The government has found a new way of taxing those victims of crime, for mental services, as an example.
    The Conservatives have well over 1,000 new tariff increases. The bottom line is that they can talk all they want; they can say that they are going to cut taxes or that their government believes in cutting taxes, but in reality that is just not true.
    There have been net tax increases in the last four budgets. The middle class is being hit hard by the government. People who are 35 to 55, who have a quality job but find themselves unemployed for whatever reason, have to try to find employment, which is hard for this age group, especially if it comes to trying to get a job of some sort of equivalent pay to what they were receiving before. What in this budget allows those individuals to feel optimistic?
     We can kind of get a sense of the mentality of the government towards labour by looking at the temporary foreign worker program, a program that traditionally has been exceptionally successful, under Liberal administrations, and that has derived many benefits for all residents of Canada. It illustrates the need and the way in which the government has made a mess of things.
    I look forward to any potential questions.

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciated the member opposite's speech. I have a couple of questions for him, but first I have a comment.
    The member mentioned victims' rights. Obviously, there has been no government in Canadian history that has supported victims as much. The member had a chance, through some legislation that passed through this House, to assist victims by doubling the victim surcharge. The member voted against it, and I would like him to explain his record on that.
    Second, the member has said that there have been changes in parking lots adjacent to hospitals. I would like to know whether the member favours having these privately held parking lots receive a government or medical benefit. Is he saying that these private corporations should continue to receive that kind of subsidy?
    The member also talked about deficits and the need to bring the deficit down. I agree. I would like to hear from this member what date he proposes, because every time we bring forward spending reductions to bring us back to balanced books, that member's party voices opposition to them. I would like to hear from the member opposite.
    Mr. Speaker, first I will deal with visiting a sick relative in hospital.
    Provinces are ultimately responsible for the administration of health care. They are responsible for everything, including parking lots. However, the Conservative government has found a way to generate more taxes by saying that if someone uses a parking lot, whether it is a provincial government parking lot or a private lot, it will be the middle-class consumer who will pay an additional tax.
    That is just one example. If we add up all the tax increases, we will find that there is a net tax increase. When the Conservatives decrease a tax, they spend millions of public tax dollars on ads to promote the tax cuts. Obviously, they do not spend money to tell Canadians that they have increased taxes, and they have increased taxes more than they have cut taxes.
    Mr. Speaker, you probably noticed the number of Conservative members who started to blush when the member for Winnipeg North spoke the truth about the surplus created by the former Liberal government before the current government took over. He spoke the truth about the former Liberal government refusing to reform or change our banking system, which the current Prime Minister demanded. Thank goodness we did not make those changes. You probably saw them blush when the member mentioned that the Conservatives are now trying to take credit for it. I hope you noticed that, Mr. Speaker. It is important.
    I would like to hear from the member about the myth the government is propagating that if we do not increase tariffs, we will be flooded with foreign products and that we have to increase those tariffs, because countries like China no longer need protection. That might be the case if we were producing those products here in Canada, but we are not. Those products will still come in, but those prices will go up. I wonder if the member could speak about that fact.

  (1350)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has a way of trying to create a situation to justify making some sort of policy announcement. The increase in tariffs are nothing more than a tax cash grab.
    It is just like when the Government of Canada, in the last budget, said that it would increase the age of retirement. Canadians will no longer be able to retire at age 65; it will now be age 67. The Conservatives said that it was because we have a crisis and cannot afford it, even though the independent officers recognized that Canada was in an excellent financial position and could afford it. The Conservatives create an impression that is just wrong.
    The government knows how to increase taxes in a hidden and cruel fashion that affects our middle class. They should reflect on the degree to which they are taking Canadians for hundreds of millions of new tax dollars in this fiscal year alone.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to stand in the House today to speak to the budget implementation act. Since the depths of the recession in July 2009, our Conservative government has created 900,000 net new jobs, and this was due to our economic action plan. Economic action plan 2013 would build on this strong economic foundation by creating even more jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians.
    Every year leading up to the budget, I undertake extensive pre-budget consultations with my constituents right across my riding of Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry. This year, I received overwhelming feedback from my constituents that they want a budget focused on job creation, economic growth and a return to balanced budgets.
    There is an old saying that if we want to know where people are going, we should look at where they have been. I believe that applies to governments as well, so let us take a look at where we have been.
    Since 2006, we have cut taxes 150 times, reducing the overall tax burden to its lowest level in over 50 years. We have cut taxes in every way governments collect them: personal income taxes, consumption taxes, business and corporate taxes, excise taxes and much more. In fact, our strong record of tax relief has meant savings for a typical family of four in 2013 of over $3,200.
    Economic action plan 2013 would build on these tax reductions. Economic action plan 2013 would eliminate tariffs on baby clothing, sporting goods and athletic equipment. In total, this represents $76 million in savings for Canadian taxpayers.
    Our government also introduced a new temporary first-time donor's super credit for first-time claimants of the charitable donations tax credit. It would encourage all young Canadians to follow in the footsteps of their fathers and mothers and donate to charity. To encourage charitable giving by new donors, this measure would provide an additional 25% tax credit for a first-time donor on up to $1,000 in monetary donations. I see this being a big hit in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, because it is already known as one of the most charitable ridings in Canada.
    Our government will also improve benefits for Canadian veterans through changes to the war veterans allowance, which would result in over 3,100 veterans being eligible for this allowance for the very first time. In addition, an estimated 5,350 veterans and survivors would benefit from the change. The war veterans allowance program provides assistance to low-income veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War as well as their survivors. Eligibility for the program and the range of benefits provided depends, of course, on a recipient's income.
    Under the terms of eligibility for the current program, a veteran's total calculated income includes the disability pension provided by Veterans Affairs Canada. To better assist veterans who have served their country, our government, as a result of proposed amendments to the Pension Act and the War Veterans Allowance Act, will no longer take the disability pension into account when determining eligibility and in calculating the benefits provided under the war veterans allowance. Our veterans, especially veterans in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, will really appreciate this benefit.
    Economic action plan 2013 would also support high-quality, value-added jobs in important sectors of the Canadian economy, such as manufacturing, through tax relief for new investment in manufacturing equipment. To support new investment in machinery and equipment in the manufacturing and processing sectors, this measure would extend the temporary accelerated capital allowance rate for machinery and equipment acquired by a taxpayer, primarily for use in Canada, for the manufacturing or processing of goods for sale or lease. Extending the accelerated capital cost allowance for only two years would increase support for manufacturers by almost $1.4 billion and would create tens of thousands of jobs for hard-working Canadians.

  (1355)  

    Economic action plan 2013 would also provide better support for job-creating infrastructure in municipalities across Canada by indexing the gas tax fund. That would be $32.2 billion over 10 years through gas tax fund payments and the incremental GST rebate for municipalities. It would provide stable and predictable funding to support community infrastructure projects that will improve the quality of life for all Canadian families.
    We have six municipalities in Stormont—Dundas—South Glengarry, and all six mayors and councils are singing our praises for the gas tax fund and for indexing it and making it permanent. I have a couple of mayors of the Liberal persuasion, and even they are singing our praises. That shows how popular this is.
    As members know, our seniors built this wonderful country we call Canada. We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Our government is committed to helping ensure that Canadian seniors receive the compassionate care they need and deserve. The Pallium Foundation of Canada works to improve the quality of palliative end-of-life care for Canadians by creating educational resources for primary care professionals. Economic action plan 2013 proposes funding of $3 million to support training in palliative care for front-line health care providers. This investment would build on the funding provided in budget 2011 being used to support the initiative called the way forward: moving toward community-integrated hospital palliative care in Canada, which aims to help develop new community-integrated palliative care models right across Canada.
    Economic action plan 2013 would also reform the temporary foreign worker program to ensure that Canadians are given the first chance at available jobs. To strengthen and improve the temporary foreign worker program, the government is introducing legislation and regulatory and administrative changes that would be effective immediately. They would temporarily suspend the accelerated labour market opinion process; would seek to increase the government's authority to suspend and revoke work permits and labour market opinions if the program was misused; would seek to introduce fees for employers for processing labour market opinions; and would increase the fees for work permits so that taxpayers would no longer be subsidizing the cost. These changes would strengthen and improve the temporary foreign worker program to support our economic recovery and growth and would ensure that more employers hire Canadians before hiring temporary foreign workers.
    As members can see, we are building on our successes of the past seven years to make Canada an even better place to live, work and play. Is it not a shame that the two opposition parties will not join in this wonderful, great success story? We are going to do all this, and we are going to eliminate the deficit. What a Minister of Finance we have, and we cannot get the support of the people across the way to encourage this finance minister to slay this deficit. I cannot for the life of me understand why our worthy colleagues on the opposite side of the House will not join us and celebrate this wonderful economic action plan 2013.

  (1400)  

    The time for government orders has expired. The five minutes of questions and comments for this hon. member will take place following question period.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Syria

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my warmest greetings to Orthodox Christians in Ahuntsic and around the world who, this week, celebrated Easter, a holiday of hope and great promise.
    On this occasion, I cannot remain silent about the recent kidnappings in Syria Of Msgr. Yohanna Ibrahim, a Syrian Orthodox bishop from Aleppo, and Msgr. Boulos Yazigi, a Greek Orthodox bishop from the same town.
    These kidnappings are one facet of the terrible human drama currently confronting the Syrian people, especially seniors, women and children.
    More than ever, Canada must take action to protect Canadians still living in the midst of the bombing because the government refuses to issue visas to their immediate family members. Canada must also be compassionate and help the thousands of refugees and people belonging to persecuted minorities targeted by acts of violence.
    Many Canadians and Quebeckers have family members there. No matter the community they belong to, they are united in calling on the federal government to take action. The time for rhetoric, photo ops and fine speeches is over. We must take action.

[English]

Arctic Council

    Mr. Speaker, as president of the Canada-Europe Parliamentary Association, it gives me great pleasure to congratulate the Minister of Health and member for Nunavut on assuming the role of chair of the Arctic Council at next week's ministerial meeting in Kiruna, Sweden.
    During her two-year term as chair, the minister will be promoting the overall theme of development of the people of the north, with responsible arctic resource development, safe arctic shipping, and sustainable circumpolar communities as areas of focus.
    The minister is an ideal choice for this prestigious role. As the first Inuk to hold the post of chair, the minister will be a strong champion and will advance the government's arctic foreign policy and our domestic northern strategy.
    We are a proud and strong arctic nation. As the north faces new challenges, I know that as a northerner herself, the minister will represent Canada's Arctic as the true north strong and free.

[Translation]

Beloeil–Mont-Saint-Hilaire Historical Society

    Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the hard work of the Société d'histoire de Beloeil–Mont-Saint-Hilaire, which published its 100th history booklet last week after 33 years of publication.
    The Société d'histoire de Beloeil–Mont-Saint-Hilaire stays active and works hard to bring my community's rich history to life.
    On April 26, 2013, I had the huge honour and pleasure of attending the launch of the 100th history booklet, Notre histoire, notre mémoire: hommage à nos bâtisseurs, a tribute to the community's founding fathers. I attended the launch, which was held at the Maison de la culture Villebon de Beloeil, with Alain Côté, the president of the historical society, whom I want to congratulate personally.
    I urge all of my colleagues and all Canadians to visit my region, to learn about its rich history and to get their own copy of the 100th history booklet.
    Thank you and congratulations to all of the volunteers who worked so hard to help publish this history booklet that is so important to the history of my region and my community.

[English]

National March for Life

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to stand today to talk about an amazing event that will take place this week in the nation's capital. It is the 2013 National March For Life.
    On Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m., we will have a pro-life prayer service and a pro-life mass. This will be followed by a candlelight vigil for the victims at the Human Rights monument.
    Then, on Thursday, at 12 noon, we will have a rally here on the Hill, followed by the March For Life through downtown Ottawa.
    This is to be followed, at six o'clock in the evening, by the Rose Dinner and the Youth Banquet at the Hampton Inn here in Ottawa.
    The events will conclude on Friday with the Youth Conference for Life.
    I am proud to stand here today to thank everyone involved in the pro-life movement for the work they do, and to congratulate them for the efforts they put forth to have this wonderful March For Life, which is such an important issue for all of us.

  (1405)  

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the Equitas Society was formed in 2011 to support veterans returning from Afghanistan.
     These veterans feel disadvantaged by the new veterans charter. The charter was meant to be a living document, one that is open for review and improvement. Only one such review has taken place in the last seven years, and the Conservatives are now dragging their feet to delay a second one.
    Today we are debating a budget bill that allocates funds owing to disabled veterans after the Conservatives lost a five-year court battle, yet the Conservatives continue to fight disabled RCMP veterans in court over their disability pensions.
    The Equitas Society has sued the government to win equality for injured Afghan vets as compared to individuals receiving workers' compensation benefits. The first day in court is tomorrow.
    It does not have to be this way. Instead of digging in, the Conservatives should do the right thing and enter into negotiations with Equitas and settle this lawsuit. They should treat these Afghan veterans with respect.
    Equitas representatives will be on the Hill tomorrow. The Liberal Party calls upon the government to sit down with them and resolve the lawsuit.

Grey and Simcoe Foresters

    Mr. Speaker, this Thursday I will attending a special dinner held by Barrie's local reserve infantry regiment, the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, to raise funds to support events in appreciation of the visit by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne this fall to Canadian Forces Base Borden, and for a special ceremony at which the regiment will receive its official new colours for the first time in 30 years.
    As one of the guest speakers for the evening, I will have the honour of being joined by Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, Commander of the Canadian Army, and Honorary Colonels Jamie Massie and Barry Peacock.
    I am proud to support our infantry reservists from the Grey and Simcoe Counties who have served with distinction in this institution so proudly steeped in history.
    I would like to recognize all members of the Grey and Simcoe Foresters, past and present, for their outstanding service and commitment to peace and security. I congratulate them on their excellent fundraising event. I know it will be an excellent success this Thursday.

Sports Betting

    Mr. Speaker, for months now, an important bill that passed through the House unopposed has sat in the Senate penalty box waiting for a final vote at third reading.
    Bill C-290 would legalize single events sports betting in Canada and is a game changer for the largest segment of the entertainment industry in Canada. With hundreds and thousands of jobs, massive public investment and billions of dollars of public revenue at stake, the government is a healthy scratch on Bill C-290, while the unaccountable Senate fumbles the ball.
    In addition to all-party support in the elected House, both business and labour groups across Canada are fans of C-290. The government is blowing this call, turning a blind eye to a major interference penalty from a small group of unaccountable senators clogging up the progress on this critical bill.
    Worse, by sitting this one out, bookies, gangsters and illegal online gaming sites rake in another season of windfall profits.
    We know that in the past the government has pushed legislation through the Senate. Why is its approach so weak now on Bill C-290, just inches from the goal line?

Alberta Sports Teams

    Mr. Speaker, central Alberta's sports teams have seen an excellent start to 2013.
    Last week the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs hockey team, coached by Doug Quinn, won the 2013 Telus Cup in Sault Ste. Marie, claiming Canada's 40th national midget championship. The Chiefs also won this championship last year, becoming just the fourth team ever to win back-to-back gold medals at the national midget Triple-A hockey tournament.
    On April 20, Red Deer skip Rob Armitage won gold for Canada at the world senior curling championships. Rob's team included third Keith Glover, second Randy Ponich, alternate Lyle Treiber, and lead Wilf Edgar, who happens to be a former student of mine. That is right: my former student is a world champion senior curler.
    It has been an excellent start to the year for these Red Deer athletes, and with many other winter sports heading into Olympic trials later this year, I am certain that central Alberta's athletes will continue to stand out.
    Congratulations to the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs and Rob Armitage's curling team.

Dance in Manitoba

    Mr. Speaker, dance is one of the most widely understood and celebrated art forms in the world, and it is alive and well in Winnipeg South Centre. It is one activity that is able to build bridges and bring together people of other cultures.
    The Manitoba dance community is a vibrant and unique group that combines the preservation of dance heritage with constant innovation and outreach. It is recognized in Canada and throughout the world for its artistic excellence and cultural diversity.
    We founded Canada's first professional ballet company and oldest modern dance company. In fact, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet celebrates its 75th anniversary season and Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers celebrates its 50th, all in 2014. Both of these organizations have incredible educational outreach programs. In fact, it is my daughter's dance recital tonight at one of them.
    I know first-hand just how important dance can be to families. We celebrate dance together, throughout Canada, Manitoba and Winnipeg South Centre.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Buffet of Nations

    Mr. Speaker, on May 4, the Service d'aide aux Néo-Canadiens, an organization that is well known in Sherbrooke, held its 42nd annual Buffet of Nations.
    Every year, hundreds of newcomers to Canada decide to settle in Sherbrooke either to work or to go to school, and they are an important part of our great city. The Service d'aide aux Néo-Canadiens is a vital service for them.
    At this year's event, hundreds of guests had the opportunity to sample the cuisine of over 32 countries. The organization intends to use the money raised for two specific purposes in the coming year: to help children to integrate into their schools and succeed, and to give newcomers who have little education the opportunity to participate in a workshop to help them in their job search.
    I had the opportunity to participate in this very important event, which was held last Saturday. There, I met with residents of Sherbrooke from all over the world.
    The Buffet of Nations is a reflection of what Sherbrooke really is: a city of true inclusion and integration, but more importantly, a city with a wonderful community spirit.
    Congratulations to the Service d'aide aux Néo-Canadiens. See you next year.

[English]

Mental Health Week

    Mr. Speaker, May 7 to 13 is CMA's national Mental Health Week. This week's theme, “mental health for all”, reminds us that our mental health plays an important role in creating healthy and fulfilling lives for all Canadians.
    Mental health is a priority for our government. The signing of the Declaration on Prevention and Health Promotion, which recognizes the benefits of good mental health, the provision of $245 million for mental health for first nations and Inuit communities across Canada and the support of the establishment of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, has demonstrated what our government has done on this issue.
    Like the CMA, I want to congratulate other mental health champions, including Emily Doer, a constituent of mine who was working hard this week to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. Individuals like Emily are inspiring others with mental illnesses to speak up.
    Congratulations to our Minister of Health, the CMA and Emily Doer for leading the way.

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, the United Nations has released its draft report on the universal periodic review of Canada's domestic human rights record. Following our last review in 2009, Canada pledged to consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, yet here we are four years later, and the Conservative government is still considering this very serious matter.
    What this optional protocol does is to establish an international inspection system for persons in jails that is modelled after the European system that has been in place since 1987. In the current report, our allies, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Australia and the Netherlands, recommend that Canada join the civilized world and ratify this convention.
    Considering that OPCAT was adopted by the UN in 2002, this means that Canada has had 11 long years, with first the Liberal government and now the Conservative government, to consider ratifying it.
    Canadians are left wondering when the government will finally do the right thing and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

Correctional Service of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday it came to light that an individual convicted of a horrific murder, allegedly inspired by the TV show Dexter, was permitted to watch this very show from his prison cell. My constituents find this incredibly upsetting. Crime victims are demanding to know why he has had access to violent material that is closely linked to his heinous crimes.
    Common sense dictates that violent criminals should not have access to violent TV content, particularly when this precise content has inspired their crimes. In this case, he even assumed Dexter's identity online and wrote extensively about his desire to become a serial killer.
    Correctional Service of Canada's own directive on appropriate material for prisoners states that material is not permitted that could jeopardize the safety of individuals.
    The good news is that taxpayers do not subsidize cable for convicted criminals. However, the prison system should take a look at how it makes decisions on correctional plans. The corrections system should be correcting criminal behaviour, not giving convicted murders access to the materials that inspired their crimes.

Birthday Congratulations

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about a great Prince Edward Islander. Everett MacDougall was born on May 7, 1913, in West Cape, Prince Edward Island. In 1948, he opened his own poultry and egg grading business in Vernon. He then started buying and shipping farm produce. Shortly after, he was approached by Canada Packers to start a Shur-Gain feed mill. When a tragic fire struck five years later, Everett turned the disaster into an opportunity and built a new quality feed mill equipped with all the modern equipment and employed 15 to 20 people.
    Everett was involved in his community's life, serving on the Bunbury Town Council for seven years, and he was an avid volunteer.
     Everett is the oldest Mason on Prince Edward Island and will receive his 70-year pin this afternoon from Allison Coles, Grand Master for P.E.I., at Andrews Lodge.
    On behalf of all members of the House of Commons, I want to wish Everett a very happy 100th birthday.

  (1415)  

Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, it has been 26 days since the leader of the NDP failed veterans and Canadians after standing by terrible comments on World War I from his senior attack man. Adding insult to injury, the NDP leader has again failed to retract an outrageous belief from his caucus that Canadians should not spend time remembering the sacrifices made by Canadian veterans.
    The leader of the NDP's sheep's clothing has fallen. He cannot hide the fact that his party believes that communist dissension and socialism should be supported at the expense of Canadian veterans. His party remains ideologically opposed to anything that commemorates our veterans' heroic contributions.
    Enough is enough. The time to apologize and retract these hurtful comments is now.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, it seems the new Conservative hobby is trolling the Internet, hunting down quotes the PMO boys can twist around and use to play partisan politics with Canada's veterans. Conservatives launched make-believe attacks on the opposition to distract from their mismanagement of Veterans Affairs. Conservatives dragged disabled veterans through the courts over pension clawbacks. They made the appeals process for benefits a nightmare. They shortchanged the Last Post Fund to the point of embarrassment; and then there are the Conservative privacy violations: Sean Bruyea, Sylvain Chartrand and so many others had their most private information callously breached.
    Canadian veterans deserve better than a minister focused on using them to score cheap political points. Fortunately, veterans can always trust the NDP to stand up for them and their families. We will stand up for their privacy; we will stand up for their rights; and we will stand up for their dignity. New Democrats will always give veterans and their families the respect and support they so richly deserve.

[Translation]

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, our government is working on what matters to Canadians: jobs and economic growth.

[English]

    Last week, Statistics Canada announced that Canada's economy grew 0.3% in February. This was better than economists' expectations. Thanks to our government, Canada's job growth record remains the best among G7 countries. Canada is the only G7 country with a top credit rating and stable outlook from all major agencies.
    The OECD projects Canada will lead the G7 in economic growth over the next 50 years. KPMG ranked Canada the most tax-competitive economy among mature markets.
    While we are focused on the economy, the NDP wants to impose a $20-billion job-killing carbon tax on Canadians that would raise the price of gas, food, electricity and almost everything. On top of that, the NDP leader's reckless $56 billion in unaffordable new spending would ruin the economy.
    On the government side of the House, Conservatives will remain focused on what matters to Canadians: jobs and economic growth.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Government Expenditures

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the President of the Treasury Board gave us a new series of excuses to try to justify how he lost track of just $3.1 billion. He even tried to blame the NDP, which is absolutely ridiculous. It is true that the Liberals are partly to blame for the chaotic management from 2001 to 2005 and that they were experts at losing taxpayers' money, but blame the NDP? No way.
    Since the Conservatives are the ones in power for the moment, does the Prime Minister accept that his minister cannot say where the $3.1 billion went?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General clearly said that these reports raise no red flags.
    He did mention a lack of clarity in government reports in that respect. He made certain recommendations, and we intend to follow them.
    Mr. Speaker, there are blue flags.

[English]

    I guess the Prime Minister did not catch question period yesterday, so let me read him the full quote from the Auditor General, not just the part Conservatives like to repeat,
...it's important for there to be...a way for people to understand how this money was spent and that summary reporting was not done.
    We all know the President of the Treasury Board is full of excuses. Yesterday he called losing track of over $3 billion an “internal” matter.
    The question for the Prime Minister is quite simple. Does the Prime Minister agree with his minister that losing track of $3 billion of public money is none of the public's business?
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, that of course is simply not accurate.
    As the Auditor General said, he has no concerns about improper use or missing money. What he has concerns about is the clarity and categorization of reporting between government departments over the 2001 to 2009 period. He has made certain recommendations to improve that process, and the government will be following those.

Employment

    Right, Mr. Speaker, so let me get it straight. When the Liberals lose $1 billion, for them it is a boondoggle. When the Conservatives lose $3 billion, for them it is business as usual.
    A year ago the Minister of Human Resources was warned that temporary foreign workers were being used to fill jobs in the same fields as unemployed Canadians.
    Let me try another simple question. If the Minister of Human Resources knew about all of this a year ago, why did the Prime Minister deny that there was a problem until just last week?
    Mr. Speaker, exactly the contrary is true. Not only has the government indicated for some time that it would be reforming the temporary foreign workers program, but in the budget last year specifically we brought in measures to better match job vacancies with people who are seeking work or in the employment insurance system. We have been very clear. We need to do a better job of matching the demand for EI and the demand for temporary foreign workers. That is precisely what the government has been doing for a year and a half while, by the way, the NDP has been writing to us demanding more temporary foreign workers for its ridings.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure what the Prime Minister meant, when he was talking about just the opposite being true, was the 15% rule that at 2 o'clock the government denied the existence of and that at 4 o'clock it announced the elimination of.
    It has been revealed that the Conservatives knew what was going on all along. The minister was warned by her own deputy minister, and I quote again:
...employers are hiring temporary foreign workers in the same occupation and location as Canadians who are collecting EI....
    Is the Prime Minister telling us that his minister hid the information from him, or did he choose to hide that information from Canadians?
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, the minister brought in changes last year to make sure people who are on EI, employment insurance, get first crack at jobs rather than temporary foreign workers. Guess who opposed that? The NDP opposed it. In fact, while we were trying to make these changes, the NDP was instead writing us, saying to bring more temporary foreign workers into high unemployment areas. That is obviously the wrong approach, which is why for over a year the government has been doing something completely different from what that party wanted to see.
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister does not even care what is happening in his own province.
    To quote from the same memo from the deputy minister:
...in January 2012,
    —a single month—
    Albertan employers received positive confirmation for 1,261 TFW (Temporary Foreign Worker) positions for food counter attendants. At the same time, nearly 350 people made a claim for EI who had cited significant experience in the same occupation and province.
    Why did the immigration minister, the human resources minister and the Prime Minister all do nothing to help these unemployed Albertans?
    Mr. Speaker, the government acted a year ago to deal with precisely that issue.
    However, guess what? The leader of the NDP cannot remember, from one day to the next, what the position of his party is on these issues. It is his own party, writing the government, demanding that in the highest unemployment regions in the country we bring in more temporary foreign workers.
    That is why we have been changing the EI system, why we have been changing the temporary foreign worker system and why we will keep moving Canada forward rather than listening to the NDP.

  (1425)  

Government Advertising

    Mr. Speaker, in the past few days, I have met with Canadians in Winnipeg, in Edmonton and up the Ottawa Valley.
    The thing is that they evidently have a better understanding of our economy and the challenges we face than the government. Whether in food courts or in teachers' lounges, the message is clear, that it is only getting harder for Canadians to make ends meet.
    Instead of offering real solutions in their budget, the Conservatives have loaded up a new round of wasteful government ads. How is more money spent on these ads going to help struggling middle-class Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians understand and are very proud of the fact that Canada's economy has performed so much better than other developed countries during these challenging times.
    Of course the government is moving forward with additional measures to help Canadian families, which the Liberal Party is against. The Liberal Party is apparently against the adoption expense tax credit, against the first-time donor super credit, against expanding tax relief for home care services and against general tariff reductions for Canadian families.
    These are important measures for Canadian families, and it is about time the Liberal Party got onside with positive measures.
    Mr. Speaker, by offering a disappointing budget that raises taxes on the middle class and does nothing to help Canadians find work, the Conservatives have shown yet again that they are out of touch.
    With a new round of wasteful government ads, they demonstrate once again their lack of competence in their spending.
    Can the Prime Minister offer any examples of Canadians who have actually told him that they would like their tax dollars spent on more government budget ads?
    Mr. Speaker, what Canadians clearly have told this party in three successive general elections is that, unlike the Liberal government, we want to see taxes lowered in this country. That is why they are now $3,000 lower for every Canadian family in this country.
    We keep waiting to hear some positive and substantive ideas from the leader of the Liberal Party. In the absence of those, I would urge him to look at the important measures in the budget and, rather than defend special tax breaks for Chinese companies, actually stand on the side of Canadians here.
    Mr. Speaker, it is becoming obvious that, rather than helping Canadians, the government would rather continue to spin Canadians.

[Translation]

    Canadians have been inundated with these famous action plan ads for four years now.
    When is the government going to stop wasting taxpayers' money on ads during Hockey Night in Canada?
    When are Canadians going to get a real plan from this government, one that recognizes the challenges the middle class is facing and addresses their economic problems?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are very proud of Canada's economic performance during a very difficult period in the global economy.
    Canadians want this government to continue to lower taxes and oppose the tax increases being proposed by the opposition parties, including the Liberal Party of Canada.
    We have reduced taxes by $3,000 per family, and we will continue to do so.

Science and Technology

    Mr. Speaker, in their war against science, the Conservatives have decided to cut funding for Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Statistics Canada and the Experimental Lakes Area.
    They recently decided to change the mandate of the NRC, which is going to have to move away from basic research. Research will now serve the needs of industry. Considering the Conservatives' priorities when it comes to industry, we have cause for concern. Worse yet, this government that is muzzling scientists is also going to tell them what to do.
    Why have the Conservatives decided to cut basic research?

  (1430)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, no such thing is happening. Actually, this is a very exciting day for Canadian innovation.
    The NRC is refocusing to help Canadian businesses stand shoulder to shoulder with the world's most innovative and competitive companies. Refocusing one of our councils will help create high-quality jobs, economic growth, long-term prosperity and a better quality of life for all Canadians.
    Our government has made all science a priority. We have increased funding in every single budget, and the opposition has voted against it every single time.
    Mr. Speaker, we will vote against their budgets every single time they cut basic science, and we will keep doing it.
    I would like to remind the government that it is the National Research Council, not the commercial application council.
    For the Conservatives, if research has no immediate commercial viability, they do not consider it worth doing, but the fact is that many revolutionary scientific advancements that benefit people today, such as the human genome project, started as basic scientific research.
    How can the Conservatives be so short-sighted? How can they turn their backs on important research that will now go unfinished?
    Mr. Speaker, we are taking steps to ensure that the National Research Council remains a world-class organization that is responsive to industry and generates jobs and growth for Canadians.
    Our government has a science and technology strategy. Independent studies have placed us fourth in the world because of that strategy. The NDP has no strategy. In fact when that member, the science critic, asked his party for its policy on science and technology, he was recently quoted as saying, “They showed me a big blank page”.
    Science is not for amateurs.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, Liberal Senator Mac Harb and Conservative-appointed Patrick Brazeau are being forced to pay back $130,000 they ripped off from taxpayers. Like Mike Duffy, their laughable excuse is that they could not understand how to fill out a simple housing form.
    When an ordinary Canadian makes a false claim and gets money to which he or she is not entitled, the government calls it fraud.
    Why is the government supporting the entitlements of their unelected, unaccountable and unethical senators? Why are there no penalties for ripping off the Canadian taxpayer?
    Mr. Speaker, we are committed to ensuring that all expenses are appropriate and that any monies that were incorrectly claimed will be paid back.
    The Senate committee will review the audit, and of course that will be released to the public shortly.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, $130,000 in fraudulent claims is shameful, and the Conservatives need to take this situation more seriously.
    On Thursday morning, the senators will hold a little meeting to decide whether they should hand over the reports on this attempted fraud to the RCMP.
    Fellow senators are responsible for deciding whether a senator—Liberal or Conservative—should be charged with fraud. That is absolutely ridiculous.
    The worst is that the Conservatives are not doing anything to put a stop to this theft by their cronies.
    Will they send a clear message to their party friends in the Senate and hand these cases of fraud over to the RCMP as soon as possible?
    Mr. Speaker, our message is clear: we are committed to ensuring that all expenses are appropriate, and we expect all of the incorrectly claimed money to be reimbursed after the audit is complete.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, on another subject, the Conservatives were negligent with respect to abuses of the temporary foreign worker program.
    Documents released by the media show that the minister was advised almost a year ago. A year. For a year, employers were bringing in temporary foreign workers to fill positions even when qualified unemployed Canadian workers were available.
    Why did the government wait so long to reform the temporary foreign worker program? Why was the government so lax?
    Mr. Speaker, the immigration minister and I have been talking about this problem for a year now.
    That is exactly why we made changes to the employment insurance system and why we are making changes to the temporary foreign worker program.
    In budget 2012, changes were made to better connect employers with unemployed workers so that employers could find the workers they need and unemployed workers could find jobs. Unfortunately, the NDP voted against all of those initiatives.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, the minister will use any excuse. She will do anything she can so that she does not have to admit that she made a mistake and that the Conservatives' temporary foreign worker program was flawed.
    The Minister of Human Resources received a memo on May 29, 2012, that said that hundreds of foreign workers were arriving in Alberta to work as food counter attendants, while hundreds of Albertans with similar work experience continued to be unemployed.
    Why did the minister not do anything after receiving that memo?
    Mr. Speaker, we introduced changes to the employment insurance system and we are introducing changes to the temporary foreign worker program precisely because of such situations, which still exist.
    We want to prevent such situations, which is why we introduced changes.
    Meanwhile, the NDP continues to write us letters asking for temporary foreign workers in their regions and ridings where the unemployment rate is often very high. That does not make any sense.
    Mr. Speaker, not a single member of the NDP asked for a Canadian to lose his job; that is what the Conservatives are doing.

[English]

    Last May, the memo to the minister stated, “...employers are hiring temporary foreign workers in the same occupation and location as Canadians who are collecting EI”. She ignored this memo, ignored the warnings and ignored unemployed Canadians.
    Why does it always take a media scandal for Conservatives to fix the messes they create?
    Mr. Speaker, in fact we recognized this problem a year ago before that. We have been talking about it publicly since. In fact, that is exactly why we introduced changes to the employment insurance and temporary foreign workers programs. It was so that employers are now aware of unemployed who are qualified for the jobs they are trying to fill and the unemployed are now aware of the jobs that people are trying to bring in temporary foreign workers for. We connect the two. That makes sense.
    However, the NDP members opposed that. Not only that, but they continue to write us asking—demanding, in fact—more temporary foreign workers in their own ridings to fill jobs, even though the unemployment rate can be in the double digits.
    Mr. Speaker, it is the unemployed Canadians who have paid the price for Conservative mismanagement. This memo came from the deputy minister and clearly stated that temporary foreign workers were taking away Canadian jobs. While the Minister of Immigration feigned outrage at the abuse of the program, it was in fact his own colleague's inaction on the warning she received that was the real problem.
    Did the immigration minister ever bring his concerns to his colleagues, and why did his government fail to act to protect jobs for Canadians over a year ago?
    Mr. Speaker, today's NDP is so far behind the curve it does not even know that we were citing exactly this memo and these data in speeches and interviews a year ago.
    I talked about precisely this memo and precisely these data a year ago to underscore the absurdity of employers not finding local employees in regions of high unemployment but instead looking abroad for workers.
    This is exactly why the government brought in the reforms to the EI system: to ensure that every effort is being made to hire unemployed Canadians before going abroad. Why did it take a year for the NDP to catch up with reality?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, approximately two months ago, I went to see the immigration minister—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

[English]

    Order, please. The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst has the floor.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, approximately two months ago, I went to see the immigration minister. I told him that people from the Acadian peninsula wanted to go work in Alberta, but that the problem was that companies there were hiring people who did not speak French or English.
    The minister told me to go and see the Minister of Human Resources, and so I told her about the problem. What did she do? Absolutely nothing.
    The people in my region are not slackers and they are not lazy. They want to go work but, instead, the Conservatives are bringing in temporary foreign workers to do the jobs that Canadians should be doing. It is not right.
    When will the minister do her job and employ Canadians instead of foreign workers?

  (1440)  

    Mr. Speaker, the wise words of this member and his reputation for substance and wisdom—
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Mr. Speaker, they do not understand the irony.
    We quoted the memo in question publicly and verbatim a year ago to highlight the need to reform the employment insurance system and the temporary foreign worker program.
    I find it strange that the members from New Brunswick and regions with a high unemployment rate had asked for more temporary workers. It is strange that the NDP is saying that the program displaces workers, except in New Democratic ridings. We are fixing the problems.

[English]

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, despite their $1 billion ad campaign to the contrary, Conservatives have no plan for prosperity for the middle class. Instead, they repeatedly punish the middle class. Conservatives taxed income trusts, wiping out billions of dollars in retirement savings. They made old age security harder to get, and the Conservative PRPP scheme is nothing other than a joke. Seventy per cent of Canadians have no pension, yet Conservative incompetence is making it harder to retire with dignity.
    Why does the Prime Minister want poverty to be part of retirement for the middle class?
    Mr. Speaker, I would refer the hon. member to three provinces that have just recently tabled their own legislation on pooled registered pension plans, no thanks to the opposition in the House. This is another option for Canadians to help save for their retirement. Sixty per cent of Canadians in the workforce do not now have a retirement pension plan; we think it is important to provide that option.
    We would encourage the opposition, instead of fighting against that, to actually support it. Canadians want that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as soon as they were elected, the Conservatives began attacking our seniors. First, they eliminated income trusts. Then, they raised the age of eligibility for old age security from 65 to 67. Now, they are directly attacking the middle class and future retirees by eliminating the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds, which is very popular in Quebec. Quebeckers invest less in RRSPs than the average Canadian.
    Why does the government have it in for Quebeckers?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, we are using appropriate fiscal measures to work for all Canadian workers.
    I invite my colleague to vote in favour of the budget. He will still have an opportunity in the coming days to vote in favour of the legislative measures that will enable the government to support Canadian workers and help them find jobs. As for the labour-sponsored funds, I would like to remind my colleague that $8.8 billion was allocated to labour-sponsored funds in Quebec, in order to invest in businesses, and that amount will remain.

[English]

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, while Canadian students are struggling to find summer work, a government report shows that the Conservatives have actually cut by 20% the number of student jobs in the federal government. Meanwhile, they are wasting tens of millions of dollars on useless TV ads during the hockey playoffs. The price of one action plan ad during the playoffs could pay for 32 student summer jobs.
    Why are the Conservatives wasting so much money on bogus advertising while cutting jobs for young Canadians?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, we need all of the skills and talent in this country at work. That is why we are trying to help young Canadians connect with jobs. In this budget, there are 5,000 new internships through the career focus program that will help connect students who have graduated with jobs that are in demand. Unfortunately, the member and his Liberal colleagues are voting against that help.
    We are also helping over 30,000 students get experience and funding for their schooling through the Canada summer job program. Once again, the Liberals are opposing all that help for young Canadians to get the experience and skills that they need.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

    Mr. Speaker, it seems that not even ill RCMP members who are wanting to speak about their experiences are safe from Conservative gag orders.
    A B.C. RCMP officer on stress leave was prevented from testifying at a parliamentary committee yesterday under a brand new rule that stops Mounties on sick leave from travelling without written approval from management. This comes on the heels of the minister's order banning senior Mounties from talking to MPs without prior government approval.
    What is this minister afraid of? Why is he muzzling RCMP officers who want to speak out on reform of their organization?
    Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, there was no attempt made to stop that individual from testifying.
    Issues with respect to human resources and the management of the RCMP are the responsibility of the Commissioner. I do not involve myself in the day-to-day operations of the RCMP. However, we introduced the enhancing RCMP accountability act to ensure that the Commissioner has the tools to modernize the RCMP. Shockingly, the NDP, and that member specifically, voted against that act.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the minister must be afraid someone will contradict him. Why else would he prevent the RCMP from speaking freely to parliamentarians?
    The officer in question was to testify before the Senate about Bill C-42, which, in the opinion of a number of officers and the NDP, should have been rewritten. In addition to rejecting our amendments, the Conservatives are rejecting the evidence of witnesses who might support them. So much for freedom of expression.
    Need I remind the minister that it is his responsibility to listen to criticism in order to implement the best public policies and not to muzzle those who might contradict him?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, the officer indicated that he wanted to testify and there was nothing stopping that officer from testifying. I do not know why that member is making this up. Again, it is a type of statement that individual makes in order to ensure that their story is told.
    However, I do not involve myself in the day-to-day operations of the RCMP. In fact, we introduced the enhancing RCMP accountability act to help govern the RCMP. That member voted against it.

Statistics Canada

    Mr. Speaker, that individual does not believe much of what that minister is saying.

[Translation]

    Unfortunately, the RCMP is not the only organization that is being muzzled by the Conservatives.
    Statistics Canada employees have also been advised to keep their opinions to themselves, even when not at work. This new code of conduct is being put in place just before we see the consequences of the Conservatives' decision to abolish the long form census. Is this mere coincidence?
    In addition to being afraid of RCMP officers on sick leave, are they scared of wicked statisticians? Why muzzle Statistics Canada employees?
    Mr. Speaker, that is completely false. The code of conduct she mentioned was written by public servants for public servants. The code does not in any way prevent employees from talking to the media or attending conferences. What the member is saying is completely false.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I guess that is another internal matter like the $3.1 billion.
    Why are Conservatives so afraid? They want to place everyone under a gag order. Even with this gag order, Statistics Canada has confirmed that the Conservatives are being reckless--
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, the hon. member for Scarborough Southwest has the floor.

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a quote from Statistics Canada:
    We have never previously conducted a survey on the scale of the voluntary National Household Survey, nor are we aware of any other country that has.
    This information is critical for schools, health care, transit and so many other services Canadians rely on. So why are Conservatives silencing Statistics Canada employees and playing reckless games with this essential data?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, Statistics Canada has already said that the national household survey will yield useful, usable information and data that will meet the needs of users.
    In terms of co-operation, 2.7 million households returned the NHS questionnaire in 2011, compared to 2.3 million households in 2006.
    On the code of conduct, I repeat once again, it was written by public servants for public servants.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, for 25 years women and children on reserves have been without the legal protection they need. For 13 years, the Liberals did nothing, and today they put forward the absurd idea that duly elected female MPs on the Standing Committee for the Status of Women are incapable of addressing this issue.
    Does the Liberal leader think these female MPs should simply not worry their pretty little heads about this? Can the Minister for Status of Women please update this House on what our government is doing to protect aboriginal women and children?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to giving aboriginal women the same rights and protection as all Canadian women. For over a quarter of a century, aboriginal women living on reserve have been without access to the legal rights they deserve. Our bill would protect thousands of women and children. In situations of family violence, it would allow judges to enforce emergency protection orders and remove a violent partner.
     The truth is, emergency protection orders save lives. How the Liberal Party and NDP leaders can whip their members to block this legislation is incomprehensible to us.

Library and Archives Canada

    Mr. Speaker, the head of Library and Archives Canada spent thousands of dollars on private Spanish lessons and another $10,000 to renew the contract for what seems to be his hobby. Now Conservatives are cutting services and laying off workers, yet they allow this outrageous expense at Library and Archives Canada. As usual, the Conservatives only act after they get caught.
    What is the minister's excuse for allowing this to happen? Will he say adios to this kind of waste under his watch?
    Mr. Speaker, clearly this kind of spending by the head of Library and Archives Canada is outside the mandate of Library and Archives Canada, and I will be speaking to him very soon.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in the category of absurd expenditures under the Conservative government, we can unfortunately include private Spanish lessons, at taxpayers' expense, for the head of Library and Archives Canada.
    We are pleased to hear their remarks today because, after almost $4,500 was spent, the contract was renewed for $10,000 until 2014. I am sure many Canadians would have loved to be given $15,000 for private Spanish lessons.
    Why did the Minister of Canadian Heritage approve this expenditure? What will he say to Mr. Caron?
    Mr. Speaker, as I just told his colleague from Davenport, this is not responsible spending by the head of Library and Archives Canada, and I will be speaking to him very soon.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, in stark contrast to the wasteful spending at Library and Archives Canada, we are also seeing unnecessary cuts to public consultations on pipelines.
    The Conservatives are so busy muzzling scientists, gutting environmental assessments and insulting anyone who does not share their opinions that they are not doing their job: 83 Enbridge pumping stations have no emergency shut-down mechanism.
    Why is the minister disobeying National Energy Board safety rules?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, companies in Canada are obviously required to comply with the National Energy Board rules and regulations. It was an NEB audit and inspection that revealed this issue, and that is what is leading the work to solve this problem. Our government has increased pipeline inspections and audits to ensure that Canada has the safest pipeline system in the world. This has contributed to an increase in reported incidents from 2011 to 2012.

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have been warned time and time again that their pipeline safety oversight is totally inadequate. From reports today that Enbridge is violating safety rules at 117 out of 125 pumping stations across the country, to revelations from the environmental commissioner that the National Energy Board does not follow up on companies breaking safety rules 93% of the time, it is clear that the Conservatives have failed to make pipeline safety a priority. Will the Conservatives only act when they get caught with a disastrous spill?
    Mr. Speaker, we would think that the New Democrats would stand up and say “thanks” today because it is our government that has improved pipeline safety in this country. We have a world-class regulator; they criticize the regulator. We have increased the number of inspections; they criticize that. We have doubled the number of annual audits; they are still standing up here criticizing that as well. We put forward new fines for companies that break environmental regulations; they stand up and criticize that as well.
    Perhaps at some point, the New Democrats could join with us as we protect the environment and develop the resource industry across this country, which they hate.

Tourism Industry

    Mr. Speaker, almost one in 10 Canadian jobs are tied to tourism. Yesterday, the Canadian Tourism Commission confirmed that international visits to Canada have plunged under the Conservative government. We used to be the world's seventh most visited country. We have dropped to 18th. The government's mismanagement is costing middle-class jobs and businesses right across Canada.
    Why is the government spending millions promoting its own failed economic policies to Canadians, while slashing the budget for promoting Canada to potential tourists abroad?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to tell my hon. colleague that I recently had the opportunity to travel to India with the Canadian Tourism Commission. I saw Canadian exporters selling their goods to Indian buyers and inviting them to come to Canada. I can say that the number of foreign visitors, especially from India, is on the rise, as is the number of visitors from China.
    We asked the Canadian Tourism Commission to focus its efforts on these emerging markets because people who come to visit Canada from those countries stay longer and spend more money visiting the wonders of Canada.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, did the minister just not hear the facts put to him? The facts of the matter are that on international tourism, Canada has dropped from 7th in visits to 18th. In terms of attractions, Parks Canada has cut staff, increased entry fees and implemented user fees. That is a negative to attracting tourism. The Canadian Tourism Commission's spending has been cut to the point that we are spending one-third what Australia does. That is also a negative to attracting tourism.
    Why can the government not promote tourism in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I just want to let my colleague know that the mandate of the Canadian Tourism Commission is not to promote tourism in Canada. It is to promote Canada outside our country; it is to promote our country to our visitors. That is the mandate of CTC. He must know that and it is doing that very well. The numbers are increasing. We have more visitors from abroad and I am very proud of the work done by the CTC.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when I asked my question yesterday about the closure of the Percé wharf, the minister did not seem to grasp the urgency of the situation.
    This morning, the mayor of Percé explained the situation in his own way when he removed the barrier, reopening the wharf to pedestrians. The wharf is one of the region's key tourist attractions. Closing it condemns the entire Gaspé region.
    Can the minister assure this House that the necessary work will be done in the next few days?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I assure the member opposite that we take the safety of the users as our primary focus. As a result, we have closed access to the wharf for vehicles and pedestrians. We will continue to examine our next steps in conjunction with the local authorities.

  (1500)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the situation is urgent.
    The minister has been aware of the wharf's state of disrepair for years now, yet he did nothing. Following a formal demand from the town and thanks to our questions here in the House and public pressure, engineers finally went to assess the condition of the Percé wharf.
    Is the minister aware of the deplorable state of other wharves in the region? Will he commit to the House to no longer let federal wharves deteriorate so badly that they have to be closed? Will he commit here today to repairing the Percé wharf immediately?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite is fully aware what the role of the small craft harbour is and our primary focus is core harbour fishing wharves. There are approximately three full-time fishermen using the harbour in Percé, about $250,000 worth of landed value a year. The primary purpose of the wharf is for tourism.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, our government supports Canadian jobs from coast to coast to coast. We have a plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Our message does not change, whether we are in Canada or abroad. The leader of the NDP on the other hand, pits one region against another by referring to our natural resource sector as “a disease and a curse”.
    Could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources update the House on the work the minister is doing to promote Canada's natural resource sector?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for Westlock—St. Paul for this timely question. The Minister of Natural Resources is in Europe this week to advocate in favour of Canadian jobs and Canadian natural resources.
    The Leader of the Opposition takes a very different position. He said yesterday that he agrees with the claim that our resources are a curse. First a disease, then a curse. This is a real embarrassment to all of us that the NDP never misses a chance to oppose Canadian jobs. Our government is determined to defend Canadians, Canadian jobs and Canadian communities.

Library and Archives Canada

    Mr. Speaker, hell hath no fury like a librarian scorned. As we heard here earlier, he is going to have a polite conversation. I hope it is a nasty one. Mr. Caron has a track record that is not successful with librarians and archivists. He asked us in this House to invite Mr. Caron to the committee. It is not us you have to convince; it is your colleagues, your Conservative colleagues—
    Order. The hon. member knows well to address his comments through the Chair and not directly at his colleagues. He has a few seconds left to finish his question, and I hope he remembers that.
    Mr. Speaker, to make matters worse, he is charging $64 an hour to learn Spanish, to add insult to injury.
    What is he going to say to Mr. Caron? When is he going to do it? Make sure it is a tough conversation. Gracias, señor presidente.
    Mr. Speaker, I have said outside this House, and I say it again in this House that spending at Library and Archives Canada must be directed at serving Canadians, not at serving oneself. I will be having that conversation with the head of Library and Archives Canada.

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, back in 2010, the Minister of Finance said he believed we should consider a modest, phased-in and fully funded enhancement to defined benefits under the Canada pension plan. However, then Conservatives flip-flopped, backtracked and set arbitrary criteria for provincial consensus. The required level of provincial support already exists. Why are Conservatives adding new and blatantly unnecessary roadblocks to essential CPP and QPP expansion?
    Mr. Speaker, discussions continue between the provinces and the federal government, because it is shared jurisdiction with the Canada pension plan. Any changes made to that require consensus with the provinces. The opposition does not seem to be able to understand that.
    In the meantime, we had consensus amongst all of the finance ministers to move forward with the pooled registered pension plan, and that is what we have done. Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have all tabled their own legislation. We encourage the opposition to actually get on board and support retirement income for Canadians.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, while our Conservative government is standing up for Canada's economy with Bill C-60, economic action plan 2013 act, no. 1, later today the opposition is planning to vote against it. Why are NDP and Liberal MPs saying no to more support for manufacturers, saying no to increased support for infrastructure in our cities and towns, saying no to new tax relief for parents adopting a child or for Canadians who give to a charity?
    Can the Minister of Finance please update this House on the status of Bill C-60?

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Mississauga East—Cooksville for the question. I also ask why the NDP and Liberal MPs plan to vote against Bill C-60, the first step in implementing the economic action plan, 2013.
    I am deeply disappointed that they would oppose job-creating measures to help manufacturers while denying support for vulnerable Canadians in the form of palliative care, veterans disability benefits and library services for the blind. I call on the NDP and Liberal members to—
    The hon. member for York South—Weston.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, there were four muggings of students for their phones, from one school, in my riding last week. Cellphone thefts have doubled in Toronto over the past three years, and this is a growing problem in high schools across the country. Carriers are trying to track and deactivate stolen cellphones, but they need help from Parliament. They want to make it illegal to tamper with serial numbers. My private member's Bill C-482 does exactly that.
    Why are Conservatives not serious about removing the incentive to steal cellphones in the first place? Why will they not support our smart-on-crime bill?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association recently announced that it would work with industry to eliminate this problem, and our government supports it.
    We hope the NDP will support our policies as well. As far as wireless services are concerned, we will have a fourth player across the country in order to offer affordable prices, better competition and better choices for consumers. Instead of talking out of both sides of their mouths, the NDP members are encouraged to support these measures.

Government Programs

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development praised social finance as a way of providing services to the public. The needs are great because the government keeps gutting its own programs and withdrawing from them.
    The government is cutting pensions, leaving more seniors in poverty. It made cuts to employment insurance, leaving more workers, families and communities in poverty. It is cutting social housing, leaving more people without a decent place to live.
    Does the minister realize that her strategy for privatizing federal government services is not fooling anyone?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely wrong. Our government wants to work with all sectors, non-profit and private alike, to develop and identify good ideas for improving life for the least fortunate, whether they are homeless or have a disability. People outside this House have good ideas, and we want to work with them and these investors who want a better Canada.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[Translation]

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not want to waste precious time, so I will begin speaking about Bill C-60.
    The measures set out in Bill C-60 concerning the CBC could not have come with more ironic timing. Last Friday was World Press Freedom Day.
    Throughout the world, May 3 serves as a reminder of the important role a pluralistic, free, independent press plays in a democracy. However, this year also marked Canada's drop in the world press freedom index rankings. Last year, Reporters Without Borders, a respected organization, ranked us 10th. This year, Canada is ranked 20th, behind Costa Rica, Namibia, Andorra and Liechtenstein. We fell 10 spots in one year.
    Reporters Without Borders mentions a number of factors to explain this astonishing drop. It noted the Government of Canada's actions, specifically the threats to the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. Take note, members opposite.
    The government finds itself in a serious and surprising situation. This is another brick in the wall of shame that is actively being built here in Ottawa. Our international reputation is all but destroyed. Do I need to point that out? Moreover, the government is steadily attacking the CBC day after day, which is only making matters worse.
    Those attacks continue with Bill C-60, which allows the government to have a say in employees' working conditions and certain journalists' salaries. That is a shocking infringement on the public broadcaster's independence. It is clear that Bill C-60 challenges the CBC's independence, particularly its journalistic and editorial independence.
    Canadians across the country have been writing to us—to me and my colleagues—for days to express their dismay and anger over the government's attempt to hijack management of the CBC. The CBC has been at arm's length from the government for nearly 80 years; it is a democratic tradition.
     Liberal and Conservative prime ministers have done what they had to do throughout that time; that is, a number of governments from both parties have taken the opportunity to cut the CBC’s budget, but they all have chosen to respect the independence of the public broadcaster. Governments come and go, but they do not meddle with the independence of the CBC.
     Today, it is clear that it is not very difficult to tear that down. It takes an insidious bill, a bill like this one, that gives the government the right to impose collective agreements, to decide the terms of employment for non-unionized employees and the salaries of journalists, bureau chiefs and news anchors.
     To date, every government had restrained itself and chosen to respect a broadcaster funded by taxpayers, yes, but accountable not to the government, but directly to the public. It is that very restraint that characterizes the conduct of democratic governments toward the public broadcasters they fund.

  (1510)  

[English]

    Over the last few days, hundreds of Canadians have written to me as heritage critic for the official opposition and to my colleagues. I am sure that members in the government benches across the floor have also received a lot of emails about this. Canadians are angry about this attempt to threaten the independence of the CBC. Canadians are angry about the government's attempt to end 80 years of independent public broadcasting in this country, free from interference from the government.

[Translation]

    I have the feeling that people are frankly outraged that the government would dare to meddle with what is actually a democratic tradition in Canada: the healthy distance between government and public broadcaster.
     It is that distance that means that a CBC journalist can report that $3.1 billion simply disappeared from the government’s books and still know that his employer will not be asking him to tone it down in the next report because the minister is twisting its arm. It is that distance that means that a news anchor can decide that such information deserves to be given to Canadians, without having to worry that the government thus tarnished might decide to interfere in his next employment contract.
     We see that the government wants to apply the same medicine to other cultural crown corporations like the National Arts Centre, Telefilm Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts. The cultural community is speaking out against this. The Independent Media Arts Alliance, in particular, has denounced the threat to the statutory independence of the Canada Council for the Arts. In a letter to the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the alliance states that doing this is harmful to the spirit and principle of a crown corporation.
     I note that these principles of independence are laid out by the Canada Council for the Arts. In its fundamental values, it states that it maintains “an arm’s length relationship from government, which allows the Council to develop policies and programs and make decisions without undue political pressure or influence”.
     The Canada Council also supports “freedom of artistic expression from control or dominance by external forces such as governments and markets”, a value to be reinforced by the arm’s length relationship.
     We know that these measures will have a negative effect on the delivery of the services provided by these cultural agencies and their ability to attract personnel.
     Obviously, the Conservatives’ goal is to diminish the independence of these public institutions, which play important roles for creators in particular. The Conservatives seem to be exhibiting a complete lack of interest in the very concept of an independent crown corporation: the space there has to be between government, politics and crown corporations.
     The leader of our party, my colleague from Outremont, summarized the problem well yesterday afternoon. When it comes to advancing its ideological agenda, the government is not the least bit bothered about interfering with independent crown corporations. For example, it tells them how to manage their employees, how to administer collective agreements, what salaries are appropriate and how many pencil sharpeners and paper clips they should buy.
     However, when a problem arises in those crown corporations, the government waves the white flag and says it has nothing to do with them. When a crown corporation makes a mistake or its managers do something wrong, all of a sudden the government cannot do anything. They are independent crown corporations. That is very handy. Suddenly, the statutory independence and arm’s length status of crown corporations is back in fashion, according to the government.
     But it gets worse. As members undoubtedly know, Library and Archives Canada is our national archives. It is an institution that is the guardian of our most precious historical documents and even a few artifacts from the War of 1812—for the pleasure of Library and Archives Canada. However, things are not going well over there. In the opinion of the archivists, librarians, archaeologists, historians and numerous professions that have previously been represented at Library and Archives Canada, things are even going very badly.
     Acquisitions of historical documents have virtually come to a halt. There has been a full stop in document lending to other libraries, researchers and historians not based in the national capital.
     Let us talk about this code of conduct imposed on the employees, professionals, experts and scientists at Library and Archives Canada, prohibiting them from attending conferences without authorization, one of several faux pas—including the one we talked about earlier—of a public institution out of control.
     When we went to see the Minister of Heritage, who incidentally seemed embarrassed, and we asked him whether he was going to intervene and whether he thought, as we did, that all this was going too far, he dared answer us that Library and Archives Canada is an independent crown corporation. That is what he said in the House and subsequently in Le Devoir.
     Once again, if a problem arises that makes them uncomfortable, they quickly hit the panic button and say it is not their fault.
     In this case, however, the minister is on the wrong track because Library and Archives Canada is not at all an independent crown corporation. Not at all. According to its mandate, it is part of the federal government under the administration of the Minister of Heritage. There is nothing less independent than that, unless the minister himself fills the coffee machine.
     It seems difficult for this government to grasp the concepts of crown corporation, independence from government, arm's length and independence. They seem subtle. These crown corporations are independent. This is not complicated. For better or for worse, whether or not it pleases the government, they are constituted as entities independent of the government, in the public interest, because they must have some distance from political power.
     As for the government, the Conservative Party may make a show of many principles, but I would like it to show a little consistency. Are crown corporations independent or not? They will have to make a choice.
     In conclusion, apart from this budget that hurts the Canadian economy, apart from these same old solutions, as the Parliamentary Budget Officer has shown, these same old austerity measures that will slow growth and cost thousands of jobs, apart from this economic shambles and lack of vision, hundreds of people have written to us because they are concerned about the independence of their public broadcaster, the CBC.
     Ian Morrison, the spokesman for Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, recalled that the difference between a public broadcaster and a state broadcaster lies in its distance from the government.
     In addition, tens of thousands of signatories to petitions, including that of friends.ca, have reaffirmed their support for the independence of the CBC.
     CBC management clearly questions the relevance of this government initiative. It states that its employees are neither public servants nor servants of Her Majesty, and it says it needs flexibility so that it can attract the necessary talent.
    CBC unions have denounced the attack on free collective bargaining and the fact that the government is taking control, violating the Telecommunications Act and giving itself the right to intervene in the CBC's production operations, finances and day-to-day business.
    Like many other crown corporations, in particular cultural ones, the CBC must remain free of political interference. Public broadcasting, by its very nature, means that the broadcaster represents and speaks on behalf of our culture, not the government.
    I join the legions of Canadians who are opposed to this attempt to undermine the independence of public broadcasting in this country, and I urge the government to abandon this measure.

  (1515)  

    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate my colleague, who does an excellent job as official opposition heritage critic.
    I would like to hear him talk more about independence, about the freedom of expression that CBC/Radio-Canada has always had and that is the basis for art, culture and artistic expression in all its forms, not only in Canada, but in all democratic countries. It is so important that it is even reflected in administration. Interference is unacceptable, especially when it has to do with a corporation that represents the interests of all Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    I would like to hear my colleague talk more about how important it is for an organization like the CBC to be independent.

  (1520)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for being so passionate about identity issues.
    He is correct. The CBC is definitely the most objective source of information for all Canadians. Unfortunately, that is what is in jeopardy here. The CBC is a crown corporation, and it objectively reports the news about different trends in the country every night. Unfortunately, that is currently in jeopardy. It cannot work any other way.
    For example, if a journalist talks about an EI protest in the Magdalen Islands, he will find out the hard way that he should not have done so when the time comes to negotiate his contract with the government.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I believe it is important to recognize that one of the greatest expenditures we have here in Canada, especially being administered by the different provinces, is the cost of health care.
    I have had numerous cards sent to me by my constituents. The message they want me to convey directly to the Prime Minister is that the federal government needs to play a stronger role when it comes to financing health care and maintaining health care standards. That is what my constituents are telling me.
    When we think of the health care accord, which expires in 2014, it is absolutely critical that we have negotiations for a new health care accord if, in fact, we want to deliver the type of health care Canadians expect to see.
    My question to the member is this. Does he believe that the Prime Minister is not doing his job by not meeting with the first ministers and being able to come up with the new health care accord, because of the long-term implications on federal budgets going forward?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals and the NDP do not always agree, but I should acknowledge here that my colleague has touched on a very specific and apt point: the Prime Minister and his government have no interest in the provinces and do not want to consult them.
    The Conservatives obviously believe they have all the answers regarding what should be done and what is realistic and pragmatic. As with most of the files we have been dealing with for the past few months, if not two years now, the government will impose a very narrow vision that sidesteps any consultation of the provincial premiers.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my question to my colleague is following my meeting last night with many people of the ethno-culturally diverse press as they were celebrating the 20th anniversary of World Press Freedom Day.
    We learned that in the budget there are cuts after cuts, of course, but also that the government wants to control crown corporations like the CBC, which is the public broadcaster. It needs to maintain its independence in order for the press to have that freedom.
    I would like my colleague to comment a little bit further, if he can, about the importance of the freedom of our press.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend a warm thank you to my colleague for her welcome at the start of my speech. I must say that she is very tolerant, because she was quite hidden behind a barricade.
    Her question is entirely in keeping with her conscientiousness and her meeting, yesterday, with people who were concerned about journalistic freedom of expression. It is crucial.
    All journalists have the right to hope for access to an objective desk and to tell stories that reflect reality as they perceive it in their work. It is extremely important and worrisome to see that it is not just on environmental issues that we look like dunces on the international scene; we look bad on this issue, too.
    The bills that have been introduced recently, including Bill C-461, clearly stem from a narrow-minded vision, a relentless attack on a corporation—

  (1525)  

    Order. I have to stop the hon. member there and give the floor to the hon. member for Pontiac.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek unanimous consent to move the following motion: That notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, clauses 228 to 232 related to the Financial Administration Act and collective bargaining between crown corporations and their employees, be removed from Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, and do compose Bill C-62; that Bill C-62 be deemed read a first time and be printed; that the order for second reading of the said bill provide for the referral to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates; that Bill C-60 retain the status on the order paper that it had prior to the adoption of this order; that Bill C-60 be reprinted as amended; and that the law clerk and parliamentary counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections as may be necessary to give effect to this motion.
    We are proposing this motion because we believe that this section of the omnibus Bill C-60 is extremely important and complex and that it must be studied carefully as a separate bill.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to move this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Speaker: There is no unanimous consent.

[English]

    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources.
    Mr. Speaker, today I am speaking in the House of Commons in support of economic action plan 2013. This piece of legislation is an integral part of continuing Canada's economic success.
    Economic action plan 2013 would implement constructive job growth measures. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business said:
...this is a good budget for small business. ...[the Minister of Finance] has done a solid job by remaining on course to eliminate the deficit while announcing some important measures for Canada's entrepreneurs.
    This is something extremely important to the entrepreneurs in my riding of Simcoe—Grey.

[Translation]

    The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal said:
    We welcome the government's commitment to maintain focus on a balanced budget in 2015-2016 without increasing the tax burden, while putting in place a new plan for our infrastructure and proposing measures to support innovation, research and collaboration between companies and academic institutions.

[English]

    I would like to remind my colleagues that strengthening Canada's economic and fiscal well-being has been a top priority of our government for the last seven years. With an uncertain global economy, we remain focused on ensuring Canada offers the right environment to attract the business investment necessary to create more and better-paying jobs, improving the standard of living of all Canadians. We do that knowing that we already have a strong economic record, one that Canadians can look to and trust as we once again face economic headwinds emanating from abroad.

[Translation]

    Contrary to what the official opposition may believe, our economic policies to date, epitomized through Canada’s economic action plan, have worked and placed Canada on the right track.

[English]

    Margaret Thatcher once said, “Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” Our government's plan has provided Canada with competitive advantage for today, an advantage on which we will capitalize to ensure prosperity for tomorrow.
    The facts speak for themselves. Since taking office in 2006, our government has pursued a positive agenda to make Canada's economy stronger, thus helping to create better, high-quality jobs. This has included lowering taxes over 150 times, supporting entrepreneurs and opening more markets to Canadian goods with increased trade deals.
    Canada has more than recovered all of its output as well as all of the jobs lost during the recession. In fact, since July 2009, employment has increased by almost 900,000 net new jobs, the strongest job growth among the G7 countries over the recovery. Real GDP is now significantly above pre-recession levels, showing the best performance in the G7.
    While it is gratifying to highlight Canada's economic strengths, we also know we cannot afford to be complacent. Today's advantages will not carry forward into tomorrow simply by good luck or good intentions. This is especially true in an all too volatile global economy. Though coming from beyond our borders, a number of external threats have had, and can have, severe consequences on the Canadian economy. Members can rest assured that the government is cognizant of these challenges and will remain focused and disciplined on the things that we can control. That is why economic action plan 2013 sets out a low-tax plan to eliminate the deficit and return to balanced budgets by 2015-16.
     Economic action plan 2013 sets out a plan that I know my riding of Simcoe—Grey would benefit from this year and for years to come. Let me highlight some of its key components.
    Canadians count on good, reliable, lasting infrastructure. It is important to our quality of life and strengthens our communities. That is why our government launched the building Canada plan in 2007, the largest federal infrastructure plan in our nation's history. In fact, over the last six years the federal government has supported over 43,000 infrastructure projects across the country, and this year we are going even further. We will be moving forward with a new building Canada plan.
    One key component of that plan is an indexed gas tax fund payment. The economic action plan would allow for increases to the payments made under the fund starting in 2014-15. Payments are currently $2 billion per year; this index would see the sum increase by $100 million increments year over year. In Simcoe—Grey, municipalities would benefit immensely from this, with upgraded roads, bridges and rail.

  (1530)  

[Translation]

    As mentioned, this is only one component of our government’s plan to provide over $70 billion in predictable infrastructure funding for the next 10 years—the largest and longest federal investment in job-creating infrastructure in Canadian history.

[English]

    The reality is that whether it is building better roads to reduce congestion and keep people and goods moving or building bridges that link us to each other, infrastructure is key to our nation's success.
    The economy and job creation remain job number one for our Conservative government. While Canada is on the right track, today there are Canadians seeking work while Canadian businesses are looking to hire skilled workers. The Canada job grant, which is part of economic action plan 2013, is our government's newest measure to bring employers and Canadians together. Through the Canada job grant, funds from the federal government would be matched by both provinces and territories as well as employers to help ensure that Canadians get the skills required for the high-demand jobs of today.
    This initiative would allow both small and large companies, such as Honda in Alliston, Munro in Essa, Creemore Springs in Creemore, Sheldon Creek Dairy in Loretto, and Hamilton Bros. in Glen Huron, to ensure that their employees have the skills they need to succeed. A shortage of skilled tradespeople could hold Canada's economy back.
    With a demand for skilled workers to maintain economic growth and with Canadians still looking for work across the country, this is a priority for our Conservative government. It is taking action to help ensure that Canadians are connected to jobs and the economy so that we have the skilled tradespeople we require for economic growth and long-term prosperity.
    As members know, there have been growing concerns regarding decreased water levels in the Canadian Great Lakes, in particular in my riding of Simcoe—Grey with Georgian Bay, which is bordered by the towns of Blue Mountain, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach.
     The Great Lakes are not only the natural pride and joy of our local residents but are implicitly tied to the housing and property markets in the region and are important drivers of the local tourism economy in Simcoe—Grey.
    Economic action plan 2013 would aid in sustaining our Great Lakes by reviewing the findings of a study requested by the International Joint Commission. Our government is working diligently to review the findings and recommendations of the International Joint Commission's work on water levels to make sure that the upper Great Lakes are a focus and have been a focus of this government so that all Canadians can enjoy this region of the country for years to come.
    Farm families are also the backbone of our country, as they are in my riding of Simcoe—Grey, whether potato growers or apple growers. This is why our Conservative government has delivered support to farmers and the agricultural sector since 2006. We have invested in Growing Forward 2, which supports innovation, competitiveness and market development for Canada's agriculture sector.
    As part of economic action plan 2013, we are delivering on a number of new measures to support Canadian farmers, including increasing and indexing the lifetime capital gains exemption to $800,000, thus making it easier for farmers to plan for their retirement and transfer their family farms to the next generation, which is something I hear about every day in my riding.
    We are also helping part-time farmers by doubling the current deduction limit under the restricted farm loss income tax rates from $9,750 to $17,000.
    This government is committed to supporting and recognizing veterans. The government is proud to honour the dedication and sacrifice of those Canadians who served our country in the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War.
    Economic action plan 2013 confirms that total investments of $1.9 billion over seven years would be made to ensure that disabled, ill and aging veterans and their families would receive the support they need. This is something I have heard about at significant length because CFB Borden is a sizable base in my riding where we train hundreds upon hundreds of Canadians to make sure our military is strong.
    Economic action plan 2013 proposes to simplify the funeral and burial program and more than double its reimbursement rate from $3,600 to $7,376.

  (1535)  

[Translation]

    I strongly believe that all of the initiatives I have highlighted today will greatly benefit the people of Canada, by creating a higher standard of living for Canadians today and a more prosperous nation that will continue to be a world leader tomorrow.

[English]

    Winston Churchill once said that he was easily satisfied with the very best, and I take those words to heart.
    The government and I both aim to deliver the very best to Canadians and to the people in Simcoe—Grey. Thus, I ask the members of this House to support the swift passage of this bill and to facilitate the implementation of Canada's economic action plan 2013, a bill that I know would provide the very best in economic opportunities to my constituents in Simcoe—Grey and to Canadians across the country.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-60, the one we are currently studying, will alone amend about 50 acts. Just one vote will be held in the House to pass an array of measures.
    I am interested in one in particular, and I would like to ask the parliamentary secretary a question about the Investment Canada Act.
    The bill provides that businesses controlled by WTO investors will see the level of investment in Canada increase to $1 billion in three years before a review is conducted by the Minister of Industry. The bill also provides that foreign state-owned enterprises, such as Chinese companies, will not have access to this higher level.
    However, that contradicts the foreign investment protection agreements, including the Canada-China agreement, which state that any enterprise, including state-owned enterprises that have a foothold, will have the same rights as Canadian enterprises.
    Why is the government moving toward an amendment to the Investment Canada Act that goes against international trade agreements it wants to sign?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to be very clear. Our government is very focused on making sure that we have a broad and focused trade agenda and also that investments in Canada benefit Canadians. We have been clear on supporting free trade and moving forward on making sure that free trade opportunities exist for Canadians. The NDP and particularly the NDP leader think that the best way to deal with this is by trashing Canadians abroad; we are very focused on growing our trade agenda to make sure that individuals will invest in Canada and that Canadians feel comfortable investing abroad.
    Mr. Speaker, if I were a constituent of my hon. colleague from Simcoe—Grey, I would not be satisfied with her remarks about the International Joint Commission's study on the low water levels in the upper Great Lakes. They were rather vague.
    If I were her constituent, I would be insisting that the government do a serious economic study to find out the economic impact of low water levels, because that would tell us how much money we are willing to invest in a solution to manage the water levels in all of the Great Lakes, water levels that are affecting my constituents on the shores of Lake Ontario as well.
    Is the government willing to commit to a serious economic study of the dollar impact of low water levels on the upper Great Lakes and, indeed, the entire Great Lakes economy?

  (1540)  

    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, it is of significant concern, and because of that significant concern, this government has acted, unlike the Liberals.
    Over a whole series of years, we have seen decreased water levels, and the Liberals never acted. They never commented on this file, never even understood what was going on. Members here were involved, whether it was the member for Simcoe North, the member for Bruce—Grey—Owen Sound or myself. We have taken action.
    We are focused on this issue. Our government is focused on this file, and we are going to do great work to make sure it gets resolved.
    Mr. Speaker, when I listen to New Democrats opposite talk about economic policy, their economic policy can be summed up in one word: spend. That is all they propose: spend, spend, spend. Not only that, they want to create an economic climate that will not create the wealth to generate any government revenues.
    I would like to ask my hon. colleague this question: does she think that a country can spend itself rich?
    Mr. Speaker, this government has been focused on tax reduction. We have reduced taxes over the course of this government over 150 times. Canadians now have over $3,200 more in their pockets than they had prior to a Conservative government. That is very different from the approach of the NDP and very different from the approach of the Liberals when they were in government. Taxes were either increased, in the case of the Liberals, or would be increased, in the case of the NDP. We are focused on a low-tax plan to make sure Canadians can have good Canadian jobs as well as long-term prosperity.

[Translation]

Message from the Senate

    I have the honour to inform the House that a message has been received from the Senate informing the House that the Senate has passed the following bill, to which the concurrence of the House is desired: Bill S-17, An Act to implement conventions, protocols, agreements and a supplementary convention, concluded between Canada and Namibia, Serbia, Poland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Switzerland, for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes.

[English]

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
    Mr. Speaker, let us be clear. Budgets are about choices. They are also about influence. The Conservatives have made their choices and they have made them on the basis of their ideology and on those lobbyists who are closest to the PMO. Let us be clear: those lobbyists are the largest and wealthiest corporations and CEOs of this country.
     I will admit their ideology rests on a theory, a theory much flaunted by them, that of the Chicago School of Business, that of Friedman and Hayek, what has been called anarcho-capitalism. These academics created a vision for a utopian capitalist society where the role of the state was limited to ensuring the protection of its citizens. The reality is that most of the members in leadership positions on that side do not really believe in the Canadian state. They want to minimize its democratic influence on the economy, and that means austerity wherever it can be had. Do not get me wrong: the Prime Minister and his lieutenants are incrementalists to their own admission, so they are in it for the long haul, knowing that they are confronted with the fact that the vast majority of Canadians in their heart of hearts fundamentally disagree with their dog-eat-dog philosophy. Why do we think they want to rewrite history and get involved in imposing curricula on schools? It is because they want to shape the minds of future generations to their vision.
    But as incrementalists, we cannot expect them to be obvious about it. Their excuse for imposing austerity on Canadians is always based on their ideological buzzwords: jobs, growth and prosperity. The common sense revolution all over again. Well the reality is that their approach makes no sense at all for creating jobs, growth and prosperity. Let us consider the facts.
    Despite having chosen the path of austerity, Europe, the U.S. and the Canadian economy are not getting any better and the world economic crisis, despite a few good weeks here and there, is nowhere close to the long-term sustainable recovery and strength we have seen in the past. The Conservatives have had to contort themselves to make any sense out of this and how their pie in the sky ideology is not working. That is because their heads are trapped in a utopian, capitalist, ideological cloud. The reality is that ever since a modern free market has existed, there has always been state intervention, and in most cases it has been positive.
    The Conservative approach is also based on another myth, a sacred cow so to speak, that somehow corporations invest the savings from tax cuts back into their operations, thus creating jobs, expanding the economy, and generating even bigger revenues for governments. From this perspective, governments should keep slashing corporate taxes, presumably right down to zero. If the tax cuts of recent years continue, that state of nirvana will be reached in 20 years. This is their belief and it is a belief empty of facts. In fact, the worst financial years have always been under conservative governments. Reagan and Thatcher in the 1980s, Bush and now the present Prime Minister are examples of how extreme conservative economic policies lead to greater crises in the economy, not less.
    I am exaggerating right, because I am a social democrat? Well, in 2000, the combined federal-provincial tax rate was just over 42%. A decade later this figure has fallen to 28%. The Conservative government would cut it to 25% by fiscal 2013. Members can do the math.
    The problem that members might be wondering about is that Conservatives have forgotten about something very simple: globalization. What the other benches do not understand is that there is no guarantee in a global market that corporations will reinvest in jobs in countries to which they have no loyalty. Members should not take it from me, here is what The Globe and Mail had to say about it:
    Canadian companies have added tens of billions of dollars to their stockpiles of cash at a time when tax cuts are supposed to be encouraging them to plow more money into their businesses....But an analysis of Statistics Canada figures by The Globe and Mail reveals that the rate of investment in machinery and equipment has declined in lockstep with falling corporate tax rates over the past decade. At the same time, the analysis shows, businesses have added $83 billion to their cash reserves since the onset of the recession in 2008.

  (1545)  

    However, what big corporations seem to be doing quite well is investing in themselves and in their salaries. The rate paid for a CEO is up at least 100% since the recession. Saved tax dollars are going into bigger salaries, not helping the economy or suffering Canadians.
    Also large corporations are now more likely to hide this money than use it. The Globe and Mail reported that, “Investment in equipment and machinery has fallen to 5.5 per cent in 2010 as a share of Canada's total economic output from 6.8 per cent in 2005 and 7.7 per cent in 2000.”
    Buying machinery is a good thing, and expanding one's business means stimulating the economy and creating jobs. Now all of this is not to talk about the human cost, which is to drive up the rate of exploitation of the workforce. Their main tactic is to increase the proportion of profit and salary while simultaneously taking advantage of hard economic times to reduce labour costs, and we wonder why they want Canadians to be paid as little as foreign workers. Temporary foreign workers should not be making a substandard wage in the first place. Not surprisingly, the average level of unemployment among Canadian workers rose dramatically during these Conservative government golden years.
    In other words, tax breaks and handouts have failed to live up to the predictions of Conservative economists and politicians. The gap between the rich and the working class is at record levels. Over 1.5 million Canadians remain unemployed, and that is just according to understated official figures.
    Funding for social programs, health and education is clearly not a priority, and corporate CEOs and shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank.
    Another study released on April 6 by the Canadian Centre of Policy Alternatives shows that, “After a decade of corporate tax cuts, the benefits to Canada’s largest corporations are clear but the job creation payoff for Canadians hasn’t materialized.” The study tracked 198 companies on the S&P/TSX composite index from 2000 to 2009. Those 198 companies are making 50% more profit and paying 20% less tax than they did a decade ago, but in terms of job creation, “they did not keep up with the average growth of employment in the economy as a whole. From 2005 to 2010, the number of employed Canadians rose 6% while the number of jobs created by the companies in this study grew by only 5%.”
    We on the benches on this side of the House have a different approach, a more balanced one, which takes into consideration the needs of small and medium-sized businesses that, contrary to the lobbyists in the PMO's office, actually create the majority of jobs in this country.
    No, we have a different approach, which balances the needs of small and medium-sized businesses with those of average Canadian families of the middle class and the working class.

  (1550)  

[Translation]

    Bill C-60 does not address Canadians' real concerns. Instead of adopting meaningful measures to create jobs, the Conservatives are imposing austerity measures that will stifle economic growth. Furthermore, the Conservatives' omnibus budget flouts Canadian democracy. It is an underhanded attack on this country's workers.
    Bill C-60 makes changes that allow the government to direct a crown corporation to have its negotiating mandate approved by the Treasury Board in order to enter into a collective agreement with a union. These amendments affect 49 crown corporations and hundreds of employees. Under the provisions of Bill C-60, if the government directs a crown corporation to have its negotiating mandate approved by the Treasury Board, then the Treasury Board can impose whatever it wants in terms of the crown corporation's employees' working conditions. Furthermore, no crown corporation receiving such a government order will be able to reach a collective agreement without Treasury Board approval.
    This government and its ministers, in an effort to rid themselves of any responsibility, have repeated over and over that crown corporations operate at arm's length from the government. However, the changes in Bill C-60 violate the fundamental principle of the operational independence of crown corporations.
    The changes proposed in Bill C-60 constitute an attack on the right to free collective bargaining in Canada.
    We must oppose this budget, and as official opposition Treasury Board critic, that is what I am doing. That is my duty.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech because it clearly exposes the NDP for what it is. NDP members may have tried to expunge the word “socialism” from their constitution, but it is quite obvious that socialism, an incredibly failed experiment, is alive and well on the other side of the House.
    His trash-talking of Canadian corporations that generate wealth, profit and funding for this country is simply disgraceful. Given that he hates corporations, and given that many union pension funds are full of Canadian corporate stocks that fund the retirement of workers, would he recommend to his union friends that they sell all of their corporate stock?
    Mr. Speaker, let me set the record straight. I do not hate corporations. What I do not like is when corporations do not pay their taxes and when the Conservative government only gives tax breaks to the wealthiest of our country. That is what I am against. If a corporation is a responsible social actor in our society, it clearly has a place.
    Also, the member forgot to listen to that part of my speech where I talked about promoting small and medium-sized businesses. The member would know that the Conservatives have cut tons of taxes for large corporations in comparison to cutting them for small and medium-sized businesses.
    Mr. Speaker, one of the things I never hear the government talk about is those individuals who find themselves unemployed after working for a number of years. Thousands of jobs have been lost in our manufacturing industry over the last few years. Quite often, it is the core of the middle class who are leaving a job that has a decent salary and trying to get employment again at that same salary rate, but it is becoming more and more difficult.
     Would the member comment regarding this issue not being debated enough inside the House?

  (1555)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for his question. I completely agree with him, which does not always happen with this particular member. However, in this case, I think we are fully in agreement.
    Unfortunately, the Conservative government has a very unbalanced approach with regard to promoting business in various sectors in this country. If we look at the amount of time that has been spent boosting up certain parts of our economy versus others, it is clear that the manufacturing industry in our country has been ignored for too long.
    We need to do something about stimulating growth, and the wholesale giving of our jobs to either Chinese companies or others is just not the right approach.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague mentioned SMEs, which are the economic backbone of many regions in Canada. They are very important to regional economic activity and growth from coast to coast to coast.
    He explained how important it is to keep them afloat and provide them with an economic environment that enables them to thrive. If the government violates their rights and does not allow these businesses to grow, how will we encourage new people to get involved in agriculture or culture?
    Could my colleague speak more to the importance of SMEs in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for his question. He is absolutely right.
    For example, in my riding of Pontiac, the vast majority of job creators are small and medium-sized businesses, especially those involved in tourism and in small boutiques in the towns.
    Small and medium-sized business owners are having a hard time, and the big business model will not help them. They need a tailor-made approach. The government must take their needs into consideration and act responsibly.
    It is unfortunate that this budget does not do that.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we live in an extraordinary time. Canadians are consistently expressing gratitude for our economic blessings. Again and again, we hear evidence why our economy, under our Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and this Conservative government, is truly the toast of the world. The evidence is clear: over 900,000 net new jobs since July 2009; the best debt-to-GDP ratio in the western world; and an investment climate which Forbes magazine calls number one in the world.
    My purpose in rising today is to highlight aspects of the environment which are integral to our economic success and which figure prominently in budget 2013. I hope by the end of this debate that my colleagues will share with me the notion that the environment is the economy; a notion that goes beyond the more traditional paradigm that suggests the economy and the environment must be in balance.
    I am delighted to work in a House where we have a Minister of the Environment who has worked relentlessly on improving climate change, both domestically and internationally. He has done a sector-by-sector effect of GHG assessment, recorded great accomplishments in responsible resource development, and with his predecessors has increased our parkland by over 50%. These are amazing accomplishments.
    Every time we consider whether environmental and economic factors are in balance, we are suggesting that the environment and the economy are in conflict with one another. Another way to articulate this supposed polarity is that the one must make sacrifice for the other to advance. In other words, we tend wrongly to start our discussion from the notion that the economy and the environment are at war with one another.
    In encouraging Canadians to rethink the economy and the environment, let us have a look at the importance of this discussion. The organization ECO Canada, a foundation which was founded in 1992 and is the country's largest online resource for environmental jobs, training and recruitment, says that some 682,000 jobs in Canada are directly related to the environment; that is, the people in those jobs spend 50% or more of their work time relating to the environment. That is a staggering number.
    Today I would like to point to our budget to reset the discussion around the notion that the environment is the economy. As we perhaps discuss the quality of life of Canadians, instead of how the economy and the environment are struggling against one another, our budget in its genius brings out many ways in which this government views our economy and our environment to be interrelated and coexisting.
    Starting with this, let us call it a fresh view of the interrelated environment and economy, how can we continue with policies of economic growth? How must our processes be designed to evaluate infrastructure projects that might facilitate responsible resource extraction?
    Constituents of mine, as individuals and in groups, have consistently expressed their support for Canada's economic success but have also stood for responsible environmental practices befitting of a riding which many call the most beautiful place on earth. Some of these proud Canadians include David Bromley, a world-renowned environmental engineer; the Sea to Sky Fisheries Roundtable coordinator Dave Brown; Carl Halvorson of the North Vancouver Outdoor School, based in Squamish; and Squamish First Nation Elder, Randall Lewis. Other groups and individuals who have articulated to me clearly the priority they put on fisheries habitat issues include the West Vancouver Streamkeeper group, including leaders such as John Barker and Mike Akerly, the Pacific Salmon Foundation, and the Future of Howe Sound Society.
    What is in this budget for fisheries? In the past and current sessions of this Parliament, ministers of fisheries and of the environment have visited our riding and have heard directly from stakeholders, such as those of whom I just spoke. They have heard loud and clear about the importance of protecting fish habitat.
    I am, therefore, especially proud to highlight two provisions in this budget which would respond directly to concerns such as those raised by these constituents.
    First, Ottawa would contribute $10 million over two years, across Canada, for partnerships with local groups on fisheries and habitat conservation measures. That is something that my colleagues and members right around this House ought to be rejoicing about. There is a direct relationship between this budget and the millions of Canadian volunteers, anglers and recreational fishers who would benefit from this excellent measure.

  (1600)  

    Second, the Vancouver-based Pacific Salmon Foundation would see its funding increase from about $300,000 a year to $1 million a year as a result of changes in how the government would allocate revenue from the sale of conservation stamps that fishermen would have to purchase when they acquire licences. The Pacific Salmon Foundation is one of the best organizations in Canada in terms of galvanizing volunteers and leveraging government funds many times over, so I am delighted that this foundation has made its voice heard in such an effective way.
    Let us look at conservation and biodiversity. John Fraser is in Ottawa today. He is a former minister of fisheries and of the environment. As you know, Mr. Speaker, he is a former Speaker of the House, whose 1991 decision influenced your recent decision concerning members' statements in the House. Mr. Fraser is one of many Conservatives who have created a strong environmental legacy. Among other things, he assisted former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in creating the acid rain treaty with the Americans to clean up our Great Lakes, and he contributed to the founding of a national park in what we now know as Haida Gwaii. Therefore, with the distinguished Mr. Fraser on Parliament Hill today, it is especially meaningful to refer to the remarkable record of this government regarding conservation and biodiversity.
    Environment Canada's collaboration with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and other organizations has resulted in the protection of more than 354,000 hectares, including habitat for 146 species at risk. Our investments include $10 million to safeguard the Flathead River Valley in British Columbia. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has added 148,754 square kilometres to Parks Canada's network of protected areas, which is a tremendous accomplishment for this Minister of the Environment and his predecessors. As a result, we have increased the total land and water that comes under our stewardship by more than half. The government's investment of $143 million over 10 years to create Canada's first national urban park in the Rouge Valley of Toronto is a fine example of action. John Fraser will be happy to hear that we are carrying on his great environmental legacy.
    What would be in the budget for the environment generally? Well, environmental concerns in B.C. would focus heavily on tanker safety, and Canada is a world-class regulator with an almost unblemished record of tanker safety on the west coast. The Government of Canada would take further action to ensure it continues this world-class tanker safety system for shipping oil and liquefied natural gas safely through Canada's waterways before any major new energy export facilities become operational. New measures would strengthen Canada's current system, including increased tanker inspections, new and modified aids to navigation, and the establishment of a Canadian Coast Guard incident command system, which would allow it to respond more effectively to an incident and integrate its operations with key partners. The government has also introduced the safeguarding Canada's seas and skies act, and a new expert panel to review Canada's current tanker safety and proposed measures to strengthen it.
    With the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, we would provide greater certainty for industry at the same time as increasing penalties in order to ensure compliance. This would allow our natural resources to be developed in a responsible and timely way. We would work to ensure accountability and transparency from industry by conducting a review of industry reporting through the national pollutant release inventory.
    These are other concrete examples of Canada strengthening its environmental protection, and there is more. The National Energy Board inspections of oil and gas pipelines would increase by 50% annually to improve pipeline safety across Canada. Canada would double the number of comprehensive audits of oil and gas pipelines to identify potential safety issues before they occur. New enforceable environmental assessment decision statements would ensure that proponents of resource and other economic projects would comply with required mitigation measures to protect the environment. New administrative monitoring penalties would be introduced for violations to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the National Energy Board Act to help ensure compliance. Companies that violate Canada's environmental laws would now face strong, stiff, new financial penalties.
    If members agree with me that the environment is the economy, they will note what the next provision means in terms of its distinctiveness from the previous Liberal approach on the environment which focused on endless debate, vague objectives and unenforceable provisions.

  (1605)  

    In contrast to that previous Liberal approach, budgets of this Conservative government have created a $1.5 billion trust fund to help provinces and territories invest in major projects that clean our air and result in real GHG emission reductions.
    This government is committed to reducing Canada's total GHG emissions by 17%, from 2005 levels, by 2020, and is halfway to meeting its target, a target that is inscribed in the Copenhagen accord. That is concrete and measurable evidence of progress on the environment.
    The government is also following a sector-by-sector regulatory approach to align with the United States to achieve GHG emission reductions. To date, stringent regulations to reduce GHG emissions in the electricity and transport sectors have been implemented. In addition, work is also under way to develop regulations for the oil and gas sector.
    Our environmental approach is comprehensive and will continue to include actions that create a cleaner healthier environment, improve the lives of Canadians, and support the development and deployment of new environmental and cleaner energy technologies.
    Let us look at a bit more of our history. To maintain a strong economy, Canada requires a healthy environment that provides sustainable resources and supports a high quality of life. That is why our government is committed to ensuring that Canada's enviable and pristine environment, never better evidenced than in the riding I represent, is protected and strengthened for current and future generations.
    In conclusion, our government listens to stakeholders and is convinced that the environment is the economy and that we are acting in measurable ways to protect it. Secondly, our government is protecting our fisheries. Thirdly, our government is making improvements on environmental protection in a practical and measurable way that allows for responsible resource development.

  (1610)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague a question about securities.
    The Supreme Court ruled that creating a national securities regulator would infringe on provincial jurisdiction. Therefore, according to the Constitution, securities regulation falls to the provinces.
    Why is the government choosing to go against the Supreme Court decision? Why does the budget include measures to continue working towards a national securities regulator when the government knows that the provinces are opposed to the idea and have jurisdiction over securities regulation? Why does this government not respect provincial jurisdictions?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her question.
    She was correct to emphasize the co-operation between various levels of government. Our minister and our government respect the division of powers between the levels of government, but it is crucial that we work together. That is why we are developing air quality legislation, for example. As parliamentarians, we must listen to the needs of our constituents.
    That is why our budget so closely reflects our country's needs. We are listening to the needs of the provinces and, more importantly, the needs of Canadians.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am also well acquainted with the superb environmental record of former Speaker John Fraser and his exemplary efforts to stop the destruction of environmental laws through Bill C-38. He signed a letter with three other former ministers of fisheries decrying that the current approach of this administration is to destroy environmental laws, pushing back the protection of fish habitat.
    As much as I think the world of the member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, he could not be more wrong about what his administration and his party are doing to environmental laws in this country. It is absolutely abominable to see CEAA destroyed, the Fisheries Act weakened and, by the way, the measures that he has described as being positive are not included in the bill we are discussing today.
    Mr. Speaker, I believe we have a great contributor to the debate in the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. Certainly, she exemplifies the importance of our government listening.
    Mr. Fraser certainly has been involved in that debate and always will be, as long as he has a breath to breathe. He has provided some very good constructive criticism for our government.
    I want to give great credit to our Minister of the Environment and our Minister of Finance for the way they have listened. That is why we have such ingenious provisions in the budget. They are provisions that reflect the needs of Canadians, provisions that, for instance, invest $10 million in partnerships with groups across Canada. They are the engines in the protection of habitat. They galvanize volunteers. They understand the on-the-ground needs of the fish and the habitat.
    Our government will be standing with those people across Canada as we protect our habitat and produce an environment that is not only as good as but is better than the one we inherited.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a quick question. The government will spend $95,000 in tax dollars for a 30-second ad during a hockey game, or something of this nature.
     In Winnipeg North, about $300,000 in government money would allow for 60 summer jobs for students. Three ads would have covered the cost of that program. Does the member believe that Canadians would rather see the Government of Canada invest in student summer jobs or in the propaganda in the television promo ads it is running on the economic action plan?

  (1615)  

    Mr. Speaker, it would be far more credible if my colleague, whom I admire greatly for his intellect and his rhetoric, occasionally offered support for the government for measures such as accountability and transparency, which he is referring to now.
    Which government brought in the most sweeping accountability provisions in Canadian history? Which government puts its focus on transparency every day in its operations? It is our Conservative government. It is hard to take an out-of-context criticism of one particular thing when the member is consistently on his feet voting against the provisions we are talking about today: a budget and environmental measures that are bound to pull us forward into a cleaner and healthier environment.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of rising in the House today to speak to Bill C-60 on behalf of my constituents in Berthier—Maskinongé, who are opposed to this new omnibus bill.
    In my opinion, the short title of this bill, Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1, is not really appropriate.
     After reading through this bill, I am once again disappointed to see that there is nothing in it that will bring about economic recovery or create jobs or make life more affordable for Canadians. On the contrary, the Conservatives have raised taxes on a number of consumer goods.
     Budget 2013 is full of tax increases on hospital parking, safety deposit boxes, labour-sponsored investment funds, bicycles and baby buggies. These increases even affected hockey helmets, until my colleague from Sudbury pointed that out and the government had to cancel the increases on hockey helmets and sports equipment.
     These tax increases will cost Canadians $8 billion over the next five years. This budget will not just raise the cost of living. It will also slow economic growth.
     The Parliamentary Budget Officer analyzed the economic situation and the bills brought in by this government. She found that budget 2012, the 2012 update and budget 2013 will result in the loss of 67,000 jobs by 2017 and will cause a 0.57% decline in the GDP. I do not need to say that this is not a good thing for our country’s economic growth.
     With wages stagnating, uncertain jobs and families heavily in debt, the Conservatives are proposing austerity measures that add to the cost of living for Canadian families and stifle economic growth.
     This bill contains a number of complex measures that deserve to be considered and examined carefully. For the third time in their current term, however, the Conservatives are proposing to evade the oversight of parliamentarians and the public. I find this insulting on several levels. We are here to examine bills. When the government imposes gag orders, we cannot do our job.
     This bill contains changes to the temporary foreign worker program. The Conservatives are proposing to close major loopholes by giving the department the last word when work permits or opinions about a permit application become a source of political embarrassment. That does not solve the main problem, which is the mismanagement of the temporary foreign worker program by the present government.
    I have received many emails from the people of Berthier—Maskinongé criticizing the changes in Bill C-60 that enable the government to compel a crown corporation to have its negotiating mandate approved by the Treasury Board so that it can reach a collective agreement with a union, particularly in the case of the CBC.
    The people of Berthier—Maskinongé do not want to see any politician exercise that kind of control over our national public broadcaster. The changes proposed in Bill C-60 constitute an all-out attack on the right to free collective bargaining in Canada.
    The NDP opposes Bill C-60 based on its content, but also on the process used. With so little time to study of the bill, members cannot consider its consequences. Once again, the Conservatives are trying to keep Canadians in the dark, and it is Canadians who will ultimately pay the price.
    Today I would like to focus on a few specific aspects of the bill. I have noticed a truly disturbing trend in this government's legislative program.
    Several changes made recently show how little the Conservatives know about the need for a long-term strategy for our regions. I am thinking in particular of the elimination of the labour-sponsored funds tax credit, the employment insurance reform and the cuts to all services.
    One important measure that has drawn my attention is the cancellation of the labour-sponsored funds tax credit in this last budget. The government has announced the phasing-out of the 15% tax credit it grants for shareholders of labour-sponsored funds.

  (1620)  

    This decision is a serious mistake and shows that the Conservatives understanding nothing about Quebec's economic model and the role these funds play in the province and, of course, in the economies of the rural regions.
    Ninety per cent of the amounts that Ottawa wants to recover with this measure will come from Quebec savers and investors, since virtually all of these funds are in Quebec. This decision will mainly affect the middle class and its ability to save for retirement, in addition to depriving Quebec SMEs of significant support for their development.
    Once again, the government has turned a deaf ear, just as it did on the employment insurance reform. On April 27, thousands of people from several Quebec regions demonstrated in downtown Montreal against the Conservative government's butchering of employment insurance.
    This reform is a serious attack on the most vulnerable workers in our society, most of whom are women. It will also affect families and regions. Once again, despite the demonstration, the Conservatives are not listening to Canadians, and I find that truly sad and deplorable, particularly when I see families and workers trying hard to make ends meet.
    This reform strikes a hard blow to the economic health of our regions. In my riding, thousands of people hold seasonal jobs. A large segment of the economy depends on seasonal work, including farming, tourism, construction and forestry. The list is long.
    Employment insurance reform will have disastrous consequences for a number of regions. The Conservatives did not assess the impact of such a reform. They are refusing to listen to the protestors who are calling on the government to back down. I am also wondering what happened to their 2011 campaign slogan, “Our region in power”. I have the impression that their slogan should now be “The regions—who cares?”
    Why not try to create real jobs and support local initiatives? In short, I am talking about this reform to remind the government that it is a real disaster. As if that were not enough, the government is adding insult to injury with the labour-supported funds.
    Another important aspect of the bill is the elimination of the supplementary tax credit for credit unions. Our credit unions play a vital role in our rural communities. Last year, I had the honour of being on the Special Committee on Co-operatives, where my Conservative and Liberal colleagues and I heard testimony that shed light on the remarkable work co-operatives do in our communities.
    Perhaps some members were more attentive than others, because I now see that the supplementary tax credit for co-operatives will be eliminated. That will seriously limit the ability of credit unions to compete with large banks, when what the banking sector needs is more competition.
    Last year, the Conservatives put an end to the co-operative development initiative and made cuts to the rural secretariat. Now, it is the co-operatives' turn. Do the Conservatives not understand that these changes are going to hit our rural regions hard, both in Quebec and in the rest of the country?
    Tabling a budget means making choices. The budget implementation bill shows that the Conservatives are choosing not to support families, workers or our young people. Last year, when we debated the budget 2012 implementation bills—Bills C-38 and C-45—many of my New Democrat colleagues, as well as economic analysts, warned us that we would not have time to understand everything the omnibus bills contained and that the long-term impact would be felt for years to come.
    We are finding out the implications of those bills again today, and I am afraid the same thing will happen with Bill