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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 227

CONTENTS

Tuesday, June 9, 2015




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
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NUMBER 227 
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2nd SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Commissioner of Lobbying

    I have the honour, pursuant to section 11 of the Lobbying Act, to lay upon the table the report of the Commissioner of Lobbying for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015.

[Translation]

Privacy Commissioner

    I have the honour to lay upon the table the report of the Privacy Commissioner on the application of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act for the year 2014.

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

    Pursuant to paragraph 90(1)(a) of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House the annual report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in relation to the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(a), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

[English]

    Pursuant to paragraph 90(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, it is my duty to present to the House the annual report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner in relation to the Conflict of Interest Act for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2015.

[Translation]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(h), this document is deemed to have been permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

[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 24 petitions.

Protection Against Genetic Discrimination Act

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 10th report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in relation to its study entitled “Access to Capital”.

[English]

    Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the 14th report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, entitled “Review of the Canadian Feature Film Industry”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
    I would like to thank the clerk, the analysts, all the witnesses, and the members of the committee who worked so hard to complete this study.

Employment of Persons with Disabilities Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to introduce a private member's bill, seconded by the hon. member for Newton—North Delta. The bill is a product of the Create Your Canada contest in my riding. It owes its genesis to the imagination and hard work of a young high school student in Vancouver Kingsway, Harriet Crossfield from Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School.
    Harriet's idea, enshrined in this bill, calls for the development of a national employment strategy for persons with disabilities. This legislation would require the Minister of Employment and Social Development to draft a plan to improve the economic participation of persons with disabilities throughout Canada. Included in this plan would be measures to educate private-sector employers about the great potential of persons with disabilities to contribute to the workforce, encourage more inclusive hiring practices, and reduce stigma. Harriet's idea would tackle the unfair social exclusion faced by too many persons with disabilities in Canada, and create new potential for a more dynamic and inclusive labour force.
     I would like to congratulate Harriet on her contribution to Parliament and our country, and thank her teachers and all who entered this contest from Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School.

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

Student Debt Relief Act

     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-688, an act respecting the development of a national strategy on student loan debt.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to rise to introduce a private member's bill today, with thanks to my seconder, the hon. member for Newton—North Delta.
    This bill is particularly special because it owes its existence to the imaginations and hard work of two young people in my riding of Vancouver Kingsway, Triana Segovia and Kira Bennett from Windermere Secondary School. Both students are winners of my Create Your Canada contest, which invites high school students to develop and submit their ideas on how we can make Canada and the world a better place.
    Triana and Kira's idea is captured by this bill, which proposes a national strategy on student loan debt reduction. This idea is timely and speaks to the growing sense of intergenerational unfairness expressed by many young Canadians. Average student loan debt for a university graduate in Canada today stands at over $25,000 and this debt burden is felt more heavily by students from lower- and middle-income families. More can be done to make Canada a fairer place for young Canadians, help with their education, and this bill would help accomplish these goals.
    I would like to congratulate Kira and Triana on their contributions to Parliament and their country, and thank their teachers and all who entered this contest from Windermere Secondary School in Vancouver.

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

  (1010)  

Global Human Rights Accountability Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce the global Magnitsky human rights accountability act, seconded by the member for Winnipeg North, which would allow for the sanctioning of human rights violators through the imposition of travel bans and asset freezes. The House unanimously endorsed such measures in March. It is deeply disappointing, therefore, that the government still has not moved forward with the necessary corresponding legislation.
    Magnitsky sanctions, which have been recommended by legislatures across Europe and implemented by the United States, are named for Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered the largest corporate tax fraud in Russian history before being detained, tortured, and murdered in prison in 2009. Not only have the Russian officials complicit in that criminality escaped punishment, but many of them have, in fact, been rewarded by Vladimir Putin's regime.
    It is therefore up to Canada and other members of the international community to impose tangible consequences on the perpetrators and on human rights violators generally by blocking their ability to travel and trade and launder their assets around the world. I would urge the government to either take over my bill or pass similar legislation on its own, both out of respect for the will of the House and out of solidarity with the victims of human rights violations and those who struggle valiantly on their behalf in Russia and around the world.

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

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, if the House gives its consent, I move that the 38th report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs on the code of conduct for members, sexual harassment, presented to the House yesterday be concurred in.
    Does the hon. member have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

National Defence  

     moved that the fourth report of the Standing Committee on National Defence presented on Thursday, June 12, 2014, be concurred in.
     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to bring this matter before the House today. This is the fourth report of the Standing Committee on National Defence, issued a year ago now. It is an ongoing situation with respect to the care and treatment of Canada's ill and injured military personnel and their families.
    This report was a result of two years of study into the situation involving military veterans and soldiers who have been serving the country. We had a spike in serious injuries of soldiers in the period we were in Afghanistan. We had 12 years of participation in that war in Afghanistan, an unprecedented length of time for Canadian Forces to be serving, with multiple deployments of Canadian soldiers in a very dangerous situation.
    We had an extraordinary experience. I do not think we were prepared for the consequences of soldiers being deployed for this long, this far away, or for the consequences to them.
    The report made quite a few findings, one of which I think we are all very pleased with, which was that the response of the military medical personnel with respect to physical injuries and trauma, although they were obviously serious and tragic for the individuals involved, was very rapid, high level, and well-recognized for its professionalism; in fact, not only professionalism but an advanced state of ability to deal with traumatic injuries, of which we unfortunately had very many.
     In terms of the provision of assistance to those who were injured in the course of the Afghanistan conflict, there was a high degree of responsiveness. In fact, the Canadian Forces medical team was recognized internationally for its efforts with high praise and awards.
    The area that caused the most concern for the committee, and for returning soldiers and their families, was the consequences of the mental injuries people suffered, which have now been widely and universally recognized as post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD.
    Back in the 1990s, I was involved in representing a large number of victims of sexual assault as children. I recall learning an awful lot about PTSD but also being told at the time by an American military psychiatrist that there was no such thing as PTSD. That was what was believed to be the case, but he did not in fact believe in that.
    I found it quite surprising, but it is worth noting that acceptance of the situation with PTSD is not something that has been around forever, particularly within military circles.
    In Canada, we took a while to recognize the extent and state of the situation. We have very little in the way of statistics on it. Studies that were done of the needs of mental health professionals and health professionals within the Canadian Forces were based on projections done in the Statistics Canada study in 2002. Those were the figures upon which we were relying.
     The study was repeated in 2013, but by the time we prepared the report, the results had not been made public. We were operating with information that was available at the time. We know that there had been, within the Canadian Armed Forces, very little in the way of support for independent research. Internal research was being done. Unlike other forces, like those of the United States and the U.K., there has not been widespread support for independent research on military and veterans' health, injuries, and treatment. That has changed, but it has only changed in recent years.

  (1015)  

    I see a couple of my colleagues from the defence committee opposite. We heard evidence from Dr. Alice Aiken of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research which was established recently at Queen's University with support from some 25 universities across the country. CIMVHR is an independent institute made up of 25 Canadian universities undertaking research into the needs of Canadian military personnel, veterans and military families.
    Dr. Aiken told the committee that in terms of funding and sustainability for independent research we actually did not have any. That has changed. There was a recommendation by our committee in our dissenting report that Canada contribute to a significant and independent research fund that would allow CIMVHR, through its partner institutions, to undertake self-directed research into the health issues affecting CAF personnel, veterans and their families. That was actually done. There was a recommendation made not for this year's budget, but last year's, to have the support of the $5 million fund which was contributed to CIMVHR from the last federal budget and was matched by the True Patriot Love Foundation. There is now a significant fund that is available for research across the country.
    In fact, last week I attended a seminar at Memorial University in my riding of St. John's East. Researchers and those interested in military and veterans' health were gathered together to talk about ideas for research projects that are necessary to advance the cause of Canadian soldiers' and veterans' health issues.
    We talked about PTSD and the need for more professionals to deal with that. The whole issue of the families of soldiers who are also affected by the fact that their spouse has PTSD became something that we were focused on during the committee's study, because while we did have a program and the military is directly responsible for the health care of soldiers, the issue of families arose with respect to jurisdiction. It was stated quite specifically that the military and the federal government do not have responsibility for the health care of families of military personnel for constitutional reasons, because health is a provincial matter.
    The consequences of that for our military families was that a soldier who had been suffering from PTSD would return home and be in the community with their spouse and family, suffering from PTSD and the consequences of that PTSD were not known to the family. The family was experiencing them. In fact, there is significant evidence to support the fact that spouses themselves would suffer from PTSD as a result of the soldier's experiencing PTSD. That was something that was brought home to the committee by witnesses, by family members, by discussions with soldiers in nearby businesses, for example, in Petawawa. We were told by some of these individuals that despite much effort, it was very difficult for spouses to get any access to treatment or counselling, or even some education to understand what was happening to their soldier spouse.

  (1020)  

    That was very debilitating. It caused serious problems within families, serious problems within marriages, and a situation of people suffering from PTSD not being able to actually advance and help to solve their problems.
    There is another thing we found out with respect to the support for families in this whole area where there is no direct responsibility for the health care needs of families. People are moving across the country. We know the situation in the military. They can be posted every two years. They go to a different community. These are families with children. There are quite a lot of young children in the families of Canadian Forces members. The figure that was given to me last week was that there are some 68,000 children of Canadian military personnel. These families with children are moving across the country. The first thing families have to do when they arrive in a new community is find a family doctor. That is one thing that is absolutely necessary for the health and well-being of individuals.
    What happens in these situations, particularly in some of the rural and remote areas where military bases are located in this country, is there is significant pressure on the local medical system. There is a lack of quick access to family doctors particularly when there are special needs children, those who may have learning disabilities or other types of needs that need assessment. There are long waiting lists. The problems multiply as families move around.
    One of the things that is absolutely necessary and has not been resolved is how we deal with military families' health needs when they are being moved across the country. Often, in the case of PTSD, they are dealing with a family consequence, not simply an individual soldier's consequence. How do we do that, I suppose, without trampling on the jurisdictional situation that exists?
    There are ways of doing it. It can be done. When the military moves families from place to place, the infrastructure of a city, of a town, of a location, is often affected by the presence of the military. Let us face it. There are traffic needs, needs for transportation, bridges, housing, and all of that, and the military can influence those decisions. It can also provide support for clinics so that in an area where the military operates, money could be provided to ensure that an area is attractive to medical personnel so that they can go there and have access perhaps to a clinic that is already built and available that would provide for the needs of the local community as well as the military families. Some incentives could be offered. There are ways that the military, the Department of National Defence, can be proactive in ensuring that the opportunity for health care for the military families is present.
    I know it has instituted programs now to involve spouses through the military family support centres and through programs that have been established. Recognizing that the health of the soldiers depends upon the health of the family, it is able to extend counselling and more services. We would like to hear an update from the government on how far along that is.
    I know there is a need for more research in this field. There are a lot of different types of professionals, whether they be health professionals, social workers, researchers from a whole bunch of different academic disciplines, involved in this. I want to commend the work of Dr. Aiken,, who has done a tremendous amount in a very short time to promote the notion of independent research throughout the country. It has been pretty much in the last five years that this work has been done. It is a tremendous effort by Dr. Aiken and her team, with the support of True Patriot Love, which has come on board and is working very closely with her and the institute to build support across the country.

  (1025)  

     I know there were members from all sides of the House who promoted this idea. They received a very strong welcome from me and my colleague, the member for Vancouver East, who was our health critic at the time and was very interested in the work that was being done. We fully supported that work. It is one area where we would like to hear more.
    Another area that kept coming up again and again had to do with the transition for people who were in the military and were going to be medically discharged for one reason for another, but were being pushed out of the military prior to receiving their 10 years of service that would qualify them for a pension. We heard excruciating testimony from individuals.
     In particular, I remember Corporal Glen Kirkland from Manitoba who testified before our committee. He said that he was about to be medically discharged, but he was not ready to go. There was a large debate in this House about it. In fact, he was told by the then minister of defence that this would not happen to him. He did not accept that, because he believed that if he was being made an exception, the rule would still be there that people would be discharged before they had reached the opportunity to get the security of a pension.
    A whole series of recommendations came out of this dilemma, that the military was looking for ways to separate from individuals who were not going to be able to fully meet the universality of service requirement and were about to be discharged prior to getting a full pension and income security.
    This was the biggest fear of many people to even come forward to get treatment for PTSD, that it would be a career ender and would result in having no income security. They would not be able to stay in the military; they did not meet the universality of service requirement, and they would end up in a situation separated from their career with no prospects for the future. This was something that was very prevalent. It also prevented people from getting the treatment they needed to try to overcome the PTSD they were suffering.
    These are some of the issues that the committee had to deal with. We put forward a number of serious recommendations. One recommendation followed from comments by the former ombudsman, Pierre Daigle, who talked about universality of service.
     Universality of service means that anybody in the military has to be ready to deploy at any time for expeditionary operations within the domain of the Canadian Armed Forces. He said that there was a need to modernize that and modify it to the extent to allow people who may have certain disabilities as a result of PTSD or physical disabilities to be reintegrated into the force. We have some very prominent examples of how that has worked. There should be some modification to allow individuals to stay in the military even though they may not be able to be fully deployed in a battle situation.
    These are some of the issues. There was a lot of work put into the report and a lot of recommendations. I think it is time we had a report on how these recommendations have actually been implemented, what progress has been made, and what are the steps forward on matters like universality of service and ensuring that people are able to transition with their health needs met from being a serving member to being a veteran.

  (1030)  

    Mr. Speaker, not being a member of the committee, I was very interested in the member's observations.
    I am particularly concerned about the number of veterans with post traumatic stress disorder who have told me that they are not able to get something they believe would be of great assistance to them. If this is not too far off the member's earlier comments, I wonder if he has any insights on access to service dogs, which I understand from a lot of veterans with PTSD is something that has been showing remarkably good results.
    Mr. Speaker, we heard from witnesses at committee who brought service dogs with them. I have seen veterans or serving members with their service dogs in public as well. They have told me that the service dog enables them to go out in public and that they would not leave their house without the presence of a service dog. One of the consequences of some of the more serious forms of PTSD is a high level of anxiety, which is sometimes called hypervigilance, that is related to a person's experiences in a war zone where they have experienced trauma or explosions. This can have flashback effects and all of the things that go with it. I am not trying to diagnose anybody here but some of the symptoms are what people talk about and experience. A service dog can act as a companion animal. People are not supposed to pet them. Often there will be a sign that reads, “Please do not pet. This animal is at work.” The service dog is there to be a presence for the individual and can provide a great deal of assistance to enable them to live a more normal life.
    Mr. Speaker, this is an extremely important debate. Nothing could be more important than how we care for our ill and injured military personnel. As members know, it is a way to give thanks from a grateful nation for the bravery of our women and men in uniform.
    However, when I read the report I am disturbed by the fact that after consulting witnesses for two years it appears that there was only an hour given to adopt the report itself. The conclusions in the report from the Conservative majority are not as substantive as the 23 recommendations put forth by the NDP in its dissenting opinion.
    I want to ask my colleague from St. John's East this. How is it that the government, with a few exceptions where there are valid recommendations, would take two years of work and try to push it through in the space of only an hour or two? What is the blueprint that the NDP is putting forward in its dissenting opinion with respect to how to effectively provide support to our ill and injured military personnel and their families?

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, we were quite concerned with the report, especially when so much time had been spent on it, which was about two years. Sometimes at the defence committee we spend a long time doing reports. We heard from a lot of witnesses who offered a tremendous amount of information to us, which was put into the report. Sometimes the reports are not strong enough, which is why we write a dissenting report, such as the one my colleague, the opposition House leader, referred to. We presented a 10-page report with 23 other recommendations in an effort to see significant steps taken to ensure actual, final and special results. We are disappointed that we did not have an opportunity to debate those recommendations in the House. Reports done in committee are sometimes put together as a result of a consensus but not always. This one was done in June of 2014, so it was as the House was closing. We just finished one last night at the defence committee on the defence of North America, so there will be no time to debate that one, which is unfortunate.
    We still have situations that we are dealing with now. Ultimately, when a report is not debated and the recommendations do not sink in the government ends up being tone deaf to some of the problems that we talked about, such as transitioning from being a military personnel to a veteran. There is the case of Sergeant Nanson, an 18-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces who was permanently injured as the result of an IED blast in Afghanistan. He now needs a wheelchair to get around. He will be medically released on June 30. His house will not be ready because of a delay in fixing up the house to allow for wheelchair accessibility yet he will be kicked out of his military housing on June 30 anyway. Therefore, despite the fact that recommendations are made and good intentions are shown, we do not see the follow through and debate in this House to bring these issues home, which may keep people alive to the issues and keep people like Sergeant Nanson from falling through the cracks.
    Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the issue of PTSD is on the minds of many Canadians. The Liberal caucus has raised this issue through forums such as question period and other types of debates. We think that the government has fallen short in providing the necessary support for our veterans.
    I am intrigued that the NDP House leader mentioned that nothing could be of more importance than having this particular debate. I am a bit surprised about how long we are waiting for concurrence on this report. It has been there now for almost a year or maybe even more than a year. That is not to take away from the subject matter the committee reviewed. The committee recognized that there are serious deficiencies.
    I ask the member, what does he believe that we need to be doing today that would improve the conditions for members of our forces who are going through PTSD, a disorder that is obviously destroying lives, destroying families?
    We talk about service dogs, which do have a very important role. Studies have clearly demonstrated that is the case, but I think we need to be more creative and ensure that there are the resources necessary to deal with this disorder. Would the hon. member want to add further comment?

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, we did find that there were significant problems along the way, but one of the things that stood out, and still stands out, is the DND decision and recommendation made in 2002 of having the objective 447 mental health staff. That still has not been met. That was based on 2002 statistics, not the study that was done in 2012, the reports of which have not really been made public.
    Every time this is raised in the House we hear comments about how much money is being spent. Absolute dollars do not necessarily matter if the need is actually greater than the dollars being spent. We are still not getting the full picture from the government as to how far it has gone to meet the internal recommendations that were made, based on objective study.
    We think it is very troubling to find that we still have to make ongoing complaints about this, about the need for more services, about the need to make sure that people do not fall through the cracks, and again, despite the good intentions of transition from being a serving soldier to a veteran, we still see that the needs are not being met by the government.
    That the House do now proceed to orders of the day.
    The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): In my opinion the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Call in the members.

  (1120)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 434)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Barlow
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Eglinski
Falk
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Miller
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Payne
Perkins
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Yurdiga

Total: -- 136

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Angus
Ashton
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Bellavance
Bennett
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boivin
Borg
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brison
Brosseau
Byrne
Caron
Casey
Cash
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Cotler
Crowder
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Eyking
Foote
Freeman
Garneau
Garrison
Genest-Jourdain
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Hughes
Julian
Kellway
Lamoureux
Latendresse
Laverdière
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Martin
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mourani
Murray
Nash
Nunez-Melo
Papillon
Péclet
Pilon
Plamondon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Ravignat
Regan
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stoffer
Sullivan
Toone
Tremblay
Valeriote
Vaughan

Total: -- 111

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act

Bill S-7—Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill S-7, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and the Civil Marriage Act and the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other acts, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill; and
    That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.
    Order, please. Pursuant to Standing Order 67(1) there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places so the Chair has some idea of how many members wish to participate in the question period.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Pierrefonds—Dollard.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, this is now the government's 99th time allocation motion. This one is for a Senate bill. How shameful. The government could not even be bothered to introduce the bill itself, so it must not be a big priority.
    Worse still, this bill is very controversial. According to many experts who appeared before the Senate and a House of Commons committee, this bill will make the very victims the sponsors say they want to help even more vulnerable.
    I have a little advice for the government. Instead of limiting debate and undermining the democratic process in this House, the government could take a bit of time, while we debate the matter, to sit down and consult with the people who spoke to us. It could sit down with the president of the Council on the Status of Women, who says that the very title of the bill could alienate the communities that we need to work with.
    It could also speak with the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario or the Southall Black Sisters, who are saying that the provisions related to the criminalization of forced marriage will only make the victims more vulnerable and could make people less likely to report these crimes.
    The Conservatives could also speak to lawyers and university professors, who are telling us that the measures on polygamy will actually put women and children at risk, because they could be deported for being victims of polygamy.
    Perhaps the Conservatives could take all of that into consideration and allow us the time to debate while they take some time to do their homework.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's comments illustrate how urgent it is to move forward with this bill. Since the beginning of the debate on Bill S-7, the NDP has been advising inaction when it comes to underage marriage, forced marriage and polygamy. These are problems faced by hundreds of millions of women and girls around the world, and Canada is no exception.
    If the hon. member had paid attention to the 25 witnesses in committee and the 17 members of the House of Commons who spoke, most of whom supported this bill, she would have realized that this is not only necessary, but urgent.
    It is unacceptable that Canada still does not have a minimum age for marriage like Quebec does. The NDP is basically saying that girls 11 or 12 have the right to be legally married in Canada. That is completely unacceptable. The NDP is incapable of supporting a single measure to protect women and girls and prevent those who are in a polygamous marriage from entering Canada through our immigration programs or by any other means. The time has come to pass this bill.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the government House leader. I challenge him to explain his rationale as to why the Conservative-Reform government continues to use time allocation to pass its legislative agenda, more than any other government in the history of Canada. That is the attitude of the majority government. Canadians see this and I suspect they will want to change that later this year.
    Failing the government House leader answering the question, I suspect the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration will stand. If he does, my question for him is this. Why not put emphasis on trying to assist individuals, who had legitimate marriages abroad, in getting them reunited as quickly as possible? I want to specifically cite India, particularly Punjab, where marriages are far too often unacceptably delayed in processing of applications, well over 18 months, at a substantial cost of families being prevented from being together. It is just not acceptable. It is angering a great deal of my constituents and I suspect Canadians in all regions.
    Why is the government not putting enough emphasis on reuniting people who were married abroad in a more timely fashion?
    Mr. Speaker, from that question, we learn all we need to know about the Liberal Party's position on forced marriage, polygamy and honour killings.
    Technically, the Liberals have said that they support the bill, but they do not support getting it done before the end of this session. For them, seeking political advantage is much more important than protecting women and girls who can still be legally married in our country, outside of Quebec, at the age of 12 or 13.
    The hon. member has just asked about processing times for legitimate spousal cases. We are not talking about legitimate spousal cases in this bill. We are talking about protecting women and girls who are victims of marriages of convenience, who are victims of domestic violence and intimidation, leading to forced marriage. We are talking about polygamous relationships that are disguised as aunts and uncles, cousins and sisters who are brought to the country and who face a lifetime of abuse and domestic violence.
    This bill will help to protect women and girls, newcomers and Canadian-born alike, from these barbaric practices. We need to move forward on the bill, and we will move forward on it, whether the Liberal Party really believes in its position. We know that the Liberal leader was unwilling to use the term “barbaric” even to address the issue or to describe the issue of female genital mutilation.
    We, on this side of the House, are prepared to call these practices and these forms of violence by their real names. It is time to bring the bill forward, pass it in the House and for it to become the law of this land. No issue is more urgent issue than protecting women and girls from violence at home, in our streets and, indeed, in partnership with our friends and allies around the world.

  (1130)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am really disappointed that the government is imposing yet another gag order today—the 99th one—on a very controversial bill that could have serious unintended consequences.
    What is more, this bill originated in the Senate. It is a poorly designed bill introduced by unelected senators that could have serious consequences for people we want to protect.
    Under this legislation, if a man is found guilty of violence against his wife or their children, the entire family, including the victims, could be deported. The bill could also split up families, which is something that the victims do not want to happen.
    There really was not enough consultation with experts. The NDP wanted to make all sorts of amendments. However, the Conservatives simply dismissed those amendments even though they knew that experts had asked that we make them in order to improve Bill S-7, which is before us today.
    In addition to all of these shortcomings, this bill does not address the issue of affordable housing, for example, or support for families in the area of prevention. These families are often already traumatized by what is happening to them, and now all of those resources are going to be taken from them.
    In reality, this bill does not even offer them those resources. That critical aspect is missing from this bill, but the Conservatives have still decided to impose a gag order and ram this bill through. This bill does not make any sense because the serious consequences it could have will cause even more harm to families that have already been traumatized by violence.
    It therefore does not make any sense to keep going full steam ahead with this. We need to take the time to look at a number of aspects of the bill to make sure that it is balanced and good for victims.
    I do not understand why the Conservatives refuse to see that and how they can continue to suggest that they are taking care of victims of violence.
    Mr. Speaker, this is what the hon. member just said: she would prefer, and I believe this is the NDP position, that women and girls who are forced into underage marriages be allowed to come to Canada and stay here and that they remain in polygamous relationships without any consequences or punishment. She would prefer that the minimum age for marrying, in Canada's nine provinces and three territories outside Quebec, not be defined and that it not be 16 years of age. She would prefer that victims of violence caused by forced marriages and those who facilitate forced marriages not be accountable or held criminally responsible for their actions. The NDP is once again wrong.
    This bill has a great deal of support, not just from women and girls, but from all Canadians. Canadians want us to prevent these barbaric practices. They want us to protect women and girls from forced underage marriages, polygamy and honour crimes. They absolutely want us to prevent these kinds of barbaric practices from taking place in Canada. The goal of this bill is prevention.
    Why has the NDP not understood that that is the goal and the reason for this bill? By opposing all these measures to prevent barbaric practices and forced marriages in this country, the NDP is showing that it lacks empathy and does not care about Canadians' real priorities.

  (1135)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, members will know that the 99th time we have time allocation used marks a new low point for democracy in this Parliament and that the rights of members in smaller parties are more infringed upon than those of others, because we will have less opportunity to debate due to time allocation.
     I know that the hon. government House leader is not responding to the questions about his abuse of this process, so I will put my question to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration on the subject of this absurd bill, the zero tolerance for barbaric cultural practices act, and ask, while he is in such high dudgeon about violence against women, how it is that when missing and murdered aboriginal women call out for an inquiry we are told by the current government, “Don't worry. It's a criminal matter. It's already covered by the law. We don't need an inquiry”. Yet when practices that are already illegal, like honour killing and polygamy, are raised, we need a new piece of legislation, which will impinge on constitutional and useful defences, such as the defence of provocation, which could never be used in an honour killing. We are told that it requires a special new law, which is more election propaganda than public policy.
    How does the minister square his government's response to the crisis of missing and murdered aboriginal women with the much rarer cases of alleged forced polygamy?
    Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has once again not done her homework. The defence of provocation has been used in murder cases. It has been used successfully to reduce a sought-after prosecution for murder to manslaughter, and it has been used on a number of occasions to call into question the actions of the perpetrators of murder and to say that the language used that provoked that action was actually some form of defence.
    I cannot believe that this member would call for action, rightly, on missing and murdered aboriginal women. We are in favour of that action, and we are taking more action on that front than any government in Canadian history. We are the only party in this place determined to focus on action and not on more study. Yet the member will not take action to protect women and girls from forced marriage and early marriage, practices that are still taking place on a huge scale around the world and to some extent within Canada.
    These issues have the support of Canadians. They have the support of women and girls. They have the support of newcomers to this country, because polygamy has been happening in this country. Without these rules, we will continue to face fraud and misrepresentation leading to the arrival of people in polygamous relationships to this country. Only through the actions in this bill will we start to make progress.
    This is not a marginal issue. For it to be called election propaganda is downright offensive on a day when Human Rights Watch has just put out a report reminding us that 29% of girls in Bangladesh are married under the age of 15 and 2% are married under the age of 11. Canada still does not have a minimum age for marriage. We are raising it to 16, the minimum age for marriage in Quebec, which is not yet the case in any other province or territory.
    This member will have to face the music on this issue. She is opposing basic standards of decency for women and girls across this country, and she should be ashamed of the question she just asked and her position on this issue, which is absolutely indefensible.

  (1140)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, for his defence on this issue.
    Earlier this year, I had the privilege of visiting Zambia. I was in Lusaka, where a group of YWCA members, and many youth who had joined them, was trying to counteract early and forced marriage. I met a young girl who had been helped to escape an early forced marriage. I heard her story and saw the devastation this had brought to her life educationally, socially, and even physically.
     I only saw a very small piece in Zambia of the devastation being caused, but I would like to give our colleague a little time to expand a bit on the devastation this is causing among young women and girls.
    Mr. Speaker, in the context of another debate, we could definitely talk about Zambia, Chad, the Central African Republic, Niger, and Bangladesh, countries that have among the highest rates of forced marriage in the world. Thanks to this member's efforts and to support across this side of the House, Canada has been a leader in speaking out and providing resources to end forced marriage around the world. The Hon. John Baird was obviously instrumental in that regard when he was minister of foreign affairs, but we need look no further than our neighbourhoods and constituencies to see these cases.
    The members opposite who deny that this is important clearly have no direct experience of Canadians who are themselves victims of these barbaric practices. Samra Zafar, a constituent in the greater Toronto area, spoke in my constituency recently. She was forced into marriage at 16. There were years of abuse, leading to enormous suffering, health care problems, and mental anguish. There was violence on a sustained basis, every time she came home. She left that marriage and is now courageously speaking out about it. She is in a happy marriage she chose for herself, and she is a great advocate for these issues.
    Kamal Dhillon, one of our witnesses before committee, had her jaw broken by her husband after a forced marriage.
    Nasira Fazli, an Afghan immigrant to this country and a resident of Ajax, Ontario, was killed in July 2013. Her young son, Yasin Wafa, was 18 months old at the time of that killing. The only suspect in that case, which is still before the courts, was her husband at the time. She had sponsored her husband to come from Afghanistan. He had been in the country for only three years. Now he is facing murder charges.
    Forced and early marriage leads to real catastrophes, real violence, in the lives of real Canadians. It is our duty in this House not to play politics with these issues, not to cite absurd procedural grounds for continuing this debate ad infinitum. We owe it to the women and girls of Canada and of the whole world to take action against barbaric practices. Canada must never be the home, must never be a place, where there is impunity for these practices.
    I am ashamed that the parties opposite have an absolutely different view of this issue and would see us run out the clock on this session and maybe never come back to this issue, in a country where we still do not have a minimum age of marriage outside of the province of Quebec. They would really do well, the Green Party and the NDP, to rethink their position, because it is indefensible in the eyes of women and girls and in the eyes of all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I am just reminded about what we are here to debate. We are not here to debate the bill. The minister is responding to what we are here to debate, which is yet another time allocation motion moved by the House leader. I also notice that the House leader is not here to respond to--
    Order, please. This member knows that it is not permissible to reference who is or who is not in the chamber.
    The member for Newton—North Delta.
    I apologize, Mr. Speaker.
    I want to focus a little more on the time allocation part and get a response from the minister on that.
    This is the 99th time that time allocation has been moved. We are close to 100, as we are only one away, in cricket language. It is disconcerting that in a parliamentary democracy where debate should be welcomed and robust that it is being limited and cut off once again.
    The bill being time allocated has been referenced many times by the minister. However, I am taken by the fact that in this country, it is my understanding that we already have laws against polygamy. Polygamy is not allowed in the Canada I have lived in over the last number of years. I also believe that there can be no such thing as honour in any killing. If some people claim it is an honour killing, I think we have laws to address that. If there is domestic violence and abuse, we have laws for that as well.
    I would urge the minister to focus on fixing a very broken immigration system, which keeps families apart, instead of introducing a bill, and now limiting debate, where I would say most of the items are already covered under the current legal provisions that we have in this country.
     In light of the huge investment that the Conservative government could make in addressing domestic violence, in light of the fact that the government has absolutely refused, despite the fact that first nations communities and it seems like all Canadians from coast to coast are joining the call for an inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, why is the minister not addressing these issues but instead is electioneering today?

  (1145)  

    Mr. Speaker, once again, the NDP shows its utter disregard for the real interests of women and girls and in really protecting women and girls.
    The member opposite has just shown she has very little idea of what is going on in her home province.
    Polygamy is happening in Canada. It is happening in Bountiful, British Columbia. We are proud that the first prosecutions for that crime in Bountiful took place under our government. They have not yet resulted in convictions. We hope they will.
    The member is naive if she thinks that those in polygamist relationships are not still coming to this country through misrepresentation, through the weakness of our immigration system, which she would have us make weaker still.
    The member has not read the story of the Shafia family that left Afghanistan in 1992. Mohammad Shafia married Rona Mohammad, who was unable to have children. In 1980 he took Tooba Yahya to be his second wife in a polygamist marriage. When the family immigrated to Canada, Rona was presented as an aunt.
    If the member opposite thinks that was the only such case, and that it is not still possible today without polygamy being listed as an inadmissibility in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, she is dead wrong.
    Tooba, the second wife, allegedly said to Rona, “You are a slave. You are a servant.” She spoke these words to her not in Afghanistan, not in the UAE, not in Pakistan, but in Canada. Then on June 30, 2009, sisters Zainab, Sahar and Geeti Shafia, along with their stepmother Rona Amir, were found drowned in a submerged car in the Kingston Mills lock in eastern Ontario.
    In that case and in any case involving murder in this country, it is still a legitimate defence for the perpetrator of a murder to stand in the court and say, “I had every right to do this because my wife called me names”, or “I had every right to do this because my wife disobeyed me”, or “I had every right to do this because the food she prepared was not adequate.” That is a legitimate defence under the defence of provocation in this country. It is, and members opposite are denying it. They do not know their stuff.
    Under this bill, the defence of provocation would have to be itself an action that would have been indictable and punishable by five years of imprisonment.
    We are going to end these absurdities. We are going to end this barbarism, whether the NDP or the Green Party, whose naivete is on full display today, like it or not.

  (1150)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will not use the word “hypocrite” since it might be unparliamentary. However, I will use the word “contradictory”. I am very shocked—flabbergasted, even—by what I am hearing.
    I have already submitted a number of requests. I sent the minister two letters asking him to protect a young immigrant woman back home who will be sent back to her country of origin, Togo, where she will be the victim of a forced marriage. I do not want to identify her because that is confidential. However, there are limits to the government's doublespeak. We need to protect women. We must not send them back to their country of origin, where they risk being the victims of forced marriage.
    This is the 99th time allocation motion the government has moved. We have already broken all the records. It is completely unacceptable that we are not being given a chance to speak to such important topics and talk about the work the NDP is doing on this issue.
    Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the hon. member used a word that she should apply to herself. If members do not support this bill, we cannot protect a woman who is facing deportation to Togo, where she will be the victim of a forced marriage. This bill would help strengthen protections for a woman in such a situation—let us take a hypothetical example—because anyone who facilitates a forced marriage would face consequences and criminal sanctions. That is not the case right now. A generous and sound immigration system will make an independent ruling in the case that the hon. member is referring to. However, the NDP is saying that we should leave the door open and leave women and girls vulnerable to being forcibly removed to faraway countries where they will be the victims of forced or even underage marriages. The most important aspect of this bill has to do with forced marriage.
    The hon. member is demonstrating her ignorance of the bill. She has not studied it. She does not understand what is happening in Canada, where there is no minimum age for marriage other than in Quebec. Why would the hon. member want to have a minimum age of 16 in Quebec, but not in Ontario, the province where I was born? There are so many contradictions on the other side of the House, and they are so impossible to understand that I think even more Canadians are encouraging and urging us to take action to make this bill a Canadian law as quickly as possible.
    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith the question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House.

[English]

     The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): In my opinion the yeas have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): Call in the members.

  (1230)  

    (The House divided on the motion, which was agreed to on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 435)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Barlow
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Eglinski
Falk
Fast
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Fletcher
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
James
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKenzie
Maguire
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Miller
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
O'Toole
Payne
Perkins
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Ritz
Saxton
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Uppal
Valcourt
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)
Yurdiga
Zimmer

Total: -- 138

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Ashton
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Bellavance
Bennett
Bevington
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boivin
Borg
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Brosseau
Byrne
Caron
Casey
Cash
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Cotler
Crowder
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Eyking
Foote
Freeman
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Hughes
Julian
Kellway
Lamoureux
Latendresse
Laverdière
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Martin
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Mourani
Murray
Nash
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Patry
Péclet
Pilon
Plamondon
Quach
Rafferty
Rankin
Ravignat
Regan
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stoffer
Sullivan
Toone
Tremblay
Valeriote
Vaughan

Total: -- 116

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act

    The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's Ruling  

    There are two motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill S-2. The Chair has been made aware that the member for La Pointe-de-l'Île will not proceed with Motion No. 1. Therefore, Motion No. 2 will be debated and voted upon.

[Translation]

    I will now put Motion No. 2 to the House.

Motion in Amendment  

    That Bill S-2 be amended by deleting Clause 2.
    She said: Mr. Speaker, I am extremely pleased to have this opportunity to speak to the House today about Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations, because I think it is very important.
     This bill might seem very technical. However, as my colleague from Gatineau often says, the devil is in the details, and that is exactly what we are seeing with this particularly disturbing bill. In my speech, I will explain why we want to remove clause 2.
    First of all, clause 2 reads as follows:
    In the case of a document produced by the regulation-making authority, either alone or jointly with a person or body in the federal public administration, the document or part may be incorporated only if it
    There are a number of criteria, such as “contains...elements that are incidental to...the rules...” and this one:
...reproduced or translated from a document, or part of a document, produced by a person or body other than the regulation-making authority, with any adaptations of form or reference that will facilitate its incorporation in the regulation...
    Already, this poses a problem. What is “a person or body other than the regulation-making authority”? We are talking about regulations that can be passed by the government, that do not necessarily have to be debated in the House.
    We are wondering who exactly is a person or body other than the regulation-making authority. There is nothing to define that. The problem is really about knowing what we can expect from this government. That is what the issue is. Why do the Conservatives want to pass a bill that is essentially enabling legislation for any authority to pass regulations?
    This issue of regulations is quite problematic. For instance, when the Conservatives wanted to make changes to employment insurance, it was all done through regulations. The same thing happened with Bill C-51 on safety standards. All of this, then, will be passed through regulations. Regulations are the basis of legislation.
    As proof, there are hundreds of pages of regulations. For example, at the federal level, there are 3,000 regulations and 30,000 pages. However, legislation accounts for only 450 laws and 13,000 pages. Thus, there are twice as many pages of regulations, which will be exempted from parliamentary scrutiny, and I will explain why.
    When we were conducting our study at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, I asked a question about incorporating by reference a regulation from another country, for example a country with which we signed a free trade agreement or concluded any agreement, regardless of the criteria of the agreement.
    International foreign parliaments adopt regulations, but the Parliament of Canada is not necessarily aware of the changes made in those other parliaments. We take care of Canada's business here in this Parliament. We do not know what will happen in the United States, France, or Brazil.
    If we incorporate by reference legislation that falls under the jurisdiction of another parliament and it is agreed that these subsequent changes will be part of Canadian law, then we are also saying that regulations subject to review by Canadian Parliament could be changed by another parliament without MPs' knowledge. This will become part of the law without Canadians knowing it. It is ridiculous.
    The last clause of the bill, clause 18.7, reads as follows:
    The validity of an incorporation by reference that conforms with section 18.1 and that was made before the day on which that section comes into force is confirmed.

  (1235)  

    Does this not remind hon. members of something? The government is currently trying to pass legislation to ensure that the RCMP cannot be found guilty of violating the Access to Information Act. The government is trying to pass a law that will make anything that has been incorporated by reference valid without having to be examined by parliamentarians. That is ridiculous. We are beginning to see a trend: the Conservatives are trying to go back and legalize things that they did in the past without respecting the regulations in place at the time. That is shameful. That is why we cannot support this bill in its current form.
    The bill refers to a body other than the regulation-making authority. However, that body is not defined. The bill refers to another authority, another body or another person, as I already mentioned. This term comes up several times in the bill. Anyone who reads the bill will wonder what is meant by a person or body other than the regulation-making authority. What is comes down to is that, because this is enabling legislation, this bill allows regulations to be passed through incorporation by reference without having to be examined by the government.
    The bill also addresses the issue of accessibility:
    
    18.3 (1) The regulation-making authority shall ensure that a document, index, rate or number that is incorporated by reference is accessible.
    However, there is no definition of the term “accessible”. I suggested amendments in Parliament but, unfortunately, the Conservatives voted against them. They seem to think that “accessible” is a clear term that does not require a definition. If this term is as clear as they claim, why not put a definition in the law? The witnesses agree that the term should be defined. We cannot use a legal term in a bill without including a definition. That is ridiculous.
    I asked the executive director of the Standards Council of Canada a question about accessibility. A criterion of accessibility is imposed on all legislative and departmental authorities, except that there is no definition for this term. Even if a department or regulatory authority is required to issue a regulation whether or not it is subject to ambulatory incorporation by reference, is it possible that a fee would be charged? We do not know. A Canadian might have to pay to access a regulation. How can fees be charged to access what is part of our legislation? That is ridiculous. If you have to plead a case in court, for example, you must have access to the regulations.
    The bill has other problems, especially with respect to translation. Will all of the regulations incorporated by reference be translated into French and English? The United States is not required to translate all of its regulations by incorporation. The U.S. does not have the constitutional obligation to translate its regulations. How can we ensure that everything that is incorporated by reference is subject to our bilingualism requirements, especially if Parliament cannot examine these regulations? That is another problem.
    I simply want to say that this is a very serious problem. We are passing a bill that validates all of the incorporations that have been made in the past 30 years—before this bill was passed—even if they did not meet the criteria. That is the first reason why we will not support this bill. The second reason is that the regulations would no longer be subject to parliamentary review because they would be adopted by reference. That is a big problem. The government will be adopting regulations, rates or indices, and members of Parliament and Canadians will not be aware of them and will never have an opportunity to oppose them.

  (1240)  

    In short, it is very important for all members of this House to reject this bill and to review it so we can pass something that makes sense and that will not exempt our regulations from review by Canadian parliamentarians.

  (1245)  

    Mr. Speaker, I work with that member on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and we studied this bill.
    I have a question about accessibility. The bill contains no definition of accessibility. Does the member have a problem with that? There is a possibility that a sanction could be imposed on someone who does something to violate one aspect of the law that was incorporated by reference, but that is not really accessible in the usual manner.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Charlottetown for his question. That is something that we made a point of raising in committee. For instance, I would like to read an excerpt from the letter that was sent by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations:
    Where standards emanating from independent third parties are incorporated by reference, there is no reason why the regulation-making authority should not be responsible for making the necessary arrangements to obtain permission to make that standard available to the public free of charge.
    Thus, when we talk about accessibility, that includes translation in both languages, French and English, so that all Canadians can read the text in the language of their choice. However, that also includes accessibility in terms of cost, in other words, free access. The law must be available to everyone because everyone must be able to read it.
    Why, then, do the Conservatives not want to specify what the word “accessibility” means if, according to them, it is crystal clear? In that respect, they cannot have it both ways.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île for her speech on a bill that is not necessarily easy to understand for everyone. As she pointed out, it is extremely technical. I am pleased to see that the problem of bilingualism of our regulations was raised. It is a problem that could very well surface quite regularly after Bill S-2 is passed.
     There is also another obvious problem with Bill S-2: by proceeding with incorporation by reference, is there not a risk of further circumventing regulatory compliance with the Constitution and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms? This concept is quite foreign to the Conservative government when it comes to its bills, but it is a requirement for regulations.
    I am extremely worried about the fact that it will be easier to adopt regulations without thorough study by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. I would like the member to briefly comment on that.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Gatineau very much for her work. I know that, like me, she is very concerned about this bill. Her question allows me to elaborate on a specific point because it is really quite hard to talk about such a complex bill in just 10 minutes.
    For example, the Treasury Board, which is somewhat responsible for regulations, currently does not have any guidelines for incorporation by reference. In other words, material is currently being incorporated by reference, but there are no criteria or standards to guide that practice. There is nothing guiding regulators when they are adopting regulations.
    Unfortunately, the problem is that some regulations will never be reviewed by Parliament. That is what happened with some regulations that were adopted by other legislatures or parliaments outside Canada. Then there is the matter of bilingualism and accessibility because, for now, there are no standards. It is quite problematic. As I said, it is rather complicated because incorporation by reference can be static or open. According to the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, open incorporation by reference should never be used for material from outside Canada. This bill currently allows that.
    There are serious problems in terms of how these regulations will be reviewed. Will parliamentarians be made aware of these issues? Will they be able to examine these regulations? We are not sure. In my opinion, passing such an important bill that will have an impact on all Canadians is something that deserves a much closer look.

  (1250)  

     Mr. Speaker, today, I would like to talk about an important aspect of Bill S-2, the incorporation by reference in regulations act. In particular, I would like to address how incorporation by reference in regulations can assist regulators in designing regulatory schemes that ensure access to the expertise of the leading standards development bodies in Canada and throughout the world.
    As we know, Bill S-2 would amend the Statutory Instruments Act to make it clear in law when the technique of incorporation by reference can be used in federal regulation. Incorporation by reference allows material to be referenced and then incorporated into the regulation without being reproduced word for word. There are two types of incorporation by reference: ambulatory and static.
    When incorporation by reference is ambulatory, the reference material forms part of the regulation as it is amended from time to time. When this material is incorporated on a static basis, then only the version as it exists on that particular day is incorporated, unless the regulation is amended.
    There are many advantages to incorporation by reference. For example, it reduces needless duplication or repetition of material such as provincial legislation when the federal and provincial legislative regimes need to be harmonized. It can be an effective way of working with other jurisdictions.
    Lastly, incorporation by reference is an effective tool that gives the government access to a broad range of expertise developed in Canada and around the world in a variety of fields that have an impact on our economy and our daily lives. This last advantage is something I want to talk about in the House today.
    When the legislator grants the power to make regulations, parliamentarians expect the regulator to be able to respond to a variety of complex, evolving issues associated with the areas in which the regulations are developed.
    The fields now requiring regulation are complex: electric vehicles, cloud computing, leading edge medical devices and nanotechnology are just a few examples.
    Federal regulators must be in a position to effectively and efficiently respond to requests for regulation in complex sectors. To that end, incorporation by reference makes it possible to quickly and effectively meet demand in these constantly evolving sectors.
    By enacting this law, the legislator will give regulators the explicit legal authority to incorporate by reference any national and international standards developed by expert bodies. Although standards are not the only type of document for which incorporation by reference would be authorized under this bill, they merit special attention.
     There are many kinds of standards that are already incorporated by reference in the federal regulations, including standards written by the International Organization for Standardization and other recognized international standards organizations. A recent review of existing references in federal regulations revealed almost 400 references to these standards established by expert bodies.
     Canada is one of the countries at the forefront of standards development. There are hundreds of standards developed in Canada as part of the national standards system in Canada and then incorporated into federal and provincial regulations, such as standards developed by organizations such as the Canadian General Standards Board, and that which is most likely the most recognized name, the Canadian Standards Association.
     Standards developed by these organizations have already become key to the way that sectors are regulated in Canada. There are over 275 different standards produced by the Canadian Standards Association alone that are referenced in federal regulations. Added together, there are already more than 400 references in federal regulations to various types of standards, both internationally developed and developed as part of our national standards system. These are important components of our current regulatory programs.
     This legislation seeks to confirm that regulators can continue to rely on these standards in implementing their regulatory initiatives in an effective manner by allowing ambulatory incorporation by reference of such documents. The incorporation of standards by reference allows the government to draw on national and international expertise. It allows government to effectively rely on the work being done by external expert bodies, to which it has often contributed based on its own expertise.

  (1255)  

    In many cases, effective, responsive regulation demands that when changes are made to these standards, regulators must respond immediately. Ambulatory incorporation by reference is the most effective way to achieve this.
    When a standard is incorporated in the regulation on an ambulatory basis, it means that when a standard body updates a standard to respond to a new technology, new approaches or new innovations in the area, the changes are automatically incorporated into the regulation. The regulatory text does not have to be amended.
    Why is it essential to incorporate by reference standards as they are amended from time to time? There are three good reasons: expertise, responsiveness and efficiency.
    First, the ability to adopt standards as part of federal regulations when it is appropriate allows the government to access technical expertise right across Canada and right around the world.
     Second, the ambulatory incorporation of these standards ensures that when changes are made by these expert bodies, federal regulators are immediately responsive, which is a significant advantage of modern regulation.
    Third, reliance on standards development organizations of this nature allows for the efficient use of government resources. It would neither be expected nor efficient for the government to attempt to develop and house the wide range of expertise already found in these committees that develop these standards.
     To conclude, enactment of this legislation is a necessary step to securing access to valuable technical expertise developed here in Canada and around the world. I therefore invite all members to support this important bill.
    Mr. Speaker, according to the report by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, ambulatory incorporation by reference, which includes all post-regulation amendments to administrative documents generated internally by the federal government, should not be permitted in federal government regulations.
    Why? Because, unfortunately, that means the many regulations and future amendments will not be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. Why, then, does the government want to go ahead and make a change that would allow ambulatory incorporation by reference of international documents instead of just going with static reference, which does not include future changes? That way, if ever the government wanted to amend the law, the proposal would be examined by parliamentarians or the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations.
    Mr. Speaker, the federal government is jealously guarding its power to decide what each parliamentarian gets to examine.
    However, when it comes to techniques for developing expertise, the organizations themselves are the ones developing the expertise. By using their expertise and dynamically adopting frequent changes to standards, Canada and Canadians benefit from their expertise, and standards become standard in law as they do in everyday life.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask a question that came up in testimony before the committee.

[English]

    There were two witnesses at committee who raised a specific concern, which is one that we have, about the level of trust we have with respect to the current government in terms of oversight bodies and that the statute would allow it to do indirectly what it cannot do directly.
    A couple of witnesses had an excellent suggestion with respect to this, which was that there be guidelines developed through Treasury Board for departments and bureaucrats when exercising their power of incorporation by reference. This was raised by Karen Proud and by John Walter, the CEO of the Standards Council of Canada. Some sort of guidelines to put some oversight on the powers of incorporation by reference would go a long way to making people feel a little more comfortable with these powers the government is about to give itself. Is that something that the government is considering?

  (1300)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know whether that was considered in the development of this bill. However, we are trying to develop standards for expertise.

[English]

    When we think about different levels of expertise, certainly many parliamentarians from different roles of life bring with them a level of expertise that is not common to all of us. However, in this case, when it comes to dynamic incorporation, we are dealing with issues of specialty, like shipping and marine safety, energy efficiency, hazardous products, motor vehicle safety, and electric cars.
    These are all technological developments that the common person, the common parliamentarian, cannot basically be on top of, and specific organizations have this expertise. This is why we would draw from their strength to bring into mainstream Canadian life the technology that is incorporated by reference into the laws that govern us all.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill S-2, the incorporation by reference in regulations act.
    Liberals will not be supporting the bill. I want to be clear that we do not seek to invalidate incorporation by reference in regulations, a technique that has been long in use and that is useful on a case-by-case basis. However, the government cannot be trusted to act responsibly with these expanded powers. We have seen time and time again the government's abuse of oversight mechanisms. I think specifically of its use of omnibus legislation and its bad-faith approach to the Department of Justice's constitutional review process, including the use of private members' bills to avoid that process.
    A general power to incorporate by reference could embolden the government to do indirectly what it cannot do directly. For that reason, expanding the government's power to delegate lawmaking to foreign or private entities will not serve the public interest.
    Liberals will not expand the Conservatives' power to privatize and export the power to make Canadian law.

[Translation]

    There is also a chance that this bill could prioritize the English version of Canadian laws by allowing changes to be made to the English text without updating the French version.

[English]

    To be clear, we agree that regulating by reference will undoubtedly continue to expand. Globalization, standardization, and technical and scientific progress make the tool necessary. However, a regulation-making authority should have prior authorization from Parliament in its enabling statute to use incorporation by open reference.
    Bill S-2 is a highly technical bill. Before elaborating on why Liberals will not be supporting it, let us go over the contents of the bill. Bill S-2 would amend the Statutory Instruments Act to provide an express general power to incorporate by reference in regulations. To incorporate by reference is to give a secondary document legal force by referencing it in regulations, such as a set of technical standards developed by the Standards Council of Canada.
     Incorporation by reference has long been in use, and it is already expressly authorized in more than 60 federal acts. However, its legal status outside of these acts is uncertain. Bill S-2 aims to clarify that incorporation by reference is a valid technique of general application. Bill S-2 would also provide that any secondary documents referenced must be accessible and that liability or administrative sanctions could not apply if a document was not accessible. In addition, Bill S-2 would retroactively validate any incorporation by reference that was made before its coming into force.
    In effect, incorporation by reference sub-delegates the details of regulation to a designated entity, which may be private or foreign. It creates efficiencies in the context of globalization, standardization, and rapid technical and scientific developments. It is important to appreciate that regulations incorporated by reference may not exceed the regulatory powers granted by statute. In addition, regulations made by reference remain subject to review and possible revocation by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations.
    There are two varieties of incorporation by reference. They are incorporation by closed or static reference and incorporation by open or dynamic or ambulatory reference. Incorporation by closed reference cites a secondary document as it existed on a particular date. Incorporation by open reference automatically allows regulations to change as secondary documents are amended. This latter technique delegates the details of regulation to whomever has the ongoing power to amend the secondary document. Bill S-2 would expressly allow both open and closed incorporation by reference.
    Why are these changes a bad thing? Bill S-2 would reduce the oversight of federal regulations by allowing the sub-delegation of the regulatory power that is already delegated by Parliament to the Governor in Council and other persons. The current government cannot be trusted to use this power responsibly. Time and again, we have seen its willingness to abuse oversight mechanisms, restrict democratic debate, and violate Canadians' constitutional rights.
    For example, the government's use of omnibus legislation has degraded the committee review process and hidden important legal changes from public scrutiny. Most recently, I can think of the unconstitutional amendments to the Supreme Court Act being hidden in a budget implementation bill. Yes, changes to the Supreme Court Act were in a budget bill. When those changes failed, we all remember how the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice wrongfully criticized the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for trying to save them some embarrassment.
    With omnibus legislation, I also think of Bill C-13 and the way the government linked urgent and necessary cyberbullying legislation with immunity for telecommunications companies for warrantless disclosure. Again, the Supreme Court came to the rescue with the Spencer decision, which allowed us to support that cynically packaged piece of legislation.
    In opposing Bill S-2's reduction of regulatory oversight, we also think of the government's disregard for the Department of Justice's constitutional review procedure. As the House is aware, Department of Justice lawyer Edgar Schmidt revealed to Canadians that the government proceeds with legislation even if it has a 5% chance or less of being charter compliant. It is the government's own faint hope clause, so to speak.
    Is this a government that needs less oversight or more oversight? The revelation of the government's outright contempt for the charter was not surprising, given how often legislation and executive actions have been ruled unconstitutional by the courts. Let us review some of the greatest hits.

  (1305)  

[Translation]

    In 2011, the Supreme Court of Canada prevented the member for Parry Sound—Muskoka, who was health minister at the time, from closing a safe injection site, which would have caused an increase in the number of fatal overdoses and the spread of communicable diseases.
    Last year the Federal Court prevented the government from making cuts to health care services for refugees. Also last year, right here in Ottawa, Justice David Paciocco of the Ontario Court of Justice found that the decision to impose a $900 victim surcharge on a 26-year-old impoverished Inuit offender who was an addict amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
    Some British Columbia courts and the Ontario Court of Appeal have also struck down the mandatory minimum sentences brought in by the government. This is all in addition to the negative responses to referrals related to the unilateral Senate reform and the appointment of federal judges to represent Quebec on the Supreme Court.

[English]

    We have also seen the Conservative government's willingness to veil government legislation as private members' bills to avoid constitutional review. There are numerous examples of tough-on-crime, presumably government-driven legislation that masqueraded as private member's bills. All of these bills contained significant changes to the Criminal Code, and regardless of their merits, they should have passed through the Department of Justice's charter compliance review process.
    This is not a government that Canadians can trust to protect and promote their rights and interests. This is a government tainted by scandals of public betrayal, from election fraud with robocalls to tampering with the Duffy audit, to a $90,000 payment to Duffy from the Prime Minister's chief of staff, to the Prime Minister defaming the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Canadians should not trust the current Conservative government.
    As I have said, the danger with Bill S-2 is that the government would be emboldened to do indirectly what it cannot do directly, and any oversight would be retrospective rather than forward looking. That is why we will not support the expansion of the current government's power to delegate law-making powers to foreign and private entities.
    In addition, Bill S-2 would put the average person at a disadvantage, since there is no guarantee that documents incorporated by reference would be meaningfully accessible. In particular, an incorporated document would not have to be registered in the Canada Gazette and might even be protected by copyright. It would also be increasingly difficult for people to know whether the version of the incorporated document they have is up to date, and in some cases, they would have to pay for access to copyright-protected documents. The bill would weaken the right of those governed by the law to know the contents of the law. We will not support the Conservative government's privatization of Canadian law.
    We heard at committee that it may be possible for international bodies to amend Canadian law without our having a representative at the table. We heard that Canadian laws would not be centrally available to the public and that Canadians would sometimes have to pay to access Canadian law. Moreover, if Bill S-2 passed, the government would be generally empowered to decide which foreign and private entities could make law, and which laws Canadians should pay to see.
    Time and again, the government has not been forthright with Parliament and the public, and so our position is that a regulation-making authority should have prior authorization from Parliament in its enabling statute to use incorporation by open reference. For that reason, we will not support the bill.

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for an excellent speech, which set out a lot of the problems with Bill S-2. I particularly like the way in which he drove home at the very end the combined effects of transnationalization and privatization of norm-making; and how, through ambulatory statutory regulation, one more nail in the coffin of parliamentary and democratic sovereignty would be put in place; and that the inability of Parliament to keep track of external norms as they change and enter into our legal system, without Parliament having anything to say about it let alone know about it, is almost frightening.
    I may be wrong, but I understand there is yet another retroactivity clause in Bill S-2 that would basically clean up the use of these kinds of clauses in the past by saying that any previous use would be governed by Bill S-2 and therefore would not be a problem. Am I correct in that, and does the member have any comment on that?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure it will come as no surprise to the member for Toronto—Danforth that he is indeed correct. Any lawyer knows that one needs to know the answer to the question before posing the question.
    What the statute proposes to do is make incorporation by reference a principle of general application. It would also retroactively validate all those documents that have been incorporated by reference by regulation. That, of course, is a concern.
    The government would say that this is simply codifying the existing practice, but quite frankly, for the reasons I enunciated earlier, that is not quite good enough. There ought to be better oversight in place.
    One of the big problems with oversight is that where a regulation-making authority has control and custody of the process, only static incorporation by reference is available. However, where it does not, ambulatory incorporation by reference is available. Ambulatory incorporation by reference means that there can be changes made without parliamentary oversight as the documents are amended from time to time. My concern is that if the government puts people on the panel who are able to avail themselves of ambulatory incorporation by reference, they can then do indirectly what they cannot do directly.
    We heard at committee that this is very common. There are Canadian government officials and bureaucrats on these international tribunals who are able to amend these documents in this way.

  (1315)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the hon. member.
    Clause 18.3 states:
    
    18.3 (1) The regulation-making authority shall ensure that a document, index, rate or number that is incorporated by reference is accessible.
    However, “accessibility” is not really defined.
    Does the bill specify how the regulation-making authority should ensure the accessibility of the document? With respect to official languages, for example, or sharing it through the media or online, does the bill indicate how much all that will cost?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a good question.
    That is something we discussed in committee. It is true that the word “accessible” is not defined. We asked the witnesses that question. Some practices in the international community have changed in order to publish documents affected in that way. There is no definition in this case, but we could adopt some of the international practices.
    The hon. member is absolutely right. In order to be certain, this concept needs to be defined in the bill and currently it is not.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure today to speak to this House about Bill S-2, the incorporation by reference in regulations act.
    Bill S-2 has been studied by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and has been reported, without amendment, back to this House. Before that, the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs reported, also without amendment, to this House for consideration.
    This bill deals with the regulatory drafting technique. Essentially, the bill is about when federal regulators can or cannot use the technique of incorporation by reference. The technique of incorporation by reference is currently used in a wide range of federal regulations. Indeed, it is difficult to think of a regulated area in which incorporation by reference is not used to some degree.
    Bill S-2 is about securing the government's access to a drafting technique that has already become essential to the way government regulates. It is also about leading the way internationally in the modernization of regulations. More particularly, Bill S-2 responds to concerns expressed by the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations about when incorporation by reference can be used. This bill would create the legal clarification needed so that regulators and the committee could leave the uncertainty behind.
    Incorporation by reference has already become an essential tool that is widely relied upon to achieve the objectives of the government. Both committees have heard that it is also an effective way to achieve many of the current goals of the “Cabinet Directive on Regulatory Management”, cabinet's instructions on how to ensure effective and responsive regulations. For example, regulations that use this technique are effective in facilitating intergovernmental co-operation and harmonization, a key objective of the Regulatory Cooperation Council established by the Prime Minister and President Obama. By incorporating the legislation of other jurisdictions with which harmonization is desired, or by incorporating standards developed internationally, regulations can minimize duplication, an important objective of the Red Tape Reduction Commission. The result of Bill S-2 would be that regulators would have the option of using this drafting technique in regulations aimed at achieving these objectives.
     Incorporation by reference is also an important tool for the government to help Canada comply with its international obligations. Referencing material that is internationally accepted, rather than attempting to reproduce the same rules in the regulations, also reduces technical differences that place barriers to trade and is in fact something Canada is required to do under the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.
    Incorporation by reference is also an effective way to take advantage of the expertise of standards writing bodies in Canada. Canada has a national standards system that is recognized all over the world. Incorporation of standards, whether developed in Canada or internationally, allows the best science and the most accepted approach in areas that affect people on a day-to-day basis to be used in regulations. Indeed, reliance on this expertise is essential to ensuring access to technical knowledge across the country and across the world.
    Testimony by witnesses from the Standards Council of Canada before the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs made it clear how Canada already relies extensively on international and national standards. Ensuring that regulators continue to have the ability to use ambulatory incorporation by reference, meaning the ability to incorporate by reference a document as it is amended from time to time, rather than just its fixed or static version, in their regulations means that Canadians can be assured that they are protected by the most up-to-date technology.
    Incorporation by reference allows for the expertise of the Canadian national standards system and the international standards system to form a meaningful part of the regulatory toolbox.

  (1320)  

    Another important aspect of Bill S-2 is that it allows for the incorporation by reference of rates and indices, such as the consumer price index or the Bank of Canada rate, important elements in many regulations.
    For these reasons and more, ambulatory incorporation by reference is an important instrument available to regulators when they are designing their regulatory initiatives.
    However, Bill S-2 also strikes an important balance in respect of what may be incorporated by reference by limiting the type of document that can be incorporated when it is produced by the regulation maker. Also, only the versions of such a document as it exists on a particular day can be incorporated when the document is produced by the regulation maker only. This is an important safeguard against circumvention of the regulatory process.
    Although there was some testimony at the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights that suggested that the bill should go further to allow all types of documents to be incorporated by reference, including documents produced by the regulation maker, we believe that Bill S-2 strikes the right balance, and where more is needed, Parliament can and has authorized incorporation by reference of that material as well.
    Parliament's ability to control the delegation of regulation-making powers continues, as does the oversight of the Standing Joint Committee for the Scrutiny of Regulations. We expect that the standing joint committee will continue its work in respect of the scrutiny of regulations that use incorporation by reference. The standing joint committee will indeed play an important role in ensuring that the use of this technique continues to be exercised in the way Parliament has authorized.
    One of the most important aspects of the bill relates to accessibility. Bill S-2 will not only provide a solid legal basis for the use of this regulatory drafting technique but will also expressly impose in legislation an obligation on all regulators to ensure that the documents they incorporate are accessible. While this has always been something the common law required, this bill clearly enshrines this obligation in legislation.
    There is no doubt that accessibility should be part of the bill. It is essential that documents that are incorporated by reference are accessible by those who are required to comply with them. This is an important and significant step forward in this legislation.
    The general approach to accessibility found in Bill S-2 will provide flexibility to regulatory bodies to take whatever steps might be necessary to make sure that the diverse types of material from various sources are in fact accessible.
     In general, material that is incorporated by reference is already accessible. As a result, in some cases, no further action on the part of the regulation-making authority will be necessary. For example, provincial legislation is already generally accessible. Federal regulations that incorporate provincial legislation will undoubtedly allow the regulator to meet the requirement to ensure that the material is accessible.
    Sometimes, accessing the document through the standards organization itself will be appropriate. It will be clear that the proposed legislation will ensure that the regulated community will have access to the incorporated material with a reasonable effort on their part.
    It is also important to note that standards organizations, such as the Canadian Standards Association, understand the need to provide access to incorporated standards. By recognizing the changing landscape of the Internet, the bill creates a meaningful obligation on the part of regulators to ensure accessibility while still allowing for innovation, flexibility, and creativity.
    Bill S-2 is intended to solidify the government's access to a regulatory drafting technique that is essential to modern and responsive regulation. It also recognizes the corresponding obligations that regulators must meet when using this tool. The bill strikes an important balance, and it reflects the reality of modern regulation while ensuring that appropriate protections are enshrined in law. No person can suffer a penalty or sanction if the relevant material is not accessible by them.
    This proposal is consistent with the position that the government has long taken on the question of when regulations can and cannot use the technique of incorporation by reference. It will provide express legislative authority for the use of this technique in the future and will confirm the validity of existing regulations incorporating documents in a manner that is consistent with that authority.

  (1325)  

    We have many years of successful experience with the use of ambulatory and static incorporation by reference in legislation at the federal level and this knowledge will be useful in providing guidance to the future.
    The enactment of this legislation is the logical and necessary next step to securing access in a responsible manner to incorporation by reference in regulations.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her speech. I have two quick questions for her.
    First, clause 18.7 confirms the validity of an incorporation by reference that was made before the day on which that section comes into force. That is a retroactivity clause, suggesting that this is already being done without the consent of this House. What does the hon. member think about that clause and how does she explain it?
    Does she have any concerns about compliance with Canada's bilingualism rules for regulations, since a number of witnesses told us that there could a serious problem in that regard? Does the Conservative government still believe in the importance of bilingualism in Canada?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to reassure my colleague and the House that we are a bilingual country. French and English are our official languages, and I have no fear at all that this will be compromised in any way, shape or form under the legislation.
    It is very important in this day and age to keep up to speed with what is really happening in the world. The legislation would minimize duplication and inconsistencies, and promote the efficiency and competitiveness that is needed in our current business environment. Also, very clearly, it would reduce the trade barriers that exist now.
    It is an answer to a very important question about how to keep up to ensure the regulations are consistent so we can use the regulations in a very meaningful way on a daily basis.
    Mr. Speaker, the committee heard from two witnesses, both who offered the committee and the government the same advice, and that was that Treasury Board should put together guidelines for bureaucrats to use when exercising the power of incorporation by reference. Does the member agree with that advice from the experts at committee?

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, incorporation by reference is done now, every day, and it is done in a meaningful way. All the legislation would do is define it and put it in such a framework that there are guidelines that can be met and that there is the ability to use incorporation by reference in a meaningful way.
    Many incorporations have already used incorporation by reference, as we heard earlier from my colleague, such shipping and marine, energy, hazardous products, even motor vehicle safety, as are proceeds of crime and money laundering. All these things are used daily in the different disciplines of both trade and everyday life in the workings of our country and dealing with other countries.
    In terms of the incorporation by reference, this streamlines what needs to be done in a meaningful way so we can get things done more accurately. That is what we need. This business of inconsistencies in regulations is something I heard on the ground through business and other corporations. This would streamline that and cause the inconsistencies to be fewer.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Bill S-2 is probably not the most accessible bill for the community and the people who are watching at home. From the beginning, I have been calling this bill the sleeper of this legislature.
    For one thing, it has not garnered much attention, which is worrisome, and for another, it originated in the Senate. I believe that we are already starting off on the wrong foot when a bill that will have such a major impact on our future practices comes from the Senate.
    That being said, this will likely be one of my last speeches in the House as the justice critic for the official opposition, given the justice agenda from now until the end of this Parliament on June 23. I would therefore like to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Justice, particularly those from the New Democratic Party and my colleague from La Pointe-de-l'Île, the sponsor for the recommendation we made to our colleagues regarding Bill S-2. She did an excellent job, given that work on this bill was not the easiest way to jump into her role as deputy critic. I would like to congratulate and thank her.
    In recent years, the justice agenda has been rather onerous. Since you were once the justice critic for the official opposition, Mr. Speaker, you know what I am talking about. I would also like to thank the leader of the NDP for putting his trust in me. That is why I took the analysis of each bill very seriously and why I have often spoken out against the government's attempts to short-circuit democratic debates and in-depth examinations of bills. The decisions that we make in the area of justice can have even more significant implications for the people we represent.
    Bill S-2 is a fine example because it did not attract too much attention. I was interviewed once about Bill S-2, and it was by Blacklock's Reporter, which took the time to analyze this bill and saw the same problems we did.
    I find it even more important to point out that, when elected in 2011, I was appointed the co-chair of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations by our then leader, the great Jack Layton. I have to admit that at first I wondered about the committee's mandate. However, I understood just how important the committee was.
    I also saw first-hand the systematic resistance of some departments, which take an eternity to answer the questions posed by the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations. That was what had the greatest impact on my position on Bill S-2. Sometimes they were basic questions, mainly about incorrect language usage or contradictions between the French and English texts, which creates confusion and can lead to legal disputes. I truly appreciated what I call my internship with the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations, because it taught me the importance of regulations.
    As some members mentioned, we sometimes forget that the Minister of Justice must certify that any government bill, whether from the Senate or the government, complies with the Constitution and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

  (1335)  

     The same should be true for regulations. My colleague who spoke before me spoke about the importance of modernization. I agree with her. There are 30,000 pages of regulations every year. It is painstaking work to sort through all of that. However, members of the Standing Joint Committee on Scrutiny of Regulations and officials—whom I want to commend today for the difficult job they do—examine these issues and ensure that the regulations are correct, compliant and accessible, for the benefit of our constituents and for all Canadians across the country. People need to know what is going on and what could be expected of them. I agree that we need to find a way to modernize this.
    However, modernizing means something else to this government. This may ultimately be where the Conservatives pay the price for their sins, if I can put it that way. Members on the official opposition benches are deeply distrustful of this government. Why? Because this government has been secretive. It has tried all kinds of ways to circumvent democratic debate. It does not accept disagreement with its opinions. It practically sees any question from the opposition as a form of treason. In short, it prevents us from doing the job we were elected to do. The Conservatives should not be surprised that we do not want to give them a way to speed things up or to put these issues in the hands of people we cannot control or oversee to ensure they are doing their job properly.
    When a public servant like Mr. Schmidt goes to the Federal Court against his employer, the Department of Justice, to say that he was told to cut corners and ignore the Constitution and the charter, that worries me. Now the government wants the power to regulate by reference, which is the simplest way. There is also a retroactivity clause, as my colleague from Toronto—Danforth mentioned earlier. In committee, we were basically told that it was already being done—as if the fact that something previously prohibited is being done should justify the fact that they are rushing into this approach.
    Currently, if regulation by reference happens, it is authorized or should have been authorized by the enabling legislation. We learned that that was not always the case. That is why the government put clause 18.7 in the Senate bill. That clause includes a retroactivity provision. That reminds me of what was in Bill C-59 about destroying information in registries.
    What people do not see is that regulations can go very far. Let us look at each kind of bill: government bills, private members' bills and Senate bills. A power is always given to the appropriate minister, the authority to adopt regulations. The minister himself can delegate the power to take action to a senior official. In short, if we also decide to allow them to adopt regulations that come from other countries—which would come to us in a language that is not ours and where bilingualism will surely be short-circuited—one might have some serious concerns about this bill.
    What I am saying to my colleagues in the House is that there is no urgency here. Bill S-2 deserves to be studied further and should be considered with greater openness. It would be nice if the government could look at the comments and listen to and consider the criticisms instead of simply slamming the door and saying that this bill is the only way.
    I encourage my colleagues to take a short strategic pause to look carefully at Bill S-2, given that it could have enormous ramifications that will be rather serious in some cases.

  (1340)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I was quite happy to work with my hon. colleague when she was the co-chair of the scrutiny of regulations committee.
    In relation to this incorporation by reference bill, it is important that it be noted that the government has put forward a bill that actually specifies when a dynamic incorporation by reference or static incorporation by reference should be used. It basically gives parameters for when it can and cannot be used.
    I have also heard the criticism that regulations would not be produced and that there might be challenges with official languages. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any regulation that is passed under federal power has to be in both French and English.
    Last, I would point out to the member that the government is trying to create a framework for where it is appropriate and where it is not. It is to empower legislators, like ourselves, so that we know when certain incorporations by reference could be used for the benefit of people. For example, there are cases where standards may change. We are the ones who decide which standards should be used. However, we do not want to be constantly behind the times when it comes to the safety of Canadians.
    Does the member not realize that there needs to be some shift in this area in order to protect safety and to set parameters for government to use this tool in a limited way?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his question.
    As I said at the beginning, I agree. I heard my colleague say “keep up to speed”. It is one thing to keep up to speed and it is another to do so with your eyes closed. If I drive my car at high speed, I prefer to do so with my eyes wide open. This government often asks us keep our eyes shut.
    For example, the government refuses to define the terms used in certain rules in the bill. In addition, we tried to amend the bill so that it would provide a better framework for this new way of doing things, which would be faster and could have been a bit clearer.
    Ultimately, all our efforts led to great frustration. Even the amendments that were not meant to prevent things from moving forward and those that sought to create an approach that is somewhat more open and clear were rejected outright by the Conservative members of the committee, as though they were not allowed to accept anything, which is very disturbing.
    We should not assume that only safety regulations will be affected. All kinds of regulations could be affected. The Conservatives often boast about signing many foreign treaties. Good for them. I agree that it is good for the economy and positive in many other ways.
    However, we must ensure that the regulations of the country we trade with, which we are going to adopt as our own, meet certain basic criteria that exist only in Canada, such as bilingualism and other rules.

  (1345)  

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

[English]

    There are a couple of questions that I have already posed on which I would like the member's opinion.
    The first is that we had two witnesses at committee. One was the president of Consumer Health Products Canada and the other was the CEO of the Standards Council of Canada. They both called for bureaucrats to have some guidelines promulgated by Treasury Board that would govern their powers and abilities to incorporate by reference.
     The second is with respect to something I tried to explain in response to a question by the member for Toronto—Danforth. This statute sets up two categories, static incorporation by reference and ambulatory incorporation by reference. Static incorporation by reference is available only when the document in question is within the power of the regulation-making authority and ambulatory is available when it is not. In my view, the problem with that is that the government can do indirectly what it cannot do directly by having involvement in those bodies that control the content of documents to be incorporated in an ambulatory fashion.
    Does the member have an opinion on that?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as for the second question, I agree with my colleague that it is quite worrisome.
    As for the guidelines that should be provided by the Treasury Board, I also agree that these were good suggestions that were made. Again, the government simply turned a deaf ear to these suggestions and that is what is so worrisome when we are dealing with a bill that will have so many consequences.
    We cannot trust a government that is not transparent and does not share the information that it has. In that case, we would be hard-pressed to tell it that we will expand its regulatory powers further.

[English]

Points of Order

Bill C-59--Selection of Report Stage Amendments  

[Points of Order]
     Mr. Speaker, as you will know from a letter that was delivered to your office yesterday, I seek the opportunity to rise on a point of order to speak to the pending decision that you will be making on the appropriate nature of the amendments that I have tabled in relation to report stage for the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-59.
    The order to which I refer is Standing Order 76.1(5), which of course empowers the Speaker to select or combine amendments as he or she thinks fit. In the Annotated Standing Orders, there is additional guidance that the “Speaker will normally select only motions that were not or could not be presented in committee”. It also states, “For greater certainty, the purpose of this Standing Order is, primarily, to provide Members who were not members of the committee with an opportunity to have the House consider specific amendments they wish to propose.”
    I will not take much of your time or that of the assembled members in reviewing all the events that led to the concern that I am now expressing. However, I am sure members will recall, and certainly you will, Mr. Speaker, that in exercising my right as the member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands, recognizing that the rules, as they exist to this point today, if you seek guidance from our rules of parliamentary procedure, allow a member such as myself, a member of a recognized party with fewer than 12 members, or an independent member of Parliament, the opportunity at report stage to do something that members belonging to the larger parties no longer have, which is to put forward amendments that are substantive at report stage.
    The reason for this rule came from, I suppose we would have to call it the evolution of rules in this place, which has a consistent trend line. The evolution of rules has trended toward larger parties suppressing the rights of smaller parties, and in this particular instance, of a large majority party actually attempting to suppress the rights of an individual member.
    This was done through a series of decisions. The hon. government House leader tried at one point in late 2012 to put forward a novel notion, and I was specifically cited in the government House leader's complaint, that all the amendments by the member of Parliament for Saanich—Gulf Islands should be lumped together, that the Speaker should pull one at random, put it to a test vote, and if that fails, none of the rest of my amendments should be put forward at report stage.
    In your ruling on December 12, 2012, you put that notion quickly to rest in pointing out that that would rather defeat the purpose of legislative review. It would seem to suggest that might makes right and why bother to study any amendments at all, or even to put legislation through scrutiny.
    In making that ruling, Mr. Speaker, you made specific note of two previous Speakers' rulings on this matter. Speaker Milliken, whom you cited with authority from March 29, 2007, pointed out “neither the political realities of the moment nor the sheer force of numbers should force us to set aside the values inherent in the parliamentary conventions and procedures by which we govern our deliberations.” Further, you cited former Speaker John Fraser from October 10, 1989, when he said, “We are a parliamentary democracy, not a so-called executive democracy, nor a so-called administrative democracy.”
    In making that ruling, the clear guidance was in the following words:
     Accordingly, unless and until new satisfactory ways of considering the motions of all members to amend bills in committee are found, the Chair intends to continue to protect the rights of independent members to propose amendments at report stage.
    That is your role, Mr. Speaker. At page 307 of House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, we find this clear statement of the duty of the Speaker:
    It is the responsibility of the Speaker to act as the guardian of the rights and privileges of Members and of the House as an institution.
    In making that finding, Mr. Speaker, you said, “Unless and until new satisfactory ways” have been found. I believe it must have been concocted in the Prime Minister's Office because by the following fall, identical motions appeared in all of the committees that study legislation, and each identical motion operated under the fiction that it came forward from a Conservative member of that committee to create the new rubric under which I am now complying, which says that my amendments must be tabled as those of all other members of parties under 12 members or independents, within 48 hours before the committee moves on to clause-by-clause stage.

  (1350)  

     I have been operating under that. At every stage I tend to remind the chairs of committees before whom I present amendments that they are deemed to have been presented. I am given generally about 60 seconds per amendment to explain the purpose of the amendment.
    As unsatisfactory as that process is, in the case of these amendments, this is the crux of the case I put to you, Mr. Speaker, to please show flexibility. I know the committees are in charge of their own process, but in this case I am asking you to rule in relation to report stage.
     An opportunity that cannot be used is surely no opportunity at all, satisfactory or otherwise. In this case, on June 2 at 9 a.m. all my amendments were due on omnibus budget Bill C-59. Subsequent to that deadline, 10 more outside witnesses appeared, as well as the Privacy Commissioner and the minister himself. Brand new, novel issues were raised by those witnesses. My amendments attempt to deal with new issues that were raised after the deadline by which I had to submit my amendments.
    Unlike other members of a committee, I have no ability, nor does any other member in my situation, to put forward new amendments to deal with the new information. In other words, the ability of every member of Parliament in this place to do their work requires being able to weigh in substantively, and I hope helpfully, on amendments at report stage.
    In this instance, Mr. Speaker, I am asking you to please consider in your discretion the rubric under which I am working. Under these individual motions, passed by all these different committees, which in some cases have meant that I literally race from committee to committee to submit my amendments in time and to speak to them because committee meetings are often concurrent, in the case of Bill C-59, yet again another omnibus budget bill, there was no reasonable opportunity to submit the amendments that I have included.
    I have not included any amendments that had an opportunity before committee, although they were rejected. I have put forward only amendments that were not possible to have been imagined, constructed or drafted, because the witnesses who raised the issues testified before the committee after the deadline for the submission of my amendments.

  (1355)  

    I assure the member that her points will be taken into account in the ruling.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be very brief. I just want to inform the Chair and my colleague from Saanich—Gulf Islands, since I was not aware of the point of order prior to her standing in this place and I was somewhat tardy getting into the House to listen to her entire argument, the government will be reserving its comments until we have had a chance to see her entire point in transcript form and will reserve comments and make a due and considered response at our first opportunity.
    I thank the member for that.
    Resuming debate. The hon. member for Toronto—Danforth will have three minutes before we move to members' statements.

Incorporation by Reference in Regulations Act

[Government Orders]
     The House resumed consideration of S-2, An Act to amend the Statutory Instruments Act and to make consequential amendments to the Statutory Instruments Regulations, as reported (without amendment) from the committee and of the motion in group no. 1.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be correspondingly brief in my speech.
    I have spoken on Bill S-2 before. I join my colleagues from Gatineau and Charlottetown in indicating that this bill is a sleeper. It would have major implications for the health of our democracy, and it deserves to receive a lot more attention in the media than it has.
    The ability of governments to use ambulatory incorporation by reference to smuggle in over time rule changes processed by outside agencies, transnational and private agencies, or even mixed agencies on which governments sit, and the possibility of that would be greatly enhanced by this piece of legislation. Ultimately, it is a piece of legislation that would continue a whole variety of actions by the government over the last four years as a majority and almost ten years in government that seriously undermine our democracy.
     I would suggest that, rather than go in this direction, we have to think seriously about how to beef up the current joint committee on the scrutiny of regulations in the Senate and the House of Commons. We should possibly consider the need for an officer of Parliament. I would suggest that a commissioner for statutory and international instruments is probably something that needs to be discussed. It would be an officer who would make sure that the House is not just on top of static incorporation by reference, but incorporation by reference of external documents as they occur. It would then make sure, in the reporting fashion, that the House knows that something has changed that may be of consequence but that the House has had no say in until that point in time.
    I indicate that such a commissioner, for example, would look at both statutory instruments, regulations and their like, and international instruments, treaties and their like, because in the globalizing legal environment in which the government is operating, it is those two features, executive action and transnational action, that are increasingly joining hands and taking away governing space from publicly elected legislators.
    The bottom line is that this bill needs safeguards. Some four amendments were brought forward by the official opposition in committee. All of them were rejected, as usual, by the government. If we took the problems that the official opposition had and still has with the bill seriously, we would be looking at how to enhance the oversight and review functions of this body over the regulation-making authorities, not undermining it, as Bill S-2 would.
    The hon. member will have seven minutes to complete his speech when we return to this bill for further debate.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today in support of hard-working Canadian families who form the cornerstone of our society. As a basic unit of any successful nation, families drive our economy, build our communities and provide our children with moral, social and financial stability. I firmly believe that when the family unit is healthy, when families prosper, all Canadians prosper. I stand here today in support of our government's commitment to help families.
    In our most recent budget, we introduced a number of initiatives that will help millions of Canadian families, including those who live in southeastern Manitoba. Since forming government, we have cut taxes over 160 times. This will result in a typical two-earner Canadian family receiving tax relief and increased benefits of up to $6,600 this year. Some examples of these tax credits include the family tax cut, the universal child care benefit and the children's fitness credit.
    I have received many supportive comments on our government's low-tax initiative from families all across my riding of Provencher. They are encouraging us to work hard and continue to deliver results for families.

  (1400)  

West Nipissing Volunteers

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in tribute to the volunteers who make our communities strong and unique. I particularly want to acknowledge the hard work of the individuals who do this type of great work in and around West Nipissing. It is volunteers that make seniors suppers a success and showcase the compassionate and caring nature of our communities.

[Translation]

    It really takes a small army of volunteers to organize events such as the River Country & Bluegrass Gathering, the River & Sky Camping and Music Festival, the St. Charles Fishing Derby, the West Nipissing Rock and Rib Fest, the Sturgeon Falls Music Festival and the St-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations all around the region.

[English]

    These events allow visitors a chance to see our unique and engaging culture, which blossoms in the summer months.
     I also want to pay special tribute to super-volunteer Charlie Lang, who organizes so many of these events, including the famous Sturgeon Falls Fiddle Festival. I am sure all members will join me in saluting Charlie and all the volunteers who keep our communities thriving.

World War II Veterans

    Mr. Speaker, last month, it was my great privilege to travel around my riding of Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon to honour our living World War II veterans with a victory pin and certificate issued by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Veterans Affairs to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Canada's entry into the war.
    I held events at the Pemberton, Lillooet, Hope and Chilliwack legions where 25 veterans gathered to receive this honour in the presence of their friends, families and comrades.
    As we celebrated these living legends and Canadian heroes, I was reminded of one of my heroes, my late grandfather Bill Strahl, who joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II when he was only 17 years old, a young man, but like thousands of others his age, old enough to know that he needed to join the fight against Nazi tyranny.
    Many of the veterans we honoured were just boys and girls when they volunteered to defend this great country and the values we hold dear, but they quickly came of age as our greatest generation.
    All gave some, some gave all. Lest we forget.

Robert Kenny

    Mr. Speaker, last weekend, New Brunswick lost one of its most respected citizens. Robert Kenny passed away at age 72, having fought a courageous battle against ALS for the past six years. Bob Kenny was a distinguished lawyer and community leader who leaves behind a legacy of generosity and service. In Fredericton, Bob was president of the YMCA, led a committee to build Fredericton's indoor pool and was a devoted baseball coach and player. Always a Red Sox fan, the dugout at Royals Field in Marysville is named in his honour.
    Atlantic salmon conservation was another of Bob's passions. Last month, supported by his long-time friend Frank McKenna, the Nature Conservancy named a salmon pool after Bob on the Southwest Miramichi.
    I ask colleagues to join me in expressing our sympathies to Bob's wife, Joan, and his daughters Brigette, Natalie and Mary Ellen.

Dalai Lama

    Mr. Speaker, July 6 will mark the 80th birthday of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate and one of just six honorary Canadian citizens, His Holiness has devoted himself to spreading the values of love, peace and compassion.
     He describes himself as a simple Buddhist monk, despite being revered all around the world as a champion of human rights. His Holiness preaches a “middle way” approach to conflict resolution based on non-violence, compromise and dialogue. He works tirelessly for the ultimate goal of allowing Tibetans to live freely and peacefully in an autonomous Tibet within the People's Republic of China.
     On behalf of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, and the Tibetan Canadian community in my riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore, as well as across the country, I would like to wish His Holiness a happy birthday.
    Tashi Delek.

  (1405)  

[Translation]

Aerospace Industry

    Mr. Speaker, the aerospace industry is a high tech sector in which Canada has a unique expertise.
    The Conservative government, however, does not seem to understand the strategic importance of that industry. Over a thousand jobs have been lost in the aerospace industry this year. Let us not forget that the Conservative government made $500 million in cuts to tax credits for research. The Conservatives botched the airplane and helicopter procurement process. As a result, there were cost overruns and the equipment was not delivered on time. Canadians deserve better.
    The NDP has committed to investing in the aerospace industry by creating an innovation tax credit and extending the accelerated capital cost allowance. With regard to government procurement contracts, the NDP will hold an open and transparent bidding process and will work with the aerospace industry to ensure that we keep as many jobs here in Canada as possible. Canadians can count on us to protect these good jobs.

[English]

Member for Simcoe North

    Mr. Speaker, today, as we near the end of this 41st Parliament, I pay tribute to the people of my riding of Simcoe North.
    From the shoreline of Georgian Bay to the farmlands along the north side of Lake Simcoe, from the thriving city of Barrie to the cusp of cottage country in Muskoka-Parry Sound, my riding is blessed with generous and enterprising people and communities that reach back to the earliest of recorded history in our nation.
    I consider it the greatest of honours to represent this region of Ontario, the place of my birth and my family since 1874.

[Translation]

    I would like to commend my constituents for the pride they have in their communities, their history and their culture.

[English]

    It is obvious in every festival, every work of art and every savvy innovation from our business community. To my constituents, supporters and critics alike, one would do well by their example. They make me proud each and every day.

Canadian Armed Forces

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to acknowledge and thank the Royal Canadian Legion Zone 64 and Transcona Branch No. 7 for hosting their annual decoration day services in recognition of those who have served and those who continue to serve in our Canadian Armed Forces. Events like these ones serve as powerful reminders of the sacrifices made by our veterans, sacrifices they made to assure not only our freedom here in Canada but also the freedom of many other countries in the world.
     Being the son of immigrants from the Netherlands who came to Canada after being liberated by Canadian Forces, I am forever indebted to Canada's veterans who defended Holland's peace and security.
     As Canadians, we were very proud to join the Dutch people as they celebrated the 70th anniversary of their liberation earlier this spring. I was tremendously honoured to meet their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Kingdom of the Netherlands last month in recognition of this important milestone.
     I wish to recognize Canada's men and women in uniform, past and present, for all they have done in serving our country.

[Translation]

Chicoutimi—Le Fjord

    Mr. Speaker, this is my last statement in the House as a member in this 41st Parliament, and I want to take this opportunity to express how proud I am of the work that has been accomplished over the past four years.
    Members of Parliament are an essential connection between the regions and Ottawa. I am honoured to have represented the people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord. They are the ones who taught me that it is important to work together, united, in defending our common interests, whether they be customs at the Bagotville airport, bullying prevention among our young people, protecting our postal services, crucial funding for our military base or the future of the forestry industry.
    That is how we have worked to defend the interests of our region, Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean, for four years. Is this approach not in our very nature? Is it not tied to our roots and to the land we all worked together to conquer and develop?
    Over the summer I will continue to be visible in the communities and available to the people of Chicoutimi—Le Fjord and to serve the public with the objective of promoting the Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean region.
    Thank you once again for your confidence, your support and your encouragement. Let us work together to elect a New Democrat government this fall.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, on Friday the Liberal leader revealed that he would use, “alternative sources of capital, such as pension funds” to pay for his irresponsible promises. The seniors in Oxford reject the Liberal leader's plot to endanger their retirement security to fund his spending schemes.
     On behalf of every senior and future retiree in Canada, our Conservative government says “hands off their pensions”. We created the tax-free savings account and introduced pension income splitting that is benefiting over two million seniors and pensioners.
     Canadian seniors and future retirees are better off under the leadership of our Prime Minister. Now is not the time for risky schemes and untested leadership.

  (1410)  

[Translation]

Workers and the Middle Class

    Mr. Speaker, while thousands of good jobs are disappearing and people have record levels of debt, the NDP will always be on the side of workers and middle-class families. We have solutions: make life more affordable and create good green jobs in an economy focused on renewable energy.
    We are there for the 99%, those working every day to make ends meet, those looking for work and those who want to live comfortably in their later years. We come from the same world and we have the same dreams to change it.

[English]

    While thousands of good jobs are lost every month and people are in debt like never before, the NDP will always be on the side of the workers and the families of the middle class. We are proposing common-sense solutions that will help families with better health care, child care and green jobs for the economy of tomorrow. We are in Parliament for the 99% who work every day to make ends meet. We are from the same world and we have the same dreams to change it.

Russia

    Mr. Speaker, at the G7 meetings, world leaders agreed to continue supporting the isolation of Russian president Vladimir Putin through economic sanctions. All members of the G7 agree with Canada's position, that sanctions cannot be lifted until Putin respects the sovereignty of Ukraine's borders.
    I am proud of the fact that our Prime Minister has taken the principled stand that Russia cannot be allowed back into the G7 so long as Vladimir Putin is president.
    Canada and this Conservative government stands with Ukraine. Whether it takes 5 months or 50 years, we will never recognize Vladimir Putin's aggressive annexation of Ukrainian territory. There will be no business as ususal with Russia as long as it insists on violating international law.
    As the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, if the Russians want to be responsible global citizens, they need to prove it and get out of Ukraine.

Daniel Woodall

    Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal caucus, I extend condolences to the family and friends of Constable Daniel Woodall, killed in the line of duty last evening, in Edmonton, Alberta.
    Our wishes for a quick recovery are also extended to Sergeant Jason Harley, who was injured during the same incident.
    Constable Woodall worked on the hate crimes units of Edmonton Police Services, having transferred from the Manchester police of Great Britain eight years ago.
    As Police Chief Knecht stated, “this is a tragedy”. However, their service is heartened by the words of police forces worldwide that share in grief due to a common bond. We, too, in this place share that grief and add our respect for police officers and all they do.
    Constable Woodall was 35, and is survived by his wife Claire and two children. I am told he was doing what he loved: policing. However, he also was a passionate soccer supporter, which sounds about right, coming from England.
    Again, to Claire, family and colleagues, our heartfelt sympathy.

Canada Pension Plan

    Mr. Speaker, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has an independent mandate that is very clear, which is to invest the best interests of hard-working Canadians who have paid into it. It operates independently from government to invest funds on behalf of its 18 million Canadians who contribute and benefit from it. That helps ensure that the retirement funds Canadians rely upon remain safe and secure.
    However, the Liberal leader has admitted he would use “alternative sources of capital, such as pension funds” to pay for his irresponsible spending. It gets worse. The Liberal leader also said, of his spending schemes “It is time for a new revenue source”. Canadians know what that means: another tax hike from the Liberal leader.
    On behalf of Canada's hard-working seniors and future retirees, our Conservative government says, “Hands off their pensions”.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, with the Auditor General's report on the Senate expense scandal tabled today, Canadians are finally getting some answers on the Conservative and Liberal corruption that has taken hold in the Senate, and it is not pretty.

[Translation]

     The Mike Duffy trial is just the tip of the iceberg. Almost half of the Senate was involved in illegal spending. In his report, the Auditor General has named a group of three senators with considerable control over the Senate: the Speaker of the Senate, Mr. Housakos, who was just appointed by the Prime Minister himself; the leader of the Liberal opposition, James Cowan; and the government leader in the Senate, Claude Carignan. This is appalling.

  (1415)  

[English]

    The Liberals and the Conservatives are hoping Canadians will look the other way and ignore the rot in the undemocratic and unelected Senate, but Canadians know better.
    This October, Canadians will be able to vote for the change they want and actually get it, in voting for an NDP government on October 19.

Daniel Woodall

    Mr. Speaker, it is with sadness that I speak today. Yesterday, tragedy struck Edmonton, as Constable Daniel Woodall, a veteran police officer, died of the injuries he suffered in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Constable Woodall and his fellow Edmonton police officers during this difficult time.
    We wish a good recovery to Sergeant Jason Harley, who also suffered injuries during the intervention.
    It is a tragic reminder of the dangers faced by members of our law enforcement community who work selflessly each day to keep us safe in Canada.
    It is my understanding that there have been discussions among representatives of all parties in the House and that there is agreement to observe a moment of silence in honour of the fallen police officer in Edmonton, Alberta.
    [A moment of silence observed]

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, trying to cover up Senate scandals has become routine for the Prime Minister's Office: watering down an internal Senate report and a $90,000 cheque for Senator Duffy. The Auditor General's report on the Senate scandal is even more distressing.
    Was the Prime Minister's Office in contact with the senators before the report was released?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it was the Senate that actually invited the Auditor General in to examine its expenses. We understand that the report has been tabled and been made public. We expect the Senate to implement the recommendations.
    Mr. Speaker, that member and that government refuse to come clean with Canadians about whether the Prime Minister's Office was in touch with any senators before this report was tabled.
    Why are Conservatives so afraid to tell the truth? Could it be because eight of the senators who are named in the report were appointed by the Prime Minister? Or could it be because the Prime Minister's hand-picked Senate Speaker was also named in the report? Or maybe it could be because Senate leaders named in the audit still have their very own appeals process?
    The Conservatives have a history of cover-ups. Are they now working with Conservative senators to do damage control?
    Mr. Speaker, again as I just said, it was the Senate that invited in the Auditor General to examine its expenses. I understand that the Auditor General has put in place a number of recommendations and we hope the Senate will follow those recommendations.
    At the same time, what is highlighted is that when people deliberately abuse taxpayer resources, Canadians have a right to expect that money to be repaid and if individuals have done it deliberately, they face the full extent of the law.
    I certainly hope the NDP members will reflect on that. I know they owe $2.7 million. I hope they will reflect on that and will consider repaying the taxpayers the $2.7 million that they owe them.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve better than a scandal-plagued self-policing Senate and that member's embarrassing non-answers. The Auditor General is calling for transformative change and independent Senate oversight.
    After coming here to reform the Senate, now the Conservatives are defending the status quo and Senate corruption. Do they agree with the Senate Speaker that those senators “should be thanked by the population” for their actions, or do they agree with us and the Auditor General that transformative change is needed now?

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, we learned last night that it was a priority of the NDP to hold a constitutional conference to open up the Constitution and to hold a referendum with respect to the next steps on the Senate. That is not something we will do. We will continue to focus on jobs and economic growth because that is the priority of Canadians.
    At the same time, what is very clear is that the NDP owes $2.7 million. There is only one taxpayer and whether it is a senator or whether it is a member of Parliament, there are 68 members of the NDP caucus who owe $2.7 million. I believe that is three times as much as the Auditor General identified in the Senate report. I hope the New Democrats will pay it back.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, welcome to Absurdistan.
    The Conservatives would have us believe that the Prime Minister personally appointed Senator Housakos to the speakership of the Senate without ever asking him a single question about his expenses or how he planned to handle the breaking scandal. Frankly, the Conservatives are once again taking us for fools.
    Could they have the decency to be a tiny bit transparent and tell us what contact there was between the Prime Minister's Office and Senator Housakos before the report was released?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Senator Housakos was a bipartisan appointment on the recommendation of the leader of the Liberals and the leader of the government in the Senate. At the same time, what this report identifies and what all of us should understand is that there is only one taxpayer. There is only one taxpayer and whether it is a senator or it is a member of Parliament, when people deliberately mislead the Canadian people, when they owe them money, they should pay it back.
    Now we understand there are some senators who owe some funds, but there are also 68 members of the NDP caucus. I hope they will reflect on this and pay the money back.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the people deserve the truth, and they deserve answers from their government.
    The Auditor General's report made it clear that the Senate is corrupt. It is clearly too far gone for us to help. We need changes right away for sure, but we also need an independent oversight body.
    Until we abolish the Senate, which we will, will the government finally work with us to set up an independent oversight body and get the truth? Or will the parliamentary secretary continue to cling to his feeble attacks with no regard for transparency?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the Auditor General has made some recommendations, and we expect that the Senate will follow those recommendations.
    At the same time, we know that it is a priority of the NDP to hold a referendum with respect to the Constitution. It is ironic, since the member opposite has written 29 separate cheques to a separatist party. This is the NDP that wants to open up the Constitution and have a referendum, with that particular separatist member as its lead.
    I think not. We will continue to focus on jobs and economic growth and trying to get back the $2.7 million that they owe the Canadian taxpayer.

[Translation]

Pensions

     Mr. Speaker, the Minister of State for Finance said that strengthening the Canada pension plan is like using a bazooka; the Minister of Employment said that the CPP is at odds with job creation; the Prime Minister wanted Alberta to withdraw from the CPP; and the former foreign affairs minister described it as white collar crime.
    Instead of insulting this program, which has helped so many Canadians, why will the Conservatives not work with the provinces to develop a real, credible plan to strengthen and expand the CPP, which is incredibly important to all Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals have confirmed that they want to impose a new $1,000 tax on every worker who earns $60,000 a year. Small and medium-sized businesses, which employ these workers, will also have to pay this $1,000 tax for each employee. Business owners are telling us that this will kill jobs and hurt Canadian families.
    We oppose the new tax proposed by the Liberals.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, just repeating a falsehood does not make it true.
    Most Canadians are seriously troubled about not having enough to live on in their retirement. Some three-quarters in the private sector do not have a company pension. Typical 35-year-olds today are saving only half of what their parents did. Among those in their 50s, two-thirds have less than $100,000 set aside and one-third has nothing at all.
    Canadians want a comprehensive solution. Will the government take the advice of the late Jim Flaherty and begin a modest, phased in, fully funded expansion of the Canada pension plan?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party has confirmed that it wants to impose Kathleen Wynne's proposal for a new payroll tax on Canadians. According to the Wynne Liberal government, this would be about $1,000 in additional taxes for every single worker earning $60,000 a year.
    Worse yet, the small business employing that worker would have to match that new tax. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says that businesses would lay people off and cut wages, and some would even close their doors.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance himself confirmed last week that CPP premiums are not payroll taxes. They do not belong to the government, he said. They always belong to the individual pensioner, he said. The CPP Investment Board gets impressive results, he said.
    The finance minister must agree with the late Jim Flaherty, who reported:
...strong support for the Canada Pension Plan and the central role that it plays in our government-supported retirement income system.
    Why not work with the provinces on a strong, comprehensive CPP?
    Mr. Speaker, we already have that, but that is not what the Liberals are proposing. They are proposing a new $1,000 payroll tax on every single worker in Canada. They want to take the Kathleen Wynne plan, which again, is $1,000 in new taxes for the average worker earning $60,000 a year. Then, they say they will invest that in so-called infrastructure programs.
    We do not want the Canadian people to have their pension plan raided to pay for Liberal pork-barrel politics and pay higher job-killing taxes.

[Translation]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister's Office did everything in its power to protect senators and cover up the expense scandal every step of the way. The Senate became a treasure trove for Conservative Party fundraisers. At the very beginning, when we were talking about Mike Duffy's place of residence in 2013, the Prime Minister stood up for him. The member for Nepean—Carleton said that Nigel Wright did the honourable thing by giving Mr. Duffy a cheque.
    Who in the Prime Minister's Office was in contact with the senators about the Auditor General's report?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as members know, the Auditor General has released his report. Just today it was tabled in the Senate. It was the Senate that called in the Auditor General to review its expenses, and we expect that it will implement the recommendations of the Auditor General.
    At the same time, what is clear is that deliberate misuse of taxpayer dollars is completely unacceptable. There is one taxpayer and, whether it is a member of Parliament or a Senator, Canadians expect their money to be used wisely. There are 68 members of the NDP caucus who deliberately misused taxpayers' dollars to the tune of $2.7 million. That is three times the amount the Auditor General identified in the Senate, and they should pay that money back.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, what the member is refusing to say is that, when the scandal broke, the Prime Minister came to Mike Duffy's defence. He defended Pamela Wallin, and he said that he had complete confidence in Nigel Wright before going back on his word. Now, the Speaker of the Senate is saying that he has done nothing wrong, even though he plans to repay his expenses, and he is asking Canadians to thank him for that. Well done. That is a first-rate apology.
    Will the Prime Minister finally keep the promise that he made to Canadians or is he going to continue to defend the indefensible in the Senate?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we obviously expect that the Senate will implement the recommendations of the Auditor General.
    However, the member of Parliament opposite who just asked the question owes the Canadian taxpayer $27,000. Members of the NDP think it is funny to owe the taxpayers $2.7 million. The Canadian taxpayers do not think it is funny because they work too hard for the money they send to us. They expect it to be used in a responsible fashion, and when it is not, they expect it to be repaid. Therefore, the NDP members could do the right thing. They should look at the Auditor General's report, do the right thing for taxpayers, and pay back the millions of dollars—

  (1430)  

    Order, please. The hon. member for Alfred-Pellan.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives tried to lead us to believe that Nigel Wright acted alone, until the RCMP found otherwise. They also tried to lead us to believe that there was no agreement with Mike Duffy, until the RCMP found otherwise. It is not surprising that people do not believe what the government says. The member for Nepean—Carleton said that they were going to maximize accountability and minimize costs.
    What does the government plan to do to really clean up the Senate?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we know what the NDP agenda is with respect to the Senate. The New Democrats said yesterday that they want to hold a referendum and open up the Constitution. They said it was their priority to open up the Constitution, hold negotiations, and ultimately have a referendum. That is not the priority of Canadians. The priority of Canadians is that we continue to focus on jobs and economic growth. That is what we will continue to do.
    At the same time, Canadians want their money to be used wisely. There are 68 members of that caucus who owe Canadians close to $3 million, and I hope they will repay the Canadian taxpayers the money they owe them.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General is an independent arbitrator. He gave us facts, not his opinions. It has never been more clear: it is time to do away with this outdated institution. The Auditor General recommends a serious housecleaning to resolve the problems with the expense claim system in the Senate.
    Will the government finally support the NDP's proposal to stop the Senate spending spree and put an end to partisanship in the upper chamber once and for all?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have put a number of reforms on the table. It is now up to the Council of the Federation to take a look at those reforms. What we will not do, of course, is reopen the Constitution and set Canada on this course, which would culminate in a referendum. This is what the NDP has suggested it would do. That is not what we will do. We will continue to focus on jobs and economic growth.
     At the same time, the Auditor General has come forward with some recommendations. We hope the Senate will follow those recommendations, and we hope the New Democrats will do the right thing for taxpayers, and refund the $2.7 million they owe them.
    Mr. Speaker, they will say anything.
    The Auditor General has issued a dire warning about Senate spending. There are 30 senators implicated, and a whole system of oversight has been declared a failure. After two years of digging through the expenses of current and former senators, Canadians certainly do not need a cooked-up appeals process designed to get senators off the hook. Do the government members not understand that the Auditor General is an independent third-party arbiter? Is it not clear that he is supplying a finding of fact, not opinions, as they do?
    Mr. Speaker, we welcome the Auditor General's report, and we expect that the Senate will follow the recommendations of the report.
    However, the height of arrogance is coming from the NDP right now. There are 68 members of the NDP who owe $2.7 million to the Canadian taxpayer. They are being taken to court to repay that $2.7 million, and they have refused to do it.
    They should do the right thing: repay the taxpayers the $2.7 million they owe them. We will continue to focus on jobs and economic growth.
    Mr. Speaker, it is crystal clear today that the status quo in the Senate is not acceptable. It cannot go on.
    There are simple steps that do not involve the Constitution that could be taken today to bring in reform, but the government and its Liberal friends steadfastly refuse to take any action.
    Will the Conservatives either agree to make changes to the Senate or else explain to Canadians why they think it is okay for senators to spend thousands of dollars flying first class across the country on the taxpayers' dime to raise money for the Conservative Party of Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said, we will not open up the Constitution and engage in constitutional battles, which would culminate in a referendum, as the NDP is proposing.
    The member could help me, if she would have the member for Louis-Hébert repay the $31,000 he owes, the member for Beauport—Limoilou repay the $31,000 he owes, the member for Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles pay the $35,000 she owes, the member for Scarborough Southwest repay the $141,567 he owes, the member for Louis-Saint-Laurent pay back—

  (1435)  

    The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Mr. Speaker, we go from fiction to fact. The Auditor General of Canada has shown a damning exposé of the Senate.
    We are learning that they were flying first class to do corporate business and personal pet projects. The Auditor General has once again flagged that we have to end this issue of self-policing.
    This report belongs at the feet of the Prime Minister. He promised Canadians reform, and instead his staff delivered cover-ups, whitewash, and a bribe.
    Why has the Prime Minister gone to ground when Canadians are looking to him to show some leadership in dealing with this corrupt institution?
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday we had speaker after speaker from the NDP, and not one of them admitted it. Not until the very end, when they were asked how they would actually reform the Senate, did they actually admit they would have a constitutional conference and they would ultimately have a referendum.
    That is not the priority of Canadians. We know there is not unanimous support to modify the Senate. What we are going to continue to do is focus on jobs and economic growth.
     In the meantime, I am going to see if I could get the member for LaSalle—Émard to pay back the $27,866 she owes, and the member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles to pay back the $29,845. The member for Brossard—La Prairie could help us out by repaying the—
    Order. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives really have lost their way. They hide behind that poisonous sideshow, which is really just to run cover for their insider friends.
    What happened to the Conservative Party? It is the Prime Minister's appointed senators who are defying hard-working Canadians who pay their way and play by the rules.
    The senators are saying that they are not going to listen to the audit, that they will look at the findings. I am sorry, but the Auditor General's report is not an opinion. This is a forensic audit.
    Why is the government standing in solidarity with the corruption in the Senate, rather than standing with the Canadian taxpayers?
    Mr. Speaker, it is very clear that when Canadian taxpayers' money is abused, they expect actions to be taken. That is what we have been fighting for since we were elected in 2006.
    The member does not seem to understand that there is only one taxpayer. Maybe the member and the caucus should look at the people in the gallery who send their money here and expect it to be used wisely, and explain to them why they refuse to pay back the $2.7 million.
    Why does the member for Chicoutimi—Le Fjord refuse to pay back the $28,152? Why does the member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine not pay back the $169,000—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, order. The hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.
    Mr. Speaker, I think that rant explains the story of the demise of the Conservative-Reform agenda. Remember a Prime Minister who came to Ottawa riding a white horse? Instead he will be leaving flogging a dead horse, taking Duffy and Wallin and the member for Oak Ridges—Markham with him. What changed?
    Remember that Reform agenda? It was the member for Nepean—Carleton who said they would maximize accountability and minimize the cost. Instead they have maximized partisan abuse by their crony insider friends, and they have no willingness to stand up to the disgrace that is the Senate, because the Prime Minister appointed them.
    Why will they not be accountable to the Canadian public?
    Mr. Speaker, there is only one taxpayer, and it does not matter whether it is senators or members of Parliament; when they abuse the taxpayers, they should pay that money back. That is why I encourage the member for Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot to repay the $30,023. The member for Outremont, the Leader of the Opposition, owes $400,000 to the Canadian taxpayer.
    Standing up for the taxpayer is what we have done since day one, and we will continue to do it. Whether it is a senator or a member of Parliament, they should pay back the $2.7 million they owe.
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. The hon. member for York West.

  (1440)  

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives have always hated the Canada pension plan. They voted against it and its creation in 1965—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, order. We only sing on Wednesdays, and there is only one song to sing.
    The hon. member for York West now has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives have always hated the Canada pension plan. They voted against its creation in 1965 and have voted against improving it every time since, but no Conservative hates it more than the current Prime Minister. He actively campaigned to eliminate it entirely and demanded that Alberta opt out of it, while his closest adviser referred to it as a Ponzi scheme.
    As the Prime Minister raises the age of retirement and slashes numerous benefits, how can Canadians possibly trust the Prime Minister to safeguard the Canada pension plan?
    Mr. Speaker, that allegation is absolutely nonsense. Since the day we were elected, our government has consistently lowered taxes and created new voluntary options for Canadians to save, like the tax-free savings account, but the Liberal leader revealed that he will fund infrastructure projects with “alternative sources of capital, such as pension funds”, and he is going to do that while forcing Canadians to take a $1,000 pay cut.
    On behalf of all retirees and those soon to be retirees, I would respectfully say to the Liberal leader, “keep your hands off our pension funds”.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals' fairness for the middle-class plan is more generous and better targeted than the current Conservative plan. It will simplify the complex system of child benefit payments into one bigger tax-free monthly payment for families that most need help and will reduce their income by 7%. The minister does not want to talk about the Liberal plan, because he knows that more Canadian families will benefit than under the system he is defending.
    Why are Conservatives fighting our Liberal plan, knowing that they are keeping money away from struggling middle-class families who need the help the most?
    Mr. Speaker, the worst thing one could do for those families is hit them with a $1,000 payroll tax for every single worker. For a couple with both spouses earning $60,000 a year, the Liberal payroll tax would cost $2,000, and then the small business that employs that couple would also have to match that tax increase. That would kill jobs, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
    Now the Liberal leader has revealed that he would use the money as a source of revenue to fund infrastructure projects. Canadians are telling the Liberal Party, “keep your hands off our pensions”.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, compared to the Conservatives' plan, the Liberals' plan would provide a bigger monthly child benefit payment to 9 out of 10 families. The benefit would not be taxable either. Our plan also includes a major tax cut for the middle class.
    Our plan contrasts sharply with the Conservatives' policy, which further benefits a small percentage of Canadians who are already faring quite well.
    Why does the government not change its priorities and focus on Canadians who are most in need?
    Mr. Speaker, the Liberals admit that they want to get rid of the universal child care benefit; they want to get rid of income splitting, also called the family tax cut; and they want to get rid of the tax-free savings account.
    Even after all these tax increases and all these budget cuts for families, the Liberals have a $2 billion shortfall and they admit it. When the Liberals have a shortfall, they just raise taxes for families.
    We oppose the Liberal taxes.

Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, dozens of lawyers, professors, trade unionists and community workers are condemning the culture of secrecy around the Social Security Tribunal of Canada.
    Of the 10,000 rulings made by the tribunal since 2013, only 148 have been made public. When Canadians take their case to the Social Security Tribunal of Canada, they are entitled to all the jurisprudence in order to be as prepared as possible.
    Will the Conservatives make public all the tribunal's decisions, and if so, when?

  (1445)  

    Mr. Speaker, the tribunal was created in order to provide an appeal process for all Canadians who are not satisfied with the department's decisions. There are obviously certain privacy concerns with respect to the appellants.
    However, we are ensuring that Canadians have a means to appeal when they are not satisfied with the decision. That is a fair way to ensure that they have access to the benefits to which they are entitled.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as the economy stumbles, EI claims are increasing. Unfortunately, after Liberal and Conservative cuts to the program, access to EI benefits is at a record low. Fewer than four in 10 unemployed Canadians receive any benefits at all, yet the Conservatives are raiding the EI surpluses to give tax handouts to the wealthy, while the Liberals want to raid the fund for corporate tax cuts.
    When will the Liberals and the Conservatives learn to get their hands off the money meant for unemployed Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, quite the contrary, we are reducing employment insurance payroll taxes for both small businesses and the people who work for them. We will see the payroll taxes drop by 21% in just two years as a result of decisions the government has made and because of the strong employment record of our economy.
    The Liberals and the NDP propose a 45-day work year. That is, people would work 45 days and then collect EI for the rest of the year. Of course, in addition to causing chaos in the labour market, it would also drive up billions of dollars in extra payroll taxes that would kill yet more jobs.

[Translation]

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, thousands of residential school survivors have issued a clear call for reconciliation and action. Now is the time for the government to show some leadership. The Prime Minister will meet with the Pope on Thursday when he visits the Vatican.
    As a first step, will the Prime Minister take this opportunity to request an official apology to residential school survivors for the role the Catholic Church played?
    Mr. Speaker, we want to thank all of the survivors for their courage and, of course, for sharing their experience with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and all Canadians.
     When the Prime Minister made a historic apology on behalf of all Canadians in 2008, the government recognized that the policy of assimilation at residential schools caused great harm and that the schools had no place in Canada.
    I have personally written to the provinces, the territories, the Canadian Federation of Municipalities and the Vatican to inform them of the report and the recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, sadly, what we did not hear there was a commitment to reconciliation, and that is what survivors of residential schools are looking for.
    While we are there, it is pretty difficult to believe that the Conservatives are committed to reconciliation when the way they treat someone who is doing nothing more than fighting for fairness for aboriginal children is to respond by humiliating and ostracizing them.
    The Human Rights Tribunal found that David McArthur retaliated against Cindy Blackstock, but instead of condemning his actions, the government promoted him.
     Will the minister recognize, in the House, that the actions of David McArthur have no place in a democracy, and will the minister apologize for its appalling attitude toward Cindy Blackstock?
    Mr. Speaker, our government remains committed to the health, the safety, and the well-being of first nations children throughout the country.
    Since 2006, our government has increased child and family services on reserve by over 40%, and we are taking action, in collaboration with all the partners, to ensure that children and families have the support they need to lead healthy and safe lives.
    As to the specific case raised by the hon. member, we are reviewing the decision to determine next steps.

  (1450)  

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the terrorist death cult ISIS has made it clear that it targets by name Canada and Canadians.
    Canada and Canada's brave Canadian Forces did not sit on the sidelines 71 years ago, and we are not sitting on the sidelines today. Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs update this House on Canada's mission as part of the coalition to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIS?
    Mr. Speaker, ISIS has declared war on Canada, and that is why Canada is not sitting on the sidelines. I am pleased to inform this House that the Royal Canadian Air Force has now surpassed 100 air strikes against ISIS, including strikes near Baiji and Mosul in this past week. Furthermore, the RCAF has flown over 1,000 sorties. We are providing world-class battlefield surveillance, refuelling support, and precision air strikes against the enemy.
    As always, we, along with all our allies, thank the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces for the work that they do.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, under the Conservatives, weak job growth has not come close to keeping pace with population growth.
    Blacks has just announced that nearly 500 more jobs will be lost, and yet another closure in the retail sector adds more than 1.3 million to the number of Canadians already unemployed. Many of these workers will not quality under the Conservative cuts to EI, leaving them without support while they look for new jobs.
    Why are the Conservatives blowing money on tax breaks for the wealthy few instead of helping the workers who need it most?
    Mr. Speaker, Telus, which acquired Blacks in 2009, said, “Technological innovations have changed the way Canadians take and share photographs with fewer of us using retail photo outlets”.
    The NDP's solution to that would be to raise taxes on companies like Telus, which employ millions of Canadians across the country. They would raise taxes on those who create jobs and on those who work.
    We do exactly the opposite. We are lowering taxes on job creators, including and especially small businesses, and we are putting more money in the pockets of families so that they can spend and invest in their communities.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians pay among the highest prices in the OECD for prescription drugs, leaving one in ten Canadians unable to fill prescriptions.
    Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, health experts, and seniors organizations have all called for the creation of a national drug plan to make prescription drugs more affordable. The provinces have said they are willing to talk, but the federal government will not even come to the table.
     Why are the Conservatives showing such a shameful lack of leadership in addressing the high cost of drugs for Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I have repeatedly said to Canadians and to my provincial counterparts that they are getting ripped off when it comes to the cost of drugs.
    They negotiate their plans separately instead of together, and I continuously encourage them to get together and invite us to the table to look at a national drug purchasing plan, including, and foremost, to talk about bulk purchasing.
    We can save Canadians billions of dollars if we do this together, and I am at the table with them.

[Translation]

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, 16 communities along the St. Lawrence River are taking action to ban microbeads.
    Found in a variety of cosmetics and toothpastes, these plastic microparticles are contaminating the St. Lawrence River. The NDP has shown leadership on the issue by successfully seeking unanimous consent of the House to have microbeads placed on Canada’s list of toxic substances. However, we have heard nothing since then.
     What are the Conservatives waiting for before they act on our motion and protect our environment?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, Environment Canada has initiated a scientific review to assess the effect of microbeads on the environment. This review builds on the work we have done to reduce the risk of harmful chemicals.
     Since 2006, we have taken action on more than 2,700 substances under the chemicals management plan, and we are on track to assess 4,300 substances by 2020. We are also putting the issue of microbeads on the agenda of this summer's meetings of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment.

  (1455)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, Montreal is one of the 16 communities along the St. Lawrence standing together to ban microbeads. However, it is up to the federal government to approve personal care products. The minister has yet to act on the NDP motion passed in the House to ban microbeads from these products.
    Given the urgent need to act, when will the government take action and protect our waterways by banning microbeads?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, as I stated, Environment Canada has initiated a scientific review to assess the effects of microbeads on the environment. Scientists are reviewing the issue of microbeads. This review builds on the work that we have done on the risk of harmful chemicals in our environment. We will also be including the microbead issue on the agenda this month in Manitoba's meetings of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment. Now that is action.

Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, throughout their decade of Conservative failure, processing times for families have moved steadily up, with a sharp jump after the budget cuts of 2011. We see family members who cannot get into the country for important events such as marriages, funerals or the birth of a loved one. Families are left separated by the Conservative government's gross incompetence.
    Will the Conservatives finally take responsibility for this mess that they, and only they, have created?
    Mr. Speaker, that is absolutely nonsense. The number of visitor visas has never been higher. Citizenship applications are being processed within about a year. Iraq and Syrian refugees are being processed within record times. Sponsored spouses are receiving their work permits within months. Under the express entry, economic immigrants are being processed within weeks or months.
    None of that happened under the Liberals. All of that has been opposed by the Liberals, because they are wedded to backlogs, to political influence and to abuse in the immigration system.
    That member and the Liberal Party of Canada have become the anti-immigration party.
    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is so wrong. He is absolutely silly and knows nothing in terms of what he is talking about.
    The delays that the minister has caused are cruel, and it is getting worse. These delays are negatively affecting families, not only in Canada but also abroad. Constituencies and the people we are trying to serve continue to have to wait as the minister's incompetence in increasing delays is causing problems.
    When will the minister going to fix the problem that he created?
    Mr. Speaker, if I understand correctly, the hon. member thinks it is silly to reform the immigration system. It is silly to have doubled the number of foreign students in Canada. It is silly to have given over a million visitor visas to people wanting to visit Canada for legitimate reasons from around the world, most of them 10-year, multiple entry visas. That never existed under the Liberal Party of Canada.
    These reforms were opposed every step of the way by the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal Party of Canada is against large-scale immigration and good service for immigrants and visitors to Canada. It is clear now that it is willful—
    The hon. member for Surrey North.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, last night there was yet another shooting in Surrey near a busy restaurant patio. People are terrified and parents are afraid to let their children play outside. My community needs to know that the federal government is doing everything it can to stop the violence.
    However, the Conservatives are not even providing answers to their questions. Therefore, will the minister finally please tell us the timeline for the proposed 100 RCMP officers?
    Mr. Speaker, our thoughts are with those who were impacted by what took place last night in Surrey. Certainly, this is strong motivation to keep on and push forward with the measures we put forward. I would invite the member opposite to support those initiatives.
    Those 100 boots on the ground are being deployed. It is an operational matter. However, in the meantime, the member can support our tough on crime agenda. He can also support the budget where we are investing in prevention.
     We are standing up for the people of Surrey, and I invite the member to support our initiatives.

  (1500)  

    Mr. Speaker, this is about the safety of my community, not about partisan political gains. Standing up for Surrey means providing answers and a clear timeline.
    Surrey desperately needs help now to make its streets safer. We have been waiting too long, and with each shooting, families are becoming more and more afraid.
    Why can the minister not give our community the news it is waiting for? When are the new officers arriving in Surrey?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the answer is very clear: as soon as officers are available, they are put on the ground. We are working hand in hand with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
    What is outrageous is when I see, day after day, week after week, members stand up and not actually do anything to protect their communities, although they are ready to make a lot of noise.
     On this side of the House, we are taking real action for the community of Surrey and for all communities facing security challenges. I wish to congratulate our members who stand up to support budget measures, prevention and more boots on the ground—
    The hon. member for Saskatoon—Humboldt.

[English]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government stands for the Canadian middle class, not against it. We want to keep taxes low.
    Could the Minister of Employment and Social Development please inform the House what our government is doing to give Canadians more opportunity to spend on their priorities?
    Mr. Speaker, to start with, we are opposing the Liberal-NDP plan for a new $1,000 payroll tax, which they would impose on every single middle-class worker and the small businesses that employ them.
    In contrast, we have brought in the family tax cut and benefits. Through income splitting, families can shave up to $2,000. Through the increased universal child care benefit, parents will receive almost $2,000 for each child under 6 and $720 for kids aged 6 through 17. The first big payments come out on July 20.
    We encourage all Canadians to ensure they are registered so they get the money they deserve.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, massive budget cuts to the Canada Border Services Agency are harming the security of Canadians.
    This week, the security screening process failed for an entire flight of international passengers who arrived in Vancouver.
    The government talks about security but undermines actual border security with budget cuts and clawbacks to finance tax breaks for the wealthy. How can the Conservatives find $50 million in border services funding for gazebos in Muskoka, but they will not fund services to protect Canadians at our borders?
    Mr. Speaker, it seems the member has found her question in a Cracker Jack box.
     I want to reassure the member that we have increased front-line officers by 26%. We have increased the budget for the CBSA and every step of the way the Liberals opposed it.
    Regarding what took place last night, as we know, airline companies have the responsibility to ensure that international travellers are presented to the CBSA for examination. In cases where individuals do not properly report for border processing as a result of errors caused by air carriers, these incidents are reviewed. The CBSA is working closely with the airline.

Veterans Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Edmonton Sergeant Kevin Nanson survived a bomb blast in Afghanistan. It broke his back, fractured his skull and left him in wheelchair. Then the Department of National Defence hired and paid an incompetent contractor to retrofit a home for him, leaving it uninhabitable.
    To add insult to injury, DND will be charging Sergeant Nanson $2,000 a month for rent on top of his mortgage and clawing back the remainder of his compensation to pay for the uncompleted retrofit.
    Why is the government making Sergeant Nanson suffer even more?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member and veterans and Canadians who have been inquiring about this case.
    Sergeant Nanson served Canada with distinction, and Canada will be there for Sergeant Nanson and his family. The renovations to the home have been approved. While the problems with the contractor are being resolved, we have directed that Sergeant Nanson and his family can remain in military housing at no cost after his release until the contracting is complete.

  (1505)  

Pensions

    Mr. Speaker, our government has consistently lowered taxes and created new voluntary options for Canadians to save, like the tax-free savings account.
    In contrast, the Liberal leader revealed a risky spending scheme that would force Canadians to take a $1,000 pay cut. It is clear that the Liberal leader has only one plan for our economy, and that is to raise taxes.
    Could the Minister of Finance please tell the House what our government is doing to help Canadians save?
    Mr. Speaker, we know the Liberal leader's numbers do not add up. In fact, he is more than $3 billion short and counting. Now he has made yet another reckless spending promise and said that he would need to find alternative sources of capital, such as pension funds. This would undermine the CPP's independence and put pensioners at risk.
    Canadians should be concerned. I say, “hands off Canada's pensions”.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the scientific evidence is confirmed. That is why on March 24 the House voted unanimously for the government to take immediate measures to address the environmental menace of microbeads. Since then, no measures have been taken. That is hardly immediate.
    The good news is that my private member bill, Bill C-684, has the solution, which is to simply ban the manufacture or importation into Canada of any personal care product containing microbeads.
    Would the Minister of Environment do the right thing and ban microbeads, as my bill prescribes, before the end of this parliamentary session?
    Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, Environment Canada has initiated a scientific review to assess the effects of microbeads to the environment. That review builds on the work that we have done to reduce the risk of harmful chemicals.
    This issue will also be included at the meeting of the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment later this month in Manitoba. I look forward to working with my colleagues at the federal-provincial-territorial level to address this issue.

Presence in Gallery

    I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Dr. Ólafur R. Grímsson, President of the Republic of Iceland.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    The Speaker: I would also like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Gebran Bassil, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants of the Republic of Lebanon.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Points of Order

Bill C-59--Selection of Report Stage Amendments  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I apologize for having to scramble. My comments will be brief as a result.
    The hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands did not provide me with any notice that she would be raising this point of order, so I had to take some time to try to get some record out of the blues, which I did only a few moments ago. I did want to respond to the points she raised which relate to the decision you will make on the admissibility of her amendments, and in particular the application of Standing Order 76.1 and the practices around it.
    I think what she is proposing is a dangerous route for the Speaker to go down. She is asking you to make amendments admissible that otherwise would not be on the basis of when certain evidence was heard at the committee.
    The difficulty with this proposal is that it would, of course, require the Speaker to become the judge and arbiter of all the evidence that is heard at committees, when it is heard and the details of it. That is not really the Speaker's job. That obviously goes into the realm of what happens at committees. I think it would put the Speaker in a very difficult position, and a very difficult position that would also involve questions of judgment in terms of policy and in terms of values and in terms of issues which go well beyond where a Speaker should go.
    Certainly, when it comes to the question of making amendments, there has never, ever been, to my knowledge, a requirement that the amendments that members propose have to be related to evidence that has been presented by witnesses before a committee. There simply has never been any such relationship required. The implication of the obligation the member wishes to place on the Speaker's job is, in fact, to create such a linkage. It has been a significant aspect of a member of Parliament's privileges that members can propose an amendment on any subject that is relevant to the bill in front of them, regardless of whether or not it was supported or presented by a witness appearing at the committee in evidence. I think it would be a dangerous step to go down a path suggesting that there is, there has to be, in some way, some linkage between the two, and that would not be appropriate.
    I will point out that there is, under the existing rules and practices with the resolution presented at the committee, absolutely no bar to the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands presenting, on time, amendments identical to those she presented, out of time, for consideration by the committee.
    Simply put, if one looks at how this rule is applied in practice, if we look at Standing Order 76.1, one of the notes says, “The Speaker will normally only select motions that were not or could not be presented in committee.” It does not say anything about selecting amendments that an MP did not have the idea to present at the time the committee met and considered amendments. It is that “could not be presented”.
    Wherever the stimulus comes from for an amendment is not at all material, nor should it be material in the decision the Speaker makes on the admissibility of amendments. I think if we start going down that path, it will next be questions of what they read in the newspaper or calls they received, or indeed, input they received from people who intended to be witnesses at the committee and did not appear, or were hoping to appear but were not selected for whatever reason by the committee in its decision on who to hear evidence from. Again, I think that would be a very dangerous step for the Speaker to take.
    The fact is the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands did present amendments, did present very many amendments, and has had an opportunity to partake.
    Certainly it would be an undue expansion of this rule and of its practice for one to now start allowing this relationship to evidence before committees, and as a result to give some members an opportunity to present proposed amendments after the deadline contemplated and thereby, of course, have knock-on consequences throughout a process of all members in the time of this House.

  (1510)  

    I thank the hon. government House leader for his intervention on this.
    I have taken note of the point of order raised by the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands concerning report stage Motions Nos. 49 and 116 for Bill C-59, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures. As I mentioned, I have also taken good note of the intervention made by the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons on this matter.
    Given that we are set to begin the debate at report stage of this bill, I will put aside those two amendments and will return with a ruling as soon as possible concerning the specific point of order.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1

    The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-59, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

[English]

Speaker's Ruling  

    There are 149 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of Bill C-59. All motions, except Motion No. 49 and Motion No. 116, have been examined and the Chair is satisfied that they meet the guidelines expressed in the note to Standing Order 76.1(5) regarding the selection of motions in amendment at report stage.
    Motions Nos. 1 to 48, 50 to 115, and 117 to 149 will be grouped for debate and voted upon according to the voting pattern available at the table.

[Translation]

    I will now put Motions Nos. 1 to 48, 50 to 115 and 117 to 149 to the House.

[English]

Motions in amendment  

Motion No. 1
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting the long title.
Motion No. 2
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting the short title.
Motion No. 3
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 19.
Motion No. 4
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 29.
Motion No. 5
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 30.
Motion No. 6
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 31.
Motion No. 7
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 32.
Motion No. 8
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 33.
Motion No. 9
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 34.

  (1515)  

[Translation]

    , seconded by the member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, moved:
Motion No. 10
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 41.
Motion No. 11
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 42.
Motion No. 12
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 43.
Motion No. 13
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 44.
Motion No. 14
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 45.
Motion No. 15
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 46.
Motion No. 16
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 47.
Motion No. 17
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 48.
Motion No. 18
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 49.
Motion No. 19
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 50.
Motion No. 20
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 51.
Motion No. 21
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 52.
Motion No. 22
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 53.
Motion No. 23
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 54.
Motion No. 24
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 55.
Motion No. 25
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 56.
Motion No. 26
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 57.
Motion No. 27
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 58.

[English]

    Order, please. The hon. House leader for the official opposition is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry to interrupt you, but the member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour is on his phone and that is not permitted in this House. I have made signs for him to stop his call, but he appears to be ignoring me, and quite frankly, he still is. Members know that the rules in the House mean that a member cannot be talking openly on his or her phone in the House of Commons.

  (1520)  

[Translation]

     I hope that the member realized that was not acceptable and that he ended his call.

[English]

    , seconded by the member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, moved:
Motion No. 28
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 59.
Motion No. 29
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 60.
Motion No. 30
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 61.
Motion No. 31
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 62.
Motion No. 32
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 63.
Motion No. 33
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 64.
Motion No. 34
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 65.
Motion No. 35
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 66.
Motion No. 36
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 67.
Motion No. 37
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 68.
Motion No. 38
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 69.
Motion No. 39
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 70.
Motion No. 40
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 71.
Motion No. 41
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 72.
Motion No. 42
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 81.
Motion No. 43
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 82.

[Translation]

Motion No. 44
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 83.
Motion No. 45
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 84.
Motion No. 46
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 85.
Motion No. 47
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 86.
    , seconded by the member for Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, moved:
Motion No. 48
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 87.
Motion No. 50
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 88.
Motion No. 51
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 89.
Motion No. 52
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 90.
Motion No. 53
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 91.
Motion No. 54
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 92.
Motion No. 55
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 93.
Motion No. 56
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 97.

[English]

Motion No. 57
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 98.
Motion No. 58
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 99.
Motion No. 59
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 100.
Motion No. 60
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 101.
Motion No. 61
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 102.
Motion No. 62
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 103.
Motion No. 63
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 104.
Motion No. 64
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 105.
Motion No. 65
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 106.
Motion No. 66
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 107.
Motion No. 67
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 108.
Motion No. 68
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 109.
Motion No. 69
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 110.
Motion No. 70
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 111.
Motion No. 71
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 112.
Motion No. 72
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 113.
Motion No. 73
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 114.
Motion No. 74
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 115.
Motion No. 75
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 116.
Motion No. 76
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 117.
Motion No. 77
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 118.
Motion No. 78
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 119.
Motion No. 79
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 120.
Motion No. 80
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 121.
Motion No. 81
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 122.
Motion No. 82
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 123.
Motion No. 83
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 124.
Motion No. 84
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 125.
Motion No. 85
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 126.
Motion No. 86
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 127.
Motion No. 87
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 128.
Motion No. 88
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 129.
Motion No. 89
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 130.
Motion No. 90
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 131.
Motion No. 91
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 132.
Motion No. 92
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 133.
Motion No. 93
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 134.
Motion No. 94
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 135.
Motion No. 95
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 136.
Motion No. 96
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 137.
Motion No. 97
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 138.
Motion No. 98
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 139.
Motion No. 99
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 140.
Motion No. 100
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 141.
Motion No. 101
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 142.
Motion No. 102
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 143.
Motion No. 103
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 144.
Motion No. 104
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 145.
Motion No. 105
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 146.
Motion No. 106
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 147.
Motion No. 107
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 148.
Motion No. 108
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 149.
Motion No. 109
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 150.
Motion No. 110
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 151.
Motion No. 111
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 152.

  (1530)  

Motion No. 112
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 164.
Motion No. 113
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 165.
Motion No. 114
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 166.
Motion No. 115
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 168.
Motion No. 117
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 169.
Motion No. 118
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 170.
Motion No. 119
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 171.
Motion No. 120
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 172.
Motion No. 121
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 173.
Motion No. 122
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 174.
Motion No. 123
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 175.
Motion No. 124
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 176.

  (1535)  

[Translation]

Motion No. 125
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 230.
Motion No. 126
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 231.
Motion No. 127
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 253.
Motion No. 128
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 254.
Motion No. 129
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 255.
Motion No. 130
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 256.
Motion No. 131
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 257.
Motion No. 132
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 258.
Motion No. 133
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 259.
Motion No. 134
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 260.
Motion No. 135
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 261.
Motion No. 136
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 262.
Motion No. 137
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 263.
Motion No. 138
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 264.
Motion No. 139
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 265.
Motion No. 140
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 266.
Motion No. 141
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 267.
Motion No. 142
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 268.
Motion No. 143
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 269.
Motion No. 144
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 270.
Motion No. 145
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 271.
Motion No. 146
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 272.
Motion No. 147
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Clause 273.

  (1540)  

Motion No. 148
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Schedule 1.
Motion No. 149
    That Bill C-59 be amended by deleting Schedule 2.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, thank you for going through that prodigious task of reading out the amendments to this omnibus budget bill. The reason there are so many is that it is such a bad piece of legislation. It takes a lot to fix something that is so inherently flawed as this budget bill is.
    Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for reading out some of the amendments the NDP has brought to this 150-page omnibus bill, which has 270 amendments contained within and a range that is breathtaking. Yet is not surprising with these Conservatives, who have grown somewhat addicted to the idea that all legislation of merit should pass unscrutinized through the House of Commons and should be done under the guillotine of time allocation and the closure of debate. That is a process the Conservatives like to use now, having been in government and having grown in their arrogance and entitlement. It is a process they used to hate when in opposition, and now they have used it almost 100 times, I believe, to shut down debate on almost every piece of legislation that has been in the House.
    This bill was also rushed through, yet it touches on some important things. It is worth taking a step back to look at the context in which this budget falls.
    We have seen the Canadian economy for the last 16 months experience its slowest growth, outside of a recession, in more than 40 years. Think about that for a moment. The Conservatives have been in power for nine years now, trotting out their old Reaganomics trickle-down theories, and we have seen the results: losses of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, 1.3 million Canadians out of work, and almost a quarter-million more Canadians out of work than when the Prime Minister took office.
    Having experimented with their failed policies, we now have a moment in which we see the results. For 16 months, the growth rate in Canada has been far below that of population growth in Canada. It is the worst record, outside of a recession, any government has seen in more than a generation. These guys are out patting themselves on the back, spending $750 million on self-promoting ads to tell Canadians how terrific it is, but Canadians know the reality. Canadians who have experienced job losses, Canadians who have experienced the lower quality of jobs, which according to CIBC are the lowest-quality of jobs in Canada in a generation, know the reality. No quarter-billion dollar ad campaign is going to cover up for that.
    We have also seen job losses across sectors, not just the more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs in Ontario and Quebec and value-added jobs right across the country, but retail and energy jobs. Just today, Blacks Canada is shutting its stores, following Sony, following Target, following job losses in the energy sector and beyond.
    The Conservatives have also refused to act on some things that just seem like no-brainers. New Democrats found a big loophole in the tax system. It is for the folks in the corner offices on Bay Street. It is a CEO-designed loophole for someone who is paid in stock dividends.
    Conservatives claim to protect the middle class. I do not know a lot of middle-class Canadians who are paid in stock dividends, but the middle-class Canadians the Conservatives are focused on are given a $750-million tax break every year. That is $750 million for those who get paid in stock dividends, because they get taxed at a much lower rate than we mere humans. The folks up in the office towers and penthouse suites get a three-quarter of a billion dollar tax break from the Conservatives each and every year. New Democrats sought to close that tax loophole and transfer the money over to low-income Canadians, and the Conservatives said no.
    The government promised to create more than 100,000 child care spaces. We remember that promise. It was similar to the promise the Prime Minister made that he would not appoint anyone to the Senate. Do members remember that? Do members remember the Prime Minister getting up and saying that he would not appoint anyone to that unaccountable, unelected chamber? That is what he called it. Lo and behold, the seeds we sow bear fruit. We see it today with a bunch of senators finally getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They are getting Canadian taxpayers to pay for golf trips, hockey games, for fishing, and for getting a staffer to drive a car back to the east coast. Is it not nice to be a senator?
    There is also paying for a second home, because Lord knows, a senator making $140,000 a year and working sometimes three days a week for several hours a day must be exhausted. It must be hard on one's constitution.
    All those bagmen, failed Conservative candidates, and failed Liberals that slopped their way over to the Senate finally got caught doing what we know they have been doing for years. Thank God for them the audit only went back so far. We know that if a corrupt institution is built, it will act like a corrupt institution. That is what the Senate is.

  (1545)  

    If we look back to the original speeches of this country, it was John A. Macdonald, when he was arguing for the creation of the Senate, who said that they needed to create the Senate to protect minorities from the rabble, from the majority here in the House of Commons. What minority was he speaking of? It was the wealthy. His argument was that they needed to protect wealthy Canadians from the rabble, from the rest, from the majority, and thereby needed to create the unelected Senate.
    The Prime Minister promised reform, and he only gave us something somehow worse. The New Democrats have been making arguments for generations now to abolish the Senate. Who knew that senators would make an even better case for their own abolition? There they are doing it day in and day out.
    What else is in this bill, another massive omnibus bill? The Conservatives do not even talk about them anymore, because they have been such policy failures, but two things they have trotted out include a $2.2 billion income-splitting scheme that would help out only 15% of Canadian families and would skew toward wealthier Canadian families. It would not help create any child care spaces, breaking yet another Conservative promise made by the current Prime Minister. It would not help out low- and middle-income Canadians or working Canadians at all. What it would do is allow wealthier Canadians to split income and so forth and gain back more tax money. That may help out the friends around the Prime Minister's dining table, but it would not help out Canadians around their dining room tables.
    The Conservatives then doubled down and said they would double the TFSA, the tax-free savings account, which at its current $5,500 cap is only being maxed out by about 11% of Canadians. We asked them for evidence of how it would help Canadians, even if TFSAs to this point have helped Canadians save. They have not at all. What Canadians are doing is transferring money from one retirement vehicle to another. That is fine and fair enough, but now they are doubling it. What effect will that have?
     We learned that the top 20% of earners, the top 20% of Canadians, the wealthiest Canadians, will in fact get 180% more benefit than all the rest of us combined. Is that not nice? If people are well off, earning $200,000 or $300,000 a year, Conservatives have their interests at heart. They are willing to spend billions of dollars to do it. In fact, doubling of the TFSA would, over time, cost $30 billion to $40 billion a year to the treasury. When the Minister of Finance was asked about this, he said that was not for us to worry about; it was for the Prime Minister's imagined granddaughter to worry about. Is that not nice?
     That is not the Conservative thinking I know. The conservative people I know in the northwest of British Columbia are conservative in their thinking. They like to pass things on to their kids and grandkids in better shape than they found them. They do not like to leave a big bill behind, as the Conservatives are doing with climate change. The Conservatives are saying that someone else will have to deal with that.
    They say that they are going to push forward things to try to buy the next vote, because they are down in the polls and they need help in the election. So what if this thing gets massive over time and costs future generations the ability to pay for health care, roads, sewers, and bridges, which we desperately need.
    There is a $172-billion infrastructure deficit in this country right now. What did the Conservatives trot out to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities last week? It was back-loaded programs: transit later, infrastructure funding later. Right now, the Conservatives need to try to buy their way back into office because of all the scandals and the corruption that has gone on under their watch.
    We also see that just in the last few years, Conservatives have cut $14 billion from program spending. This is funding that was going to vets, to food safety, to rail safety, and to employment insurance, another fund they raided. We remember how the Conservatives used to chastise my Liberal friends down the way for raiding the employment insurance fund to the tune of $54 billion. The Conservatives must have been paying too much attention.
    Finally, there is a little retroactive piece in here. The Conservatives are going back in time and re-interpreting and reimagining the will of Parliament with respect to the elimination of the long gun registry. This is fascinating. The Privacy Commissioner came forward and said that it was perilous. She noted that if the same thing had been imagined by the Liberals while they were in power, we would have never found out what happened in the sponsorship scandal, because what they would have been able to do was retroactively go back and reimagine what Parliament was thinking that day and make what was illegal suddenly legal. They buried this in this bill.
    An hon. member: What a concept.
    Mr. Nathan Cullen: “What a concept”, say the Liberals down the way, Mr. Speaker. If only the Liberals had thought of that we would not have known about all those tens of millions of dollars they stole on behalf of Canadians. The Conservatives probably would not be anywhere close to power, but so be it.

  (1550)  

    What they want to do is change precedent in Canadian law, and to do this they are burying it in the middle of an omnibus bill.
    This does so little for the Canadian economy, and Lord knows, the economy needs some help, but their plan has failed. If the Conservative plan for the Canadian economy was working, well then it would be working, but 1.3 million Canadians out of work today will tell us otherwise. This is not a plan to get this country back on track.
    Mr. Speaker, when we look at the government's budget, Canadians recognize many different issues. One is the sense of unfairness. The member made reference to income splitting. The government is proposing to spend literally $2 billion annually that fewer than 15% of Canadians would actually benefit from.
    The Liberals are suggesting that it would be far better to give money to our middle class in a tax break. We are giving a flat percentage across the board to provide a tax break for the middle class.
    I am wondering if the member could give some insight into what the NDP would be proposing in terms of tax breaks, if that is something currently in their platform.
    Mr. Speaker, I will say that there is some confusion about the Liberal plan, because it changed three times in the first 72 hours after it was introduced. There is now another new Liberal plan, of sorts, to potentially go after the CPP, the Canada pension plan. It is a little risky, because it is directing the CPP in what to do and not do.
    The Liberals used to be in favour of voluntary CPP contributions. The Conservatives were opposed. Now they have switched places. Now the Conservatives are in favour of voluntary contributions, and the Liberals are opposed. Consistency is rewarded occasionally in political life. We will find out.
    One issue I was not able to get to in my speech was the section about unpaid interns. We heard from Claire Seaborn, of the Canadian Intern Association, and other groups, like CASA, and folks who were very concerned about protecting unpaid interns from sexual harassment and from unfair work conditions, which right now they are not. Conservatives promised to move on this, and we looked forward to some action to protect what are obviously vulnerable workers. They are taking internships. They would be taking paid jobs, most likely, if they could find them, but in today's economy, under the Conservatives, they cannot.
    Allowing for the protection of unpaid interns is important to us, yet we get to the omnibus bill, and it still allows for sexual harassment of unpaid interns and for unfair work hours. We pull back from this and ask what Conservative priorities are. Young Canadians in particular are vulnerable when they take some of these internships. Why, for heaven's sake, would we not protect them under the Labour Code like we do all other workers? Yet again, Conservatives did not find the heart or time to protect the most vulnerable and those who need the help.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Skeena—Bulkley Valley for his excellent speech about the Conservative budget. I think he described with great clarity how the economy is doing remarkably poorly right now, how we have the slowest growth in about 40 years, and how young people are on track to do worse than their parents did in this economy.
    It is not surprising that the Conservatives do not want people to be looking at the economy, so they trotted out their anti-terrorism bill, that very dangerous Bill C-51, which sadly, was supported by the Liberals and passed in this House by the Conservatives as a kind of distraction so that people would not be focused on this poor economy.
    I want to ask a question that directly impacts the city of Toronto, where my constituency is. On Monday, all of our subway systems were shut down in the middle of rush hour for more than an hour. What we are hearing from the Toronto Transit Commission is that we are not even keeping up with the kind of maintenance we need for our existing subway system, not to mention the huge growth in our population and the dramatic need for greater investment in transit in our city.
    The Conservatives talk a lot about investing in infrastructure, but I am not seeing any result from this in the city of Toronto. I am wondering if my colleague could comment on the need for infrastructure and what exactly is covered in this budget in terms of infrastructure.

  (1555)  

    Mr. Speaker, well, we see how this works. The Toronto Board of Trade has said that traffic congestion is costing the Toronto and Canadian economy billions of dollars, that smart investment is in things like transit.
    However, we see how Conservative priorities line up, which is to try to protect their own jobs by moving through income splitting, helping only 15% of Canadians. They actually backdated that program. However, when we get to transit and infrastructure funding, the funding comes two, three years, eight, nine years down the road. It is obviously not a priority. We have to judge the Conservatives on what they actually choose to do, not what they choose to say. What they have chosen to do is leave cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary all desperate for funding.
     One of the Conservative MPs from Calgary actually chastised the Calgary mayor saying he should get on with it and start applying for money when Calgary had in fact applied three times. It was rejected twice and is still waiting on the third. It is time to work with the cities, work with the provinces and actually get this moving.
    The NDP has a fully costed proposal that was warmly accepted at the FCM just this past weekend. We look forward to engaging with cities as a government to be able to move our economy forward to take up the congestion, get people back to work and our economy back on track.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak at report stage. I understand I am speaking to my amendments that were the deletion amendments and that substantive amendments that I put forward still await a ruling.
    As I have the floor now, just in brief response to the point made by the government House leader that he was somewhat caught unaware by my point of order, I have checked with my staff on the number of times the government House leader has risen on points of order directed at restricting my rights as a member of Parliament. I have not received any advance notice from the government House leader. Not that I was in any way suggesting tit-for-tat, but I did not realize it was a convention in this place to give the government House leader more notice of my points of order than he has ever given me.
    Turning to the substance of Bill C-59, I appreciate the remarks from my friend from Skeena—Bulkley Valley. The substance of the bill needs to be put forward again clearly that this is an omnibus budget bill once again.

[Translation]

    This is an omnibus budget bill that amends 20 different Canadian laws. These are 20 completely different things.

[English]

    Therefore, there is no single unified purpose, which is the underlying principle of why we would ever have omnibus legislation in this country. Under this administration, the use of omnibus budget bills is unprecedented in Canadian parliamentary history, as is the use of time allocation. We have never had any other administration ever put forward so much legislation through the form of omnibus budget bills with sections that are unrelated to each other and equally unrelated to the budget.
    This one is not as lengthy as others. Certainly, Bill C-38 had over 400 pages and was followed by Bill C-45 at over 400 pages. In earlier times, when the Conservatives were a minority, they brought forward 800 pages of omnibus budget legislation in 2008. I think it was over 900 pages in 2009. In terms of page length, this one is just under 160 pages. It is less lengthy but no less complex than previous omnibus budget bills. As a result, it has had inadequate study. It was pushed through committee and pushed through this place, with time allocation at every stage.
    In looking at it in any level of detail, I think it is worth reviewing with other members of this House because we have had so little time to study it, how many different sections of laws are affected by this.
     It affects parliamentary precinct security. That is one thing I want to return to because it is a fundamental and very important constitutional question of who is in charge of security in this place.
     It changes the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, PIPEDA.
     It makes amendments to the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, a good piece of legislation that we had been waiting for for some time, which really deserves its own care and attention through this place.
    It makes changes to the Trust and Loan Companies Act.
     It makes changes to the Public Service Labour Relations Act, which are quite egregious in that they pre-empt collective bargaining. I will stop at this point to say that this pre-empts collective bargaining to make changes to sick leave provisions for our very hard-working federal civil servants.
     The changes that would occur to the National Energy Board Act would change the maximum duration of licences for the exportation of natural gas issued under the NEB Act.
    It goes on and on in terms of the number of distinct and different pieces of legislation, none with a relation to each other, none receiving adequate study.
    I will add one anecdote. I presented amendments at committee on a previous omnibus budget bill. It was not until I presented the amendments that the committee realized that there had been no witnesses on that particular section. None of the committee members remembered having read it, so my amendments could not be adequately discussed because nobody really knew about that section of the omnibus bill. There were just too many sections to give it adequate care and attention.
    Let me just touch on some of the ones that are concerning.
    I certainly was concerned to see the changes to the Copyright Act. These are changes that benefit the music industry, particularly the large U.S. companies, not the songwriters and not the musicians of Canada, by changing the copyright for a song recording from 50 to 70 years.

  (1600)  

    There are also changes in division 9. I mention these briefly but without describing them. The natural gas exportation licence would be extended to 40 years, up from 25. That is quite a significant change. It was opposed in committee by the witnesses from West Coast Environmental Law. I will just quote from their testimony. They said:
     It is quite possible that something thought to be a good idea today may not, in 25 years' time, with the advent of climate change, economic shifts, an increasingly harmed environment, and other potentially unforeseen alterations in the landscape...
    be considered a good idea in four years' time. These are significant changes that did not receive enough study.
    We heard from the member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley, and I completely agree, about the precarious nature of interns working in the federal civil service. All parties have at various times said that they want to do something to ensure that unpaid internships and student work within the government are protected properly. The access is going to go in that direction, but as a submission from the Canadian Intern Association made clear, much more needs to be done if these workers are not to be exploited in the system.
     Given the time I have at the moment, I will move on to other areas of the bill that really should have had greater study. The biometrics piece is one that came out with witness testimony at the very last minute. It was actually on the morning that we moved to clause-by-clause. We realized how sweeping the changes are in terms of collecting biometric information. They might even apply to people who want to come here as tourists, given the changes that were made in the fall of 2012 in Bill C-45. For people seeking to come here on vacation, if they are not in a country that requires a visa, these potential tourists would also have to apply to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for permission to come to Canada. The sweeping nature of the changes under biometrics information could apply to tourists, even though I do not believe that that is the government's intent.
    Let me just make sure that in the three minutes remaining, I concentrate on the two most egregious changes in Bill C-59.
    I mentioned earlier the change in security in the parliamentary precinct. There could not be a more serious issue for those of us assembled in this place. We had the attack and the tragic murder of Nathan Cirillo on October 22, 2014, and what could have been a far more devastating tragedy had the security team of the House of Commons, the RCMP, and the Ottawa Police had not acted as they did and ended that crisis.
    The conclusion being reached that we need a unified security team is exactly right. We do need to ensure that the outside grounds and the inside of Parliament are all protected by people who are in one unified system. The large question, and one that has been rushed through this place without adequate study, is which of the security agencies should be in control. It is deeply embedded in parliamentary tradition. The first reference to this that I could find goes back to the year 1500. It is deeply embedded in parliamentary tradition that you, Mr. Speaker, are the person, the entity and the office that protects the security of the members here.
    A change to give control to the RCMP, which ultimately reports to the Prime Minister or to the executive part of government, is a fundamental change that is unconstitutional. However, because of the privileges that surround Parliament itself, it is unlikely that we will ever be able to challenge this in a court.
    It should not be rushed through this place. It is a fundamental change in the relationship between the Speaker, the members of Parliament who look to the Speaker for the protection of their rights, and the risk of an abuse of that authority to impede access to this place, based on party membership. I am not going to suggest that it exists with any particular prime minister. There is a significant risk that remains for potential future prime ministers if we do not change this.
    The last point I want to raise is best expressed in the words of the Information Commissioner of Canada about the changes to undo laws in effect. She said:
    These proposed changes would retroactively quash Canadians’ right of access and the government’s obligations under the Access to Information Act. It will effectively erase history.
...[it] is not an attempt to close a loophole; but rather it is an attempt to create a black hole.

  (1605)  

    Such changes should not be allowed in any democracy. Bill C-59 should therefore be defeated.
    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for my friend from Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    It is interesting, with these omnibus bills that are notionally attached to the budget, that we spend so much of our time talking about non-budget things, because that is the majority of what sits in the bill. That is also true for this Bill C-59. It has 150 pages and 270 different clauses changing all sorts of laws and rules, the vast majority of which have nothing to do with the Canadian economy.
    One would wonder if a government is actually interested in helping out Canadians who are out of work, the 1.3 million-odd Canadians. The youth unemployment rate is 1.5 points higher than it was a year ago, and we have had more than 16 months of terrible growth rates in Canada, never mind the innovation gap. The Prime Minister recently committed to decarbonizing the Canadian economy in 85 years' time.
    I am wondering what my friend's assessment is. There has been a global surge in clean tech investments, outpacing investments in carbon energy, globally speaking, and many of the provinces and cities have moved forward in Canada. Yet the lack of leadership, the lack of thoughtfulness about this pressing environmental concern, is only surpassed by the ignorance toward the economic opportunities that exist for Canadians to retrofit their homes, to move to and from work in more environmentally friendly ways, and to go to work at places that are more conscious of our impact on the planet.
    My question is of a financial nature, yet wedded within the ecological questions that we all must ask ourselves. The Prime Minister has now committed that he thinks carbon is a problem and he is going to do something about it—or not him, but 85 years from now someone is going to do something about it.
    I am wondering about my friend's assessment of Canada's performance to this point in getting onboard that light rail train of opportunity that is expressed by the clean tech sector globally.
    Mr. Speaker, my assessment is that we have missed that train. That train is out of the station.
    The member has raised a very important point. Last year, 2014, was the first year ever, in terms of global finance, that the investments in clean tech and renewables outpaced investments in fossil fuels.
    This particular administration has misjudged the marketplace and failed to diversify. The “putting your eggs in the bitumen basket” strategy has created the economic uncertainties that the finance minister used as the excuse for delaying his budget.
     I do not think we were ever as dependent on bitumen as the propaganda would want us to believe. The oil sands, while important, contribute only 2% to our GDP. Small business in Canada contributes 30%.
    While I do applaud the fact that the Prime Minister has finally accepted a communique that uses the word “decarbonization”, I lament the fact that Canada's recalcitrance and objections at the summit in Germany led to the G7 weakening its timetable to get us to where the world needs to be in a post-fossil economy.

  (1610)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if I could pick up on the leader of the Green Party's comments, in which she talked about how it is that we have, in essence, a legislative agenda being incorporated into a budget document, in good part.
    There is a loss of opportunity to provide diligence by having separate pieces of legislation before the House, where they would be properly debated and individual experts would be afforded the opportunity to present at committee stage, so that we could in fact have good, solid legislation. Quite often there is merit for some things in the budget legislation that would be great stand-alone legislation.
    Doing things in the manner the government has, it has really deprived Canadians the opportunity to have a good, sound, robust system that would ensure we have good legislation, recognizing of course that all governments of all political stripes at different levels do at times incorporate legislation into budget bills.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for Winnipeg North allows me to point out that, under this Conservative administration, the treatment of legislation through the House amounts to contempt of Parliament. There has been a series of abuses, from the use of omnibus budget bills to time allocation, to converting what used to be a very consensual, non-partisan study of bills in parliamentary committees into a scripted, whipped vote process in which amendments that should be accepted because they represent misunderstandings or typographical errors, even clerical errors, were pushed through, in bills such as Bill C-38. It is, in fact, a contempt of Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to rise in the House and discuss Bill C-59, which would implement certain provisions of economic action plan 2015.
    First, let me remind the House and Canadians who are watching that we live in what continue to be challenging times. Around the world, many nations, including some of our friends and allies, struggle to achieve fiscal security. Global growth coming out of the great recession has been lacklustre. Geopolitical uncertainty continues to hobble the recovery. Of course, the dramatic plunge in oil prices has taken its toll. It has taken its toll here and in many other countries around the world.
     Still, the news for Canada is, by and large, positive and good. This is thanks to the strong leadership of our Prime Minister and our low-tax balanced budget plan. Just last month, Canada's economy added nearly 59,000 jobs, almost all of them in the private sector and most full-time jobs, which raises the number of jobs created since June 2009 to more than 1.2 million jobs.
    As any economist would tell the official opposition, no single labour force survey should be interpreted on its own, given the volatility of the job market. However, I must point out that over the last six months, total employment has averaged gains of 15,200 per month, and over the last year, employment has averaged gains of 16,000 per month.
    The facts are clear. Canada's economic action plan is working. Canada has demonstrated the best economic performance among the G7 countries over this recovery period. The IMF, or International Monetary Fund, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development expect Canada's growth, already ahead of our peers during the recovery, to continue to be solid. Of course, we have a balanced budget. All the while, the government has maintained its priority: putting money back into the pockets of hard-working Canadian families and hard-working businessmen and businesswomen. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that we have returned to a balanced budget while maintaining the lowest tax burden on Canadians in half a century.
    That brings me to economic action plan 2015. Now that the budget is balanced, our government can continue to focus on what matters most to Canadians. Those priorities are, one, helping Canadians and communities prosper; two, ensuring the security of Canadians and protecting Canadians from the threat of terrorism at home and abroad; and three, supporting jobs and growth by creating an economic environment that allows businesses to thrive, fostering trade, and making essential investments in world-class advanced research and infrastructure.
    Ever since Canadians first elected and trusted our government to place Canada on the path toward growth and prosperity, our approach has been clear and consistent: take as little as possible and give as much as possible. From families with young children to seniors, small businesses, and beyond, we have followed through. We have reduced taxes more than 180 times since 2006 and we have no intention of stopping now.
    Bill C-59 goes even further to help families make ends meet with the following measures: implementing the family tax cut, which would allow a high-income spouse to, in effect, transfer up to $50,000 of taxable income to a spouse in a lower tax bracket, saving tax dollars for that family; increasing the universal child care benefit for children under age 6 and expanding it to children between the ages of 6 and 17; and increasing the child care expense deduction dollar limits by $1,000.

  (1615)  

    This is all good news for Canadian families, but both opposition parties have opposed much of our tax reductions. The Liberal leader has said that he would reverse the family tax cut because it costs the government too much. Whose money does he think this is?
    By promising to adopt the Ontario Liberal dramatic payroll tax hike, the Liberal leader also promised he would force money directly off middle-class workers' paycheques, without their consent. A worker earning $60,000 a year would take a mandatory $1,000 pay cut with the Liberal plan.
    Meanwhile, the NDP wants to raise the price of gas and groceries with a carbon tax. While raising government revenues is its priority, our priority is helping families make ends meet.
    Another priority I would like to touch on for a moment is our government's responsibility to ensure safety and security of Canadians and defend the nation's sovereignty. Canadians want to feel safe and secure in their homes. They want to feel safe online. They want to feel safe in their communities.
    Our government understands the dangers, and we are determined to respond to those dangers. Today's legislation includes several measures to ensure the continued security of Canadians. First, protecting the integrity of our borders is essential to keeping Canadians safe and secure, while facilitating economic activity.
    In economic action plan 2014, we highlighted the importance of biometric immigration screening as an effective means to combat identity fraud and abuse of Canada's immigration system, including helping to identify known criminals before they come to Canada. To further improve the security and integrity of Canada's immigration system, economic action plan 2015 proposes to expand the use of biometric screening to verify the identity of all visa-required travellers seeking entrance to Canada. By helping to prevent inadmissible individuals from entering our country, expanding biometric screening would help facilitate legitimate travel to Canada while protecting the safety and security of our Canadian citizens.
    Finally, we remain unflagging in our support for jobs and growth. It only makes sense that small businesses the drivers of job creation, receive as much tax relief as we can provide them. After all, they account for 99% of all businesses across our country and they employ half of all the working men and women in the private sector. A business that spends its time focused on its own success, rather than handing over to the government excessive amounts of its profits or complying with onerous and unnecessary red tape, is one that is creating jobs to benefit hard-working Canadians.
    Today's legislation continues to break new ground. It would reduce the small business tax rate to 9% by 2019. That is the largest tax rate cut for small businesses in more than 25 years. For example, for a small business with taxable income of $500,000, as a result of this tax cut and other measures that we have brought forward since 2006 in previous legislation, the amount of federal tax paid would be nearly 50% lower than since we were elected in 2006. That is nearly a 50% reduction in taxes that these small businesses could use to create jobs and reinvest in their businesses, in innovation, or in research, or perhaps even hire extra staff for extra positions.
    It is very unfortunate that the Liberal leader opposed our newest small business tax cut. We know the NDP does as well. The changes we have made would help enhance the ability of small businesses across Canada to retain earnings, grow their businesses, and create jobs.
    To sum up, in an uncertain world, Canada's economic action plan is working. It is creating jobs and it is keeping the economy growing. Now is not the time for risky schemes and untested leadership. By staying the course and sticking to the proven leadership that we have with our Prime Minister, Canada remains on track to a very bright future.

  (1620)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will start by quickly setting the record straight after my colleague claimed that we are against lowering taxes for small businesses. In fact, the NDP proposed such measures even before the government presented its budget.
    However, I want to focus on unpaid internships and on protecting the young people who work in federally regulated workplaces. We introduced a bill that the government opposed, but that would have improved conditions by preventing sexual harassment or unreasonable work shifts, which, in a very high profile case, even led to a death. In the Standing Committee on Finance, the minister's colleagues voted against including concrete measures in the budget, even though they had committed to bringing in these protections.
    Could he explain why the government does not want to include concrete measure to protect interns and young workers in this omnibus budget bill, especially since the bill contains all kinds of things that have nothing to do with the budget?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member had a number of questions.
     It takes more than standing in Parliament and saying that we are for small business, that we will cut small business tax. The NDP members can make all the claims they want. We have never seen them vote in support of a tax decrease. We have never seen them support a free trade agreement, maybe one with Korea. We have never seen a record that backs up what they say.
    Our government recognizes that small businesses are the drivers of our economy and represent half of the employment in the private sector. We took that small business tax rate from 12% to 11%. This budget makes the further commitment to move it from 11% to 9%. There are a number of other measures in the budget such as the accelerated capital cost allowance for small business, for manufacturing, so they can invest back into their businesses to provide jobs for young and old.

  (1625)  

    Mr. Speaker, one of the things know from the Conservatives is that reality really does not matter. They have no problem, whether it is in question period or in giving their speeches, to make statements that are not only bizarre but just are not true.
    We just heard that in a number of the statements from the member. When he talked about the child benefit, he said that the Liberals would get rid of it, take it away from Canadians. The reality is that leader of the Liberal Party and the Liberal caucus have been very clear that we will not take it away. In fact, the Liberal Canada child benefit plan is better than the Conservative plan. There would be more money going to the children of Canada.
     How does the member reconcile truth from the non-reality of the statements he has put on record?
    Mr. Speaker, again, we have had the Liberal leader make a pledge that he would cut income splitting and the family tax cut. He had a different plan for the universal child care benefit. Then all of a sudden the economists started looking at the Liberal plan. They saw his promises, but they saw a $2 billion mistake, a Liberal leader's oopsy, or as the member for Scarborough—Guildwood said, a bozo moment. However, it would be $2 billion lack of funds.
     Every family with children under the age of 18 would benefit from our tax breaks, and they know it. The vast majority of benefits go to low and middle-income Canadians, and they get it. A typical family will save $6,600 with the Conservative plan. We are reducing taxes on the middle class and providing benefits directly to families.
    However, we know the Liberals would take that away. We know they would make promises that do not add up. We know they have a leader who believes that budgets magically balance themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have added over $120 billion to the national debt. They inherited the best fiscal situation of any incoming government in the history of Canada, a $13-billion surplus. They actually spent through that and, through a combination of their tax and fiscal policy, put Canada into deficit even before the global financial crisis in the fall of 2008, and then went on to rack up record levels of national debt in Canada, including the largest deficits in Canadian history.
    That is the fact on the Conservative's shoddy record of fiscal mismanagement.
    I am rising today to speak to the government's budget bill, C-59. For years, the Conservatives have crossed the line in what is acceptable in a functioning democracy as a government in terms of respect for Parliament. It is not only how they have now normalized the use of massive omnibus bills, they regularly shut down debate in the House, they prorogue Parliament multiple times, they use committees as branch plants of minister's offices, but this legislation would go further than we have ever seen before. This legislation contains something so egregious it is shocking, even for the Conservative government.
    The government, in this legislation, is actually trying to end an OPP investigation into the illegal destruction of documents. It would do this by retroactively making acts which were illegal at the time legal. It would effectively stop an OPP, or police, investigation into the RCMP, the very people we rely upon to uphold the law. The government has refused to say who in the government, whether it was the Minister of Public Safety, ordered the RCMP to break the law. With Bill C-59, Canadians may never find out.
    Imagine retroactively making what was illegal at the time legal and allowing for the destruction of evidence associated with the wrongdoing. This is absolutely shocking.
    I want to be clear. I believe the RCMP was given no choice by the government. It was given its marching orders. The legislation in this budget bill is actually being used by the Conservative government to try to cover up its crime.
    In April 2012, the Ending the Long-gun Registry Act came into force. It called for the destruction of certain records in the long gun registry. However, it was flawed in that it made no mention of the Access to Information Act. That omission meant that the records could not be destroyed until after any pre-existing access to information cases were closed.
    In April 2012, the Information Commissioner wrote to the Minister of Public Safety, in his role as the head of the RCMP, and reminded him of this legal commitment. On May 2, 2012, the public safety minister acknowledged the commissioner's letter and promised that the RCMP would abide by the access to information law in this matter.
    This is the point at which the Conservative government could have gone back to Parliament to fix the legislation. It could have respected the law and our democratic institutions and sought Parliament's permission. Instead, somebody in the Conservative government ordered the RCMP to destroy the records and, as such, break the law. In October 2012, the RCMP did just that, destroying the records.
    The Information Commissioner conducted an investigation and concluded that the RCMP destroyed the records knowing they were the subject of a request under the Access to Information Act. That is against the law.
    In late March of this year, she referred the matter to the Attorney General. How did the government react? Instead of immediately referring the matter to an outside police organization for action, the reaction of the Conservatives was to cover up the crime.

  (1630)  

    The Conservatives' solution was this legislation, a budget bill. Imagine a budget bill being used to effectively and retroactively change the law to make the crime legal, erasing any liability for the people involved. The government has since referred the matter to the Ontario Provincial Police for an independent investigation into the matter. However, it will be hard for it to investigate when this law one past erases all liability for everyone involved and permits the government to effectively oversee the destruction of evidence of previous wrongdoing. Canadians deserve to know what happened and who broke the law.
     At committee, I introduced amendments to allow the OPP's investigation to continue. My amendments would have delayed the elimination of liability and stopped the destruction of evidence. Records would have been protected from destruction “if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they could afford evidence of an act or omission that constitutes an offence under an Act of Parliament.”. These amendments were not about trying to save the long gun registry, they were about protecting only those records that provided evidence of an illegal act. The Conservatives quietly voted against the amendments and downplayed the whole affair. In their words, Bill C-59 simply closes a bureaucratic loophole.
     I agree with the Information Commissioner when she says, “Bill C-59 is not an attempt to close a loophole; but rather it is an attempt to create a black hole”. The Information Commissioner has recently gone to the Federal Court to file a preservation order to stop the Conservative government from destroying evidence of wrongdoing. Members should let that sink in for a moment and think of the seriousness of what is going on here. An officer of Parliament has gone to court to stop the government from trying to cover up an illegal act.
    I would like to go from this abuse of power and blatant corruption by the Conservative government in this budget implementation act to discussing some other measures in the bill that should also be considered offensive in terms of a functioning democracy.
     There are measures in the bill which are almost certainly unconstitutional, such as Division 20, which is connected to the government's sick leave and disability programs. The government is using these measures to play politics and to deliberately pick a fight with the unions in the lead-up to an election. The Conservatives are circumventing the collective bargaining process in an attempt to unilaterally impose their will on government workers. They are trying to pretend that workers do not have legal rights. The government's behaviour is poisoning the well and will make it harder for future governments to achieve labour agreements and peace with labour unions in Canada.
     We have also heard some very serious concerns about Division 3, which includes measures to extend privilege to patent or trade-mark agents and their clients. In the words of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada, it “raises complex issues and would have significant implications not only for the patent and trade-marks system, but also for the legal profession, other professions, and for the administration of justice.”
    The government is using omnibus legislation to bundle together hundreds of unrelated measures into a single bill. Many of these changes have nothing to do with the budget and do not belong in a budget bill. However, the Conservatives do not care about respecting Parliament. Instead of introducing proper legislation that allows for meaningful input from the public, the Conservatives combine an overwhelming amount of unrelated changes in legislation into a single bill. They do this in order to limit debate and scrutiny, and ram the changes through Parliament.
    There are some measures in the bill which are actually related to the budget, such as the increase to the TFSA limits and income splitting, two measures that are disproportionately good for the wealthy but do not do enough for the middle class.
     The Liberal plan for the middle class would cut the taxes for middle-class families. The Liberal plan for the middle class would introduce a new Canada child benefit that would provide middle-class families in Canada making $90,000 per year with two children a real break. They would get $2,500 more than they are getting from the Conservatives right now. Families making $45,000 per year with two children would be $4,000 better off than they are right now. Single parents would benefit from the Liberal leader's plan for a Canada child benefit. We would do more for the families that need the help the most. We would be able to afford to do that by doing a little less for the families that do not need the help. We do it in the context of respecting Parliament and the laws that govern our country. That is what a Liberal government would do to restore fairness and respect for the rule of law to our country.

  (1635)  

    Mr. Speaker, we can talk about the Liberal plans. We know what Liberal governments have done in the past and we know what Conservative governments have done in the past, and more and more working families are being left further behind.
    The Liberal tax plan would give absolutely nothing to two-thirds of Canadians while giving the most benefit to wealthy people earning up to $200,000. It sounds a lot like the income-splitting scheme we have debated in this bill. We also have to look at the fact that under the Liberal tax plan somebody who makes $45,000 per year would get a total of $4.49, while someone making $150,000 would get $670. Can the member tell me how fair that really is?
    Mr. Speaker, I would gladly take some time to provide the hon. member with a technical briefing of the Liberal plan for fairness, and I will help her somewhat because I am a generous person. The reality is a family making $45,000 per year with two children would be $4,000 better off every year over the Conservative plan with the Canada child benefit. That is huge.
    In fact, some commentators have actually referred to this Liberal Canada child benefit as the closest thing we have seen to a guaranteed annual income for children. In fact, it would start at $6,400 per child, which is actually more generous than the Canada 2000 campaign has called for. One of the authors of our plan is Sherri Torjman who is at the Caledon Institute of Social Policy. We worked with Sherri Torjman. She is a member of my leader's economic advisory council. We have worked with some of the most progressive minds in Canadian social and economic policy to design a plan that is really good for middle-class families and those Canadians working hard to join the middle class.
    We are very proud of our plan, and I think Canadians will see that it is a fair plan and it is a good plan for growth as well.

  (1640)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my friend from Kings—Hants, particularly for taking some time to walk through with some degree of detail the extraordinary legislative alchemy that magicians across the aisle propose to do. They propose to magic away laws that are currently in place for access to information, which would be removed even with, as the member pointed out, the full notice from the Information Commissioner to the former public safety minister, Vic Toews, warning him of what was going to occur and receiving from him an undertaking that the RCMP “...will abide by the right of access described in section 4 of the Act and its obligations in that regard”.
    What are we to make of such an outrageous and flagrant violation, not just of our laws but of the principle that anything a minister says is worth the paper it is written on?
    Mr. Speaker, I am not speaking just as a legislator. As a citizen, I find this disillusioning. The Conservatives have created sort of a new normal when it comes to these things, where the media in fact are not being as rigorous as they ought to be on this. It is a government that, effectively through an abuse of power, is changing a law retroactively to make legal that which was illegal at the time and destroying information and data, contrary to an officer of Parliament saying they should not be doing that.
    I say this for all members of the House, regardless of party, and members of the governing party who sit in this House. Our role individually and collectively as members of Parliament is to scrutinize the activity of government even if we happen to be of the same party. The idea that the current government has created the sense that members of its caucus, whether at committee or in the House, have to basically follow marching orders and cannot question what a government is doing is fundamentally wrong.
    I have been here long enough to remember when committees actually were not branch plants of ministers' offices, when committees actually rendered reports that were unanimous and sometimes disagreed with the governing party. I can tell members that a Liberal government would respect Parliament and we would see committees actually used for what they were intended, and that is to scrutinize legislation, to develop good public policy ideas and to work hard as legislators, untethered from the PMO and from ministers' offices to do their jobs on behalf of Canadians and to hold the government to account.

Points of Order

Selection of Report Stage amendments--Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    Before resuming debate, the Chair wishes to make a ruling on the motion by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands on a point of order earlier today.
    Having delivered a decision on the selection of report stage motions for Bill C-59, an act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures, the Chair would like to address the concerns raised by the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands concerning report stage motions Nos. 49 and 116, standing in her name on the notice paper.
    I would like to thank the hon. member for having raised this matter, as well as the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons for his comments.
    The member's main point of contention is that her proposed amendments could not have been presented before the deadline adopted by the Standing Committee on Finance because they flow directly from witness testimony that took place after the deadline passed.
    As evidenced by first having written a detailed letter and now having raised the matter again in the form of a point of order, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands clearly feels that she was not provided an opportunity to have certain amendments considered by the committee. She feels this circumstance is exceptional, and on that basis, the House as a whole should decide whether Bill C-59 should be amended in the fashion she is proposing.

  (1645)  

[Translation]

     In deciding the matter I must be guided by our long-established practice in relation to the Chair’s authority to select report stage motions. A note to Standing Order 76.1(5) says:
    The Speaker will not normally select for consideration any motion previously ruled out of order in committee [and] will normally only select motions that were not or could not be presented in committee.
    At page 783, the authors of House of Commons Procedure and Practice set out the general principle with respect to the selection of report stage motions:
     As a general principle, the Speaker seeks to forestall debate on the floor of the House which is simply a repetition of the debate in committee. [T]he Speaker will normally only select motions in amendment that could not have been presented in committee.

[English]

    Both these excerpts point to an essential truth about report stage: mainly that it is not meant to be another opportunity for detailed consideration of the clauses of the bill. For this reason, the Chair rigorously limits the types of motions that could be considered at report stage. In so doing, the Chair rests on the presumption that a committee's clause-by-clause consideration provides ample opportunity to scrutinize the clauses of the bill and have amendments considered accordingly.
    The Chair is not convinced by the argument that the rationale for selection of report stage motions can be rooted so exclusively in anyone's particular testimony and qualify as an exceptional circumstance that the Chair ought to consider.
    While the Chair understands the member's specific argument about deadlines with respect to submissions of amendments for Bill C-59, I also know that committees have shown great flexibility in the past, not only about deadlines, but more generally in how they consider amendments in clause-by-clause. In fact, one such example of that flexibility is the very process that committees adopted, allowing members of non-recognized parties to have their amendments considered in committee.
    I know the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands is one of the more active members of this place when it comes to clause-by-clause. In this regard it would have helped establish for the Chair the degree to which it truly was impossible to have these amendments considered in committee. If she had pointed to demonstrable attempts to bring before the committee her amendments, her arguments might have been more persuasive.

[Translation]

    As such, the Chair cannot agree with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and finds that Motions Nos. 49 and 116 should not be selected on the basis of exceptional significance. I would like to thank the hon. member for having raised this matter.

[English]

    Resuming debate, the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Report stage  

     The House resumed consideration of Bill C-59, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 21, 2015 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am thankful for the opportunity to speak on economic action plan 2015.
    First, I want to compliment the Minister of Finance for his budget and for this government's 10th budget since taking office in 2006. It is clear that since that time, we have indeed enjoyed a healthy, robust Canadian economy within the global network that we trade and work with, and we have gone through difficult times, which this government has faced and has put forward budgets that matched the time and need, and matched it responsibly. When we look at the economic action plan 2015, the plan for 2015-16, it is a balanced budget.
    This is the first time a government has come from a situation where, as it wanted to make sure the economy of Canada was strong, went into deficit, but made a promise to ensure that, as the economy restructured, as we strengthened, it would indeed come out of that deficit, bring forward and present a budget that was balanced. Indeed, this budget is that.
    I recall the election of 2005-06 when we won government. One of our five critical planks, important pieces of what we would do as a government, was to introduce a universal child care benefit that would see every family receive $100 a month per child under the age of six.
    I recall at that time that the other parties involved in that election that won seats here in the House of Commons spoke vehemently against that plan and that decision. In fact, the Liberal Party is now presenting an interesting option, which it obviously sees as the way Canadian families want to see the universal child care benefit or child care assistance across this country be used, and that is directed to families across this country versus some form of a massive national child care plan.
    Therefore, I have seen, at least in the last 10 years, the Liberals learn one thing about this country. In their 13 long years of continuing to promise a national child care program, which it never delivered in those 13 years, it looks like now, after an additional 10 years, some 23 years, they have finally abandoned that dream of a national child care plan and said that the Conservative government is actually onto something: actually giving taxpayers' money back to them—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

  (1650)  

    Order. If those members at the back of the chamber want to yell at each other, would they please step out of the chamber? I am having a hard time hearing the parliamentary secretary.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you. I know that my words instill discussion, and sometimes pointed discussion, from the Liberal Party over to the Conservative Party.
    Let me repeat that, 23 years later, we finally have a Liberal Party that has said that maybe the national child care program is not going to work for them. However, what seems to be working for the Conservatives is actually listening to what families say, asking families to take the money that is theirs—which was paid to the federal government—and giving it back to them to use for their children.
    In economic action plan 2015, we have introduced an opportunity for an additional $60 per month for every child from birth until 6 years of age, to receive $160 per month. Every child between the ages of 6 and 17 is now eligible for an additional $60 a month. We are growing a plan based on the fact that we now have additional revenue that has put us into a balanced budget position and has enabled us to tell families that they can have a little bit more of the money back that they paid to the federal government. What is more, they have it specifically to use for the children who are in their care, whom they brought into this world.
    It seems to me that even the Liberal Party of Canada said, “Wow, these guys have figured out how to deal with families across this country”. They will try to have some sort of plan—although has a $2 billion hole in it—that maybe comes at least within striking distance of what the Conservatives are offering.
    I will tell members something. Families across this country are seeing something interesting, which is a government trusting families with how they use that money for their children. Even some of the parties in opposition are starting to wonder whether that plan is something they should be endorsing and copying. I guess that is the most sincere form of flattery.
    We have also increased by $1,000 the maximum amounts that can be claimed against child care expense deductions. That is an additional $1,000 for the purchase of child care. We have now increased it by $1,000 to allow families to keep some more of the money that they pay. We have also introduced the family tax cut, which is a tax credit of up to $2,000 for couples with children under the age of 18.
     We said in 2011, during the campaign, that we would look to family income splitting. We introduced it in 2006-07 for seniors to split their income so they could keep more of their hard-earned pension dollars to be able to stay in their homes, live within their means, and have a little bit extra on a monthly basis to afford what they needed. We have taken that to the extent of being able to say that, yes, a form of income splitting is going to be introduced in the 2015 economic action plan. That is a tax credit of up to $2,000 per family.
    We have also increased the child fitness tax credit. It is $1,000, which was made retroactive to 2014, and the credit is now refundable. Again, that is something that happened in 2006. We offered help to families across this country who were in need of some additional revenue. We offered help to families in need of a tax credit, at least, that allowed them to get their children into programs that would give them the ability to begin fitness, to stay in that vein to ensure that their health is better, to help them stay in shape, and to learn that as a way of life through their older years. Now, we have grown that to ensure that the cost for families to put their children in sports and fitness events is tax deductible.
    Back in 2008, we also introduced the tax-free savings account, for the 2009 budget. It was introduced as a $5,000 amount. Individuals across this country over the age of 18 could deposit some savings into those accounts, and the interest earned on those accounts would never be taxed by the federal government.

  (1655)  

    We increased that in a subsequent budget, and we made a commitment to double it by the time we had reached the 2015-16 budget. We are now going to pass a budget that includes a maximum of $10,000 per year that can be contributed to one's tax-free savings account.
    I have heard all of the rhetoric from across the way about who is going to benefit from this program the most. We need to look at how this has been implemented and how it has worked over the last number of years. If we go to page 233 of this budget, we see the tax-free savings account is a popular means of savings for Canadians at all income levels. Individuals with annual incomes of less than $80,000 accounted for more than 80% of all TFSA holders and about 75% of tax-free savings account assets at the end of 2013. About half of the TFSA holders had annual incomes of less than $42,000.
    The folk arts multicultural celebration just took place in my community in the last two weeks of May, the longest-running folk arts festival in the country. On three separate occasions, individuals approached me to talk about this specific policy and said, “Rick, you don't know and understand. I'm not someone who earns $100,000 or $150,000 a year”. All three of them told me they make less than $60,000 a year and appreciate the fact that they can actually save for themselves and their futures without having to pay tax.
    That is a way to help Canadians. It is a way that we have put in our budget. It is a budget that makes sense and a budget that should be supported.
    I would point out to the parliamentary secretary that using one's first name is not parliamentary language.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Chambly—Borduas.
    Mr. Speaker, I applaud the government's willingness to try to get more kids active. Obviously, youth inactivity has been a big problem in Canada. A couple of years ago a report card was issued giving us a D, which is far from where we want to be.
    On that note, I have a question about the fitness tax credit. The member alluded to people having that extra money, allowing them to sign their kids up for physical activity. I asked an order paper question a couple of months ago and another one, the answer to which should be coming before the end of this sitting, but I would ask the member to give me a little preview of that answer. Does he know how many new people actually signed up for organized sports in their communities—up to this point, I have been unable to get that answer from the government—or is it only benefiting people who had already signed up for physical activity? Is this really doing something to solve the problem of youth inactivity?

  (1700)  

    Mr. Speaker, I applaud the member for seeking that number. I am sure when the order paper comes back, it will be shown. I will have a look at it before it gets sent over. I would be happy to get that number for him.
    What this speaks to is that, across the country, people who were in a position where they could not necessarily afford to put their children into sports now at least feel and understand that the federal government is there to help them in that process. Let us not forget that, since that time in 2006, we have had programs like the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program so that, when there are situations when children are unable to sign up because of their parents' financial position, there is a way to make it happen. It is part of what was built upon, about getting children engaged and ensuring they have an opportunity to get involved in fitness and play sports. It is not just necessarily the government's responsibility to do that; it is the responsibility of all of us.
    Mr. Speaker, the member spoke of funding families, but we all know that with the current government a family getting support is dependent on what income bracket the family is in.
    I got a letter two days ago and I will quote from that letter. It says:
... [this Prime Minister's] government is abolishing the housing subsidies for low income families effective July 1 2015! This is disgraceful. Landlords of subsidized housing are claiming that they cannot lose the $200 a month subsidy and continue to offer housing to their current tenants. The families in those homes will be out on the street as they agreed to live in these apartments due to lower affordable rents.
    The point is that the government is not helping low-income families. Through Canada Mortgage and Housing, it is cutting housing subsidies effective July 1. My question is this. Why is the government continuing to cut CMHC monies meant to ensure that individuals have a decent place to live while, at the same time, giving a $2 billion tax break to those who really do not need the money?
    Mr. Speaker, I tried to focus the speech that I gave on the progress we have made from 2006 to 2015, and it is very clear. If there is ever an opportunity, the member should come to my riding in the St. Catharines community and see the investment the federal government has made into social housing, into assisting those who used to pay federal tax but do not have to pay it any more because we have raised the thresholds.
    We have played a role in working with the region of Niagara and with regions across this country to ensure that those who need housing and those who cannot quite afford it have the opportunity to start and move in that direction. We have made those opportunities happen. We have continued to invest in housing. This budget invests again in housing. There has not been a budget since we took government that did not invest in social housing. The member knows it, and to say otherwise is a fallacy.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to the Conservative government's budget, which is an omnibus bill.
    After studying the bill very carefully and consulting with my constituents as I went door to door on the weekend in my riding of Berthier—Maskinongé, I can confirm without a doubt that this budget is strictly an election budget. It favours the rich at the expense of the middle class and the poor, and more importantly, it does not meet the pressing needs of the people of my riding.
    On top of that, the Conservatives have introduced another omnibus bill, a budget designed to make hundreds of changes with no opportunity for us to examine them. The bill is 150 pages long, has over 270 provisions and amends dozens of laws, including a large part that has nothing to do with the budget.
    Once again, this government is showing its utter contempt for democracy. For these reasons, and many others that I will try to list, I am proud to say that as the NDP member for Berthier—Maskinongé, I oppose this budget.
    I would like to talk about employment and investments in the regions. First of all, everywhere I go, the issue that my constituents want to talk about the most is employment. My region is no different than the rest of Quebec, but unfortunately, the Conservatives are offering nothing to spur job creation in the regions.
    In fact, that is not entirely true. The Conservatives took our proposal to reduce taxes for small businesses to promote development and indirectly create jobs. The NDP truly believes that SMEs stimulate the local economy.
    Other than this measure that they borrowed from our party, the Conservatives have made no investment in the regions of Quebec. On the contrary, they are still making major cuts to the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
    More than 420,000 Canadians have lost their jobs in the manufacturing sector. The Conservatives stand idly by. Their budget is not really helping the situation. It only fixes past mistakes.
    It is flattering to learn that the government is adopting our idea to extend the accelerated capital cost allowance period in the manufacturing sector. However, it is too bad that this measure comes so late, after the damage has been done.
    In my region, the unemployment rate is alarming, and the government is doing nothing about it. Furthermore, the budget reaffirms the government's commitment to reducing EI premium rates and its refusal to make it more accessible for the workers who pay into it, but cannot access it when they need it. The government's reform is still just as detrimental, and to top it all off the government has followed in the Liberals' footsteps and raided the employment insurance fund to balance its books. These funds belong to the workers and employers.
    Let us talk about the pyrrhotite situation. In the region, approximately 2,000 families have been affected by pyrrhotite. A number of these property owners are grappling with this problem. When I received the budget, I looked for the money set aside for this and the word “pyrrhotite”.
    Since May 2, 2011, I have been working with the member for Trois-Rivières to raise awareness among MPs about the issue of pyrrhotite. We also asked the federal government to help these victims.
    Unfortunately, the government's answer every time was that this was a provincial jurisdiction, even though the federal government had previously intervened in the pyrite crisis in Montreal. The pyrrhotite problem is devastating for our region. This is definitely a social crisis that the government should have taken action on.
    Fortunately, it is not too late. Thanks to the NDP, the Conservatives and the Liberal Party will be able to redeem themselves by voting for Motion No. 615, moved by the member for Trois-Rivières.

  (1705)  

    As the official opposition’s deputy agriculture critic, another very important issue for me concerns temporary foreign workers. The problem is not only that the current government fails to take action at the right time during a crisis, but also that it creates even more crises.
     For example, because of its reform of the temporary foreign worker program, last fall Quebec’s farmers lost $52 million. The government failed to take any financial action.
    In the spring another crisis with this program was looming in the mushroom industry, for example, and once again the government stood idly by and did nothing. The temporary foreign workers program is vitally important to farming. By increasing the maximum number of years from two to four, the government caused a great deal of instability in the vegetable industry, not counting the training costs resulting from these changes.
     I am really proud of my fight to make life more affordable for Canadian and Quebec consumers. However, it saddens me that the government is not doing anything to reduce the cost of living, especially when costs continue to rise while good jobs and good wages are not keeping up.
     Fortunately, the NDP managed to get the government to support our motion forcing it to take action on pay-to-pay fees. It is important that the government regulate bank fees charged to consumers.
    I am also dismayed to not find any measures to improve food security in Canada. In my riding, there are a growing number of people struggling to pay for rent or for groceries, and it is a shame that the Conservatives are not taking action to address this serious problem.
     Under their watch, demand for food banks has gone up 25% since 2008. Government assistance and action have been ineffective and have not solved any of the problems. I would have liked to see the gora food strategy such as the one put forward by my colleague from Welland put in place by the government to improve the situation for these people.
    I also want to point out that there is nothing in the budget for single-parent families. The government chose instead to proceed with income splitting, a measure that, according to reports by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the C.D. Howe Institute and the Parliamentary Budget Officer, will benefit only 15% of families. They also indicated that the benefits will flow mainly to the wealthiest households and that such a policy would encourage women, in disproportionate numbers, to leave the labour market or not to enter it in the first place.
    Doubling the tax-free savings account contribution limit is another foolish measure that will only help the wealthiest. In addition to the Parliamentary Budget Officer's assessment that increasing the limit will not benefit the public purse, many studies have shown that a very small percentage of households will benefit from this measure. Once again, this measure will benefit only the wealthiest Canadians.
    People in my riding are also concerned about cuts to Radio-Canada, which provides a vital service in the regions. Because of the government's cuts, the Radio-Canada network in Mauricie will have to make do with a 30-minute news broadcast all year long. Radio-Canada needs stable, long-term funding to do its job well.
    The government must absolutely restore the health transfers to Quebec and other regions in the country. Its decision to freeze transfer caps is putting a great deal of pressure on the provincial governments. It is the federal government's duty to transfer the money the provinces need to provide people with adequate health care. The population of my riding is aging and health care is an important issue. Again, the government seems to want to balance its budget on the backs of people who truly need help.
    In closing, I am extremely disappointed in this election budget. Making a budget is about choices. I would have liked to see more measures to help the middle class and families in my riding.

  (1710)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member to clarify a little of her speech.
    She talked about our government borrowing the NDP's proposal for accelerated capital cost allowance. I hardly think that is correct when in fact the accelerated capital cost allowance was put in in 2007. We had extended it in a number of ways up until the end of 2015. In the NDP playbook, they were looking at an extension of an additional two years. In budget 2015, we are extending it by 10 years. That is hardly borrowing from the NDP playbook.
    I wonder if the member could comment on the importance of giving business a 10-year window on this. As the member would probably know, many manufacturing businesses sometimes take two to three years to actually do the engineering and everything else that is required to make an investment in machinery
    Could the member comment on the fact that maybe 10 years is better for business to be able to make these investment decisions?

  (1715)  

[Translation]