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41st PARLIAMENT, 2nd SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 029

CONTENTS

Tuesday, December 3, 2013




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 147 
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NUMBER 029 
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2nd SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.

Prayers



ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

  (1005)  

[English]

Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner

    Pursuant to section 28 of the Conflict of Interest Code for Members of the House of Commons, it is my duty to present to the House the report of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner on an inquiry in relation to the hon. member for Mégantic—L'Érable.

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 responses to 54 petitions.

[Translation]

Northwest Territories Devolution Act

[English]

Parliamentary Science Officer Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise today to introduce my very first private member's bill, Bill C-558, an act to establish the position of parliamentary science officer.
    Science in Canada is at a crossroads. For too many years we have heard that scientific evidence is often ignored by policy-makers and that federal scientists are being unduly prevented from sharing their research with Canadians.
    My bill calls for the creation of an independent office tasked with providing Parliament with sound information and expert advice on all scientific matters of relevance. This would revitalize the exchange of knowledge between scientists and politicians and give public science a more robust voice in the legislative process.
    Modelled after the U.K.'s Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy and our very own Parliamentary Budget Officer, my proposal aims to help ensure decisions made in Ottawa are informed by the best scientific evidence available.
    A parliamentary science officer would be a significant improvement on the previous Office of the National Science Advisor, which lacked the institutional independence from the government of the day.
    As science is fundamentally a non-partisan issue, I hope this legislation will receive the support of members from all sides of the House.

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

Reform Act, 2013

    He said: I have the honour to present my bill. It is a bill that would strengthen the principle on which our democratic institutions in Canada were founded, that being the principle of responsible government. It would strengthen local control over party nominations. It would restore and strengthen the concept of confidence in House of Commons parliamentary party caucuses and would reinforce the caucus as a decision-making body.
    The bill is based on some old ideas that people like Robert Baldwin and Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine—a monument to whom is standing behind the Centre Block on Parliament Hill—put forward that established the principles on which modern Canadian political institutions are based. These ideas have laid the foundations for this country. If adopted, I hope this bill will strengthen those ideas and allow our Parliament to flourish in the 21st century.

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

Petitions

Criminal Code 

    Mr. Speaker, today I have hundreds of signatures on a petition from Ontario that requests Parliament amend the Criminal Code to decriminalize the selling of sexual services and criminalize the purchasing of sexual services, and provide support to those who desire to leave prostitution.
    In this day and age, the petition is extremely important, and it is the Canadian public that is bringing forth this request.

Science  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions.
    The first petition calls on the Government of Canada to respect the right of Canadians to access unbiased information through the collection of requisite statistics, adequately fund basic research, and free scientists to speak openly on all tax-supported findings, apart from those subject to legitimate national security constraints.

  (1010)  

Shark Finning  

    Mr. Speaker, the petitioners say the practice of shark finning results in an estimated 73 million sharks a year being killed for their fins alone and that over one-third of all shark species are threatened with extinction as a result of shark finning.
    Measures must be taken to stop the global practice of shark finning and ensure the responsible conservation management of sharks. They call on the Government of Canada to immediately ban the importation of shark fin to Canada.

Sambro Island Lighthouse  

    Mr. Speaker, I present a petition on behalf of Nova Scotians, who are calling on Parliament to create a strategy to preserve the Sambro Island lighthouse, an important symbol of our local heritage. In fact, it is the oldest lighthouse in operation in North America. I met with the community and with MLA Brendan Maguire recently, and I saw how strong the attachment is in the Sambro area.
    I want to congratulate the Sambro Island Lighthouse Heritage Society for its efforts to preserve and maintain this iconic structure. The society has actually gathered more than 5,000 signatures in support of the lighthouse. On behalf of those who signed the petition I am tabling today on behalf of all Nova Scotians who want our heritage preserved, we call on the federal government to continue to fund the Sambro Island lighthouse.

[Translation]

Mining Industry  

    Mr. Speaker, this morning I have the honour to present a petition on behalf of hundreds of petitioners from Sherbrooke.
    This petition was initiated by Development and Peace. I met with representatives from the organization in Sherbrooke, in the Eastern Townships, where it is quite active.
    In this petition, the organization is calling for the creation of a legislated, extractive sector ombudsman mechanism in Canada that would have the capacity to receive and investigate complaints and assess compliance with corporate accountability standards that are based on international labour, environmental and human rights norms.
    It is a very simple request. I hope to receive a satisfactory answer from the government for the hundreds of people who have signed the petition in Sherbrooke and the rest of the Eastern Townships.

[English]

Lyme Disease  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions.
    The first petition is from residents of my constituency, Saanich—Gulf Islands, from Sidney and Saanichton, supporting my private member's bill for a national Lyme disease strategy, Bill C-442, and they are very hopeful that it will receive non-partisan support across this House.

Proportional Representation  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition calls for proportional representation to make sure every vote counts in Canada.
    The petitioners are from Edmonton, Port Moody and Langley, as well as some from within my riding.

International Trade  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of many Canadians who are calling on our government to decline to ratify the Canada-China FIPA, that is the foreign investment, promotion and protection agreement, and take immediate steps to limit the influence of state-owned enterprises on our democracy.
    FIPA compromises Canadian sovereignty and it gives the Communist Chinese state-owned enterprises a say in Canadian law-making.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 51, 53, 55, 56, 58 and 59.

[Text]

Question No. 51--
Ms. Kirsty Duncan
     With regard to the development of greenhouse gas regulations for the oil and gas sector: (a) what is the total of all relevant government expenditures related to the activities of the Process Working Group (PWG) including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; (b) in addition to those expenditures incurred through the operations of the PWG, what are any other government expenditures regarding consultation, discussion, engagement or negotiation with oil and gas sector companies including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; (c) in addition to those expenditures incurred through the operations of the PWG, what are any other government expenditures, regarding consultation, discussion, engagement or negotiation with oil and gas sector industry associations including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; (d) in addition to those expenditures incurred through the operations of the PWG, what are any other government expenditures, regarding consultation, discussion, engagement, negotiation with the government of Alberta, including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; (e) in addition to those expenditures incurred through the operations of the PWG, what are any other government expenditures, regarding consultation, discussion, engagement or negotiation with other provincial or territorial governments, including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; (f) what are the government’s expenditures, regarding consultation, discussion, engagement or negotiation with First Nations representatives, including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; (g) what are the government’s expenditures, regarding consultation, discussion, engagement or negotiation with representatives of other governments (e.g. municipal governments, U.S. officials, etc.), including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; (h) what are the government’s expenditures regarding consultation, discussion, engagement or negotiation with environmental organizations, including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; (i) what are the government’s expenditures regarding consultation, discussion, engagement or negotiation with scientists, economists, and other independent experts, including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details; and (j) what are any additional government expenditures not included above regarding consultation, discussion, engagement or negotiation with other stakeholders, with a break-down of all related details, including, but not limited to, (i) travel expenses (transportation, accommodation, rental of meeting spaces or equipment, food, and other travel-related expenses), (ii) staff time costs, including any overtime pay incurred, (iii) any services or other support procured from consultants or other contractors, (iv) other relevant expenses incurred, with a break-down of all related details?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (i), based on readily available information, Environment Canada’s total travel expenditures related to the development of greenhouse gas regulations for the oil and gas sector is approximately $135,680. This includes travel related to activities of the process working group as well as other travel for consultation, discussion, and engagement. A detailed breakdown of the expenditures by stakeholder type is not available, as trips frequently involve multiple meetings with different stakeholders, individuals, or organizations. For this reason, some of these expenditures may include travel for purposes other than the greenhouse gas regulations.
    With regard to (ii), Environment Canada has no database that records project-specific staff time costs. Based on readily available information, Environment Canada’s overtime expenditures related to the development of greenhouse gas regulations totals approximately $3,643.
    With regard to (iii), based on readily available information, services or other support procured by Environment Canada from consultants or other contractors to directly support the development of greenhouse gas regulations totals approximately $187,294.
    With regard to (iv), other expenditures made by Environment Canada to support the development of greenhouse gas regulations total approximately $4,772. This amount includes expenditures for non-travel hospitality and room rentals.
Question No. 53--
Ms. Kirsty Duncan:
     With respect to the chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) clinical trial being undertaken by Dr. Traboulse: (a) what milestones are reportable to the government, (i) on what date(s) is reporting expected to occur, (ii) how will this information be communicated to patients, the medical community, and the general public; (b) on what date did each of the trial sites pass ethical review; (c) on what date did recruitment of patients begin for each of the trial sites; (d) how many patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) are being recruited for each site, and how is consistency in diagnosis and treatment being ensured across sites; (e) who is performing the diagnoses for CCSVI for each site, (i) how is the diagnosis being performed, including, but not limited to, ultrasound and venogram, (ii) how many diagnoses has each person undertaking the diagnosis at each site performed prior to the study, and by whom was each person trained; (f) who is performing the procedures for each site, (i) how is the procedure being performed, including, but not limited to, anesthetic, balloon size, (ii) how many procedures has each person undertaking the procedure at each site performed prior to the study, and by whom was each person trained; (g) what are the selection criteria for the trial, including, but not limited to, type of MS, Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score, venous abnormality/malformed valve/stenosis, mobility, (i) how do these criteria compare with the international literature, (ii) with how many international studies to date will the selection criteria be analytically comparable; (h) if both progressive and relapsing-remitting forms of MS are to be examined in the trial, how will statistical significance be ensured given that 50 of 100 patients will undergo a “sham” procedure, 25 patients will have a progressive form of the disease, and 25 will have a relapsing-remitting form of the disease, and will people with both primary progressive and secondary progressive forms of the disease be included, and if so, how will statistical significance be ensured; (i) given that research has shown numerous venous abnormalities in the head, neck, and chest of MS patients, (i) how will statistical significance be ensured if there are only a limited number of patients, but multiple types of venous or valvular abnormality, (ii) how will a venous stenosis be measured (e.g. diameter, size); (j) what outcomes will be measured, including, but not limited to, EDSS, Modified Fatigue Impact Scale, Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale, and Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life Inventory, and at what time scales; (k) will patient-reported quality of life scores be included, and if so, what is the specific methodology; (l) what specific follow-up care will patients undergoing the “sham” procedure and treatment receive, and at what specific time periods; (m) if patients received the “sham” procedure, within what time period will they receive treatment; (n) how will the results of this study be interpreted within the growing international body of research, (i) to how many studies will this study be compared, (ii) to how many studies will this study be directly comparable; (o) what long-term follow-up will those enrolled in the trial receive and for what time period; (p) what is the cost of the trial, and what are each of the partners contributing, including, but not limited to funding, equipment, expertise, pharmaceutical products; (q) what is the cost of each diagnosis, (i) what is the cost of each “sham” procedure, (ii) what is the cost of each procedure; and (r) who is overseeing the trial, (i) the safety of the patients, (ii) the integrity of the results?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to milestones and the reporting process in the Canadian MS clinical trial supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research as queried in questions (a), (b), (c), (d), (n), and (r), the Canadian MS clinical trial supported by the Government of Canada is taking place in four sites across the country: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Montreal, and Quebec City. The trial led by Dr. Anthony Traboulsee from the University of British Columbia started on November 1, 2012; two sites, Vancouver and Montreal, received ethics approval in 2012, and the other two sites received ethics approval from their research institutions by February 2013.
    The four teams have met on a regular basis to ensure harmonization of the protocol among the sites. Protocol training, ultrasound technician training, and interventional radiologist training took place at the four sites over the course of 2013 and were completed by September 2013.
    The recruitment of patients has started at the four sites and is expected to be completed over the next year. In all, 100 patients are expected to participate in the trial.
    In August 2013, Dr. Traboulsee announced that researchers had been able to assess approximately 50 patients to determine whether they have the CCSVI condition and that procedures had been done on fewer than 10 patients.
    It is important to note that the study is a double-blind study. In other words, neither the subjects of the experiment nor the persons administering the experiment know the critical aspects of the experiment. This process is important, as it guards against both experimenter bias and placebo effects. In this context, the researcher team will be unable to analyze and share preliminary data before the study is completed.
    Dr. Traboulsee expects to reach final conclusions on the safety and efficacy of the CCSVI procedure by 2016. It is expected that the results of this study will be published in peer-reviewed journals. Under CIHR’s open access policy, researchers awarded CIHR funding are required to ensure that all research papers generated from CIHR-funded projects are freely accessible through the publisher's website or an online repository within 12 months of publication.
    As indicated in the request for applications, the principal investigator will have to submit a final report to CIHR. He is also required to submit annual progress reports.
    With regard to the protocol and funding of the MS clinical trial as queried in questions (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), (l), (m), (o), (p), and (q), funding of the $6 million study over four years is a collaborative effort of CIHR, the MS Society of Canada, and the provinces in which the trial will take place. The Provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, and Québec and the MS Society of Canada have each pledged $500,000 towards this clinical trial.
    Details regarding the funding opportunity developed by CIHR to support a phase I/II MS clinical trial, including the selection criteria, are available on CIHR’s website.
    The proposals submitted to CIHR for the funding opportunity were rigorously evaluated by a panel of international experts. The panel recommended supporting the application submitted by Dr. Anthony Traboulsee, which ranked first in the competition.
    It is important to note that all of the 100 MS patients participating in the trial will receive the CCSVI procedure at some point. During the first year of the trial, half of the patients will receive the CCSVI procedure, while the other half will undergo a placebo procedure. In the second year, MS patients who received the placebo procedure in the first year will undergo the CCSVI procedure, while those that received the CCSVI procedure in the first year will undergo the placebo procedure. MS patients participating in the double-blind clinical trial will be monitored over a two-year period. Specific questions regarding the protocol of this independent research project or the cost of the clinical procedures should be addressed directly to the principal investigator of the study.
Question No. 55--
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia:
     With regard to Health Canada’s Radiofrequency Exposure Guidelines known as Safety Code 6: (a) how was the code established; (b) does the code deal with potential dangers from all electromagnetic devices; (c) what is the distinction between thermal and non-thermal effects of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy; (d) does existing research on the thermal effects of exposure to RF energy adequately determine whether such exposure is safe for humans; (e) does existing research on the non-thermal effects of exposure to RF energy adequately determine whether such exposure is safe for humans; (f) what work is Health Canada undertaking to remedy the uncertainty surrounding the non-thermal effects of exposure to RF energy by carrying out additional research into the non-thermal effects of exposure to RF energy; and (g) are changes to the code planned to include the most up-to-date scientific research on devices such as Hydro “smart” meters?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the exposure limits in Safety Code 6 were developed in accordance with the World Health Organization’s Framework for Developing Health-Based EMF Standards, where “EMF” represents “electromagnetic fields”, and are based on the lowest exposure level—that is, the threshold--at which any scientifically established human health hazards occur. Safety factors were incorporated into these limits to add an additional level of protection for the general public and personnel working near RF sources.
    When developing the exposure limits in Safety Code 6, Health Canada scientists consider all peer-reviewed scientific studies, thermal and non-thermal, and employ a weight-of-evidence approach when evaluating possible health risks from exposure to RF energy.
    With regard to (b), Safety Code 6 sets forth human exposure limits for electromagnetic fields in the frequency range 3 kHz to 300 GHz. The exposure limits in Safety Code 6 are established to protect individuals from established adverse health effects from electromagnetic radiation, regardless of their origin. This would include exposure to emissions from all wireless devices and associated infrastructure. The sum total of electromagnetic exposure from all sources combined must not exceed the limits in Safety Code 6. As long as wireless devices do not expose persons to electromagnetic fields in excess of the limits of Safety Code 6 there is no danger to human health.
    Wireless devices such as cellphones, smart meters, Wi-Fi, and their associated infrastructure, such as cellphone towers, are regulated by Industry Canada. To ensure that public exposures fall within acceptable guidelines, Industry Canada has developed regulatory standards that require compliance with the human exposure limits outlined in Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 as of 2009.
    With regard to (c), thermal effects are defined as biological effects resulting from heating of the whole body or a localized region resulting from exposure to electromagnetic energy, where a sufficient temperature increase has occurred that results in a physiologically significant effect. Non-thermal effects are defined as biological effects resulting from exposure to RF fields that are not due to tissue heating. Safety Code 6 considers both thermal and non-thermal effects for the establishment of human exposure limits.
    With regard to (d) and (e), yes, Health Canada scientists monitor the scientific literature on this issue on an ongoing basis, and Safety Code 6 is periodically updated to take into account recent scientific data from animal, in vitro, and epidemiological studies carried out worldwide. The limits recommended for general public exposure to RF energy are designed to provide protection for all age groups, including children, on a continuous basis. Based on a thorough review of scientific data conducted over the past 50 years, Health Canada has concluded that there is no scientific basis for the existence of any short- or long-term adverse health effects or of cumulative adverse thermal effects associated with RF exposure at levels below the limits outlined in Safety Code 6.
    With regard to (f), for more than two decades, Health Canada has conducted its own research on the potential non-thermal effects of RF energy. This research has increased the scientific knowledge regarding the intensity of RF energy in our environment and has helped to establish the human exposure threshold at which potentially adverse health effects can occur. This important information, along with the review and consideration of other Canadian and international studies, forms the basis for establishing safety standards for RF energy that protect the health of Canadians. All Health Canada research on RF energy is funded by the Government of Canada. Research publications from this research are available at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/radiation/cons/radiofreq/research-recherche-eng.php.
    With regard to (g), Safety Code 6 is currently under review to ensure that the most up-to-date scientific studies on the potential effects of RF energy on human health are reflected in the code. The review includes an independent assessment by an expert panel of the Royal Society of Canada. It is anticipated that the expert panel report will be released early next year. It is important to note that Safety Code 6 sets forth maximum human exposure limits for a range of frequencies in the RF spectrum and not device emission limits.
Question No. 56--
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia:
     With regard to the Royal Society of Canada’s Expert Panel on Potential Health Risks of Radiofrequency Fields from Wireless Telecommunication Devices, commissioned by Health Canada: (a) for the period of 1990-2012, how have panel members been selected; (b) for the period of 1990-2012, what has been the composition of the Panel by (i) professional background, (ii) regional origin; (c) are any conflict of interest provisions imposed on committee members and, if so, what are they; and (d) with regard to the conflict of interest provisions referred to in (c), who determines if they apply?
Hon. Rona Ambrose (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the selection of expert panel members is an independent process undertaken at the discretion of the Royal Society of Canada, the RSC, as per their internal policy guidelines. The 2013 contract with the RSC stipulated the various areas of technical expertise required of the members that comprise the expert panel. As per the standard process established by the RSC with respect to the development of expert panels, Health Canada provided recommendations in 2013, upon request by the RSC, on potential members for consideration. All selections and final decisions regarding expert panel membership are made by the RSC. As such, any queries regarding the selection process should be directed to the RSC. Health Canada has no record of the process used for the selection of expert panel members contributing to the first report, dated March 1999.
    With regard to (b), the 1999 expert panel consisted of a molecular biologist, a geneticist, a bio-statistician-epidemiologist, a biophysicist, a physician-immunologist, an epidemiologist, a radiologist, and a neurologist-biochemist. In terms of regional origin, six of the 1999 expert panel members were from institutions located in Canada: three from Ontario, two from British Columbia, and one from Quebec. Two members were from American institutions, one located in Ohio with the U.S. federal government and one located in California with a public university.
    The 2013 expert panel is composed of an epidemiologist, a physicist, an engineer, a neurologist, a biologist, two radiologists, and a public health expert. Two members of the panel are from Ontario, one from Alberta, and one from British Columbia. The other four members are from international institutions, academia in the United States, a consultant organization in the United Kingdom and the government of the Netherlands.
    With regard to (c), the RSC has conflict of interest provisions for expert panel members outlined in their procedural manual Expert Panels: Manual of Procedural Guidelines. These provisions require the disclosure of personal involvements that may impact service on an expert panel. It indicates that prospective panellists are required to complete declaration forms outlining any issues that might give rise to a real, apparent, or potential conflict of interest in relation to their official duties. Specific considerations are given to the following categories: individual economic impact; proprietary information; public statements and positions; access to government information; reviewing one’s own work; and employment by a sponsoring agency. Conflict of interest policies often acknowledge that the existence of such considerations does not in itself establish that the individual is in conflict.
    Additional information on the RSC’s conflict of interest guidelines can be found in their procedural manual online, available in English only.
    With regard to (d), the assessment of conflict of interest, as it relates to expert panel members, is an internal RSC process carried out by two committees; the Committee on Expert Panels and the Scientific Advisory Committee on Expert Panels. Procedures for reviewing points of view and conflict of interest are outlined in the RSC’s document; Expert Panels: Manual of Procedural Guidelines. These committees assess the declarations of prospective panel members and determine if any adjustments need to be made to the membership of the expert panel. All queries regarding this process should be made directly to the RSC.
Question No. 58--
Mr. Ryan Cleary:
     With regard to the Department of Natural Resources and the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (C-NLOPB): (a) can the department provide details of any studies carried out on helicopter night flights to oil facilities, specifically the safety of day flights versus night flights in transporting employees to and from the offshore work site; (b) has the government taken any action to implement recommendation 29(a) of the 2010 Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry into the establishment of an independent offshore safety regulator; and (c) has the government investigated the costs associated with establishment of the office of an independent safety regulator, and, if so, can the department provide a breakdown of the cost?
Hon. Joe Oliver (Minister of Natural Resources, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, Canada’s offshore installations and the equipment and training required to operate them must meet strict regulatory standards that are among the highest in the world. The Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board, the C-NLOPB, continues to act on the recommendations in the 2010 Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry, the OHSI, that are within its purview, including in the area of worker safety on helicopters.
    While industry has signalled its interest in extending flying hours, the C-NLOPB has not yet received a formal application. Once received, the C-NLOPB will conduct a thorough analysis and ensure that the eight conditions required by the Board are met. Until then, night flights will not resume.
    Further information on the C-NLOPB eight conditions may be found at http://www.cnlopb.nl.ca/pdfs/ohsi/advdoc12.pdf.
    With regard to (a), the following four publicly available studies on helicopter night flights to oil facilities, related to the safety of day flights versus night flights in transporting employees to and from the offshore work site, have been conducted and can be found on the C-NLOPB’s web site: report by SMS Aviation Safety Inc. in support of the OHSI implementation team, entitled “Operational Safety Risk Analysis of Night Helicopter Transport Operations in the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Industry”, at www.cnlopb.nl.ca/pdfs/ohsi/osrareport.pdf; operators’ report, entitled “Return to Night Passenger Transport Operations”, at www.cnlopb.nl.ca/pdfs/ohsi/nightpassengerupdate.pdf; “Level of Service Requirements for First Response Helicopters”, at www.cnlopb.nl.ca/pdfs/ohsi/levofserv.pdf; and “Level of Service Analysis Gap”, by Cougar Helicopters, at www.cnlopb.nl.ca/pdfs/ohsi/losanalysis.pdf.
    With regard to (b), the Government of Canada takes the recommendations of the 2010 Offshore Helicopter Safety Inquiry seriously and continues to work with the boards, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia to strengthen worker safety in Canada’s offshore.
    The government has full confidence in our experienced, independent offshore regulators to responsibly manage occupational health and safety requirements as well as oil and gas development. The C-NLOPB has been structured in such a way as to ensure that worker safety is managed separately under the supervision of a chief safety officer, a CSO, with considerable independent authority. The CSO can order the discontinuation of an operation at any moment if he or she believes there is risk of serious bodily harm. Such an order can only be overturned by a judge.
    Further, following consultations with industry, regulators, and labour groups, the Government of Canada, in partnership with the Provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia, is proposing improvements to legislation that will establish a clear occupational health and safety framework in legislation that is enforceable by law and free of any jurisdictional uncertainty. The proposed changes will also provide modern enforcement powers to new occupational health and safety officers and existing operational safety officers and will clarify that the occupational health and safety regime applies to employees and other passengers in transit to and from offshore workplaces.
    With regard to (c), the Government of Canada has not conducted a detailed cost estimate for an independent safety regulator.
Question No. 59--
Mr. Ryan Cleary:
     With regard to Transport Canada, and specifically the St. John's Port Authority: (a) what new commercial infrastructure projects does the Port Authority currently have underway on the St. John's waterfront; (b) what are the details of the commercial arrangements for the infrastructure projects; and (c) what other developments does the Port Authority have planned for the St. John's waterfront?
Hon. Lisa Raitt (Minister of Transport, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, Canada port authorities, such as the St. John’s Port Authority, operate at arm’s length from the federal government and on a commercial basis, within the parameters set by the Canada Marine Act and associated regulations and their individual letters patent.
    Each Canada port authority has an independent board of directors that is responsible for determining the port authority’s strategic direction and overseeing the port authority’s operations. The St. John’s Port Authority is responsible for determining its capital projects and how these are financed and implemented.
    Questions regarding the St. John’s Port Authority’s current and future port infrastructure projects and the associated commercial arrangements should be directed to the port authority.

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 50 and 54 could be made orders for returns, these returns would be tabled immediately.

[Text]

Question No. 50--
Hon. Lawrence MacAulay:
     With regard to the Canadian Coast Guard: (a) what is the complete list of all Canadian Coast Guard ships in service each year since 2000, including (i) the name of each ship, (ii) the location of the home port for each ship, (iii) the number of months per year each ship is operational, (iv) the annual operating budget of each ship, (v) the number of full time and part time employees on each ship, (vi) a list of each operation undertaken by each ship, including a detailed summary of the operation, date, and location(s); (b) what are the ships that are currently slated to be taken out of service or have annual operational service times decreased; and (c) what are the ships that are currently in production and the proposed location for their home port?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 54--
Hon. Mark Eyking:
     With regard to the Canadian Armed Forces, since January 1, 2006: (a) what are the file numbers of each set of Minutes of Proceedings for a Board of Inquiry convened to investigate the death, attempted suicide, serious injury, or injury likely to cause permanent disability of a Canadian Armed Forces member; (b) what was the date on which the Chief of Defence Staff, or a person acting on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff, approved those minutes; (c) if the minutes have not been approved, the date by which such approval is anticipated; and (d) has a copy of the minutes of the Board of Inquiry been released to the victim or next of kin of each victim?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2

Bill C-4—Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, 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.

  (1015)  

    Mr. Speaker, here we are again.

[Translation]

    The government is using this procedure for the 58th time. That is unbelievable. This is the 58th time since the last election alone. The government is shattering all the records and the worst records at that. This government is obsessed with shutting down all debate.

[English]

    Something to notice about this particular one, which I think makes the point as to why the Conservatives are so offline and so contrary to parliamentary rules and procedure, is that the bill they are rushing through under time allocation this time, which they had to rush through in the last stage of debate to get it to committee, was not looked at by the committee for three weeks.
    The government hit the panic button in the House of Commons and shut down debate because it is such an urgent bill. We had to get to it right away. It was so vital to the economy, but of course, the finance committee did not look at it for the next 21 days.
    A second piece of this time allocation, which is fascinating, is that the Conservatives make so many mistakes when they do this, when they shut down debate in Parliament. Bill C-4, which they are shutting down today, is there to make corrections to a previous bill that they rushed through Parliament, Bill C-60, which was making corrections to a previous bill that they rushed through Parliament, Bill C-48.
    This is what the government does time and again. It keeps making these mistakes because it is in such a panic, yet it calls it good government and good order. It is not. It is bad legislation. It is bad process.
    When is the government going to learn? This is no way to run a country.
    Mr. Speaker, the approach of this government to the use of time allocation has been as a scheduling device, not as a device to end debate.
    As has been noted, there have been occasions when the opposition has been critical of the use of time allocation, stating that we have allocated more time than is necessary for the debate on a bill. The reason is that the opposition keeps getting confused about its purpose. The opposition thinks it is about limiting debate, but we believe it is about ensuring a proper amount of debate, as well as ensuring certainty about decisions getting made.
    When we look around the world today, the problem is gridlock, especially on economic questions, and this is a budget implementation bill. There is uncertainty, whether it be in legislatures across the border to the south or in the legislatures of Europe, where they have had a crisis going on for some years. Where there has been an inability to make decisions, that has undermined the confidence and economies.
    We in Canada have the benefit of the strongest economy of the major developed economies. The fact is, and we will hear it again and again from people around the world, that it is because this government shows clear leadership and has the ability to get decisions made by Parliament to give the people in the House the right to actually vote on the economic measures in front of them.
    Mr. Speaker, I think the whopper of the year would go to this particular government House leader in terms of how he tried to spin this issue. To say that time allocation is about scheduling is so far from reality that it is totally amazing that he would even stand in his place to try to make that sort of an assertion.
    Let there be no doubt, it is absolutely shameful the manner in which the Conservative government is treating the House of Commons. It is an assault on democracy, and it is as simple as that. We have procedures put in place. No government in the history of our country has ever gone into time allocation in the same fashion that the current government has done. It has also brought in these huge budget bills and used them as a back door to pass numerous other pieces of legislation, which should be stand-alone legislation.
    I believe that Canadians will become more and more aware of the tactics of the Conservative majority government and when the time comes, we will see that there will be a huge change because what the Conservatives are doing inside this chamber is a disservice to each and every member of Parliament. It does not matter whether one is a Liberal, a Conservative or a New Democrat, it is a disservice.
    When can we expect this government House leader and the PMO to start demonstrating more respect for proper procedures here in the House of Commons?

  (1020)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am familiar with the fact that the hon. member for Winnipeg North carries out office hours in McDonald's every Saturday morning. I have read that. Therefore, I am surprised by his use of the Burger King reference in offering me a Whopper, but I would be happy to take up that offer with him some day.
    However, I know he is new to the House, relatively speaking, because had he been here when the Liberals were last in government, he would have found that in their last budget implementation bill they were quite content to amend a range of legislation on a broad range of topics.
    For example, the last bill from the Liberals on budget implementation amended the Auditor General Act, the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada Act, the Broadcasting Act, the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador Additional Fiscal Equalization Offset Payments Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Canada Post Corporation Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act, and many more. I could go on. 
    I say this not to be critical of that practice because it was doing what a budget implementation bill does: implement a budget. My problem is that he is being a typical Liberal in saying, “Do as I say, not as I do”. It is that hypocrisy from Liberals that for generations has disappointed Canadians.

[Translation]

    When we talk about time allocation motions, we normally assume that discussions haven taken place with the government leader. There are supposed to be discussions and negotiations. Why is he incapable of holding these discussions and negotiations? Why did he have to use a time allocation motion for the 58th time?
    It seems to me that this undermines the credibility of this government, because a government should be capable of negotiating different agreements with other countries. However, the government is proving that it is incapable of sitting down with the opposition parties and having a reasonable discussion.
    When I see the government behaving like this, I have no confidence in its ability to negotiate with other countries, even though that is one of its responsibilities.
    I would like to know what discussions the government held and why it is incapable of reaching an agreement.
    Mr. Speaker, the challenge our government is facing is the fact that the opposition opposes all of our measures that are important to Canada's economy.

[English]

    This budget implementation bill has a number of very important measures, which our government has advanced. Unfortunately, we find the NDP, once again, opposing the legislation despite the extension and expansion of the hiring credit for small businesses, for example, which will benefit an estimated 560,000 employers and many more employees in terms of job creation over the long term. That is something they are resisting having passed. We think it is important that this is put into place.
    There is also the increased indexing of the lifetime capital gains exemption, which would make investing in small businesses more rewarding. Once again, they say they support small business, but they are opposing the legislation and opposing our effort to ensure that it does come to a vote so that it can become law before the end of this year.
     We have an expansion of the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy generation. One would think they might be sympathetic to that, but no, once again they oppose the legislation and they oppose having it come into effect before the end of this year. That is what we will see them do later today with their votes on this.
    I look at the important economic measures in this, which are important to ensure Canada continues to play a leading role economically and continues to have a relatively strong economic position in a world where economic circumstances are most uncertain. We think it is important that we stay on that course in a very focused fashion.
    Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the House leader's response to the question from the member for Winnipeg North, where he said in part that the purpose of the budget implementation act is to implement the provisions of the budget. This budget implementation act amends the Supreme Court Act and try as I might in going through the volumes of the budget, I could find no reference to the Supreme Court Act. Therefore, I would argue that this budget does a lot more than that. In fact, I asked the Minister of Justice if he could find it and he could not find it either.
    My question for the hon. House leader is this. Apparently matters of economic interest are not entitled to a full debate here, so we are imposing the guillotine. Is there any subject matter that would warrant a full debate that is not limited by time allocation? Is there anything the government feels justifies a full and unlimited discussion in the House?

  (1025)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member misunderstands. With time allocation what we are doing is establishing certainty of scheduling and of decisions being made. My question for him would be this. Is there any issue on which he is happy to see votes occur on a regular basis, or is it really his objective to keep decisions from being made? Is it because he simply does not like the agenda of our government, notwithstanding that the agenda of the government has delivered a relatively strong position for Canada on the world stage economically? We have had over a million net new jobs created since the economic downturn. Nearly 90% of those are full-time and 85% of them private sector jobs. This is the track record of our government delivering through our budgets on strong economic policy. It has given us the strongest job creation of any of the major developed economies, the G7 countries.
    Our unemployment is at its lowest level in many years. In fact, it remains below that of the United States. For almost my entire lifetime, Canada's unemployment was always higher. However, under our government, for the first time in decades, Canada has consistently had lower unemployment than the United States. Again, this is proof that the economic policies are working.
    The reason they are working is that we are running the affairs of the government and the House in a productive, orderly and hard-working fashion that allows decisions to be made. It sets a clear policy course and then implements it. That is what we are doing today and that is why we think it is important that the budget implementation bill be in place before the end of this year.
    Mr. Speaker, the government House leader alluded just a minute ago to some of the challenges within the House. He also mentioned some of the macroeconomic challenges. This budget was introduced in March of 2013. We had the first budget implementation act in June of 2013. Here we are in December of 2013. It would be an interesting, novel concept to get the 2013 budget passed in 2013. Therefore, could the government House leader maybe describe some of the unique economic challenges that we have in 2013 and why it is so important that we get the budget passed now?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has made a good point. We already debated the budget at length in the House. There were votes on it and the House decided to go ahead with it. We already had excessive debate on the first budget implementation bill and now on this, the second budget implementation bill. It really is time that we had all these measures in place.
    When we look at the overall challenges in the world, we can see the question of investment, for example. Attracting foreign investment is a critical element to creating jobs in our country. Canada is the only one of the major developed economies that has recovered more business investment than we had before the economic downturn. There is no other major developed economy in the world that can make the same claim. The reasons for that are the economic policies we have put in place: a low-tax plan for jobs and growth, the lowest taxes on new job-creating businesses anywhere among those developed economies, the fact that we have the most skilled workforce in the world, and the fact that we have the lowest debt and the lowest deficit of any of those major developed economies.
    All of this makes Canada a very attractive destination for foreign investment. However, we have to continue to put in place those policies and ensure that we stay focused and do not go down the path of higher taxes, bigger government, debts and deficits that the opposition would have us go down. The budget implementation bill will be another step in the right direction of that low-tax plan for jobs and growth for Canada.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, today we are talking about a time allocation motion for the 58th time. As I have always said, this government is becoming increasingly arrogant with respect to democratic institutions. Here we are in Parliament, and within that word is the French word “parler”, which means to talk. However, the Conservatives will not let us talk about the issues that are very important to our constituents, who sent us here to debate bills.
    Once again, we are dealing with a government is even more arrogant than the previous Liberal government, even though the Conservatives criticized the Liberals for it at the time. Unfortunately, we are faced with a very arrogant government that shows contempt for our democratic institutions.
    Why is this government even more arrogant than the Liberals were back in the day?

  (1030)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my question is very simple for the hon. member. Why is she defending the arrogance of those special interests that resist this budget in holding hands with them and taking up arms with them against measures that we think are important on behalf of ordinary Canadians?
    For example, her party, in resisting this measure to put the budget implementation bill in place this year and voting against it, is resisting what the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants described as a budget that:
...looks to close tax loopholes, address aggressive tax planning, clarify tax rules, reduce international tax avoidance and tax evasion and improve tax fairness. It also provides the Canada Revenue Agency with new tools to enforce the tax rules.
    The people who know best understand that this is a bill that is on the side of ordinary taxpayers against those who are engaging in aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion, making sure that the wealthy and those special interests cannot pay their taxes.
    I ask the member why she is standing on the side of those special interests that are trying to avoid their obligations to pay taxes and resisting measures to ensure that they have to pay their obligations so that ordinary hard-working taxpayers do not have to carry more than their fair share of the load. Why is she proposing that?
    I would remind all members that the target is for the question to be for one minute and the response to be for one minute.
    The hon. member for Edmonton—Strathcona.
    Mr. Speaker, I noted the hon. member mentioned that we are going to vote against the bill. One would be led to presume that the Conservatives intentionally draft their bills so that we will oppose them. If one takes an action, one will get the predictable response.
    Clearly one of the strong arguments that we continue to make in the House on behalf of Canadians, who are equally fed up with the way the government operates with its budget bills, is the inclusion of legislation that should be tabled independently.
    One strong example is the long-awaited legislation to afford a level of protection for offshore workers in Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia. Grudgingly, Conservatives allow the review of that briefly. We waited 12 years for that legislation to come forward. Surely that merits a separate debate.
    I can simply quote the now Minister of Justice in 2004 who said:
    The speed with which the government has acted in this fashion in bringing about closure is a true signal as to how the Prime Minister and the government are going to treat the so-called democratic deficit that the Prime Minister has had a revelation on in discovering that a democratic deficit exists in the country.
    That was the current government complaining about the previous Liberal government. The Conservatives changed sides of the room and they changed their attitude to parliamentary democracy.
    Mr. Speaker, I will remind the hon. member that the House has had before it in the past a free-standing bill on the offshore health and safety measures. That is dealt with separately, so I am quite puzzled as to her concern.
    However, I will say it is quite predictable that the NDP will oppose our budgets and budget bills. Yes, we do calculate them that way because we say we do not want to go down the NDP path, we want to keep taxes down, so we will put forward a budget and a budget bill that keeps taxes down. We know the NDP will oppose that.
    We will freeze employment insurance rates, for example, and will create incentives for the creation of small businesses by having a tax credit, a further tax reduction. Again the New Democrats always oppose those tax reductions, whether it be the reductions in the GST that we brought in twice or income tax reductions that again they opposed or reductions in taxes for small businesses, such as the small business job creation credit. They always oppose those things.
    Yes, to that extent it is calculated that way, but it is calculated that way because that is what is right for Canadians. That is what is right for the economy and that is why the NDP policies are so dangerous for the economy. That is why we do have a genuine contrast in views here between ours, which says Canadians should keep more of their tax dollars and we should keep taxes low to create jobs, and the NDP approach of high taxes, big government, big spending, big deficits. The member is right. It is a very clear difference.
    Mr. Speaker, I found the House leader's statements about the government's economic record a little funny. As we know, Canada has now fallen to 154th worldwide in terms of economic growth, so I do not think we can take any lessons from the Conservatives in that sense. They have dragged us down a number of spaces.
    I want to ask who said this:
...the decision to invoke closure on the bill represented in some ways the death of the true meaning of parliament.... The federal...government has failed Canadians.
    Who said that? It was Stockwell Day, the former leader of the Reform Alliance party, I think called C-R-A-P at one point. Absolutely, that was the Conservatives when they were in opposition.
    Who said this?
    When the bill was rammed through the House with closure, it really did not present a lot of opportunity for meaningful public debate....
    The interests of all of Canadians must be served, not the interests of politicians, not partisan interests or political self-interest.
    In referring to closure, who said that? It was the Prime Minister.
    Finally, who said this?
...we have morphed into what we once mocked....
    I no longer recognize...the party that I joined....
    Why have the Conservatives become what they used to mock?

  (1035)  

    Mr. Speaker, on the question of economic growth and prosperity, it is interesting that the approach of the NDP and the hon. member is to compare Canada with developing countries where people live on a handful of dollars a day. That is what he wants to compare Canada to, and there is good reason for that. It is because if the NDP were in government, its policies would lead us to them as a peer group.
    We believe that economically, our peer group consists of the major developed economies of the world, the OECD countries and the G7, and we lead those countries consistently in economic growth. In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has again indicated that Canada will lead the G7 in economic growth in 2013. Once again, that is where we are headed.
    We do not compare ourselves with countries where people live in abject poverty, in many cases because of terrible government policies. I know that is what the NDP uses as a comparison. We compare ourselves with those countries that can deliver the highest standards of living for themselves, and among the countries with high standards of living, we are proud to be leading the world in economic growth and delivering a good standard of living for—
    I would appreciate it if all members would look at the clock. One minute is one minute, and I am going to enforce it henceforth.
    The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is the same old story: the Conservatives put all kinds of unrelated items in omnibus bills. Then they rise in the House during a debate such as this one, or during question period, they take a small piece of the mammoth bill, something we could have approved, and they say how awful it is that the opposition voted against it. However, the “it” is buried under a heap of policies that simply do not make sense. The Conservatives think that they can convince Canadians with such a ridiculous line.
    What kind of respect does the government have for Canadians?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that at the end of the day the arguments of the opposition members consistently are that their problem with the government is that the government is actually getting things done. It is that we are delivering on our agenda, whether it be our economic policies, our policies for developing the labour market, or our policy for harnessing Canada's economic advantages and resources, but I make no apologies for that. Our government is proud to be delivering on that track record.
    Again this year, we will have our strongest legislative performance with the most bills passed at any time since we became government, and the reason is that we are here to change this country for the better, to ensure that we are on a strong economic course, and to consolidate our position as a leader among the developed economies in getting things done.
    Of course, the NDP resists, because it does not like that path, the path that leads to low taxes, economic growth, job creation, and, it is fair to say, perhaps a smaller role for government than the NDP would have.
    We believe that the solution to Canada's problems and the opportunities for Canada's future lie in the hands of Canadians—not in the hands of the Canadian government, but Canadians, who, through their own hard work and initiative, work to build a better life for their families' futures, to build small businesses, to build stronger communities where they live, and to make better lives for themselves. Our economic policies aim to do exactly that, and we are going to make sure that we give everybody in the House an opportunity to vote on those policies. I know that on this side we will support them; I am quite confident that members on that side will oppose that approach.

  (1040)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am sitting here shaking my head. We are not really here to discuss the mythology of the Conservatives' economic record. What we are here to discuss, and what is very dangerous, is the fact that the government is trying to shut down parliamentary debate yet again.
    If there is a danger to our parliamentary democracy, it is sitting right across the way. The Conservative government invokes the closure motion to shut down debate over and over again.
    Part of the parliamentary process is that parliamentarians are given an opportunity to speak and to shed light on what the government is trying to do.
    My question is based on the motion that is before us. Why are the Conservatives trying to ram through this bill? What do they have to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, what is curious is that I thought we were here to discuss a budget implementation bill and why it is important for the country. The member is saying that we need to debate the important issues, yet I have not heard one single criticism from the opposition of the major elements of this budget implementation bill.
    The opposition members do not actually want to debate the bill, yet they are calling for more debate. They are not discussing—
    Order, please. On a point of order, the House leader of the official opposition.
    Mr. Speaker, the leader of the government in the House of Commons knows better. He knows exactly what we are here debating, which is the time allocation motion that the Conservatives moved.
    We would like to move this question because it is an important question of the fundamentals of democratic behaviour and how government works. The current government has invoked time allocation 58 times. The Conservatives started this debate today. This is what the debate is about: the current government's heavy-handed tactics when it comes to Parliament. The issue of the bill itself will be debated once we move past this and back to the legislation itself.
    For the Conservatives to pretend this is about something other than the democratic principles of Parliament and how they are ramming through legislation in bill after bill is a fallacy. The government House leader knows this. I would ask that he stay on topic and stay on the anti-democratic point that he started with today.
    I would ask the government House leader to wait just a moment.
    The tradition in the House on motions like this is quite clear. The debate can focus on either the motion itself or on the bill that is the subject of the motion. Any debate today with regard to the motion is in order, and any debate with regard to Bill C-4 is in order.
    I turn the floor back over to the government House leader.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate those wise comments.
    That is exactly the point that I would like to make. It is that we have before us an opportunity to put in place before the end of the year, by scheduling the order in which we are going to do this and ensuring there is a vote, measures to extend and expand the hiring credit for small businesses for an estimated 560,000 employees; measures to increase and index the lifetime capital gains exemption to help small businesses and to help farmers; measures to expand the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy; and measures to freeze employment insurance premiums for three years, benefiting millions of employers and employees.
    Therefore, my question is this when I hear the resistance from the opposition: What is it about those measures that the opposition members do not want them in place by the end of the year? Why is it that they wish to see them delayed and resisted? That is what we are debating here today. We think they should be in place by the end of this year.
    Mr. Speaker, my question is for my friend. There is suddenly this urgency. It seems to me that when the Conservatives were in opposition, they hated these very same tactics because they did not agree with the agenda. Now that it is their agenda, they think the tactics are wonderful—so wonderful, in fact, that they have used them more than any government in Canadian history in invoking closure on debate in the House of Commons and shutting down what happens in this place.
    This bill was so urgent that it took three weeks before the finance committee even picked it up. This bill is so important that it would fix the mistake of the last bill they rammed through Parliament, which was so perfect that it fixed the mistakes of the bill they rammed through Parliament before. At one point, the Conservatives are going to actually learn.
    The member talks about his economic agenda, and, Mr. Speaker, you properly ruled that we can talk about it. All right, the two largest deficits in Canadian history were Conservative deficits. The greatest job losses in the manufacturing sector in Canadian history were Conservative job losses. This is the Conservative record: adding deficits and growing government faster than any government in Canadian history.
    Now the Conservatives stand here and say those things are not true. They are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts, and the facts speak clearly. The current government has shut down debate more than any government in history. This government has added more to the national debt than any government in history. Those are the facts that the Conservatives will have to live with. Those are the facts that we will take to the Canadian public in the next election.

  (1045)  

    Mr. Speaker, the approach of the opposition House leader—not surprisingly, as it is the NDP's economic policy generally—is one that treats Canada as an island. It does not realize that there is actually a global economy out there.
    When we look at that global context, we see that Canada actually has the strongest record. Canada has a deficit that has been cut in half and is on track to having a balanced budget in 2015, ahead of all our other competitor countries. We have far and away the lowest debt per capita, the lowest debt as a proportion of GDP, meaning that we can keep taxes low and have the lowest taxes on investment and new job creation in this country for those who want to come and invest here and create jobs. We have the strongest job creation record of any of those developed economies.
    This is the track record. This is the product of our economic policies. This is why we want to stay on course. This is why we want to see a productive, hard-working, and orderly Parliament approve these economic measures by the end of the year, measures that were introduced almost a year ago in the budget.
    It is time to get on with it, and I look forward to the House doing that today and in the days ahead.

[Translation]

    It is now my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith the question necessary to dispose of the motion now before the House.

[English]

    The Deputy Speaker: 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 Deputy Speaker: All those in favour of the motion will please say yea.
    Some hon. members: Yea.
    The Deputy Speaker: All those opposed will please say nay.
    Some hon. members: Nay.
    The Deputy Speaker: In my opinion the nays have it.
    And five or more members having risen:
    The Deputy Speaker: Call in the members.

  (1125)  

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

(Division No. 18)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Block
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chong
Clarke
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fantino
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Flaherty
Fletcher
Gill
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Holder
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Poilievre
Preston
Rajotte
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Storseth
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)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Young (Oakville)

Total: -- 134

NAYS

Members

Andrews
Angus
Ashton
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Bennett
Benskin
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Boivin
Borg
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Byrne
Caron
Casey
Cash
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Cleary
Comartin
Côté
Crowder
Cullen
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dewar
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Foote
Freeman
Fry
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Hassainia
Hsu
Hughes
Hyer
Jacob
Jones
Julian
Kellway
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Larose
Laverdière
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Marston
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Plamondon
Quach
Rankin
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Saganash
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Sgro
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Stewart
Stoffer
Sullivan
Thibeault
Toone
Tremblay
Trudeau
Turmel
Valeriote

Total: -- 113

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

  (1130)  

Report Stage  

     The House resumed from December 2 consideration of Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the proceedings of the time allocation motion, government orders will be extended by 30 minutes.
    Resuming debate, I will recognize the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak about the Conservative Party's 2013 budget, especially since my colleagues and I have worked very hard to give Canadians the best possible financial plan as part of the federal budget.
    The budget focuses on what is really important to Canadians. It gives Canada the means to stay the course while we focus on Canadians' priorities, namely economic growth, job creation and fiscal balance.
    I especially want to point out the significant financial support in the budget for infrastructure across the country. I am referring in particular to measures such as the gas tax fund, which benefits my riding of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell.

[English]

    Our government has proposed a 10-year funding commitment through the community improvement fund, the new building Canada fund, and the renewed P3 Canada fund. This would build on significant infrastructure funding delivered since 2007 and should be highlighted as we discuss the budget.
     The new building Canada plan would mean stable, long-term funding for important projects, such as roads, bridges, water, waste water, recreational facilities, and other important community infrastructure. This would represent a total of more than $2.7 million across my riding each year through the federal gas tax fund alone.
    Since being elected in 2006, I have listened carefully to my local mayors and their councils. Local infrastructure, particularly roads, is a top priority within my riding for the people of my riding.
    Our Conservative government has extended, doubled, indexed, and made permanent the gas tax fund. These improvements provide predictable, long-term funding for our municipalities. It helps them build and revitalize local public infrastructure while creating jobs and long-term prosperity.

[Translation]

    I recently had the honour of announcing projects that were carried out in my riding through the federal gas tax fund, in the communities of Hawkesbury, Russell and La Nation.
    These municipalities are very pleased with the results. With our resurfaced roads, residents and visitors will enjoy better traffic flow and increased safety in the region for a long time to come.
    In a riding like mine, which hosts visitors and tourists for festivals and special events, sustainable infrastructure offers some solid economic advantages that are very important to growth.

[English]

    I am very honoured to continue serving as the member of Parliament for Glengarry—Prescott—Russell in this 41st Parliament, particularly during this time of growth. My constituents are eager to see the budget implemented, as it means continued growth and prosperity for them.
    The opposition has consistently voted against the implementation of our budgets. They have sent a clear message that they are not listening to the voices of hard-working Canadians. They have voted against our budget measures in the past and will likely vote against this one, even though our track record is one of economic growth and sustainability, which is important to all Canadians.
    Bill C-4 clearly outlines our government's commitment to businesses, which, I might add, create jobs and are a driving economic force in many rural communities, such as mine. I hope the opposition will note that we have committed to extending the hiring credit for small businesses, which are the real job creators. The hiring credit assists employers with a tax credit of up to $1,000 to help cover the cost of hiring new workers. This gives them the opportunity to take advantage of emerging economic opportunities. We would extend the hiring credit because of its success.
    Our economy is improving, thanks to our economic action plan and measures such as the hiring credit. It is not just businesses in my riding that would benefit. In fact, it is estimated that 560,000 small businesses across Canada would benefit from this measure, saving them $225 million in 2013.
    Across my riding, people are also concerned about employment insurance and its sustainability. They are concerned about the effectiveness of the program. These are legitimate concerns that our government has recognized and would address through budget 2013.
    Allow me to explain that in these challenging economic times, our federal government has focused on strengthening our Canadian economy and on job creation. The encouraging news is that since 2009, our economy has created more than one million net new jobs. Ninety per cent of these are full-time jobs, and 75% are in the private sector.

  (1135)  

[Translation]

    Unfortunately, a number of Canadian businesses are having a hard time hiring enough Canadians, even though our employment rate hovers around 7%.
    As a result, businesses are using the temporary foreign worker program to bring qualified people in from other countries to fill their employment needs. Nevertheless, many jobs that could be filled by Canadians remain vacant, and that is why the government must ensure that they are given priority for these jobs.
    In order to increase job opportunities for Canadians, our government took the initiative to change two important programs, as we explained in our budget: the temporary foreign worker program and the employment insurance system.

[English]

    With respect to the temporary foreign worker program, we have adjusted some of the criteria to improve the system. Businesses will need to make a greater effort to hire Canadians. The only acceptable job language requirement is now French or English and businesses must pay a fee of $275 per position requested.
    With respect to employment insurance, Canadians on EI are now expected to accept suitable employment opportunities within their local area. The highest weeks of earnings are now used to calculate EI payments. “Working While on Claim” has been implemented to encourage Canadians to accept some available work while receiving EI benefits provided that they are looking for other work. Additionally, a link between the temporary foreign worker program and EI is being implemented to better connect Canadians to available jobs in their local area.
    In essence, these changes will mean more money in the pockets of hard-working Canadians. We are equipping Canadians in their search for work and adjusting regulations to ensure they can gain more money than before as they search for full-time employment.
    That is not all. Our government recognizes that we are still living in an uncertain global economic environment. This is why we have committed to maintaining a sound fiscal position. Responsible fiscal management is necessary for the sustainability of our public services and ensuring low tax rates for future generations.
    Our federal government will continue to restrain spending growth without cutting transfers to Canadians, including vulnerable persons such as seniors, children and the unemployed. We will restrain growth without cutting transfers to other levels of government in support of health care and social services. Our record clearly speaks for itself in that regard.
    In Ontario alone, for example, our government has increased federal transfers, which includes health care, by more than 200% since 2006. That is over $8 billion in increase. This is tremendous and unprecedented, yet the opposition would have Canadians believe we are cutting support for crucial health care needs when in fact we have increased this funding to record highs.
    We are committing to improving services and achieving efficiency and we will do this while keeping taxes low and enhancing the integrity of the tax system. As a result, the deficit is expected to return to a balanced budget in 2015-16, which will be another tremendous achievement for our government.

[Translation]

    The budget is excellent news for the people of Glengarry—Prescott—Russell and for all Canadians. It sets us on the right track towards economic prosperity.
    I assure the House that we thought long and hard before making our decisions. We made our decisions carefully, after considering the priorities and well-being of Canadians. I urge the opposition to support this bill so it can be passed quickly.

  (1140)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to rise. I would have asked a question, except I have some issues I can pose to the entire Conservative caucus as opposed to any one individual member.
    I want to start off by addressing the comments of the previous speaker about reaching a balanced budget by 2015. That is going to be much easier for the Conservatives because last year, as we understand it, there were $10 billion allocated in the budget they did not spend. There were people who were expecting monies, heritage and other places that was not spent. In other words, the Conservatives broke promises to people, which does not come as a great surprise. Therefore, hallelujah, they are going to announce that we have this money to put toward the deficit, so it is more important to meet this one target than it is to follow through on their commitments to Canadians and Canadian organizations.
     I sat on the finance committee for a period of time through the last omnibus bills and all of the what I would call nothing short of craziness happened at committee as a result of the fact that so many things had been piled on top of the other that actually belonged, in our opinion, in other committees. With Bill C-4, the Conservatives are doing it again.
    Of the last bills that came before that committee, Bill C-38, was the biggest one with which I was involved. It changed the Navigable Waters Act, the Environmental Assessment Act and all kinds of things that a person outside this place would ask what it had to do with the budget. The fact was it did not. It was just a tactic on the part of the government to jam things together to get it through as fast as it could, to keep it from being at committees where it could receive the proper scrutiny by members and the witnesses who could bring the expertise before the committee to fortify the situation.
    Before the prorogation, we were dealing with Bill C-54 about the not criminally responsible. Some of the witnesses who came from the health community said that nobody in the psychiatric community was asked about that bill. All of this is symptomatic of what is happening with the government in the sense of not wanting to hear from anyone, MPs or anyone else.
    My view and the view of the New Democratic Party is that committees are there to make bills better. We are there to help the government. The government brings forward a bill and we have a critique of it and recommendations, which are called amendments, never see the light of day because they are voted down at committee or motions are passed at committee to limit the time we have. If we do not meet that time allocation, anything that has not been voted on is deemed to have failed. Therefore, we could have a list of 25 good quality amendments and Conservatives will not even listen to them.
    That anti-democratic aspect limits the ability of the sincere efforts of the House to try to improve legislation in a way that is just baffling. How in the world can Conservatives justify shutting out information, even if it is not from us? Information from the public or from experts in any given field relative to the budget or relative to those things that have been piled into the budget, how can they shut that down without giving it any consideration?
    It makes us wonder what is behind the agenda. This is not new. As I said, it happened with Bills C-38, C-45, C-60. Other speakers today talked about the fact that all of those bills had some blatant mistakes that successive bills had to correct.
    I am troubled again by the fact the Canadian Federation of Municipalities warned the current government and the previous government about a deficit in infrastructure to the tune of somewhere between $175 billion and $200 billion that needed to be taken care of now. Look at the situation with the bridge in Montreal, and we understand how desperate it can get really quickly.
    It looks like some interim work has been done to repair the bridge and get the traffic flowing, but stepping back from that, we have almost $200 billion elsewhere in our country that deserves support. I believe the Minister of Finance has said that there is $800 billion of dead capital that businesses are holding onto for a couple of reasons. There is some sensibility to what they are doing because in 2008 they had trouble getting money from the banks. We had the lowest interest rates practically in the history of our country, so why was the government not taking 10-year bonds and partnering with the business community to start addressing some of the infrastructure needs?

  (1145)  

    In my community of Hamilton, we are near desperate on sewage. I hear of figures somewhere close to $200 billion of a deficit on Hamilton sewage. Basements of houses on certain streets in Hamilton flood every time there is a serious rainfall. They cannot even get insurance anymore. It is very clear for us.
    The previous speaker made reference to temporary foreign workers. The figures I have may not be precise but they are certainly close. Two or three years ago we had roughly 240,000 new immigrants to Canada. They have support here. They have a sponsor who is responsible for all of their costs for 10 years, so there is no liability to us for them. However, in that period there were 241,000 temporary workers.
    The temporary worker program was initially put in as support for the farmers. There was lots of work Canadians did not want to do and farmers needed help, and that program was originally set up to bring them in. Then all of a sudden, certain aspects of the business community woke up to the fact that they could pay temporary foreign workers less money and they would not have obligations to them. By the way, because they are here on a temporary permit, if they do not do exactly what they want, they get to go home really quickly. People from other countries come here. They are very dependent on money to help their families back home. It is a very insecure situation and they are being abused by the government and employers in Canada. That is shameful. There is no other word for it.
    From my perspective, to hear the Conservatives talk about some modest change, I would love to have seen that at the immigration committee, to talk about temporary foreign workers and to look at that program in-depth, to step back from it and make some suggestions to help with that, but that opportunity was not afforded to us.
    Going a little further on this, Bill C-4, as previous omnibus bills, piled together amendments to over 70 laws. One of them is the Public Service labour relations employment board act. That is a new addition. Another one is the Mackenzie gas project impacts fund act.
    Why do we need a new act for labour relations when we have had labour relations in the country between the public service workers and the government for many decades? Why do the Conservatives suddenly need to change that? If we do need to change it, why is it not done through the appropriate department and the appropriate committee rather than a budget bill? It sounds like somebody is up to something. If I were a worker, with the number of cuts there has been to the public service workers already, I would be a little nervous just about the title of that bill.
    Contained in Bill C-4 are very vicious anti-worker and anti-veteran measures. I never thought I would stand in the House of Commons in our country and say our government has anti-veteran policies.
    The Conservatives have made changes to health and safety protection for workers. My time is running out and I have not even started my speech, but this is part of the give and take in this place. The last speaker spoke about some things that drew my attention to it, but if I have to close, I am certainly proud to close on defending veterans.
    There is a Veterans Review and Appeal Board. We have seen day in and day out in the media of late where the ombudsman has spoken out in defence of veterans saying that they are not getting the health care or the protection they deserve and there are numerous budget cuts to that department. That is shameful. One thing Parliament must stand for is the veterans of our country.
    This is an anti-worker, anti-veteran bill and it is absolutely shameful.

  (1150)  

    Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the statements and submissions made by the member. I certainly appreciate his input into this process.
    I do want to clarify a comment he made about the temporary foreign worker program not having ever been studied. The member needs to do a bit more work in terms of his research if he is going to make statements like that. As the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for approximately five years, I can say that the committee studied the issue of temporary foreign workers on a regular basis. It reviewed the issue of temporary foreign workers. It accessed a policy and regulatory review of the temporary foreign worker program. I spent countless hours travelling across this country listening to small business and businesses in the provinces of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia right across to British Columbia. There is substantive and very aggressive review of the program done on a regular basis at the committee level, within the ministry, and across the country.
    I would like to give the member the opportunity to acknowledge, whether he agrees or disagrees with the direction the government takes, that the review takes place and that he clarify his comments.
    Mr. Speaker, if members listen to the tone of my voice they will know that I definitely have a cold which, as a result, is causing a bit of a distraction.
    I do agree with the parliamentary secretary that there has been a review. I should have said that there had not been an effective review relative to the problems that have been raised.
    For the continuation of this program, I would suggest to the parliamentary secretary that from the indications coming to us, there is more work to be done. I see the parliamentary secretary is nodding his head. Again, I would be quite satisfied if his committee were to look at this and review it. That is the point we are trying to make: it should not have been part of a budget bill.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his speech. Although he has a cold, he was on point and very clear.
    We are used to seeing this government move to pass omnibus legislation and push through any piece of legislation in an omnibus bill. The proof is that we have a bill before us that will correct the mistakes made in using this approach. We know that this bill does not give Canadians the right to a healthy and safe workplace. However, in the NDP, we are convinced that no worker should have to jeopardize his or her health and safety to be able to work.
    Does my colleague not think that this bill will put all powers related to health and safety into the minister's hands?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the health and safety legislation of this country was put together through tripartite negotiations among government, employers, and labour. A consensus was reached, often after fatalities and after very serious issues with respect to industrial-related diseases.
    All of those things that have brought us to this stage of protection for workers are crucial every day. I do not know if the House is aware, but a worker is killed in Canada almost every day of the workweek. Roughly 300 workers are killed a year. Anything that could potentially impede that should certainly not be in a budget bill.
    If it is deemed urgent that we talk about that issue, the human resources committee should look at it and study it in depth, because if we are going to make changes, we should be including all three players at the table when we discuss it.

  (1155)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-4, our Conservative government's plan for securing Canada's future.
    This economic action plan focuses on the things that matter to Canadians: jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. In budget 2013, we are connecting Canadians with available jobs, helping our manufacturing and business sectors succeed in the global economy, investing in research and innovation, and supporting the building blocks of this great nation: families and communities.
    What I would like to focus on specifically today in this budget implementation bill are our efforts to support job creators, streamline systems, close tax loopholes and prevent tax evasion, and demonstrate respect for taxpayers' dollars.
    Bill C-4 covers a broad number of acts of Parliament, so what I intend to highlight in the relatively brief time I have to speak are some aspects of this bill that stand out for me and will resonate with Canadians.
    Let me start with the lifetime capital gains exemption. The lifetime capital gains exemption exists to reward Canadians for investing in small businesses and makes it easier for the owners to pass their businesses along to their children.
    Our Conservative government believes strongly in supporting small business people and entrepreneurs, and that is why we are increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption by $50,000. It will be effective for the 2014 tax year and it will increase with inflation each year after that.
    We understand that it is important to reward hard work, allow Canadians to keep more of their own wealth, and support family businesses, and that is what this measure accomplishes.
    Now let me talk about the accelerated capital gains allowance for clean energy generation equipment.
    Bill C-4 will modify the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment. The capital cost allowance regime under the income tax system can be accelerated for some clean energy generation equipment. To further encourage businesses to invest in clean energy generation and clean energy equipment, our Conservative government is expanding the biogas production equipment that is eligible for inclusion under this regime.
    I believe there is a bright future for clean energy in Canada. Measures like these are paving the way for a better future, one in which we will rely less on antiquated technology and will move into an era of cleaner energy.
    These measures will expand eligible waste to include pulp and paper waste, winery and distillery waste, and separated organics from municipal waste. This measure will also expand eligibility under the tax regime to include all types of cleaning and upgrading equipment used to treat eligible waste.
    Now I would like to speak about restricted farm losses. Canadians understand that farmers feed our communities and play an important role in the food security of this country. We honour their hard work and we give them all the support they deserve.
    That is why our Conservative government is increasing the restricted farm loss limit to $17,500 of deductible farm losses annually. We realize the sacrifices farmers make to work their land and we understand that for reasons beyond anyone's control, production will not be the same from year to year. That is why we have taken this measure.
    At the same time, Bill C-4 will carry an amendment to clarify that taxpayers' other sources of income must be less than their farming income in order to take advantage of the full farm losses deduction.
    Our Conservative government aims to protect farmers from unexpected losses. We are taking this measure to ensure that the bulk of these resources are aimed at those farmers for whom farming is the bulk of their livelihood.

  (1200)  

    I would also like to speak about software for the electronic suppression of sales.
    We know that the best way to get ahead is to work hard and play by the rules, but unfortunately some people in our society feel they can cheat the system with impunity. The vast majority of businesses in the country are run by honest and hard-working Canadians, but for those very few people who have decided not to pay their fair share, we are introducing criminal offences and monetary fines under the Income Tax Act that are specifically aimed at combatting tax evasion software. This software is designed with one intention in mind: to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion. People who use electronic suppression of sales software would be subject to any of a number of new penalties.
    In terms of administrative monetary penalties, anyone who uses electronic suppression software would be liable for a penalty of $5,000 for the first use and an additional $5,000 for any subsequent use. If a person possesses or acquires this illegal software, there would be a penalty of $5,000 for the first offence and a fine of $50,000 for any subsequent offence.
    Of course, in this bill we reserve the toughest measures for those who have decided to manufacture and sell these illegal products. It is more than just unscrupulous to make money from selling a product that allows people to engage in tax evasion, thereby skewing the playing fields for all businesses. For a first offence, the developer or the seller of such software would be fined $10,000; for a subsequent offence, this would rise to $50,000.
    In terms of criminal offences, the possession, use, acquisition, manufacture, development, or sale of this illegal software by a person could be dealt with on summary conviction, which would entail a fine of between $10,000 and $100,000 or a prison term of up to two years or both. If there is a conviction on an indictment, the fine would be between $50,000 and $100,000 or a prison term of up to five years or both.
    This may seem excessive to some, but when talking with business people in my riding of Calgary Northeast, which is of course the hardest-working riding in Canada, they will say that when some business people cheat the system, it creates an uneven playing field for everyone, especially those who choose to work hard and play by the rules. If we ask our business people to play by the rules and they do so, then we have a duty to protect their interests from those who would lie, cheat, and steal to get ahead.
    Now I would like to talk about the hiring credit for small businesses in 2013, which brings me to another portion of our government's budget bill, Bill C-4.
    In budget 2011, our government announced a temporary hiring credit for small businesses of up to $1,000 per employee. We did this under the realization that small businesses drive growth in our economy and provide substantial amounts of employment across Canada. In a time of global economic uncertainty, we know that supporting small businesses is essential. The hiring credit provides financial relief, offsetting the costs of hiring a new employee for a small business.
    In 2012, we extended this hiring credit again. Now we remain in a time of economic uncertainty. Despite the fact that Canada's economy is on track and improving steadily, we have to remain vigilant about market forces outside our control. It is for that reason that we intend to extend the hiring credit for small businesses again this year.
    Finally, I would like to talk about the temporary foreign worker program and how our Conservative government is streamlining the temporary foreign worker program.
    Our changes involve giving the program the ability to electronically administer and enforce the temporary foreign worker program. This would include the use of electronic signatures, enabling secure online payment for the LMO process and eliminating the need to retain large amounts of paper.
    I am personally pleased that we are taking this step. Streamlining the temporary foreign worker program would allow small and medium enterprises in Canada to hire workers more efficiently going forward. This is essential to our economy.

  (1205)  

    In closing, I call on members of the opposition parties to support Bill C-4 and implement this budget as quickly as possible. As I mentioned earlier, Canada's economy is on the right track. Let us support it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, since I will be taking the floor soon, I will come back to some aspects of the speech we just heard.
    That said, I would like to have the member who just spoke explain something to me. When the Conservatives took office, Canada had a surplus of $26 billion. However, as of today, they have managed to transform this surplus into a deficit, which is now $62 billion. When they came to power we had a trade surplus, and now we have a trade deficit.
    How does the member explain this?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is astonishing to hear from the member, who has never supported any trade in this country, nor has his party. Speaking of trade, this is the government and the party that has signed the most free trade agreements in this country. This is a government whose focus is negotiating and completing more trade agreements, because we believe that free trade agreements create jobs, bring employment to Canada, and make Canadians prosper.
    Mr. Speaker, we heard past speakers talk about the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. When the budget was released in the spring, it stated:
    Today's budget delivers significant gains for Canada's cities and communities. We applaud the government for choosing to continue moving our communities forward even as it meets its immediate fiscal challenges....
    This is also a budget that delivers real gains for Canadians.... [I]t will spur growth and job creation while laying the foundation for a more competitive economy.
     As I know in the Yukon, because of the gas tax funds, indexed and now made permanent, our communities are able to project and plan for their own future needs and destinies. The City of Whitehorse, as an example, is receiving nearly $7 million in gas tax funds. Smaller communities are receiving half a million dollars to invest in important infrastructure.
    I wonder if my colleague could share some of the experiences of his communities that receive gas tax funds. What are his comments on their wise investments and on the comments by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague has already answered the question, in a way.
    In Calgary Northeast and in the city of Calgary itself, it is very well received that this is the government that took decisive action. This is the government that made this gas tax fund permanent, and this is the government that indexed the gas tax to inflation. This government believes that the real people on the ground are the municipalities and councillors who know the issues and where the bucks should go. We are making the gas tax permanent so that they can make their long-term plans.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the speech by my colleague opposite and I am not surprised that the Conservatives are still proclaiming loud and clear how good they are in economics.
    However, I have a question for my colleague opposite. The Auditor General revealed that the Conservatives had lost $3.1 billion. Nearly six months later, they still do not know where the money has gone. What is worse, the debt continues to grow. The deficit in 2012-13 was almost $19 billion.
    How can my colleague claim that the government is good in economics?

  (1210)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is surprising that the member opposite was listening to my closing remarks. I urge her to listen to what Catherine Swift, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said:
    In a poll of the CFIB's members, the tax credit was chosen as the most popular measure from the last budget.... Everybody looks at that and says, “Well, a thousand bucks isn't much, but every little bit helps.” We know it was meaningful.
    Hopefully my colleague from the other side has heard that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to speak to this issue today on behalf of the people of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou.
    The sad thing is that I have to give this speech against a backdrop of time allocation and restriction of debate. For the 58th time, the government is limiting the time we can take to discuss the important measures in the budget.
    I would like to read a quotation I found that goes like this:
    For the government to bring in closure and time allocation is wrong. It sends out the wrong message to the people of Canada. It tells the people of Canada that the government is afraid of debate, afraid of discussion and afraid of publicly justifying the steps it has taken.
    Who said that? The former minister of Public Safety.
    I should also point out that the government wanted to prorogue Parliament for a month to rework its policies. I have nothing against that. I think the government's political agenda could use a drastic overhaul. The government asked for an extra month to revamp its whole agenda. Unfortunately, what we are seeing now is the same old, same old. The more things change, the more they stay the same on the other side of the House.
    As for the budget, that too is just more of the same. This is another omnibus bill that does not meet my constituents' needs and does not offer the transparency Canadians are entitled to. The Conservatives failed to recognize the mistake they made with their previous omnibus budget bills. For the fourth time, they are doing their utmost to rush major changes through without adequate study by Parliament. The really astonishing thing is that they are doing it despite the fact that some of the provisions in this bill are there to fix mistakes that the government made by rushing the previous budget implementation bill through the process. That is a real shame, but that is what they are doing.

[English]

    To put the cherry on top of the sundae of mediocrity, this is not the first time the Conservatives have used one omnibus budget bill to fix a previous one. One might think that after the first time, they might have taken a step back, taken a deep breath, reflected a bit, and decided not to repeat the same failed approach. One would think that they would have learned from their mistakes and would have gone in a different direction. Sadly, this is not what the government did in this case. No, it stared failure in the face, and when its mistakes were apparent, it decided to double down and continue its secretive ways.
    This is not an approach that builds confidence among our constituents in our government institutions. Given the PMO's growing scandal involving the other place, one might think that the Conservatives would jump at the chance to build some confidence among Canadians, but no, it has not.

[Translation]

    One thing that concerns me about the bill is the amendments to the Supreme Court Act. Some people might be wondering what the Supreme Court Act is doing in the budget. They are not alone. One does not have to be an expert on constitutional law to know that these two things have absolutely nothing to do with one another. Why are these amendments being included in this bill?
    The government made another legislative blunder when it appointed Justice Nadon to the Supreme Court. Mr. Nadon worked for 20 years in the federal courts but never in a Quebec court, as stipulated in the criteria. This should not have been a problem. No government has ever made that mistake before. However, once again, the Conservatives thumbed their noses at these criteria. It is a bit like the Conservative government's appointment of a senator from Prince Edward Island who is still not eligible for a provincial health card because he is not considered a resident of that province. However, that is one of the basic criteria a person must meet in order to become a senator. Whoops. That is another story that I will perhaps have a chance to speak about another time.

  (1215)  

    In the case of Justice Nadon, the government should have admitted that it made a mistake and appointed another judge from Quebec who meets the criteria, as it did in the case of Justice Wagner last year. Is that what the government did? Unfortunately not. On the contrary, the Conservatives decided to charge ahead with their appointment and then try to fix their mistake by quietly slipping amendments to the Supreme Court Act into the current budget bill, while inviting Quebec to challenge the appointment before the courts.
    The Supreme Court is a non-partisan institution that should unite Canadians, not divide them. The Conservatives have found a new way to cause division, though.
    I am very concerned about the government's approach. This unilateral action is not going to resolve the problems raised by Quebec with regard to its representation on the Supreme Court, nor is it going to encourage the public to trust the government's ability to govern in a responsible and effective manner.

[English]

    I could go on for hours talking about the flaws and the problems with the bill, but I will save some for my colleagues in the official opposition to talk about.
    The Conservatives prorogued Parliament and told Canadians to wait an extra month for Parliament to resume so that they could reset their policy agenda. However, the bill before us is a clear sign that the Conservatives are stuck in the mud, with more of the same tired agenda that has failed to address the real priorities of my constituents and all Canadians.
    We have a word for that in my Cree language: Wa nay ta siuch.

[Translation]

     It means someone who makes a mistake. However, there is also Wa nay ta siuch.

[English]

    It means that they do not know what they are doing. That is what is happening here.
    Canadians deserve much better than what the Conservatives are offering, and as such, I cannot support the bill. I cannot support the Conservatives' attempt to evade scrutiny by this Parliament and all Canadians. I am proud to oppose this budget and its implementation bill, unless it is changed and corrected.
     It is not too late for the Conservatives to see the light and finally address the real priorities of Canadian families by creating quality, well-paid jobs; ensuring a secure retirement; fostering opportunities for young people; and making life more affordable for families.
    I urge my colleagues on the other side to seize this opportunity, this chance, to get this right. Change course and work with us to make a budget bill that will truly help Canadians from coast to coast to coast.
    Mr. Speaker, the last bit of my hon. colleague's comments was that we should “change course”.
    I wonder if he thinks we should change course on meeting the needs of the north, including $890 million in transfer payments that go into the Yukon Territory to allow it to shape its own future and destiny. I wonder if he thinks we should change course on the $600 million investment in the housing first approach we have taken, or if we should change course on the largest and longest infrastructure project in Canada's history, or if we should change course on what Canadian colleges are hailing as a great investment in post-secondary education in those institutions in our country.
     I wonder if the member would want us to change course on the permanence and indexing of the gas tax fund, which the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said is a wonderful achievement allowing Canadian municipalities to determine their own fates and futures. I wonder if he wants us to change course on a renewed P3 plan, incremental goods and services tax rebates, and the lowest tax burden in over 50 years.
    I wonder if he would like us to change course on all those things, when third-party endorsement of the 2013 budget has been the best we have ever seen in the history of budgets released in this country.

  (1220)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Yukon for the question.
    Like him, I represent a riding that is considered a northern riding. I completely understand his comment regarding the specific needs of ridings like mine. The change I am proposing relates to the fact that I have a hard time understanding many things about this government.
    Consider, for example, the trade deficit we currently have. We went from a $26-billion surplus to a $62-billion deficit. I have a problem with that, because we could be doing more for northerners.
    I am responding to the member, and he is leaving.
    Over the last six years, the public debt has increased by over $100 billion. This government is responsible for the largest budget deficit in Canadian history. I have a problem with that, and that is what I want to change.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that Conservative members stand up, whether in their speeches or their questions, and the first thing they go to is the spin given to them through the Prime Minister's Office, that this is all related strictly to the budget. One of the things we need to recognize with Bill C-4 is that even though it is a budget bill, it incorporates substantial changes to many different pieces of legislation. As a direct result, what should have been stand-alone pieces of legislation are not being given the type of debate and oversight that they should be given.
    My question for the member is related to the unfortunate fact that the government has brought in so much other legislation through the budget bill. Would he like to give his opinion on what he feels is right or wrong with regard to bringing in that legislation through the back door of a budget bill?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my speech, the problem with this kind of omnibus bill is that we do not have the opportunity to debate these important issues, not to mention the time limits that are being imposed on debate.
    Accordingly, not only can we not debate all of these legislative changes separately in committee, but we even have time restrictions imposed on our debates here. I find this tactic undemocratic.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I wish to speak in support of clauses 471 and 472 of the economic action plan 2013, no. 2, which would add declaratory provisions to the Supreme Court Act. These declaratory provisions have been introduced to clarify the criteria for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada. In particular, the intent of these provisions is to clarify that an individual who was at any time a barrister or advocate of at least 10 years standing at the bar of a province would be eligible for appointment to the Supreme Court of Canada. This would remove any doubt regarding the eligibility of accomplished judges of Canada's Federal Court for appointment to the Supreme Court.

[Translation]

    Normally, the purpose of legislative amendments is to enact new provisions or to amend existing provisions to change the outcome of the provisions they replace or amend.
    By their very nature, the proposed declaratory provisions will specify the correct interpretation of the law since its enactment. Basically, the wording reinforces the meaning of this law and makes it easier to understand.
    The Supreme Court of Canada recently explained the impact of these declaratory provisions. In its 2013 ruling in Régie des rentes du Québec v. Canada Bread Company Ltd., the court stated the following:
    The interpretation imposed by a declaratory provision stretches back in time to the date when the legislation it purports to interpret first came into force, with the effect that the legislation in question is deemed to have always included this provision. Thus, the interpretation so declared is taken to have always been the law...
    In accordance with the purpose of a declaratory provision, clauses 471 and 472 of the bill confirm the fundamental requirement that judges must fulfill to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. According to the current wording, these provisions specify that, the clauses authorize Federal Court justices to be appointed to vacant positions representing Quebec in the Supreme Court of Canada, provided that they have at least 10 years standing as members of the Barreau du Québec.
    Consequently, former and current members of the Barreau du Québec will be treated in the same manner as former and current members of the bar of any province. The purpose is to have uniformity and equality for all provincial bars.

  (1225)  

[English]

    The Government of Canada is of the view that there is no doubt that Federal Court judges are eligible to fill any vacancy on the Supreme Court. This view is shared by former Supreme Court justices, the Hon. Ian Binnie and the Hon. Louise Charron, as well as the noted constitutional expert, Professor Peter Hogg.
    During its study of clauses 471 and 472, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights also heard evidence from Professor Benoît Pelletier, who was supportive of the government's position. The committee of the other place heard from the former Supreme Court justice, the Hon. Michel Bastarache, who also agreed with the government's interpretation.

[Translation]

    Former Quebec minister of intergovernmental affairs and constitutional expert Benoît Pelletier, was very clear about the interpretation:
    The interpretation that I believe prevails, or should prevail, when examining the spirit of the provision, is that, essentially, it is sufficient to have been a member of the bar for 10 years. But, one might not be a member today. It would not make sense to interpret the Supreme Court Act as disqualifying from the outset all justices of the Federal Court. It is an interpretation which, in my opinion, does not hold up.

[English]

    It should be no surprise that so many leading experts agree with the government's view. As the Minister of Justice noted in his remarks to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding these very provisions, Federal Court experience is a strong asset for any candidate to the Supreme Court precisely because the Supreme Court regularly hears appeals from decisions of the Federal Court.
    As the members of the House are well aware, judges of the Federal Court have served and continue to serve with distinction on the Supreme Court.

[Translation]

    Furthermore, the Honourable Robert Décary, former Federal Court of Appeal justice, recently said, in the October 25, 2013 edition of La Presse, that by suggesting that Federal Court justices with civil law training do not have the civil experience required by section 6, does not take into account the increasing interdependence of Quebec, Canadian and international law.

[English]

    I know that none of the Federal Court judges who have been appointed to the Supreme Court to date were appointed as members from the courts of Quebec. However, Federal Court judges ought not to be treated differently and excluded from consideration for appointment to the Supreme Court simply because after their many years of practising law in Quebec, they joined the Federal Court bench.
     In keeping with the principle of bijuralism, the Federal Court justices must regularly interpret the Civil Code of Quebec when they apply federal laws in areas such as tax, copyright and bankruptcy in deciding matters that arise from Quebec.
    However, despite the weight of expert opinion, some have continued to question the eligibility of Federal Court judges for appointment to the Supreme Court, particularly as members of the court from Quebec. In order to resolve this critical issue as soon as possible, the government has referred the matter to the Supreme Court of Canada.
     In the meantime, Bill C-4 was determined to be the quickest method of clarifying the Supreme Court Act to guarantee that Federal Court judges can be considered in the process of filling upcoming Supreme Court vacancies, the first of which will arise next year. These declaratory provisions clarify, without making substantive changes to the law, that individuals with at least 10 years at any bar in Canada, including the Quebec bar, at any time during their career would be eligible to sit on the Supreme Court of Canada. Enacting these provisions would ensure that the Supreme Court would have the benefit of Parliament's declared intent of sections 5 and 6 of the Supreme Court Act when it renders its advisory opinion on these reference questions that have been put to it.
    For these reasons, I am opposed to the amendment to delete clauses 471 and 472 of Bill C-4.

  (1230)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to remind anyone watching at home that we are debating this bill under time allocation. This is the 58th time that this Conservative government has limited the time we have to debate its bills in the House. I think it is shameful that the government is limiting our ability to represent our constituents in this way.
    I would also like to remind the government that it increased taxes last year, which hurts the people I represent in my riding of Rivière-des-Mille-Îles. It increased taxes on hospital parking fees. This means that the families who want to visit sick loved ones at the hospital in Saint-Eustache have to pay more for parking. That is completely unacceptable and backwards. Could my colleague speak to that?
    Mr. Speaker, I have a hard time seeing the connection between that question and my speech, but as soon as Justice Nadon is confirmed as a Supreme Court justice, he will be able to quickly focus on all of these kinds of issues.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the member's speech. He might have heard the previous questions that I put to the government on this, regarding the size of the bill and the amount of other forms of legislation that are being changed.
    My question is related to just that. I wonder if the member would be able to reflect on some of the changes that are included in the bill, which will have a fairly profound impact on labour standards here in Canada, and some of those changes in immigration, if he is in a position where he could provide comments on those issues.
    Mr. Speaker, obviously, the bill may be large in its scope but the Government of Canada deals with many different issues, and all changes will be in the best interests of the people of Canada.
    The government gets its mandate, its democracy from the people of Canada. This is why we are moving forward with the bill, to make sure that we create prosperity and jobs, and that Canadians all benefit from a greater quality of life.
    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if my hon. colleague would comment on two things.
    We have heard the opposition criticizing time allocation. I have been here for most of this debate, and I have seen some of our members stand in the House to present the government's position and not even be asked a question. Debate needs two sides of a position, and the opposition has not engaged in questioning.
    To move on to something more salient, could my hon. colleague comment on the hiring credit for small businesses and the estimated $225 million in job creation that small businesses will be able to make, or the estimated $660 million in 2014 when we are dealing with the EI premium rates?
    I think those are two excellent investments, excellent ways of making sure that workers and job creators are able to reinvest in the things that they know are significant in helping employ people and helping spur growth in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, the member sees that the mandate of the government is to create jobs and prosperity, and to stimulate the economy.
    It is through the will of the people via the election of this government that this takes place. Obviously small businesses are the heart and engine of the economy through the labour of their many owners. They create many more jobs and feed many more families. Prosperity is always accomplished when the government stays out of the way of hard-working Canadians and they have the liberty to spend their money as they see fit, because they can judge better than us.
    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to speak at third reading of Bill C-4, an act to implement measures contained in budget 2013. The bill fails to address the very real challenges faced by the middle class in Canada and those wanting to join the middle class.
    For the past 30 years, governments of all stripes have been elected and re-elected in Canada on a similar economic platform: fiscal discipline; investment in infrastructure, research and skills; openness to trade; and tax competitiveness. Middle-class Canadians and those wanting to become part of it supported this agenda because they were promised it would create shared prosperity; but this has not happened. While the economy has more than doubled in size in the past 30 years, middle-class incomes have increased by only 13%. If we do not solve this problem, Canadians will eventually withdraw their support and we will all be worse off as a result.
    Canadians who have lower incomes have an even greater stake in the well-being of the middle class. Today, Canadians feel it is more likely that they will fall from the middle class into poverty, rather than rise out of poverty into the middle class. The bill does little to help the economy and to create jobs. In fact, the so-called job measures in the bill are just a continuation of the status quo, which simply is not good enough. My riding needs jobs, and our young people need jobs.
    Previously the government introduced a jobs training program, shortly after the last budget, but the program is still not running because the government forgot to talk to the provinces. Therefore, there is no jobs training program. While the government spent millions of dollars advertising the program, I repeat, there is no program. This is a government that invests money in self-promotion, but does not “get the job done” when it comes to putting in place the kinds of measures to create jobs and good training to help close the job skills gap.
    The only indicator that has grown apace with GDP for the middle class is household debt. Middle-class Canadians are rightly worried about their finances as they face record levels of personal debt, amounting to $1.66 for every dollar of disposable income. They are struggling to make ends meet while interest rates are low and are rightly concerned about what will happen in the future if interest rates start to rise.
    One of the driving forces behind this accumulation of household debt is the financial subsidization of adult children who cannot yet make it on their own. These young people are unable to pay rent and are forced to live at home. In fact, 43% of Canadian families have financially subsidized young people who have lived for extended periods of time at home with them because they cannot make ends meet. Sadly, young Canadians have been left behind during this so-called economic recovery. That is, they still have 225,000 fewer jobs than before the downturn.
    I saw the lack of jobs for young people first-hand, day after day this summer. I had university graduates who came in to get help after being out of school and out of work for two years. I had grandparents who came on behalf of their grandchildren, the first in the family to graduate from university and college, asking why they had fled their country of origin to come to Canada, the land of promise, so their children could have an education. Now they have education and they still do not have a job.
    The people in my constituency need jobs, and I have worked hard to get them jobs. In fact, I obtained funding for a completing the circle program, a $500,000 jobs program in our community. I personally review and edit resumés late into the night, sometimes doing two and three drafts. We get our people into jobs programs. We follow up with them to make sure their job searches are going in the right direction, and while they search, we help them with food, clothing and whatever other supports they might need. We should all remember that we have seen a 31% increase in food bank usage since 2008. At critical times, I have personally bought bedding, food, furniture and medicine.

  (1235)  

    Therefore, it was particularly hard to hear from service providers that federal funding was being cut for job and training programs in our Etobicoke North community. My community depends on these jobs programs. We cannot afford to have them shut down. That is why I contacted the minister's office. I hope this will be rectified.
    What I was looking for in the budget, first and foremost, was real help for the people of Etobicoke North for jobs. Instead, we have 308 pages, with 472 separate clauses amending dozens of different pieces of legislation. It is another anti-democratic omnibus bill meant to limit debate and ram through as much unrelated legislation as the government can get through Parliament.
    Once again my constituents are saddened by the fact that this is an omnibus bill with multiple sections that were deserving of full and proper hearings in committee and full parliamentary scrutiny.
    While Conservative members claim, based on their talking points, that omnibus bills are nothing new, it is only under the current Prime Minister that we have seen omnibus budget bills that top 200 pages. The 2010 omnibus budget bill was almost 900 pages. In 2012, the Conservative government started a new practice of putting forward two omnibus budget bills. Canadians will remember Bill C-38, the 400-plus page omnibus budget implementation bill, which sprung sweeping changes on our country, affecting everything from employment insurance, environmental protection, immigration, old age security to even the oversight that charities receive. None of these changes were in the Conservative platform. They were rushed into law by “an arrogant majority government that's in a hurry to impose its agenda on the country”.
    One newspaper stated that omnibus bills are:
...political sleight-of-hand and message control, and it appears to be an accelerating trend. These shabby tactics keep Parliament in the dark, swamp MPs with so much legislation that they can't absorb it all, and hobble scrutiny. This is not good, accountable, transparent government.
    Canadians should remember that in 1994, the hon. member for Calgary Southwest, today's Prime Minister, criticized omnibus legislation, suggesting that the subject matter of such bills is so diverse that a single vote to the content would put members in conflict with their own principles and that dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent the views of their constituents on each part of the bill. The right hon. member is now using the very tactics he once denounced. It is a shame that he changed his tune when he was elected to the highest office in the land.
    There are similarities among the government's omnibus bills. Over and over we see, for example, increasing ministerial discretion, reducing objective criteria, and removing agencies and boards. Canadians should be deeply concerned by these similarities in different omnibus bills and by yet another of the government's end runs around the democratic process.
    For the people of Etobicoke North and for young people across Canada, Bill C-4 offers very little. My constituents and Canadians need better and deserve better.

  (1240)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for her comments. She is certainly a sincere and caring member of Parliament for her riding.
    What is interesting is that she is representing a party that is pushing its support for the middle class but has club privilege, whereby if people simply make a small donation of $100,000 they can be part of that club privilege and can get their picture taken with the current leader of the party. That hardly smells of middle-class care and concern.
    I do want to read a comment that we got from a college in respect to job training, because the member did mention a lot about job training. It states:
    This budget sends the clearest message yet that colleges are the best catalyst for job opportunity in this country. We applaud the federal government for making these commitments at a time of fiscal restraint....
    I wonder if the member would comment on what she is hearing in her riding from colleges and industry about the job training plans that we are putting forward. I know in the Yukon, our investment in budget 2013 for the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining singled that college out as a key driver for jobs and growth in our territory, as well as the Aurora College in the Northwest Territories. I am sure she has experienced the exact same thing with colleges in her riding.

  (1245)  

    Mr. Speaker, colleges, universities, and training are important. They are fundamental drivers, but if our kids, our students, cannot get jobs afterwards, it is a problem.
    I had students come to my constituency office every day this past summer. They have been out of school for two years. They have been out of work for two years. The system is not working.
     I will give an example. We had a lady looking for help. She was in agony due to an ear infection that had raged for three weeks. She had pus and blood running down her face. The sad reality is that she could not afford antibiotics because she could not find a job.
    I have MS patients begging for help because they cannot afford their drugs, which are $25,000 to $50,000 a year. Instead of taking them daily, they are taking them once a week.
    My question is: How many more stories are there out there? The bill does not get the promised jobs. We are 225,000 jobs short for our students.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, over the past 35 years, under both Conservative and Liberal governments, the income of 20% of Canadians—the richest—has increased, while the income of the other 80% of Canadians has decreased.
    How does the member explain that? What would she do differently from what her party has done in the past?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we actually had a poverty-reduction strategy. We are fighting very hard for incomes and equality.
    The hon. member asks me one thing I would do. It would be to feed our children in school. There are 169 countries that feed their children every day. Some have had national breakfast programs for 50 or 60 years. Canada does not.
    In Toronto, we feed over 180,000 children every morning in our city, because 42% of elementary school students go to school hungry and 62% of secondary students go to school hungry. Hungry children cannot learn. It can affect long-term development and it can affect their achieving their full potential in life.
    We need a national breakfast program in this country.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a privilege for me to contribute to the debate on Bill C-4. It is a very comprehensive piece of legislation and goes a long way toward keeping Canada at the level it has already achieved, not by Canada's standards but by international standards, which is the number one place to do business in the world.
    That is remarkable. Canadians are not used to being number one. We are kind of modest people and have kept quiet about that, but the reality is that being number one in the world is no small task and did not happen by accident. It happened because of very deliberate actions. The actions we have taken over the last number of years since the great recession in 2008 have put us in this position, and our position is unique.
    I go to Washington to deal with my counterparts in the U.S. legislative arm on a continuous basis, and they ask me all the time what it is that Canada has done. In fact, we have been dubbed by some people in America as “the miracle to the north”. They want to know what it is that Canada has done that has brought us to the position of being named by the IMF and the OECD as the number one place to do business in the world, the place with the greatest opportunity over the next number of years to do business.
    Creating a million jobs since the recession is no small task. That is a very large number, and very significant. How did that happen? How is it that we rate number one?
    The reality is that we have made, let us say, four broad strokes of fundamental change in direction from the direction that our opponents would have taken in Canada.
    First, we lowered taxes. We did not increase them. In fact, we lowered them some 160 times, which I will talk about in a minute. Second, we shrank the size of government; third, we freed up the private sector; and, fourth, we have gone after international markets.
    I will break those down, because they are rather significant if they are lumped together as a direction and formula for success. All of the G7 countries are looking at similar things to do, but they are having a difficult time doing them.
    Let me begin by talking about shrinking the size of government.
    Shrinking the size of government is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it is very difficult to do. We went through every department, making certain that if we could do something better as a government we would try to be more efficient in doing that, and we lowered the cost of doing business in Canada so it would put us on a track to make certain that we can compete in the world. It is worthy of note that before the recession, when this government got into power in 2006, we paid down some $37 billion going into the recession so that the debt to GDP ratio was considerably lower at that time. Since that time, we have grown so fast that our debt to GDP ratio has not been compromised. In fact, it is interesting to note that we were at 34.6% in GDP in 2012. Some people would say that is just a number, but let us look at Europe.
    We just signed a free trade agreement with Europe. The number one driver of the economy in Europe, let us say, is Germany. Germany's debt to GDP ratio is 57.2%, but the average of the G7 is over 90%. We are almost three times less than the average in terms of debt to GDP ratio.
    Are we in good stead? There is a reason for the OECD and the IMF to say that Canada is doing very well, and it is because we have been disciplined as government.
    On top of that, when I speak with my counterparts in the United States and tell them that we are forecasting balanced books by 2015, they say they just fought a debt ceiling crisis in October and they are going to have to do it again early in the new year. They say the big debate is about how much more money they can borrow and have printed.
    Canada is not printing money. We are creating jobs and opportunity for the private sector to create the prosperity that Canadians deserve and should have as a country, and we are actually achieving that.
    This is considerably different from what our counterparts across the way would have done. In fact, the NDP has said that it would have brought in a carbon tax and increased taxes on everything from—
    Hon. Greg Rickford: Soup to nuts.
    Hon. Rob Merrifield: Yes, soup to nuts. I suppose we could say it that way. They would raise the taxes on absolutely everything.
    As for the Liberals, if we want to know what a party is going to do, we should look at what it has done. When the Liberals were in power, they said they balanced the books. Yes, they did, on the backs of the provinces, health care, and social services. It is one thing to say we are going to balance the books; it is another thing to say we are going to balance the books by lowering taxes, not raising them, and by making certain that the transfers to the provinces are not impeded. In fact, we are increasing those transfers.
    Let me talk about taxes for a second, because that aspect is rather significant. We have cut taxes over 160 different ways during that time period, providing an extra $3,200 per average family of four. People who had a job in 2008 and still have the same job now are paying that much less tax. That is very significant.

  (1250)  

    In the business sector, small- and medium-sized businesses are the ones that are really creating the jobs. We have lowered the taxes for them as well, from 12% down to 11%, but on the corporate taxes, we went from 28% over the years down to 15%. We even kept lowering those taxes during the recession. That takes a lot of leadership and a lot of understanding of what drives the economy.
    Do members realize that with the taxes now at 15%, we are bringing in more corporate revenue to the federal government to deal with all the social services and all the issues that we have in lower-income brackets than we brought in at 28%? That is an amazing statistic, but it is very worthy of note in looking at what has actually happened with regard to lowering taxes.
    We lowered the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. It is very significant. Everyone who buys anything in this country is realizing the benefit from that. This is no small feat.
    What does the corporate tax being at 15% do to us? We are creating lots of growth because of the competitive advantage we have with our largest trading partner. The corporate tax rate in America is 35%. That is compared to 15%; no wonder businesses are coming back into Canada. We saw that the headquarters of Tim Hortons, as an example, went to the United States because of the tax advantage. Then they came back. Why? It is the same reason: the tax advantage.
    Those are the kinds of things we are seeing right across the entire spectrum in the private sector.
    I said that we shrank government. We lowered taxes, which is very significant. What else did we do? We freed up the private sector, and that sector is what is really creating the jobs. We brought in a piece of legislation saying that for major projects, it would be one project, one review, at two years maximum. Those are phenomenal opportunities for the private sector.
    We have lowered the red tape some 20% to 30% right across the board. Can we do more? Yes, and we absolutely have to do more when it comes to freeing up the private sector. I have had American counterparts tell me that they can go in and do one-stop shopping for projects and get approval. It is not that they are compromising on the approval but that they are doing it in a more streamlined way. We have to do more than that because we are not there yet, but we have certainly come a long way.
    Freeing up the private sector to capitalize on the opportunities that we have in some of our trade agreements becomes very significant. That is the fourth thing that we did. We not only freed up the private sector to compete, but then we went after international agreements so they could compete and capitalize on free trade agreements, such as the one we just signed with the European Union. It is the largest, most comprehensive free trade agreement ever signed between any two countries anywhere in the world.
    Members may ask where that came from. Is NAFTA not the largest free trade agreement ever signed in the world? Well, it was at the time. Our opponents disagreed with that, and even today they disagree with NAFTA. It is amazing. That is so, even though it created 40 million jobs, and even though the GDP of the three countries of Mexico, the United States, and Canada, which were at $7.6 trillion at the time of signing, have gone to over $17 trillion today. That could not have been realized when they signed the agreement. No one would have forecast that kind of growth. Everyone just said that it was a good opportunity for more trade, but nobody would have put all the pieces together to say that collectively we would raise our GDP and raise opportunity and prosperity in our three countries to that degree.
     I would suggest that the same thing will happen with the European free trade agreement. Europe actually imports some $2.3 trillion a year. It is amazing how much more we can capitalize on that.
    This does not happen by accident. Pieces of legislation like this take real leadership. Real opportunity for Canadians is what we are looking for. We are saying that these will get us to success, and that is true.
     Before closing my remarks, I want to say that our greatest threat in Canada and in this room should be looking at what happens when these principles are not followed. The United States has gone down from a AAA rating to a AA. Heaven forbid that it ever goes to an A rating, which would compromise it all because of a lack of leadership. We need to stay the course.
    I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this piece of legislation.

  (1255)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, my honourable colleague is mistaken when he accuses the NDP of wanting to impose a carbon tax.
    What the NDP is actually proposing is a cap and trade system with regard to the price of carbon, an approach that can be found on page 32 of the Conservatives' 2008 platform. Unfortunately, I see that my colleague has changed his position.
    I would however like to quote a figure that may surprise him. I am sure that my honourable colleague will be surprised to learn that his government is going to raise taxes for Canadians by almost $8 million over the next five years with budget 2013 alone.
    Why does the Conservative government want to increase the burden on middle-class families?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is an interesting question coming from my colleague across the way. I do not know where she has been when we lowered taxes 160 different ways during the period of time since the recession.
     I have been watching very closely. I have been in this House all that time. I have yet to see NDP members stand in their place to support the tax reductions that we have created in this country. It is the absolute reverse position that they have had in this House. They have never supported a reduction in tax.
    We are not just talking about it; we have done it, in 160 different ways. That is not just lip service. That is actual action, and it is what we have done.
    However, lowering taxes was not the only goal. The goal was to create jobs and opportunity for the private sector and the people of Canada, and that is what we have done. That is what this House should be very proud of.
    Even if I were on the other side and knew I had to be in opposition, I would at least sit there, be quiet about it, and accept the thanks for putting Canada in the number one spot in the world.

  (1300)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would not mind picking up on the jobs argument that the member is proposing and asking him to comment on an area in which the government has not done well, the whole area of the manufacturing industry.
    To cite a specific example, in the province of Manitoba, the aerospace industry has provided good, solid, quality jobs for many hundreds of Manitobans over the last number of years. Then, when Air Canada had a situation through which we lost our overhaul capabilities, the government stood back and did absolutely nothing. Even though there is a commitment in the Air Canada Public Participation Act to maintain those overhaul maintenance jobs in the city of Winnipeg, the government did absolutely nothing.
    He might not necessarily know the details of that specific example, but for the many families that were directly affected, it hurt. It hurt Manitoba's economy.
    Perhaps the member would provide some comment in terms of how he believes the current government is addressing the manufacturing industry and the hundreds and thousands of jobs that have been lost in that area.
    Mr. Speaker, I would love to.
    The member may be right on the specifics of the aerospace aspect, but I can say that supporting the auto sector going through the great recession and the kinds of problems that manufacturing had at that time is something every member of this House actually voted on and had the opportunity to vote on. We all voted for a piece of legislation that increased the opportunity of subsidizing our auto sector, a manufacturing sector. At that time, it was a significant number of dollars. I think it was around $8 billion.
    I did not think we were ever going to get a nickel of that back, to be perfectly honest. It was one of my more difficult days in this place. I was wrong, thank goodness. The manufacturing jobs actually were sustained. The auto sector came through the recession fine and is doing better now than it was even before the recession.
    Also, some of the trade agreements that we have in place will give opportunity for manufacturing around the world. We are going to be supporting manufacturing, and that is going to increase because of our low cost of doing business in Canada. We are starting to see us being able to compete with even some of the Asian countries when we look forward to manufacturing jobs. We have a great opportunity in this country because we provide conditions for the private sector to win and to compete internationally. When we do that, those businesses will grow Canada into the kind of prosperity that we deserve.
    I do not believe we have even come close to reaching our potential, but we are headed in the right direction. As long as we keep going, we will stay number one in the world and surpass all expectations.
    Mr. Speaker, I stand in opposition to Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, for two main reasons. First, is the content and the second is the process.
     With respect to content, this budget implementation bill impacts much more than the Conservative budget. This is an omnibus bill. The word “omnibus” is derived from the Latin and it means “for everything”.
    The Conservative government has thrown practically everything into this omnibus bill, as is its habit. This is the fourth omnibus budget implementation bill. This omnibus bill would amend 70 laws or regulations in one bill. That is a massive amount of content. How is a member of Parliament, how is an opposition expected to thoroughly analyze and study all the amendments in this one bill, especially with the introduction of time allocation? I will come back to that in a moment. That particular Conservative tactic deserves a few special moments.
    The content in this omnibus bill ranges from changes that got health and safety protection for workers to reductions at the Veterans Review and Appeal Board to gutting the National Research Council. Hundreds of our country's top scientists and researchers have been laid off or muzzled. They cannot speak their minds. They are not free to outline their research or their findings. Why? For fear of retribution, that is the answer. They cannot speak for fear of losing their jobs, for fear of being blackballed, for fear of being blacklisted.
    Now with Bill C-4, the Conservatives are cutting nearly half of the positions at the National Research Council and giving more power to their hand-picked chairman.
    Mr. Speaker, a question is, “Have I lost you yet?” The content goes on and goes on. This omnibus bill also includes two entirely new bills, the Mackenzie gas project impacts fund bill and the public service labour relations and employment board bill. This omnibus bill repeals the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board.
    Have I lost you yet, Mr. Speaker? This bill pushes ahead with a tax hike on labour-sponsored venture capital funds. This omnibus bill even gives new immigration powers to the minister. Bill C-4 allows the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to create a requirement that foreign nationals wanting to enter or remain in Canada as permanent residents must be issued an invitation from the minister, or must express their interest to the minister through an expression of interest.
    Have I lost you now, Mr. Speaker? Do I sound like I am all over the place? I should sound like I am all over the place, because I am all over the place. More specific, the Conservative omnibus bill is all over the place with everything in it but the kitchen sink. The tabling of such a wide-ranging bill in such a short time frame undermines Parliament.
    Why does this omnibus bill undermine Parliament? It denies MPs the ability to thoroughly study the bill and its implications. That is the short answer.
    I want to move on now from content to process.
     Earlier today the Conservative government introduced time allocation on Bill C-4. With this motion, the Conservatives have shut down debate 58 times since the election in the spring of 2011, 4 times alone since the opening of the new session. The Conservatives are setting records, the worst kind of records.
    The Conservatives rushed the bill through the House at second reading in order for the finance committee to start studying it. However, the finance committee was busy with pre-budget consultations so it took almost three weeks before it could start studying the bill.

  (1305)  

    That is the Conservative process. Then what happens when the Conservatives rush a bill through the House? They make mistakes. The government is using its omnibus budget bills to fix mistakes it made in previous omnibus budget bills.
    What would this omnibus budget bill do for the Canadian economy? Let us see. Despite what the Conservatives claim, it eliminates thousands of jobs. It cuts direct program spending. It weakens GDP growth. The Conservatives told Canadians to wait an extra month for Parliament to resume this fall so they could reset their policy agenda, press the reset button. Only they missed the reset button, or ignored it entirely and they hit the carry on as if things were normal button. Only the Conservatives are not normal. They are so far right they have lost sight of the Canadian way of balance between development and the environment, balance between industry and regulation and balance between health and safety and profit.
    The Conservatives claim the economy is their flagship. That is what they boast most about. To that sentiment, I quote Michael Harris. He is well-known in my province of Newfoundland and Labrador for his writing and for his journalism, but he is known just as well here on the mainland. He says:
    The PM and his government are not good managers. The nauseating repetition of the claim that the Tories know what they’re doing with the country’s finances will not make it so. They've pissed away more money than Madonna on a shopping spree—a billion on the G8-20 meetings that put a dent in the world’s Perrier supply and little else. They just plain lost $3.2 billion and the guy in charge over at Treasury Board is still there....They are such good fiscal managers that we now have the highest deficit in our history.
    Over the last couple of decades, or more, the median wage rate has hardly changed.
    Let me make another point on omnibus bills. This omnibus bill, as I said earlier, would amend 70 laws or regulations. As conservative commentator Andrew Coyne has pointed out:
    We've no idea whether MPs supported or opposed any particular bill in the bunch....There is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent not a single act of policy, but a sort of compulsory buffet.
    It will not be long now before a Conservative MP stands up in the House and rips into an opposition MP for not supporting a particular piece of legislation, when the legislation the Conservatives are ripping us for was likely contained in an omnibus bill and it was that omnibus bill that the opposition MP voted down. It is an insane Conservative circle. This government stuffs as much non-related legislation into an omnibus bill as possible to get as much passed, to get as much by Canadians as possible.
    Conservative MPs stand in the House day after day and sidestep or outright ignore pointed questions on scandals, on abuse and on government itself, but Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are paying attention. Canadians are paying attention. The deception is sinking in. We will work tirelessly on this side of the House to ensure Canadians do not forget these massive omnibus bills or the non-answers. We will work tirelessly to ensure they do not forget the government's undemocratic and un-Canadian ways.
    Jack Layton once said that the moment one was absolutely sick and tired of repeating a message, so tired that one could not possibly repeat it another time, it was only then that the message would sink in, that it was getting across. I will never tire of spreading the truth about Conservatives and their agenda.

  (1310)  

    Mr. Speaker, on my hon. colleague's advice, I should remind him and all members of the House that it was the electorate of Canada that chose a strong, stable, national Conservative majority government that is caring for long-term growth, jobs and economic opportunity in our country.
    I would encourage that member to pay attention to the diverse number of third-party endorsements that budget 2013 got from the Canadian Federation of Municipalities and colleges, particularly in my riding, from the Yukon College's Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining. We had Habitat for Humanity celebrate investments made in 2013. The Canadian Press rave reviews about housing investments, job opportunities through colleges and working opportunities.
    Surely my hon. colleague has roamed around his riding celebrating the many infrastructure investments that have been brought to Newfoundland and Labrador through the permanency and indexing of the gas tax fund and how much money has been brought into those communities, which those municipalities asked for and which this government delivered. Their investments are directly related to the investments we have made for key projects in those communities. Has my hon. colleague addressed those?
    Mr. Speaker, I have to take the member up on a couple of points he began with.
    He described the Conservative government as “strong” and “stable”. I would never use those adjectives to describe the Conservative government.
    The Conservative government is so weakened by scandal, such as the Senate scandal and the scandal in the Prime Minister's Office, and it is so weakened by non-answers that it has not become “strong” and “stable”, but absolutely ineffective. The business of our country is practically at a standstill because of scandal and because the government is so far from strong and stable.

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's comments. He referenced to how massive the budget bill was and all the other legislation that was within it. I concur with him on those comments.
    The question I have is related to the budget in the sense that health care is one of the greatest expenditures that provincial governments have from coast to coast to coast. There is a need to ensure that there is stability in funding. In fact, there was an agreement, a health care accord, which was reached among the premiers and the Prime Minister, which will expire in 2014. There needs to be a lot more discussion between the federal government and its provincial counterparts to renew that agreement.
    Would the member provide some comment on the importance of the federal government working with the provinces to get some things done related to budgetary actions?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question in terms of the importance of the federal government and provincial governments working together. However, one thing we have seen again with the Conservative government and the Prime Minister is the absolute unwillingness to sit down to meet with provincial premiers. He just will not do it.
    On health care, it is one of 70 pieces of legislation contained within this omnibus bill and so it is very hard to comment on just one piece of legislation.
    On this side of the House, we recognize how critical it is for the Prime Minister's Office and the Prime Minister to speak with the provinces, but that is not happening. That will change in 2015.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to take this opportunity to add my comments to the debate.
    Two years ago, Canadians elected our government and gave it clear instructions: create jobs, grow the economy, keep taxes low and balance the budget.

[English]

    Canada has faced challenging times, and we have faced tough decisions. I am very pleased to say that we have made the right choices for Canadian workers, businesses, families, and communities.
    The results of these choices are clear: debt is low, and deficits are falling.

[Translation]

    Our economic action plan has made Canada one of the top economic performers in the G7, both during the recession and throughout the economic recovery.

[English]

    Here are the facts.

[Translation]

    Since July 2009, the worst point in the global recession, Canada has created over a million net new jobs, 90% of which are full-time, with nearly 85% in the private sector.

[English]

    With Canada's continued economic growth in the third quarter, this is the ninth consecutive positive quarter, another sign that our economy is on the right track.

  (1320)  

[Translation]

    The unemployment rate is at its lowest level in four years, and it is significantly lower than it is in the United States, a phenomenon that has not been seen in nearly three decades.

[English]

    For the sixth straight year, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system the soundest in the world.

[Translation]

    The federal tax burden is at its lowest level in 50 years.

[English]

     We have achieved positive results for Canadians, but we are under no illusion that our work is finished. The global economy remains fragile, with growth in advanced economies somewhat slower than expected.
    In addition to the threats to the Canadian economy that lie beyond our borders and beyond our shores, I am concerned about the potential threats to the Canadian economy from within our own nation, such as the threats from the leader of the NDP. As if imposing a $20-billion carbon tax was not enough, the leader of the NDP has another multibillion-dollar tax hike he wants to impose on Canadians. He just recently reaffirmed his plan to take billions of dollars, each and every year, out of the pockets of Canadian entrepreneurs and businesses to fund big, bloated government schemes. This NDP tax hike would target job creators, especially small and medium-sized companies, the engine of economic growth. With a nearly 50% increase in their tax bills, it would be devastating, particularly at a time of global economic uncertainty.
    Canadians know better. That is why Canada's economic action plan actively pursues new trade and investment opportunities, particularly with large, dynamic, and fast-growing economies.

[Translation]

    Our government recently reached an agreement in principle on the Canada-European Union comprehensive economic and trade agreement. That agreement will add the equivalent of 80,000 new jobs to the Canadian economy.
    Economic action plan 2013 focuses on positive initiatives to support job creation and economic growth, while balancing the budget by 2015.

[English]

    During the recent great recession, our government took the necessary steps to safeguard our economy, our families, and our jobs. Indeed, it responded quickly and effectively in January 2009 with Canada's economic action plan. It included investments in infrastructure and tax relief for Canadian families. It was instrumental in getting Canadians back to work. At the same time, we kept government expenditures under control.

[Translation]

    However, unlike previous Liberal governments, we have not and will not cut major transfers to Canadian families or to other levels of government in order to balance the budget.

[English]

    That is possibly the most important factor. We all remember the mid-90s, when the previous Liberal government reduced the deficit, yes, but did it on the backs of health care and education for our children.
    Instead of our Conservative government taking that approach, we have set clear targets to bring down the deficit and return to a balanced budget by 2015. Our government will also not engage in a risky spending scheme.

[Translation]

    Our government does not want to be involved in risky spending schemes. It will not impose a $20 billion carbon tax or increase corporate taxes.

[English]

    Indeed, our plan to return to balanced budgets is working. Just as our government tackles debt, we are also tackling expenditures. We are reducing the size and cost of government to ensure that taxpayers get value for their money.

[Translation]

    We must always find a way to add value to every dollar of Canadian taxpayers' money that is spent.

[English]

    In addition, we are trying to target, and are doing so very effectively, a lot of tax loopholes. We are addressing aggressive tax planning, clarifying tax rules, combating international tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance, and improving fairness. When we ensure that everyone pays his or her fair share, it keeps taxes low for all Canadian families and businesses and thereby improves the incentive to actually work, save, and invest in our Canada.
    Overall, measures taken by our government since budget 2010 will result in ongoing savings of roughly $14 billion, and our government will go further, enshrining in law its successful and prudent approach to balanced budget legislation.
    Just as Canadian families know that they cannot prosper by continually spending money they do not earn, this is how we are managing the Government of Canada. Our Conservative government believes not only in keeping families strong but in keeping people employed. That is why Bill C-4 would deliver a three-year freeze on employment insurance premiums, delivering tax relief for small-business owners and the workers they employ.
    I have a number of citations from people, such as the president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, who have applauded these efforts and say that this is exactly what is required for the Canadian economy. Indeed, Diane Brisebois, president and CEO of the Retail Council of Canada, commented in exactly the same way. I want to share what Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said:
...an EI rate freeze is fantastic news for Canada's entrepreneurs and for their employees. This move will keep hundreds of millions of dollars in the pockets of employers and employees which can only be a positive for the Canadian economy.
    I could go on with a number of these. The freeze will help attract foreign investment in Canada. It will help create jobs for Canadians and will foster long-term economic growth.

  (1325)  

[Translation]

    It will encourage job creation and economic growth, which will generate long-term prosperity for all Canadians.

[English]

    Unlike the opposition, our government understands that tax relief is important to all Canadians. I encourage all members of the opposition parties to vote in favour of this important measure, Bill C-4, which will leave more money in the hands of the average Canadian.

[Translation]

    Of course, we have adopted many other measures that will create jobs, encourage economic growth and generate long-term prosperity for Canada. However, I do not have time today to list them all today.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened to my hon. colleague with interest. I want to ask one question, but first of all, let me mention that this is an omnibus budget bill, which has so much in it that one questions the democracy of this approach.
    The member mentioned deficits and the government's low-taxation plan and low-deficit plan. I have to point out that the government is responsible for the largest deficit in Canadian history.
    The member also talked about private sector job growth. Could she tell me how the government has created these jobs and what sectors these jobs are in?
    Mr. Speaker, there are two points to this query I would like to address.
    First is the much maligned omnibus bill. My husband and I have always run our family's budget as an omnibus bill. If we do not have money left over at the end of the year, we know we have failed. That is what we are trying to do. We are trying to be as responsible as average Canadians are with their finances.
    Regarding deficit reduction, I have some very specific facts. I would remind the hon. member that his party maligned the Conservative government of Canada when, at the very start of its tenure in government, before the economic crisis, I might add, we paid down $37 billion of debt, which gave us the flexibility to respond to what was required when the crisis hit, and it made us the most successful country in the G7.

  (1330)  

    I, too, was quite interested in the member's speech, Mr. Speaker. I certainly appreciate her enunciating some of the principles that are in the economic action plan for this year.
    It seems that the opposition members, regardless of what is in a particular budget, will say either that the government is not doing enough, or, as in this case, that the government is trying to do too much.
    We live in a much different world. We had the financial crisis and the subsequent great recession, the largest recession we have seen in North American history since the Great Depression. I hope members appreciate that this member is trying to bring out some of the points that are important to helping to bring us forward.
    Would the member enunciate some of the policies she is in support of in the bill that matter to her riding?
    Mr. Speaker, certainly in my riding, and I share this with a lot of my colleagues, the backbone of Winnipeg South Centre is all the wonderful families in the area. Many of those families are running small and medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of job creation for our Canada.
    I am so very pleased that we are not only in the process of creating jobs but are in the process, with Bill C-4, of ensuring that those small business entrepreneurs, whether they own a phenomenal Italian grocery store or a Subway, would reduce, with this proposal, their costs of EI. More important, or equally important, the workers at all of their stores and all of their enterprises would pay less for the next three years.
    We are ensuring that there will be stability. We are ensuring that there will be the ability for families to spend money on other things too.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I have here an ad that you might find interesting. I will read it to you.
    For sale: Charming Parliament with river views, located in a hard-working country populated by responsible citizens with a still partly intact international reputation. Note to buyer: some renovations are needed.
    That is basically what the Conservatives are saying with Bill C-4. They are sending the message to Canadians, and to the world, that this House is now useless, since the decisions of its members are no longer subject to debate. Need I remind the government that debate and information are essential to the survival of democracy?
    Let us face the facts and ask ourselves this question: what is the difference between a dictatorship and a democracy? Information, checks and balances, and meaningful representation are some of the necessary components of a democracy. I may be repeating myself, but just as we did with the three budget bills, we are opposing Bill C-4, because of both its content and the process used by the Conservatives.
    Bill C-4 contains a wide range of complex measures that deserve further study, which we do not have the time to do here, because we are once again under a time allocation motion. Introducing bills of this magnitude with such a broad scope and allocating so little time to consider them undermine the work of Parliament by preventing members from thoroughly studying the bill and its implications.
    We will then be criticized for voting against Bill C-4. Once again, the Conservatives are trying to keep Canadians in the dark and change a large number of laws without holding actual consultations.
    When the Conservatives introduce over 70 legislative amendments in a document of 300 pages, and many of these changes have nothing to do with the budget, it is only reasonable to ask questions. At this stage, we have the obligation to ask questions. I will not dwell on the details of this bill because that would be virtually useless, given the short time allotted to us. Indeed, I wonder whether the members opposite have had time to read the bill that they are voting for as a block.
    The process that is being used here is rather worrisome. For example, what about the concentration of power this bills bestows? Many provisions of this bill grant more power to the minister, who will do what he likes in any case. This is a strong trend that we have seen with the amendments to the Labour Code and with health and safety issues. The minister makes the decisions, but who is he to make those decisions alone?
    Among other things, this bill will make it more complicated to refuse to work in dangerous conditions. Canadians should not have to work in conditions that pose a threat to their health. This type of decision is easy to make for a minister who works in a comfortable office. He should go work as a logger for awhile and see what kinds of hazards some Canadians face at work. Personally, I am well acquainted with those hazards.
    We also see this trend at the National Research Council of Canada, where the government unilaterally eliminated the positions of many world renowned and experienced researchers. Do not worry. The Conservatives will compensate for it by appointing a stronger and more arbitrary president.
    I seriously wonder how the Conservatives can run a country without science. On what information are they basing their policies, when there is no consultation, no science, no census and no debate?
    Unilateralism has no place in a democracy, and Canadians are well aware of that. They know better. Let us suppose that the Conservatives truly believe that they are omniscient and that they do not need to hear the opinions of others, even experts.

  (1335)  

    What will happen once the bad guys take power? That is not just hypothetical. Imagine the situation. Canadians would find themselves in a very bad position.
    Now imagine that all Canadians believed in a polluter pay principle for the Mackenzie gas project. What will they think of the fact that the Conservatives have now done a 180 on a position they themselves advocated? That is troubling.
    According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, budget implementation bills from 2012 to now will cost over 67,000 Canadian jobs and shrink the GDP by .57%. Is that the kind of economic progress the government wants for this country? It is not what my constituents and I want.
    Workers have the right to work in safe and healthy workplaces. People have the right to economic policies that meet their expectations. That includes a healthy environment, secure and well-paid jobs, respect for veterans, an effective fight against tax evasion, and more.
    The Conservatives say that they have created a million jobs, but how many of those jobs are part-time, minimum-wage jobs? We will not fall for that. The government cannot solve all of those problems and many others with a wave of a magic wand. The House is here for another purpose: debate.
    When I visit people in my riding, they ask why there are so many closure motions. I tell them that the government makes those decisions and that we always vote against closure. We always lose those votes though. We have to make use of the privilege we have of being in the House. Elected representatives have to be allowed to talk about all of the issues and bills that come up in the House.
    Omnibus bills are catch-all bills that the government puts all kinds of things into and calls it a day. The opposition's votes are basically wasted because the Conservatives have a majority.
    I believe that people in my riding and across Canada want to hear their members of Parliament debate bills here in the House and in committee.
    When we come back to the House at the end of January, we will have to debate bills. I hope that this is the last time the government will impose closure until October 2015.

  (1340)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I heard a rhetorical question in my colleague's remarks when she asked how many of the jobs that have been created are part time. There was an implication that most of the jobs that have been created are somehow part time. I would like to remind my colleague that Canada has created over one million net new jobs, 90% of them are full-time jobs and 85% are in the private sector.
    It is important that, when we are sharing information in this House with Canadians who may be watching, we get the information accurate. I would like to confirm the fact that 90% of these jobs are full-time jobs and 85% are in the private sector.
    I would like to ask my colleague why she would be opposed to the government's record of job creation.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, of course I am not opposed to job creation.
    The question I asked earlier in my speech is one that I hear from people in my riding. The Conservatives are telling us that they have created jobs, but my constituents do not see them.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to focus a question on the budget. However, I would also quickly make reference to the fact that we are not happy, and I have said this before, that there is so much legislation brought forward through this particular bill.
    Having said that, I want to emphasize what I believe is a serious problem, something the leader of the Liberal Party has done time and time again with regard to the issues facing the middle class today.
    I would challenge the member to reflect, as many of us have, on the impact it is having, in terms of things such as young people. Today we have more and more young people living at home with their parents. It is an affordability issue. They are not able to go to university and rent apartments, as they have in the past. We have more young adults living at home because of the economic circumstances.
    The middle class has been hit very hard over the last number of years. I wonder if the member would provide comment in terms of how the middle class has been disadvantaged over the years of the Conservative government.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, is there still a middle class? Its income has been dropping from year to year and these people are getting fewer and fewer services. It is true that young people are living with their parents for longer. However, I remember knowing people who lived with their parents because it suited both them and their parents.
    However, it is true that we need to create jobs with good salaries and good work conditions, and we do not want people to work in dangerous conditions. Our young people need work.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her very relevant speech.
    We are debating a bill today under time allocation. With this bill, the government will eliminate the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board and give the Minister of Finance the power to set the premium rate. This Conservative government is once again trying to centralize things and give more power to the ministers.
    Could my colleague talk about power being centralized and dialogue being cut short, and also about how they talk here in the House?

  (1345)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her question.
    I am speechless about employment insurance. We should be working for the people who pay into employment insurance. Very few people are receiving employment insurance benefits anymore because it is getting harder and harder to meet the eligibility conditions and requirements.
    I hope that people are not having a harder time qualifying for employment insurance just so the government can pay down the deficit, as we have seen with the Conservatives and the Liberals.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am glad to rise today with regard to Bill C-4, because there is a part of it that pertains specifically to my riding of Kootenay—Columbia. That is under division 7, clauses 239 to 248, which deal with the Dominion Coal Blocks. I am sure my friend from the Green Party will be listening intently to that.
    I want to provide some context with respect to the Dominion Coal Blocks, which most members are probably not familiar with, and how we got to where we are and why we are proposing a divesting of them.
    Back in 1897, the Dominion Coal Blocks were created through the Crow’s Nest Pass Act, which allowed for the railways to come in from Alberta to British Columbia. However, they had to provide something back to the federal government in return. They provided a fairly large swath of land in southeastern British Columbia, which gave the rail lines the opportunity to come in. Those lands were acquired by the federal government in 1905. As a result, they were largely underutilized and have supported limited forestry operations and recreational activities since that time.
    We know the Dominion Coal Blocks have a huge potential regarding metallurgical coal, which in common terms is the steel-making coal, used vastly around the world for a number of things.
    There are two lots in discussion here, those being lot 73 and lot 82.
    Lot 73 is located between Sparwood, British Columbia, and Hosmer, British Columbia, to the east. It is a section of land of approximately 2,000 hectares. It contains a very rich resource of metallurgical coal. Some would argue it has as much as 75 million tonnes of metallurgical coal. Others would say it is even higher.
    Lot 82, which is located south of Fernie, British Columbia, in what is referred to as the Flathead Valley, poses a bit of a different issue, not only for the federal government but for the Province of British Columbia and municipal and regional governments.
     I am glad to see the federal government has considered splitting lot 82. It is a sizeable lot of 18,000 hectares. The southern part of lot 82, which goes into the Flathead Valley, will be protected from natural resource extraction, which I think is a great move by our government, because what it does do is protect the integrity of the Flathead Valley, one of the most precious resources in all of Canada if not North America for its water and forestry resources, as well as a number of wildlife. The greatest habitat of grizzly bear in all of North America is within the Flathead range.
    On the other hand, the other part of lot 82 would allow an opportunity for natural resource extraction, should there be an availability for it. That is a great opportunity as well.
    This bill being moved forward would give the federal government the opportunity to divest itself of both lots 73 and 82. It is a great opportunity not only for the federal government but also for the extraction industry to move forward with some great opportunities with respect to metallurgical coal.
    I will list some of the opportunities available not only through the Dominion Coal Blocks but also through the great resource we have in the southeast corner of British Columbia, of which many members may not be aware. In the southeast corner of British Columbia there are five coal mines. On average we export 27 million tonnes of metallurgical coal per year around the world. We are the second largest exporter of metallurgical coal in the world and the largest exporter in North America. To provide some context, the average price for metallurgical coal is around $150 a tonne. Each car of coal is worth about $15,000, which equates to about $11,200,000 worth of metallurgical coal being extracted out of the Elk Valley per day.

  (1350)  

    What the Dominion Coal Blocks would do is extend the life of the opportunity for coal extraction within the Elk Valley. The opportunity for any coal company to come along and potentially extract coal, especially from lot 73, is huge.
    What I do appreciate, not only from the federal government but also from the provincial government, is that the inclusion of first nations has been paramount in the discussions with regard to the Dominion Coal Blocks and they have been included from the get-go. The Ktunaxa Nation has been a partner in this right from the onset. They understand the value of natural resource extraction, and they have also become a partner with Teck Resources with regard to the opportunity for profit sharing.
    I think there are some great synergies that we can see here, with the federal government, with the provincial government and with municipal governments in the areas, where we have satisfied the opportunities for the environment in the Flathead Valley. We have satisfied the opportunity to work diligently and closely with first nations, and we have satisfied the opportunity to divest of some land we have held since 1905. It is time to divest and allow natural resource extraction to continue on in the Elk Valley. Also the federal government would have the opportunity to sell off some land that, for the most part, it would not be able to utilize.
    I just want to come back to clause 241 within C-4, which says:
    Nothing in the Crow’s Nest Pass Act, in the agreement mentioned in that Act or in any covenant in the instrument conveying the Dominion Coal Blocks to His Majesty in right of Canada operates so as to limit the power of Her Majesty in right of Canada to hold, dispose of or otherwise deal with the Dominion Coal Blocks, or any part of the Dominion Coal Blocks or any interest in them, in any manner and on any conditions that Her Majesty in right of Canada considers appropriate.
    I think that is a great way to explain to people that this government has dealt with this in a very efficient manner, a very fair manner, and everyone at the table seems to be happy with how we are going to move forward.
    In closing, I just want to say that the coal industry in Canada is a vibrant industry, especially in southeastern British Columbia, and that Dominion Coal Blocks would bring a lot to this, extending the life of many of the mines in the Elk Valley. We are looking forward to the day when we can say the Dominion Coal Blocks would be used for natural extraction, especially in lot 73, and in lot 82, we can say we preserved the environment.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I listened closely to the speech made by the member opposite, who is from British Columbia. He did a fine job of detailing the issues surrounding our natural resources. He spoke about coal and other resources.
    I fully agree that there are resources available; however, we must have the means to develop them in a responsible and scientific manner.
    Bill C-4 is an attack on the National Research Council of Canada because it eliminates nearly half of the agency's positions and gives more authority to the president, who was chosen by the government.
    Does my colleague think that firing hundreds of scientists and researchers will help develop the natural resources in his riding?

  (1355)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I must say, with regard to the coal extraction in the Elk Valley, in the southeast corner of British Columbia, that we use science to the utmost to ensure that we properly extract, to ensure that waste rock is put away in an environmental manner and to ensure that all wildlife is protected.
    I believe that, in the southeast corner of British Columbia, we are an example of how a lot of the natural resource extraction around Canada, around the world, could better be utilized.
    Mr. Speaker, I believe it is important that every so often we re-emphasize exactly what Bill C-4 would do. It is a Conservative majority government that has made the decision to bring in vast amounts of legislation through the back door of a budget bill, independent pieces of legislation that should stand alone. That, ultimately, has been an assault on democracy here inside the chamber. We are not being provided the opportunity to debate many aspects of the legislation.
    The member just made reference to one very minor issue, but an important one. At the end of the day, there are so many other issues that will not be voted on separately, that will not even be debated because of this majority government mentality of sneaking legislation through the back door of a budget bill. I wonder if the member might want to reflect on all the lost discussions and debates that will not take place because of the majority government's attitude, which is disrespectful for the process here in the House of Commons.
    Mr. Speaker, I did not quite hear a question in there. However, I am sure that if the member had read the bill, especially in regard to the Dominion Coal Blocks, he would see that it has everything to do with the budget, because what we would do is divest a property we have held since 1905. We are about to create some synergies for the federal government, and that is what it is all about.
    Mr. Speaker, since this may be the last chance I have to speak to this bill, because of time allocation, I want to correct a few things that the member for Yellowhead said. I cannot find any reference to any study anywhere that says Canada is the best country in the world in which to do business. The World Bank lists Canada as number 17 on the list of best countries in which to do business, with Singapore at the top. The most recent OECD report from November 2013 says, “The pause in the economic recovery since early 2012 has continued...”.
    I want to thank the member for Kootenay—Columbia for bringing to light this very important part of Bill C-4 that should never have been in an omnibus budget bill. The Dominion Coal Blocks lands and the incredibly important ecological significance of the Flathead Valley, its potential as a national park and its connection to Waterton Glacier International Peace Park all require separate study by a committee to ensure that those ecological values are protected.
    However, I thank the member. It is in his riding. He has spoken forcefully about the need to have ecological protection built into the disposition of these lands. I would ask if he would not consider a conservation covenant to run with those lands to ensure they are protected.
    Mr. Speaker, the member would know that in parts of the lower Flathead, including lot 82, we do have an agreement between the State of Montana, the Province of British Columbia and the federal government, with regard to ensuring that no natural resource extraction occurs in the Flathead Valley. That is already in place.
    As for places to come and work, where we have a vibrant economy, the southeast corner of British Columbia is doing very well with coal extraction and metallurgical coal, and I invite anyone to come and see it someday.

STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Firearms

    Mr. Speaker, a few days shy of the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women on December 6, which marks the tragedy that occurred at the École Polytechnique, the Quebec Minister of Public Security is giving his federal counterpart another opportunity to show his respect for the victims of this massacre by modernizing the rules on firearms.
    Since 1998, despite technological advances that have made weapons smaller but more powerful, the federal government has failed to adjust its methodology for classifying firearms. The consequences are clear: a growing number of military-style rifles, which are of no use to hunters, are being freely sold and not restricted in any way.
    Quebec is simply proposing that the classification system now take into account the firearm's power, calibre and projectile type, rather than just barrel length. The victims of gun crimes and their families deserve better than the federal minister's silence and his refusal to get involved. They deserve that we restrict access to the military weapons that are available because of the federal government's negligence.

  (1400)  

[English]

Canadian Tourism Award

    Mr. Speaker, today I rise to offer my heartfelt congratulations to David Morrison, a pioneer, builder and dynamic leader in the travel and tourism industry. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada will be awarding Mr. Morrison with a lifetime achievement award at this year's Tourism Congress.
    Since becoming president of Brewster Travel Canada in 1980, Mr. Morrison has taken a leadership role within the industry, recognizing the importance of forging partnerships to the mutual benefit of all. He has served on the board of directors of the Canadian Tourism Commission, was president of the Banff Chamber of Commerce and later contributed to the formation of Banff's first tourism body, the Banff & Lake Louise Tourism bureau.
    As chair of the parliamentary tourism caucus, it is my pleasure to thank David Morrison for his many contributions to Canada's growing $85-billion tourism industry.

[Translation]

International Day of Disabled Persons

    Mr. Speaker, today is the International Day of Disabled Persons. The NDP wishes to highlight the important, positive contributions made by people with disabilities to their communities.
    The objective of this day is to encourage people with disabilities to participate in the social life and development of their communities. It is also a day to raise awareness about the plight of these people. The government has a role to play in ensuring that Canadians with disabilities are not the victims of poverty and are not hindered by any obstacles to their inclusion and education, to the job market, to recreational activities or to social participation.
    People with disabilities deserve a physical and social environment that takes their functional characteristics and specific needs into account so that they can reach their full potential.
    We are calling on the government to fulfill its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as quickly as possible. This is how people with disabilities will be able to lead a more autonomous life and play a more significant role in society.

[English]

Eating Disorders

    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased that my motion to initiate a parliamentary study on eating disorders was unanimously accepted by the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, with minor amendments. Approximately 80% of the victims of eating disorders are girls and women. Eating disorders are complex diseases, which are very difficult to treat and remain largely hidden. They are a deep, dark secret for patients, who are stigmatized by society.
    On Thursday, the committee heard from Dr. Blake Woodside, a leading expert. In April, the National Initiative for Eating Disorders met with parliamentarians to discuss the struggles of the 500,000 Canadian women and men who suffer from bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa.
    This study would become a significant resource for patients, families, social workers and physicians to help improve the treatment and support for girls and women with eating disorders. Canadians with a special perspective to offer should contact the clerk of the committee today through the parliamentary website, by searching under “status of women committee”.
    Let us end the suffering in silence.

Medal of Bravery

    Mr. Speaker, this Thursday, Constable Warren Neil Fo Sing, a resident of Markham—Unionville, will receive the Medal of Bravery from His Excellency the Governor General.
    Constable Fo Sing, along with his York Regional Police colleague, Constable Michael Alexander Mulville, will receive this award for their efforts to save a man who was trapped on thin ice in Markham last April.
    I have had the privilege of being a York Region MP for 13 years and I can say without hesitation that the York Regional Police serves the entire region, and the city of Markham, with honour and distinction. This is a select group of citizens from whom we ask a tremendous commitment: that without thought, they put our health and safety ahead of their own. Constable Fo Sing and all of those receiving decorations this Thursday have gone above and beyond this commitment.
    On behalf of the residents of Markham—Unionville, let me thank them.

  (1405)  

Canada's Fur Industry

    Mr. Speaker, today is Canada's first fur day on the Hill. Fur industry representatives from all over Canada are here in Ottawa to remind parliamentarians of the economic impact of this important sector.
    Canada's fur industry is an important part of the livelihood of tens of thousands of Canadians contributing over $800 million annually to our economy and directly employing 75,000 people, one-third of whom are aboriginal. Roughly 250 families or 750 individuals and family members per federal riding are directly reliant on the fur trade for their income. The fur sector also plays an important role in the management and conservation of Canada's wildlife populations.
     While the fur sector is growing here in Canada and internationally, there are a number of issues threatening the current and future success of this important sector.
    On behalf of the parliamentary outdoors caucus, I encourage my hon. colleagues to learn about Canada's fur industry and do what they can do help this industry continue to grow and prosper.

[Translation]

Youth Employment Organization

    Mr. Speaker, I would like draw the House's attention to a vital community organization in Joliette that was awarded the social economy ambassador prize.
    That organization, l'Annexe à Roland, was awarded the prize on November 28 by the Table régionale de l'économie sociale de Lanaudière, in collaboration with Mouvement Desjardins. None other than Laure Waridel was on hand to talk about the invaluable work done by social economy enterprises.
    L'Annexe à Roland has won several awards, including awards for its excellent budget management, but it will have to stop working in my riding, and that is a terrible shame. The government decided to cut the organization's funding for reasons that seem completely arbitrary.
    L'Annexe à Roland has helped 500 young people over the past 13 years, and I would like to commend the whole team for its remarkable work.

[English]

Science Education

    Mr. Speaker, I stand today to recognize the outstanding work of London's own Let's Talk Science, a national science education outreach organization, and Amgen Canada, a leading biotechnology company. I commend them on the recent release of their report, “Spotlight on Science Learning: The High Cost of Dropping Science and Math”.
    Science technology and innovation are critically important to Canada's economic well-being. This report underscores the significant economic impact to Canada when students choose not to pursue science and math.
    Let me say as strongly as I can that I encourage Canada's students to embrace science and math. It will serve them in so many ways that they may not currently appreciate.
    I invite all members of the House to join me this afternoon at 5:30 p.m. in room 256-S in the Centre Block to learn more about the work of Let's Talk Science and Amgen. Let us congratulate them for the significant work they are doing to shine a spotlight on the importance of science and learning by our young people.

Canada's Fur Industry

    Mr. Speaker, like my colleague for Yorkton—Melville, I want to acknowledge fur day on the Hill. It is a day to celebrate Canada's oldest industry.
    Originally a partnership between European settlers and aboriginal people, the fur trade propelled Canada's economic development. In recent decades, Canada's fur trade faced serious challenges, but it has recovered in dramatic fashion due to the development of new and expanding markets.
    The importance of this iconic industry goes far beyond the dollar value of the fur that is harvested. Canada's fur trade provides people in remote rural communities with the dignity of work.
    Canada's trappers harvest fur in a manner that respects the environment and ensures the long-term sustainability of fur-bearer populations. Canada's fur trappers are an immense repository of national wisdom and have a unique ability to survive and thrive in some of the world's harshest environments.
    Canada's fur dressing industry takes these beautiful natural materials and crafts them into items of clothing that are in high demand around the world.
     The future of Canada's fur industry and the communities that depend upon it is truly bright indeed.

[Translation]

Help for the Homeless in the Laurentians

    Mr. Speaker, the cold winter weather spells serious trouble for street people. In 2014, there will no longer be a shelter for the homeless in Saint-Jérôme.
    Écluse des Laurentides is an organization that currently employs street workers to transport and direct the homeless to various resources in a number of ridings on Montreal's north shore.
    The government has announced that its homelessness partnering strategy, the HPS, will be changed to basically support housing first. Although the objective of giving everyone a place to live is commendable, it should not jeopardize all the other services, such as those provided by Écluse, developed over the past 30 years.
    It is obvious to everyone working with the homeless that they need not just housing, but help and support to get off the streets for good.

  (1410)  

[English]

Limba the Elephant

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today as the member of Parliament for Durham to mark the passing of a giant figure from my community. This giant was not a man or woman, but a 50-year-old Asian elephant named Limba that captivated the hearts of children in southern Ontario for her lifetime.
    Limba passed away peacefully at the Bowmanville Zoo after a brief battle with cancer. For almost a century, the Bowmanville Zoo has been an important part of my community and has offered refuge to exotic animals from across Canada. Limba came to the zoo 25 years ago and tens of thousands of children have learned about animals and nature because of her.
    Durham loved Limba. Just two weeks ago, she was more popular than Santa Claus at the parade. As a natural draw, she would help with community festivals and local fundraising. She stood alongside us in sorrow on Bowmanville's bridge over the Highway of Heroes, where I'm sure she brought brief smiles and looks of surprise from the grieving families passing beneath her.
    I extend my deepest condolences to Michael Hackenberger, Dr. Wendy Korver, and her faithful companion Robert Crawford.

[Translation]

Family Reunification

    Mr. Speaker, the holiday season is a special time to spend with family; however, unfortunately, many new Canadians will have to celebrate without their parents and grandparents.
    Many immigrants to Canada are losing hope that they will ever be able to be with their parents and grandparents because, on the Conservatives' watch, it is becoming more and more difficult to reunite family members.
    The Conservatives have allowed the wait time for sponsoring parents and grandparents to become unacceptably long and have imposed a complete moratorium on sponsorship applications. Now they are setting a limit of 5,000 applications for next year and imposing new financial requirements that will unduly penalize middle-class families.
    Canadian families are paying the price of the Conservative government's insensitivity. Will the government rescind its regressive family reunification policies?

[English]

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday citizens around the world marked the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Sadly, sex slavery and forced labour continue today throughout our nation. Just yesterday the Waterloo Regional Police laid charges of human trafficking in Cambridge, Ontario.
    Our government has taken significant steps to combat modern-day slavery. We have created temporary resident permits for international victims of trafficking, launched a national action plan to combat human trafficking, committed $6 million annually to anti-trafficking efforts and victim rehabilitation, created a targeted anti-trafficking law enforcement task force to hunt down traffickers, and led the world in the fight against early, child and forced marriages across our nation.
    Today, on the ninth of 16 days of activism against gender violence, let us be reminded that women and young girls are most likely to be victims of modern-day slavery and let us be resolved to stand ever stronger against modern-day slavery and gender violence.

[Translation]

Village of Cap-Pelé

    Mr. Speaker, as we speak, hundreds of people from Cap-Pelé and the region are gathered at Sainte-Thérèse d'Avila Church to pay tribute to four young men who died tragically in a car accident on Friday night.
    Justin Léger, Sébastien Léger and Justin Brown were all 18 years old and were graduates of Louis-J. Robichaud High School in Shediac. Luc Arsenault was 17 years old and was in grade 12.
    The village of Cap-Pelé is in mourning today and is saying a sad goodbye to its four sons. Their families are in our thoughts and prayers.
    On behalf of this House, I offer my condolences to the families, communities and friends who have been deeply affected by this tragedy.

  (1415)  

[English]

Constable John Zivcic

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, tragically Toronto Police Constable John Zivcic lost his life. He was gravely injured in a car crash over the weekend while responding to an emergency call about an impaired driver.
    Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and his friends, as well as all of his colleagues at 22 Division. Tragic cases like this, where a young man has lost his life far too soon, are a stark reminder of the risks that our police officers subject themselves to on a daily basis in order to keep their fellow Canadians safe.
    On behalf of our government and all Canadians, I would like to thank each and every police officer for all that they do each and every day.
    As we all enjoy the Christmas season and embark on our holidays, I ask everyone to please not drink and drive.

[Translation]

Housing

    Mr. Speaker, today, hundreds of people braved the cold to ask the government to help the homeless find decent and affordable housing.
    Meanwhile, the senators are still wondering about the location of their primary residence and how much money they can claim from Canadians so that they can have more than one residence, even if they are not entitled to it.
    While the Conservatives and the Liberals are defending the entitlements of their friends, while the Conservatives are using taxpayers' money to hire Bay Street firms to cover up the cover-up, while they are busy deleting emails and are caught up in their web of lies, they are forgetting the reality of those who are not as fortunate as they are.
    All that these people are asking for is access to housing during the harsh winter months or access to employment insurance benefits because the plant where they worked for 20 years just closed down.
    The NDP will always put people first. We will leave it up to the old parties to protect their privileged friends.

[English]

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

    Mr. Speaker, the CBC violated its own code of ethics in giving a payoff to Brazil-based former porn industry executive, Glenn Greenwald, for national security information stolen from one of Canada's allies. Shockingly, Canadians watching the original TV broadcast were not informed of this cash-for-news scheme.
    What is more, yesterday we learned that the CBC also grossly inflated the contents of the U.S. documents. According to Professor Wesley Wark who was the national security expert used by CBC in its original story, “There was no support in the document for the claim originally made by the CBC that...the Communications Security Establishment Canada would lend its technical expertise to the NSA effort”.
    The CBC should apologize for violating its code of ethics. It should apologize for concealing its cash-for-news scheme with a former Brazil-based porn industry executive and it should apologize for allowing Glenn Greenwald's personal and partisan agenda direct its news coverage. The CBC should just apologize.

Oral Questions

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, it was the head of legal operations in the Privy Council Office who wrote to the RCMP telling it that Perrin's emails had miraculously been found. Who at the Prime Minister's Office initially asked to find Ben Perrin's emails?
    Mr. Speaker, as has been confirmed publicly by the comments from the Privy Council Office, the mistake that was made at the Privy Council Office was indeed its. The information that was being sought by the RCMP has now been delivered to it and the PCO has apologized for the mistake it made.
    Mr. Speaker, if Ben Perrin's emails were frozen due to “unrelated litigation” as the Prime Minister's Office has claimed, would the head of legal operations not have had those emails all along? Who did they ask? That is not in the PCO letter that Conservatives keep reading to us.
    Mr. Speaker, again, the Privy Council Office has taken responsibility for the mistake that it made in not handing over the information to the RCMP. However, the real question that the leader of the NDP is asking here is with regard to the openness of the Prime Minister's Office and here is what the RCMP said in its ITO. It said:
    Rob Staley, legal representative for the PMO, advised my office that he had clear orders from the Prime Minister to provide complete cooperation with the investigation, and to provide any assistance or documentation the RCMP requested....The PMO has also waived solicitor-client privilege for those e-mails.
    This also includes any emails related to, or being sent by, Mr. Perrin. Therefore, the transparency that has been demanded has been delivered and the mistake made by the PCO—

  (1420)  

    The hon. Leader of the Opposition
    Mr. Speaker, apparently the only person who has not assumed responsibility is the person who is responsible. The Privy Council Office is the ministry of the Prime Minister and ministerial responsibility should apply first and foremost to the Prime Minister.

[Translation]

    The government is trying to make us believe that deleting emails is entirely normal procedure. The Information Commissioner does not agree. She has launched an investigation, since the law rather requires that government emails be kept.
     Why is this government, which claims to be for law and order, breaking the law again?
    Mr. Speaker, this is not true at all.
    The Office of the Information Commissioner is independent from the government. It is a parliamentary office. The Commissioner may conduct any investigation she wants, and it is up to her to decide whether to do so.
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to the letter informing the RCMP of the miraculous discovery of Benjamin Perrin's emails, the Privy Council sent a copy to none other than the Bennett Jones law firm.
    Who is this? This is the same law firm that is defending and representing the staff at the Prime Minister's Office, those people whose emails are under investigation.
    Why did the Privy Council, the Prime Minister's department, warn certain former PMO employees, who may be suspects in this shocking affair, about the details of the RCMP investigation? How does any of this help maintain law and order?
    Mr. Speaker, there is actually no question here.
    If the NDP leader really believes in these laughable arguments, he should be presenting them to the people who are about to conduct the independent investigation.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the RCMP does not inform people that they are under investigation, but apparently the Conservative government does.
     On May 28, the Prime Minister said, “There is no legal agreement between Duffy and Wright”. Why then did the Prime Minister's own office falsely deny the existence of emails between the Prime Minister's lawyer and Duffy's lawyer? Why does it continue to hide them today if it is not to further the cover-up?
    Mr. Speaker, of course, there is no such truth to the allegations of the leader of the NDP. In fact, it is the RCMP which said in its ITO just last week, “I am not aware of any evidence that the Prime Minister was involved in the repayment or reimbursement of money to Senator Duffy”.
    The RCMP makes it very clear and it also makes it clear that the Prime Minister has been wide open and transparent in terms of making sure that the RCMP has all the information that it needs. It said, “The PMO has also waived solicitor-client privilege for access to those e-mails”.
    The transparency that has been demanded has indeed been delivered.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is hard to believe that the Prime Minister knew nothing about the repayment to Mike Duffy. It is hard to believe that a dozen of his confidantes were aware of it but told him nothing. The hardest thing to believe is that he had access to Benjamin Perrin's emails for six months, but that the officials were the ones who did not realize how important those emails were.
    If that is the case, who had the emails, and how was it possible not to know of their existence when the RCMP requested the information?
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP leader just asked the same question, and the answer is the same. The Privy Council Office clearly stated that it made a mistake in not turning over the emails and not informing the Prime Minister's Office and the RCMP about the content of the emails. Now the emails have been delivered to the RCMP for its independent investigation.

  (1425)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, in June I asked for all Ben Perrin's emails. The PCO told me it conducted a thorough search, but there were none.
    Now we know that was untrue. It does not matter why the files were retained, the fact is that they were. Parliament was told a falsehood, while a case of bribery, fraud and breach of trust was emerging.
    Who ordered the retention of Perrin's files? Who had custody of them? Has that person been unconscious for the past six months? What is being done by the clerk of the Privy Council and the Department of Justice to ensure no more evidence is contaminated?
    Mr. Speaker, again, I would refer the member opposite to the comments made publicly by the Privy Council Office. It erred in saying publicly that the emails had been destroyed. They had not been destroyed. They had been frozen in unrelated litigation. This information is now in the hands of the RCMP, which is were it should be, so it can continue its independent investigation.
    Mr. Speaker, when the PMO ethics scandal exploded in the public domain in May, the PMO and PCO surely knew it was serious, serious enough for Nigel Wright to lose his job. Ethical issues, even criminal matters, could be involved.
    Ben Perrin was named early on by the media as a central participant. That was confirmed by police way back in July. His paper trail is crucial.
    If the government cared more about truth than cover-up, how could it take six months and three specific demands from the Mounties before it coughed up the evidence?
    Mr. Speaker, again, I do not know where the member for Wascana has been since Sunday night, but the Privy Council Office has spoken very clearly to the status of those emails. Those emails are now in the hands of the RCMP so it can continue its independent investigation.
    Mr. Speaker, on May 27, Ben Perrin released a public statement and said, “I was not consulted on, and did not participate in, Nigel Wright’s decision to write a personal cheque to reimburse Senator Duffy's expenses”.
    Now that the Prime Minister has had time to read the RCMP affidavit, would he agree that the statement given by his own lawyer was completely untrue?
    Mr. Speaker, as we read through the exact same documents, it is quite clear that, as the RCMP has stated, on page 72 in these exact same documents, it could find no evidence that the Prime Minister knew anything of this.
    The Prime Minister has said on a number of occasions that had he known that this scheme was being hatched, he would have of course put an end to it right away.
    Mr. Speaker, is he saying that he is now admitting that his own lawyer misled him? I did not hear an answer.
    Let us continue on. It is quite as the crickets over there.
    On May 28 our leader asked a simple question. He asked, “Can the Prime Minister tell us what part Mr. Perrin played in this story?” The Prime Minister responded, “Mr. Perrin has already answered these questions”.
    Now that they have read the affidavit of the RCMP, would the Conservatives say that the Prime Minister knew at the time that what Mr. Perrin was saying was completely untrue?
    Mr. Speaker, I will read right from the same document the member is quoting. It says, “I am not aware of any evidence that the prime minister was involved in the repayment or reimbursement of money to Senator Duffy or his lawyer”. That is right in the exact same documents that the hon. member chooses to reference.
    As the Prime Minister has said on a number of occasions, had he known that this plan was being undertaken in his office, he would have put an immediate stop to it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister decided to make taxpayers cover legal bills from three prestigious Bay Street firms hired to protect friends of his who got in big trouble.
    Does the Prime Minister think it is okay to make taxpayers cover the legal expenses of employees of his friends who were embroiled in this scandal?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, with respect to that, all Treasury Board rules are being followed.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, can anyone on the other side of the House say how much money is set aside for lawyers who represent past and present employees of the Prime Minister's Office who are being investigated because of this scandal?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, all Treasury Board rules are being followed in this case. With respect to how much, I am not sure. She is probably better to ask her own leader. He would have a better understanding of how much it would cost him to defend something. We, of course, know that he spent hundreds of thousands of his own party's dollars to defend him in a suit he had.

  (1430)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we sometimes get unbelievable answers in the House.
    The Prime Minister not only misled the House for months, claiming that he knew nothing, but now he is refusing to answer questions about how much the attempted cover-up cost. The questions we are asking today are not overly complicated.
    Is the budget item for legal expenses less than or greater than $1 million?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again, all Treasury Board guidelines are being followed on this.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it will take a little more to convince Canadians and Quebeckers.
    We have asked the question three times and we still do not know how much it cost to cover the legal fees of current and former Conservative employees who are under criminal investigation by the RCMP. Perhaps the answer can be found in an email that they tried to delete and that will be found six months from now. Today, we want to know whether the contracts awarded to the three Bay Street firms for legal services were subject to a competitive bidding process or whether these contracts were, once again, awarded to Conservative Party friends.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again, all Treasury Board guidelines with respect to this are being followed. As the member knows, all expenditures of the Government of Canada are, of course, tabled in the House of Commons. Those expenditures are approved by all members of Parliament.

[Translation]

Access to Information

    Mr. Speaker, once again, we do not have an answer.
    Yesterday, the NDP proposed that the Board of Internal Economy be replaced with an independent monitoring system and that the Access to Information Act apply to the House of Commons and the Senate. The Conservatives and the Liberals voted against these attempts to improve transparency.
    Can the Conservatives explain why they are refusing to allow the Access to Information Act to apply to their senators? What are they hiding from Canadian families?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this party has led the way with respect to transparency and accountability. One of the first acts our government brought forward in 2006 was the accountability act. At the same time, when it comes to presenting to Canadians the expenses that members of Parliament have, it is this party that has led the way with proactive disclosure.
    I note that the NDP members are refusing to put their expenses online. I hope they will join with the Conservative Party in making their expenses available online to all Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, two-thirds of the Conservative caucus did not even bother. That is why we need uniform disclosure. That is what Canadians deserve.
    Liberals and Conservatives refuse to let the Senate and House be subject to the Access to Information Act. That is shameful. The Auditor General has said there needs to be independent oversight of MPs' expenses and no more MP self-policing. The NDP agrees with the Auditor General.
    Why are Conservatives and Liberals blocking the Auditor General's efforts for transparency around MPs' and senators' expenses? What are they trying to hide?
    Mr. Speaker, Conservatives are voluntarily reporting their travel and hospitality expenses, because we are committed to increasing accountability for Canadian taxpayers. We continue to seek support from all parties to improve reporting that applies to all parliamentarians, and we believe that all parties should voluntarily disclose in the meantime.
    It is worth noting that only the NDP has chosen not to provide the public with details about their travel and hospitality expenses.
    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the New Democrats want binding rules for all members of the House, and the Liberals and Conservatives joined forces to block access to information and to continue to police themselves.
    My hon. colleague from Wellington—Halton Hills has put forward very promising legislation for parliamentary reform. I personally will be supporting this legislation at second reading, and the leader of my party has said this will be a free vote.
    My question is for the Chief Government Whip. Will the members of the Conservative Party have a free vote on this bill?

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, they will actually have to come a day early to rehearse how to practise a free vote. The NDP never has free votes. In fact, The Globe and Mail did an extensive study behind the nearly 162,000 votes cast in this place. It found that not a single member of the NDP cast a vote against its leader in almost a two-year period.
    One hundred per cent of the time, the New Democrats do groupthink over there. They are not capable of independent thought. On this side, we have the most free votes, and we have had the most private members' bills passed of any Parliament in 40 years.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, Irving Gerstein is the government chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. That committee's mandate would include ensuring that commercial audits in Canada are professional and beyond reproach, yet we know that Senator Gerstein intervened in the Deloitte audit of Mike Duffy and was prepared, as head of the Conservative fund, to offer financial inducement to the senator to get him to play ball.
    Why is the Prime Minister directing his caucus to block the appearance of Senator Gerstein and Michael Runia?
    Mr. Speaker, of course, the three Deloitte auditors who were in charge of this audit did appear before a Senate committee recently. They confirmed that the report they provided maintained utmost confidentiality at all times and that the Senate could have confidence in the report that was tabled. They made the decision at that point that no further action was needed.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives appointed Senator Gerstein chair of the important Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and chair of the Conservative Fund of Canada.
    RCMP documents indicate that he allegedly approved a transfer of $32,000 in party funds to Mike Duffy. It is illegal to try to buy Mr. Duffy's co-operation, to give the impression that Mr. Duffy repaid his expenses himself and to put an end to the investigation of the Senate.
    Why did the Attorney General not ask the RCMP to investigate Senator Gerstein's actions?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, again, as the RCMP documents clearly state, the subjects of the investigation are Nigel Wright and Senator Duffy. At the same time, with respect to the audit, as I just said to the previous question, the three auditors were before the Senate committee. They confirmed that the audit was done properly and maintained confidentiality at all times and that the Senate could have confidence in the work that they did.
    Mr. Speaker, we now know that Senator Gerstein also called Michael Runia, a senior partner at Deloitte, to secure his help in shutting down the Duffy audit. What is even more shocking? According to the RCMP files, Senator Gerstein made the $32,000 offer, then tried to shut down the audit, all at the instruction of the PMO.
     It is illegal for anyone to even offer a financial inducement to a senator. Why the reluctance of the Attorney General to refer the actions of PMO staffers and Senator Gerstein to the RCMP to determine whether they should face criminal prosecution?
    Mr. Speaker, of course, the Attorney General does not direct our law enforcement officers to do anything. The Attorney General does not direct anybody to do investigations, but more importantly, these documents have also stated that it is Senator Duffy and Nigel Wright who are the subjects of the current investigation.
    Again, as I have said already twice, the three auditors were brought before the Senate committee, and they confirmed that the work they did was kept in the strictest confidentiality and that the senators could have confidence in the report that they tabled.

[Translation]

Rail Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, an investigation based on data from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada has shown that the number of incidents involving runaway trains every year is three times higher than we thought.
    Most of these incidents are not made public.
    What is most troubling is that the cause of the Lac-Mégantic tragedy is not technically classified in that category under the current definition.
    Why so much secrecy around these runaway trains? Why are there not more investigations?

  (1440)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the health and safety of Canadians is a top priority for our government.
    Railway safety regulations exist to ensure the safety and protection of the public. That includes, for example, a mandatory push-pull test. If these regulations were not followed, we will not hesitate to take whatever course of action is available to us.
    Mr. Speaker, runaway trains are dangerous. Some go at high speed. Others travel a long distance, and yet some others carry dangerous cargo.
    Only one out of three incidents was made public, and few were investigated. We know that 47 lives were lost because of runaway trains.
    What is the minister doing to stop them? Where are the regulations and the penalties that stop these runaway trains?
    Once again, Mr. Speaker, the member will know that railway safety regulations, including, for example, the mandatory push-pull test, are there to ensure the safety and protection of the public. If they have not been followed, we will not hesitate to take whatever course of action is available to us.
    On the issue of penalties, the hon. member will know that she opposed our move to raise fines against companies for infractions of the Railway Safety Act to $1 million. On the safety of transporting dangerous goods by rail, I have a quote:
    Shipping materials by train are...very safe, and the record is really quite good.
    Who said that? None other than the member for Trinity—Spadina.

Government Contracts

    Mr. Speaker, it is the government's job to keep Canadians safe, and it cannot even do that.
    Mismanagement also abounds when it comes to contracting professional services. Under this Prime Minister, we have seen costs balloon nearly 30%, over $10 billion a year, for contractors who are not accountable to the public. How many rail inspectors would that hire?
    How can the Conservatives justify spending billions on outside contractors while failing to deliver the services Canadians rely on?
    Mr. Speaker, I am hoping even the hon. member and his caucus would agree that if we can deliver excellent services to Canadians, using, in some cases, external contractors, that is the smart thing to do for the taxpayer. It reduces our costs.
    We have to do so in a way that, of course, ensures health and safety, but I think this is the kind of sensibility Canadians expect from their government.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is a strange sensibility. The Conservatives have an army of competent public servants who can do the job very well, yet they prefer to pay more for outside contractors.
    Since coming to power, the Conservatives have spent $67 billion on contracts. That is $67 billion spent willy-nilly, while they eliminate public service jobs.
    They claim to be saving taxpayers' money. They are about as credible as Rob Ford, who cancelled the light rail plan at a cost of $100 million.
    How can they defend such mismanagement?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have already said, our government treats taxpayers' money with the utmost respect. Sometimes it is necessary to call upon professional services for their expertise or to deal with unexpected fluctuations in workloads.
    However, our public accounts confirm that the deficit is $6.9 billion lower than the 2013 estimates.

[English]

Consumer Protection

    Mr. Speaker, our government understands that Canadian families work hard to make ends meet and make every dollar count. That is why, unlike the high-tax NDP, our government has a strong record of protecting Canadian consumers. This includes new rules requiring the disclosure of hidden fees, making sure consumers are not faced with negative-option billing, and banning the use of unsolicited credit card cheques, and there is more.
    Can the Minister of State for Finance please update the House on what new measures our government is taking to better protect consumers?
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians can rest assured that our Conservative government is committed to helping protect Canadian consumers.
    Today I was pleased to announce final regulations that will help consumers better understand the costs associated with prepaid credit cards. This would ensure that federal financial institutions clearly disclose fees and present the information that Canadians need before a card is issued and that they do so in a manner that is not misleading.
    We are proud to be delivering on our promise by taking action to better protect Canadian families and consumers.

  (1445)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, the Health Council of Canada has panned the Conservatives for their lack of leadership. It has pointed to their repeated failures to meet clear commitments on the health accords. Last month the College of Family Physicians released an equally damning report.
    The minister has had months to review these important reports by leading experts.
    Does the minister agree that improvements are urgently needed, and what will she do, today, to uphold our public health care system to meet the needs of Canadians?
    Mr. Speaker, I have met with a number of those groups, and of course many of those reports also say positive things. The reality is that all of those stakeholders in the health care field that I met with work very hard.
    There are challenges, but from the federal level we are taking leadership to address many of these difficult challenges and working in partnership with the provinces and territories.
    Of course, the funding issue has been settled with a record funding commitment that will reach $40 billion per year by the end of the decade and provide stability and predictability to the system, something that the provinces, the territories, and all health stakeholders need.
    Mr. Speaker, a new poll shows that Canadians are concerned that their health care system will not be there for them in their old age.
    By 2036, the number of Canadian seniors will have doubled. We need a health care system that includes home care, long-term care, palliative care, and affordable drug coverage that is accessible to seniors.
    Why is the minister lagging so far behind on a national strategy to address seniors' health?
    Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to address that.
    First I would like to give kudos to my colleague, the Minister of State for seniors, who is working diligently, in very targeted ways, on the issue of seniors. The minister for economic development is also working on a great deal of measures related to housing.
    However, when it comes to seniors' health, I can tell members that not only do we take it very seriously, we have met with the Canadian Medical Association, the Canadian Nurses Association, all Canadian health care stakeholders that concern themselves with seniors, and, most importantly, with the provinces and territories, to which we are transferring a record amount of funding to deal with these very difficult challenges.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives have not been able to keep Canada's drug supply safe. They have recalled dozens of dangerous products. They even refused to ensure mandatory disclosure of drug shortages.
    Informing Canadians of imminent drug shortages is something the Conservatives could do right now to show leadership on health care issues. Why are they not doing that?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know if the member missed it, but it was actually only a few months ago, early on in my tenure, that we announced a pan-Canadian strategy with the provinces and territories to address drug shortages. It not only gives physicians advance notices of which drugs will experience shortages but also gives them alternatives, other drugs they can use, so that they can best take care of their patients.
    We are tackling this challenge head-on in partnership with the provinces and territories and the drug manufacturers.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it is not surprising that Canadians are worried about their public health care system. The Conservatives announced their plan to unilaterally cut health care transfers, without consulting the provinces or considering expert advice. Our health care system is facing tremendous challenges and it is time to take action.
    Will the new Minister of Health review the decision to cut health care transfers to the provinces in the lead-up to renewing the health care agreements in 2014?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the member is inaccurate on that. He knows that the funding is actually increasing, and the funding commitment we have made is a record transfer to the provinces and territories. We have given the provinces and territories record transfers to give them the predictability they need for funding.
    However, what we actually really need to focus on with the provinces and territories is sustainability. We are working with them to develop a health innovation framework that would hopefully bring down some of our costs within the health care system, which is a huge challenge that we are facing, and make our system more sustainable so that it is there for all of us in the future.

  (1450)  

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, many Canadians with disabilities would love to earn enough to pay taxes and therefore qualify for the disability tax credit, but sadly, this is not the reality.
    The very people who are most in need of this tax credit are being left out by government inaction. The government talks as if it cares, but talk alone will not pay any of the bills.
    When is the government going to make the disability tax credit fully refundable and available to all of those who need it?
    Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member will recognize that this government's record and the work that we have done on helping Canadians with disabilities is unprecedented.
    Just this morning I was pleased to host a reception with the Minister of Finance for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I am delighted to see the progress we are making in supporting, for example, the creation of the registered education savings plan for persons with disabilities, to have created the opportunities fund, to be renewing the labour market agreement for persons with disabilities and the accessibility fund, and to be working with employers to create new opportunities for disabled Canadians to enter our workforce.
    No government has done more to help disabled Canadians succeed, and we are proud of our record.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the failure of the Government of Canada to secure greenhouse gas regulations has resulted in the delay of Keystone XL. As a consequence, we have the worst of all possible worlds. We have massive delays in the building of pipelines, we have pipeline congestion, we have substantial increases in dangerous rail shipments, we have steep price discounts, and we have ever-increasing environmental degradation.
    Will the Prime Minister make a decision, or will President Obama have to do it for him.?
    Mr. Speaker, Keystone XL will enhance national security and create tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity in both Canada and the U.S. We agree with the analysis compiled for the U.S. State Department, which found that Keystone XL is not likely to result in incremental GHG emissions.
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration will need to import 7.4 million barrels of oil per day in 2035, so the U.S. will remain a very important customer of Canadian oil.
    The choice for America is clear: a reliable, environmentally responsible friend and neighbour, or an unstable source with the same or higher—
    The hon. member for Laurier—Sainte-Marie.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the government's bill on cluster munitions is flawed and would allow the use of such weapons by Canadians during joint operations. That is completely contrary to the treaty.
    There are ways to allow Canadian soldiers to conduct joint operations without using this type of weapon, which mainly kills civilians. Canadian law must strengthen the treaty to prohibit the use of cluster munitions, not weaken it, as the government is about to do, for no good reason.
    Will the government accept our proposed amendment, which would fix this bill?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our legislation fully implements Canada's commitments to the convention. It strikes a good balance between humanitarian obligations and preserves our national security and defence interests. Our bill prohibits the use of, development, possession, movement, import, and export of cluster munitions and assistance in these activities.
    Our government is proud to have participated actively in the negotiations on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and we were one of the first countries to have signed on to this convention in 2008.
    Mr. Speaker, our soldiers can operate with other countries without allowing them to use cluster munitions. In fact, the NDP has an amendment that would fix the bill.
    International legal experts, our allies, and the Red Cross agree that the government's bill would weaken the treaty to ban cluster munitions. A former Australian prime minister calls the Conservative bill “a great pity” and says that it undermines Canada's reputation.
    Will the minister agree to work with us to fix the bill?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, irrespective of what somebody else says about the Australian one, this is not Australia. This is Canada.
    Our government is proud to have actively participated in the negotiations on the Convention on Cluster Munitions. We were the first country to sign on to the convention in 2008. We have a proud record.
    Our legislation will fully implement Canada's commitment to the convention and strike a good balance between humanitarian obligations and preservation of our national security and defence interests.

Consumer Protection

    Mr. Speaker, supporting and protecting Canadian families is a priority for our government. That is why we have lowered the GST by 2% and have cut over 160 taxes, saving Canadian families over $3,200 every year.
    Canadian families work hard for their money, and they want their government to make decisions to help them keep more of it. Similarly, when Canadians purchase gasoline, they want to know that they are getting what they paid for.
    Could the Minister of Industry please tell the House what measures our government is taking to help Canadians save money when they purchase gasoline?
    Mr. Speaker, in the fall throne speech, we made it very clear that we were going to introduce a number of new measures to further protect Canadian consumers. We have passed the Fairness at the Pumps Act and today we are announcing regulations to make sure that it comes into force.
    What it will mean for everyday consumers is that regulators and inspectors will now have the tools and powers necessary to ensure that local gas stations and their parent companies are providing truth to Canadian consumers. When they buy a litre of gasoline, what it says on the sign it should say on the pump, and what it says on the pump should be reflected in the true price that consumers are paying at the till.
    Consumers need this protection. We now have the regulations necessary so that the Fairness at the Pumps Act will come to life and protect everyday consumers.

Health

    Mr. Speaker, 46% of patients, mostly seniors, are forced to occupy hospital beds while waiting for long-term care, blocking ER admissions and surgeries.
    In the 2004 health accord, provinces agreed to share jurisdiction and to create a pan-Canadian long-term home and community care system and unblock hospital beds. The Conservative government abandoned the plan, saying it is a provincial problem.
    Our senior population will double in two decades. The accord ends in 2014. When will the Prime Minister meet with the premiers to negotiate a new accord?
    Mr. Speaker, I recognize that the challenges facing the health care system with the demographic changes that are obviously looming are concerns not only for myself but for the provinces as well.
    In meeting with the provinces, not only have we committed to record transfers to support them in their area but we have also committed to working with them in moving forward on a health and innovation framework. We need to do this because we are committing record funding.
    This is predictable, but we also have to start working on the sustainability of the system. We have to address the cost challenges within the health care system, and I think that innovation is the right way to do that.

[Translation]

Persons with Disabilities

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians with disabilities are more susceptible to poverty and discrimination. Canada is over a year behind on reporting to the UN on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
    Why have the Conservatives not done this report? Why do they not take this seriously? When will they implement the convention, to create a more accessible and inclusive Canada?
    She was here this morning at the gathering for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I was so pleased to see advocates for Canadians with disabilities support our government's policies and measures that will make it easier for people with different abilities to access the labour market.
    We will continue to work together to ensure that all Canadians are included, regardless of their abilities.

  (1500)  

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, white-collar crime is a matter of deep concern for my constituents. Those who engage in such fraud can wipe out the hard-earned life savings of Canadians in the blink of an eye.
    The mayor of London, Ontario, and former Liberal cabinet minister, Joe Fontana, faces serious allegations of fraud. An audit from the Canada Revenue Agency shows that Mr. Fontana may have personally profited from contributions to charitable organizations to the tune of $8 million.
    Can the Minister of National Revenue assure the House, and indeed, all Canadian donors that their hard-earned dollars are in fact being used for charitable donations?
    Mr. Speaker, I cannot comment on specific cases. I can say that, as a government, we have a responsibility to ensure charitable dollars donated by charitable Canadians are used for charitable purposes. Shamefully, this does not seem to resonate with some in the Liberal Party.
    Besides these most recent allegations, we know that the Liberal leader, while an MP, charged hundreds of thousands of dollars to charitable organizations and their hard-working donors. On this side of the House, we understand the responsibility to protect generous Canadian donors from those who use or abuse the charitable sector for personal gain. Those—
    The hon. member for York South—Weston.

Privacy

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday I raised the matter of Ellen Richardson, a constituent of mine who was turned around at the U.S. border on her way to a March of Dimes cruise, but Ellen broke no laws. Instead, U.S. security officials cited a 2012 bout of depression as grounds for Ellen's rejection.
    Why are law-abiding Canadians being punished for seeking help for mental illness, and what are Conservatives doing to ensure these private medical records are protected?
    Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member that we have the Canadian Police Information Centre, but his question should be addressed to the U.S. authority.

Democratic Reform

    Mr. Speaker, the member for Wellington—Halton Hills today introduced one of the most important bills in Canada's history. The reform act would restore the balance of power between party leaders and MPs, and it would restore true democracy to Canada. Canadians will be watching closely to see how the NDP and Liberal MPs will vote.
    The parliamentary secretary ducked the question, so my question for the Prime Minister is this. Will he whip the Conservative vote on the reform act?
    Mr. Speaker, I think that member would have a lot to teach all of the opposition about the issue of free votes. In fact, he was not allowed to express the will of his constituents on the subject of the long gun registry. Similarly, the Liberal Party banned its members from having a free vote on that very subject.
    On this side of the House, we hold vastly more free votes than the opposition does. We have passed more private members' bills in this majority Conservative Parliament than any other in 40 years, since 1972. This Prime Minister has reinstated the practice of allowing members of Parliament to vote before our soldiers are sent into harm's way. We are advancing democracy and we will continue to do so.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I seek the unanimous consent of the House to revert back to presenting reports from committees under Routine Proceedings in order to present a report from a committee and seek concurrence in the report.
    Does the hon. member for Elgin—Middlesex—London have the unanimous consent of the House to revert back to tabling of reports from committees?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs regarding the membership of the committees of the House. If the House gives its consent, I should like to move concurrence at this time.
     Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

    The hon. member for Trinity—Spadina is rising on a point of order.

  (1505)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During question period the parliamentary secretary for transport said that the NDP and I voted against the Safer Railways Act, which is completely wrong. He should withdraw that.
    That is a point the member can make in a future question period or at some other time, but it does not sound like a point of order.

GOVERNMENT ORDERS

[Government Orders]

[English]

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act No. 2

     The House resumed consideration of Bill C-4, A second act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    Mr. Speaker, under the leadership of our Prime Minister, in September of this year, Moody's reaffirmed Canada's AAA credit rating.
    That is because we have a Prime Minister and the best Minister of Finance in the world who keep their hands on the tiller and make sure we have one of the greatest economies on this planet. That is no accident. It is because we have a government that looks to this, and we make sure that all Canadians benefit from it.
    Moody's Investors Service's report stated that Canada's AAA credit rating:
....reflects a large, diversified economy as well as sound macroeconomic policy management.
    Standard and Poors has also once again confirmed our government's AAA credit rating and highlighted in its report our stable and credible policy-making and a highly resilient economy even in the face of a fragile global economy, which yet remains. However, because of our Conservative government's, our Prime Minister's and our Minister of Finance's attention to this detail, Canada remains one of the strongest economies on the planet. Its report also touted high investor confidence and, in particular, our continued openness to trade as reliable indicators of Canada's future economic success. This endorsement follows our recently announced agreement in principle on a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union.
     That trade agreement would make Canada one of only a few developed economies to have preferential access to two of the world's largest markets, the EU and the U.S., which together represent more than 800 million consumers and almost half of the global gross domestic product. I know my riding of Etobicoke Centre would benefit greatly from this trade deal because there are huge implications in it for Canada.
    Our government's number one priority remains the economy, because that is the unwavering focus. More than one million more Canadians are working now than in July 2009, the best job creation record of the G7 industrialized countries.
    It is my pleasure to speak to the second budget implementation bill. By implementing the measures in the economic action plan 2013, our government is helping to create jobs and opportunities for Canadians, and grow Canada's economy.
    Measures in the economic action plan 2013 No. 2, aimed at spurring job creation and economic growth, include extending and expanding the hiring credit for small business, which would benefit an estimated 560,000 employers; increasing and indexing the lifetime capital gains exemption, to make investing in small business more rewarding; expanding the accelerated capital cost allowance to further encourage investments in clean energy generation; and freezing employment insurance premium rates for three years, leaving $660 million in the pockets of job creators and workers in 2014 alone.
    The economic action plans will be introducing new administrative monetary penalties and criminal offences to deter the use, possession, sale and development of electronic suppression of sales software designed to falsify records for the purpose of tax evasion; closing tax loopholes relating to character conversion transactions, synthetic dispositions, leveraged life insurance arrangements and other schemes, to ensure that everyone pays their fair share; and extending, in certain circumstances, the period during which the Canada Revenue Agency can reassess a taxpayer who fails to report income from foreign property.
    We do respect taxpayers' dollars. We modernized the Canada student loans program by moving to electronic service delivery, which meets our promise of eliminating red tape and unnecessary burdensome administration to get a lot of these things done. We are improving the efficiency of the temporary foreign worker program by also expanding electronic service delivery. For example, electronic signatures will suffice, whereas previously wet signatures were required, which increased the burden on people to actually get to the offices and do it. Now we have made it much easier to do all of these things online.
    We are also phasing out the labour-sponsored venture capital corporations tax credit.
    All these measures ensure that Canada is on the right track for economic prosperity. I think most of the world would agree with that.
    I would like to further expand on a measure I just mentioned: freezing employment insurance premium rates for three years. Falling unemployment over the recovery means that the EI operating account is on track to return to balance, and the premium rate increases previously projected are simply no longer necessary.
    Earlier this year, on September 9, our government announced it would freeze the employment insurance premium rate at the 2013 level of $1.88 per $100 of insurable earnings for 2014, and additionally that the rate would be set no higher than $1.88 for 2015 and 2016.

  (1510)  

    What does that mean? It means that by doing, this the government is promoting stability and predictability for employers and employees. Also, it is going to leave $660 million in the pockets of employers and workers in 2014. That means businesses and their employees, for example, in my riding of Etobicoke Centre, will keep more money in their pockets, which is great news for our local economy, especially for our small businesses, of which I have many in my riding. This measure also establishes that the premium rate for 2017 and onwards would be set according to the seven year break-even rate setting mechanism. This will ensure that EI premiums are no higher than they need to be to pay for the EI program over a seven year period.
    Another measure that will help businesses in my riding is the hiring credit for small business. Small business is the engine of job creation in Canada and in recognition of the challenges faced by small businesses across the country, budget 2011 announced a temporary hiring credit for small business up to $1,000 per employer. That is significant. The credit provided needed relief to small businesses by helping defray the costs of hiring new workers and allowing them to take advantage of emerging economic activities. Indeed, the hiring credit was so successful that it was extended in 2012.
    While the Canadian economy is improving, the global economy remains fragile. In order to support job creation, clause 135 would amend part IV of the Employment Insurance Act to extend and expand the hiring credit for small business in 2013. By doing this, an employer whose premiums were $15,000, increased from $10,000 used in the 2011 and 2012 hiring credit for small business, or less in 2012, would be refunded the increase in their 2013 premiums over those paid in 2012, to a maximum of $1,000. This, again, would put more money into the pockets of small businesses.
     It is estimated that 560,000 small businesses will benefit from this measure, saving them $225 million in 2013. That is significant. This means that businesses and their employees, in my riding of Etobicoke Centre in particular, will be keeping more of that money. That is great news for our local economy, especially those small businesses all across Canada that will benefit from this.
    Economic action plan 2013 also confirms our government's intention to create a new and innovative expression of interest immigration management system that would allow employers, provinces and territories to select skilled immigrants from a pool of applicants that best meet Canada's economic need. The expression of interest model is a new electronic, fully automated, application management system for economic immigration to Canada that would establish a two step immigrant application process, introducing the concept of the stand-alone expression of interest pre-application stage followed by an application by invitation only to the best candidates only. Candidates would complete an online form to express their interest in coming to Canada and provide information about their skills and experience, which would determine their eligibility for entry into the EOI pool. Pool submissions can be ranked, sorted, searched and top candidates would be invited to submit an application for permanent residence, which could be processed in an expedited manner.
    A new expression of interest division would be added to IRPA that would allow for a stand-alone pre-application stage as a first step to immigrating to Canada under certain economic programs. In addition, the division would include broad provisions outlining the process of EOI, the required information sharing measures, as well as measures enabling a role for third parties, provinces and territories, as well as employers, under this new system. This would allow Canada to bring the best and brightest to our country, not only because we need to have sustained immigration, but also we need people who will come to our country, work closely with us, contribute to the tax base right away and make contributions to Canada within a short time of arriving.
    In the past, the economic action plan has greatly benefited seniors. My riding has the eighth highest demographic of seniors in the country. These people have contributed so much to building our country and have in fact laid the foundations that all of us walk on. That is why we have done more for seniors than any other government. Budget 2011 enhanced the guaranteed income supplement, investing more than $300 million per year to improve the financial security and well-being of more than 680,000 seniors across Canada. Budget 2011 increased the budget of the new horizons for seniors program from $40 million to $45 million annually.

  (1515)  

    There are so many good things to talk about in this budget, but I will summarize by simply saying that clearly our government is on the right track. We have a Prime Minister and the best Minister of Finance in the world who have managed it deftly. They have been praised by all of their peers around the planet. We have one of the greatest economies in the G7 and we will continue to do that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives usually have an ally in the Conseil du patronat when it comes to labour-sponsored venture capital funds.
    However, Yves-Thomas Dorval, the president of the Conseil du patronat, has criticized the fact that the federal government does not seem to have done an impact study before making its decision. It is generally very close with the Conseil du patronat, but the government did not even talk to the Conseil before making this kind of decision.
    Did the Conservatives consult anyone? If so, whom? I do not want them to tell me that they invested $1,000 for small businesses, because we suggested an investment of $2,000.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, before any of this comes out and before any budget is released, we do extensive budget consultations. In fact, every member of Parliament, as many of my colleagues here do, should have pre-budget consultations within their ridings as well, not only with local stakeholders but organizational and business group stakeholders, chambers of commerce and many others who feed in. We take those comments and submissions and we produce them, support them and provide them to the minister for his consideration within a budget bill. That happens on a regular business. We always consult.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on the member's comments in regard to changes in immigration. As much as I would have welcomed the opportunity to see that come to the House in a different form, such as separate legislation, it is important for us to recognize the provincial nominee program. When I was on the immigration committee, I was a very strong advocate for trying to deal with ways in which we could look at expanding the program because of the success. Nowhere in Canada has it been more successful than in my home province of Manitoba.
    Specific to that program, does the member believe provinces, such as Manitoba, that have done well with the program should be allowed to retain the number of certificates that they have been able to issue out? As the demand grows from other provinces, there seems to be a push to try to take the certificates away from the province of Manitoba.
    Mr. Speaker, I served on the immigration committee with the hon. member and he was hard working and contributed valuably to that work.
    We work very closely with all provinces in their provincial nominee programs and all provinces have their specific unique needs. The minister works with his colleagues very closely and it has been one of the most successful programs in Canada for being able to allow provinces to select and choose the immigrants who they need for their local and provincial purposes.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, there are some good things in this bill, but there are also a lot of problems.
    One of the biggest problems is that it is another omnibus bill. It is impossible for the public to absorb and assess the content of this bill. It is even impossible for parliamentarians to do so, and that is our job. That is what we are elected to do.
    Nevertheless, the Conservatives continue to move forward with their undemocratic ideology and introduce these massive bills.
    I have a question for the member for Etobicoke Centre, who just spoke. Does he honestly think that this bill should contain a provision that takes away a pregnant woman's right to refuse work conditions that would be harmful to her baby?

  (1520)  

[English]

    The hon. member for Etobicoke Centre has only about 30 seconds left to answer.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know if I can address that in 30 seconds, that was pretty broad.
    However, this government is the most democratic in history. As we said earlier, we have let the most number of private members' bills pass since 1972. We have had the most free open votes. We have nothing to answer to that whipped party for democracy.
     As I said earlier, we have consulted with all kinds of stakeholders. We on this side have actually managed to read the budget and if those members need help, I am prepared to assist.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate on Bill C-4 today.

[English]

    On November 7, I was at a book launch of the Right Hon. Joe Clark, the book entitled How We Lead: Canada in a Century of Change. Incidentally, I recommend reading it. That evening I met Larry Rousseau who is the Regional Executive Vice President of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
    We exchanged comments about this bill. I mentioned that Bill C-4 was explosive. It was a play on words and I am happy to see that he agreed and he picked that expression up because he used it in a text that he had published in The Huffington Post on November 23, but he also used it in a number of meetings the following week.
    He told me on the Wednesday following, November 13, that he and the Public Service Alliance of Canada would be organizing a series of meetings to brief public servants in this town about the impact of Bill C-4 and that they would invite all the MPs from the area on this side of the river and the Outaouais to attend these meetings.
    I attended the four meetings that were held on that Wednesday, where hundreds of public servants came to express their real concerns with the bill, which is now before us, and the contents of this omnibus legislation, specifically in terms of its far-reaching changes to the legislation that governs the federal public service and also workers that fall under federal jurisdiction through the Canada Labour Code.
    The bill essentially does blow up a number of public service rights that have been acquired over the past half century, starting in the sixties when the prime minister at the time, Mr. Pearson, granted the federal public servants the lawful right to strike within “un cadre législatif très utile”. They are almost going to lose that.
    In a very summary manner, I will say what Bill C-4 would do to this.
     First, it would give the government the ability to define essential services in a way that was not done before. Before that, there was a mechanism where both parties, the employer and the employees, could present their arguments and the body that rendered the decision was respected. However, now this law essentially gives that authority entirely to the government.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

    Unions will no longer have the right to arbitration, yet it is a very important tool that has often been used to settle disputes. Now arbitration will not be an option unless 80% of the members do a job that is considered essential.
    Once again, the government is giving itself the right to very easily control a union's ability to use arbitration. It is taking away the essential right to a negotiation tool that works well when the parties cannot come to an agreement.
    Even if unions manage to win the right to arbitration, the government has also changed the conditions that arbitrators can use. They can only refer to the government's financial situation or recruitment and retention issues in the public service.
    Everything else that could be considered before will now be taken away, including the responsibility of arbitrators to evaluate—as part of a broader, Canadian context—the situation of public servants involved in the negotiations before them. That, too, will be eliminated.
    These arbitration boards will no longer be independent. Basically, they will have to report to the government. In addition, the definition of danger is changing, which will affect 200,000 public servants and 800,000 other employees in Canada.
    The minister or one of his delegates will be responsible for defining danger. Those are the major changes that have been made, but there are others as well. They will set us back 50 years. Gone is the tremendous progress made regarding the rights of unionized workers in Canada's public service and the workers governed by the Canada Labour Code.

[English]

    Next June, the five largest federal public service unions will see their agreement expire. What I believe is happening is that the government is outrageously and outlandishly tilting the playing field in its favour so that it can come to these negotiations and essentially adopt a take it or leave it attitude.
     We have seen the government do that before. It was with the provinces on the health accord. I was party to that accord in 2004. We negotiated and signed a health accord for 10 years. As we heard today during question period, it is coming to term next year. The Government of Canada, through the Minister of Finance, has basically said that this is it; take it or leave it. It is not a healthy position in terms of relationships.
     In terms of the federal government, we need a healthy relationship with our employees, and it would be very seriously affected by the provisions in Bill C-4. What are some of the consequences? We are looking at further erosion, certainly, of the rights and the morale of our public servants. We are also looking at affecting the delivery of services to the Canadian public. There is also a longer-term impact, which concerns a topic we have been bringing to the fore on a regular basis.

[Translation]

    The initiatives in this bill will weaken unions. That is contrary to the common good and not in the public interest.
    Let us not forget that, from 1950 to the 1980s, there was a phenomenon known as the Great Compression. During those years, the income gap shrank thanks in large part to unions. In 1951, 28.4% of Canadian workers were unionized. That rose to 40% in the 1980s, reaching 41.8% in 1984.
    Since then, numbers have fallen and now stand at around 30%. Coincidentally, the wage and income gap within the Canadian population has grown.
    We know that the middle class is now earning 5% less, while income levels of the super rich have risen astronomically.

  (1530)  

[English]

    I am sure my colleagues will love the title of this 2009 book by Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal. Paul Krugman is an economist and Nobel Prize winner, so we have to be careful how we attack him here. I will quote a passage in that book:

[Translation]

...everything we know about unions says that their new power [after World War II] was a major factor in the creation of a middle-class society... First, unions raise average wages for their membership; they also, indirectly and to a lesser extent, raise wages for similar workers, even if they aren't represented by unions, as nonunionized employers try to diminish the appeal of union drives to their workers. As a result unions tend to reduce the gap in earnings between blue-collar workers and higher-paid occupations, such as managers. Second, unions tend to narrow income gaps among blue-collar workers by negotiating bigger wage increases for their worst-paid members than for their best-paid members. And nonunion employers, seeking to forestall union organizers, tend to echo this effect. In other words, the known effects of unions on wages are exactly what we see in the Great Compression: a rise in the wages of blue-collar workers compared with managers and professionals, and a narrowing of wage differentials among blue-collar workers themselves.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to my colleague's speech. I know him to be a champion of public servants in this region. We have many interests in common, including defending public servants.
    It is obvious that because of its ideology, this government is predisposed to being against the state and our public servants, who are professionals.
    Today we learned that this bill will lead to an increase in subcontracting. The reality is that there will be more and more subcontracting.
    I am wondering if my colleague believes, as I do, that this government basically believes in privatization.
    Mr. Speaker, I would not go so far as to say that there cannot be some subcontracting if it is shown that expertise is required or is not available within the public service.
    However, when the experience and the expertise exist and the government opts for expensive subcontracting, I wonder if it is justified or if it is motivated by ideology, as my colleague mentioned. Unfortunately, I believe that that is the reason for some privatization and subcontracting. While I do not want to say that subcontracting is always a bad decision, that is all too often the case.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I enjoyed the remarks by the member for Ottawa—Vanier. He basically talked about workers' rights in Canada, especially in the public service.
    We have been very fortunate in this country to have always had a reliable, non-partisan public service that was, until the last number of years, able to give advice to ministers, without fear of repercussions, in a non-partisan way. However, when I talk to people within the public service in this day and age, there is a tremendous fear. It is as if they are being attacked by ministers, by the President of the Treasury Board, and by the government itself.
    There are a lot of public servants in the member's riding. I am seeing a real fear within the public service, and that has to be having an impact on morale and productivity.
    I wonder if the member for Ottawa—Vanier is seeing the same thing, which is that ministries clearly do not accept advice they do not agree with. They have the right to turn it down, but instead of accepting that advice as good advice to consider, they seem to turn it around and attack the public service. I think all Canadians are the losers.

  (1535)  

    Mr. Speaker, it is a sad reality my colleague just described. Indeed, I have witnessed that way too often in Ottawa, and not just in the riding of Ottawa—Vanier, which I have the privilege of representing. Throughout the nation's capital, there is now a mood of fright. It is essentially a management tool, it seems, which the government uses quite extensively.
    I could mention how the Conservatives proceeded in the reduction of the federal public service in the last couple of years. They were looking at reducing it by 20,000, but 100,000 people got letters essentially telling them that they could be at risk. That is a method of dealing with people that is not very sound, because it creates not only bad morale but a great deal of anxiety, and it affects the productivity of these people.
    I would urge the government to perhaps change its attitude vis-à-vis the federal public service. We have a very good public service, and it deserves some respect and some management that will indeed deal with them fairly.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on behalf of my hard-working Richmond Hill constituents to speak on the second economic action plan 2013 implementation bill, or Bill C-4, as we all know it.
    Before I begin my comments, I would like to reflect on some of the positive results we have already achieved with our economic action plan. Many of these successes are included in my recent Richmond Hill report, which will soon be circulating throughout my riding. It notes that over one million more Canadians are employed today than at the through of the recession in 2009. It points out that Canada has the best job creation record and the lowest debt level of all G7 industrialized countries. It notes that Standard and Poor's has again confirmed our AAA rating while highlighting our stable and credible policy-making and highly resilient economy as factors behind this achievement.
    The report also informs Richmond Hill residents that, as confirmed in the government's annual financial report, our country is on track to return to balanced budgets. By eliminating wasteful spending and ineffective government programs, we have enabled the deficit to fall by $7.4 billion from the year before. We remain on target to balance the budget in 2015, and a surplus of $3.7 billion is expected in the year 2015-16.
     Best of all, we have done this without raising taxes or cutting transfer payments to our provinces and territories. In fact, we have done the complete opposite. We have nearly doubled transfers and have cut taxes over 160 times.
    These actions have led to a federal tax burden on the average family that is $3,220 less than when our Conservative government took office. It also means that government revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product is at its lowest level in over 50 years. It is a record that is once again the best by far among G7 countries. My constituents are pleased that our efficient and effective government is putting money back into their pockets, exactly where it belongs.
    I mention these things, because this track record of success becomes the backdrop to our actions going forward. Our plan is clearly working, and the implementation measures contained in Bill C-4 would build on these achievements.
    For example, Bill C-4 corrects many of the tax avoidance activities that have crept into our system. It proposes measures to reduce international tax evasion, aggressive tax avoidance and tax planning, and tax loopholes and to clarify the tax rules. It proposes stiff new monetary penalties and criminal offences for persons who evade taxes by using electronic suppression of sales, or ESS, software to falsify sales records. It also provides penalties for persons found to manufacture, develop, sell, process for sale, or offer for sale ESS software.
    Tax evasion and avoidance entails a real fiscal cost to governments and taxpayers. It is unfair to businesses and unfair to individuals who play by the rules. Our government will not tolerate tax cheats. Canadians want integrity in the tax system, and the proposals in Bill C-4 would deter this type of activity.
    I am also pleased to highlight some of the additional job-creating measures in Bill C-4 that the good people in my riding of Richmond Hill, such as the Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce, are very pleased about. For example, the Employment Insurance Act would be amended to allow the employment insurance premium rate to be frozen at 2013 levels for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016. This one measure would save Canadian businesses over $660 million in 2014 alone.
    Going forward, it would ensure that EI premiums were no higher than they needed to be to pay for the EI program. Rates would be set according to a seven-year break-even rate-setting mechanism. This would ensure that EI premiums were set no higher than necessary over that seven-year period.
    By enacting these changes, we are promoting stability and predictability for employers and employees.

  (1540)  

    We believe that small businesses are the engine of job creation in Canada. In budget 2011, to help stabilize that sector and recognize the challenges they face, we instituted a temporary hiring credit for small businesses of up to $1,000 per employer. The credit provided needed relief for small businesses by helping to defray the costs of hiring new workers. It was so successful in contributing toward job creation and retention that it was extended in 2012 and today I am pleased to say, as we all know, that budget 2013 will once again extend and expand the hiring credit for small businesses to 2014.
    Bill C-4 proposes the technical requirements to make this into law. It would also enhance the credit by increasing the overall threshold from $10,000 to $15,000. An employer whose premiums were $15,000 or less in 2012 will be refunded the increase in their 2013 premiums over those paid in 2012, to a maximum of $1,000. This job-creating measure would save an estimated 560,000 small businesses in our country $225 million in 2013, which, in turn, can be reinvested in their firms.
    Bill C-4 also proposes measures to eliminate the inefficient and ineffective tax subsidy in labour-sponsored venture capital corporations. Experts such as the OECD have told us that these vehicles have distorted the market for venture capital, lowered the average quality of deals and limited the supply of equity to non-traditional industries and newer companies. We heard that advice and we acted. Labour-sponsored venture capital corporations will be phased out and replaced with a new venture capital program that will do more to create jobs and economic growth in Canada. The phase-out leaves the credit at 15% when claimed for a taxation year ending before 2015, reduces it to 10% for the year 2015, to 5% in 2016, and fully eliminates it in 2017.
    To further encourage businesses to invest in clean energy generation and in energy-efficient equipment, Bill C-4 proposes to expand the classification of clean energy generation equipment eligible for the accelerated capital cost allowance rate of 50%. I know many businesses in my riding will benefit from this expanded classification and this, combined with all the job-creating measures in economic action plan 2013, will help create jobs and economic growth in the great town of Richmond Hill.
    As I mentioned earlier, Canada has experienced solid job creation since the implementation of our economic action plan. Today, in addition to having the lowest unemployment rate since 2008, the Canadian labour market is also experiencing a high labour-force participation rate. This means that a high proportion of the population aged 15 years and over in Canada are either working or actively seeking work. This is an indication that the unemployed are seeking work and finding it. In contrast, the United States' participation rate has declined sharply and now stands at its lowest level in more than 35 years.
    In Canada, this has caused some imbalances between unemployment and job vacancies. Some Canadian firms are experiencing difficulty in hiring, including the skilled trades in sectors such as mining, oil and gas extraction, and construction. Employers are also having difficulty hiring highly skilled professionals in science-based occupations, such as engineers and architects. On the other hand, some Canadians are unemployed because they do not have the right skills for available jobs in expanding sectors and regions.
    Budget 2013 takes several steps to solve this dilemma. It announced that the government will transform skills training in Canada through the introduction of the Canada job grant as part of the renewal of the labour market agreements in 2014-15. Another key step is found in Bill C-4, which through changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, would allow for the creation of a new and innovative expression of interest, or EOI, immigration management system.
    I would like to conclude by saying that I could elaborate at length on the many benefits to Canadians contained in Bill C-4. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the House to support the swift passage of Bill C-4 so that Canadians may begin to reap the many benefits that it contains.

  (1545)  

    Mr. Speaker, there are a number of elements that I find are missing from the bill in terms of dealing with economic development.
    In my region, a large mining sector, we are having a very difficult time bringing miners in. One of the reasons for that, if we ask all of the northern mayors, is the issue of housing. People are not building housing stock. There is no available housing. It is just not worth people moving. They will not move if they have to spend $300,000 or $400,000 for a house in a mining town. This is happening all across the north, but it is not only in the north. We see in the city of Toronto now that the price of affordable rent is pushing people who would previously have been middle class to share and double-up on apartments.
    Under the Conservative government, we do not have any plan for a national housing strategy, yet, it is affecting development. It is affecting the development of the middle class and it is causing more and more people to have to put money into rent that they should be putting into investments, savings and education.
    Has my hon. colleague looked at the issue in his area in terms of the price of affordable housing becoming so difficult to afford that it is actually affecting the bottom lines of many Canadian families?
    Mr. Speaker, I would point the hon. member to the many initiatives that the Minister of State for Social Development and the Minister of Employment and Social Development have announced over recent months with respect to affordable housing. Some of those investments and announcements were announced in my riding of Richmond Hill.
    Let me say this. It is not just us, the Conservatives, who are saying that Canada is on the right track. If we look at the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, they are saying that Canada will continue to be a leader in job creation and a leader in the economy among the G7 countries moving forward in the ensuing years.
    We all have to work together. Once again, I would urge the hon. member, his colleagues and all members of the House to support Bill C-4 so that we can get on and get the job done for Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, because the member is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight an issue that is really important to all members of the House, that is the typhoon that hit the Philippines.
    There were a number of requests made. One in particular dealt strictly with immigration and ensuring that we could assist those individuals who were in that disaster area and who were profoundly affected by the disaster by speeding up processing times for immigration. The other request that we put forward dealt with individuals from the affected area who are here under some form of a temporary work visa, visitor visa or study visa and assisting them by getting extensions put into place so that they would not have to travel back to that area.
    I realize that this is a little bit off topic, but I wonder if the member could provide comment or an update on that.

  (1550)  

    Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me just reiterate that our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by this horrible tragedy, I will just call it that, which Typhoon Haiyan imposed on the people of the Philippines.
    The member will be pleased to know that recently in the citizenship and immigration committee, of which he was a contributing and valuable member, we listened to testimony from the immigration program manager in Manila, who spoke to us about the additional staffing, hours and resources that were put in place in the Manila office to deal with the families in the region that was directly affected by the typhoon.
    As the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration has clearly stated, we are prioritizing those requests on a case-by-case basis.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-4, a second budget implementation act.
    Unfortunately, I only have 10 minutes to talk about the wonderful things that are contained within Bill C-4 and about all of the wonderful things we have done as a government to not only make our economy one of the strongest performing economies in the world, certainly, within the G7, creating over one million net new jobs since the depths of the recession, but also about some issues that are more close to home, rather than the big macro issues, and some of those are in the riding of York Centre.
     I am privileged and honoured to represent the wonderful people of the riding of York Centre. Many of the people who reside in York Centre are new to Canada. They come from every country around the world. We have the largest number, for example, of Russian-speaking people of any riding in the country; the third-largest number of Filipinos; and the fastest-growing Latino population. These people are coming to Canada for hope and opportunity. They are coming for the opportunity that our government has created for them.
    We have created economic conditions that people can take advantage of. They can create businesses. They can be employed in jobs.
     My father came from Europe after the war. He was the only survivor from his family. When I was growing up, I remember peeking out the curtains, waiting for my dad to come home every night and watching him haul himself out of the car and just really dragging his knuckles across the driveway. I really wanted to play with him. I wanted him to help me with my homework. I remember how dead tired he was. He, nevertheless, took the time to help me with my homework, to engage with me, to read to me.
     I do a lot of community outreach, as I am sure many of the members do in this chamber. When I go around my riding of York Centre to canvass door to door and go to community events, I see so many people who are new to this country of Canada and who are new to the riding of York Centre. They are trying to be the best Canadians they possibly can because they have come to this country for a variety of reasons, certainly to seek opportunity but also to escape persecution and racism. They are coming here not so much for themselves but more for their kids. When I see them with their kids and with their families so engaged, I remember when I was growing up, feeling exactly the same way. I know how these new immigrants to York Centre are feeling because I see a lot of me in them.
    It is wonderful to know that we have a government that is coming to the aid and having the backs of Canadians so that we have fostered an economy whereby we have job creation and we have an environment where small businesses can flourish.
    Just to get down to some specifics, Canada is recognized by a number of international organizations, from the OECD to the IMF, as having the strongest economic fundamentals in place. We have these fundamentals in place because we have a plan.
    When I am back in the riding, I go to a lot of schools, junior highs and high schools. I ask the kids what their plans are for the future. Everyone has a plan of some sort. Either they are going to go into public service, go into business, seek a job in IT, and so on, but everyone has a plan.
    Our plan, since 2006, has been based on job creation and balancing the budgets in a way that would not require us to raise taxes. In fact, we are lowering taxes. What we have done, for example, for the average Canadian family of four, is lowered taxes by $3,200, on average. That is a lot of money for people.
    For businesses, we have extended the hiring tax credit. This is going to help 565,000 small businesses in the country, so they can go out and hire more people. This will save businesses hundreds of millions of dollars so they can invest more in their business rather than giving it to the government. Now they can create jobs for people who need them. We know that we have a shortage of skilled labour in this country. People are out, seeking jobs.
    Is our job complete? We created over a million net new jobs since the depth of the recession, but is our job complete? No, and it will not be complete until every Canadian who wants a job is able to have a job. That is when we know our job will be complete.
    Back in 2006, we inherited an economy that was doing well. Rather than continue to spend and raise taxes, as previous governments had done, and balance our budget on the backs on the most vulnerable Canadians, as the Liberals did in the mid-nineties by cutting social transfers, by cutting the Canada health transfer, we paid down debt. We paid about $38 billion in debt, from 2006 to 2008.

  (1555)  

    As a result, we had some manoeuvrability, a cushion that we were able to use so we could inject more money into the economy when the recession hit in 2008.
    We invested millions of dollars into the economy. These projects that we invested in were shovel-ready. This must be a record for government, getting that money out the door as quickly as possible and getting the projects under way. I think every project that started as a result of the economic stimulus package in 2008, 2009, and 2010 is complete. I would think that is some kind of record in Canadian history.
    Our job is not finished, and our government remains focused on what matters most to Canadians. What matters most to Canadians is jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. It is not increasing taxes. It is not engaging in wild, hare-brained spending schemes, as the NDP is proposing, or legalizing marijuana, as the Liberals are proposing. We have a thorough economic plan, and it has been in place since 2006.
    Our low-tax agenda has served us well. Canadians are happy to know that they are paying less tax today. Lowering the GST, for example, was a commitment we made in the election campaign; we have lowered it from 7% to 6% to 5%. That puts more money back in the pockets of Canadians where it belongs. Canadians take that money and spend it, and when they spend it, it creates jobs and economic activity. That is a good thing.
    We are not proposing a $21-billion carbon tax that would increase the cost of everything, as the NDP is. We are heading into the Christmas season now, and we would be paying more for toys for our kids if we had a $21-billion carbon tax. That is not acceptable. It is unacceptable to Canadians and unacceptable to us in the government.
    Another thing our government has been focused on is a very aggressive trade agenda. Since we took government in 2006, we have negotiated six additional free trade agreements. So far we have 16 trade agreements and foreign investment promotion agreements. This is a record.
    We have just concluded agreement on CETA, the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the European Union. This will create thousands of new jobs. It will create employment and economic activity. It will create all kinds of activity for Canadians to find more jobs. It will open up markets in Europe. Half a billion people in Europe will now be able to access the Canadian market, and Canadian manufacturers and sellers will be able to sell their products within the European Union. This is really a good thing.
    We hear from the opposition members how anti-trade they are. This is unacceptable, because trade means jobs. We know that and Canadians know that. Canadians sent us here to get a job done. They gave us a majority in 2011 based on an economic platform we put forward to them. They approved of it. They sent us here to get the job done.
    As a result of our economic action plan, we have the strongest economic fundamentals of any country around the world. Our debt to GDP ratio, for example, is 35%. We have committed to getting that down to 25% by 2021, as we stated in Los Cabos at the G20.
    When I go back to my riding, I see new immigrants who are working extremely hard. Many who have been in Canada for a few years are now starting their own businesses. I see that in a variety of communities, particularly in the Russian and Filipino communities. They are starting their own small businesses and they are starting to hire people. This is a wonderful thing to see. This is why they came to Canada: so they can send their kids to school and to university. It is so they can become professionals, doctors, lawyers, and members of Parliament, or perhaps one day even a prime minister of Russian-speaking descent, or of Filipino descent, or of Latino descent. That would be wonderful to see.
    In conclusion, our economy policy is envied around the world. Our economic performance is a model, thanks to our wonderful Minister of Finance, who has been recognized as the world's best finance minister.
    Let me conclude by saying that I hope everybody in the House will support Bill C-4 to keep our economy number one in the world.

  (1600)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from York Centre, who serves with me on the Standing Committee on Finance.
    I would find this very funny, if it were not such a serious topic. One of the many things he boasted about was tax cuts worth a few thousand dollars for the average family of four. However, he is completely out of touch with reality. He is not taking into account the growing gap between average incomes and median incomes. Millions of Canadian families are unable to benefit from those much-touted tax cuts. In our study on inequality, witnesses, including the chief economist of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, demonstrated that the very rich are getting richer, and fast. Some of those much-touted tax cuts have gone to people who definitely do not need lower tax rates. I would remind the House that 0.01% of the wealthiest people have increased their incomes by more than 160%.
    I wonder if my colleague could tell me why he supports tax cuts for the rich and why he wants to put more money in their pockets.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I sit with my hon. friend on the finance committee, where he does some very hard work. I thank him for that.
    The NDP seems to let the facts get in the way of a good argument. We have lowered the corporate tax rate down to 15% in this country. What we have seen is an increase in corporate tax revenues as a result. What do corporations do when they have more money? They invest and create more jobs. That is a wonderful thing to see. That is why we have had over a million net new jobs created in this country since the end of the recession.
    The NDP is concerned about more spending and higher taxation. It wants to bring in a $21-billion carbon tax, which would raise the cost of everything, including kids' toys during the holiday season. It is unacceptable that Canadians would even consider the NDP as a legitimate option when all it wants to do is raise taxes and engage in wild spending.
    Order, please. The member for Timmins—James Bay is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I listened to my hon. colleague. He misrepresents the facts. He is misrepresenting things back to constituents. It is not right. He can say whatever he wants, but if he wants to make up facts, he should stand outside and do it outside.
    Obviously that is not a point of order. Does the member for York Centre wish to continue with his response?
    Mr. Speaker, I am fine. Thank you.
    Mr. Speaker, listening to the Conservatives stand up and speak, I am beginning to believe that the self-confidence of the Minister of Finance must be a little low. Time and time again members stand up to say that we have the best Minister of Finance in the world. That is debatable at best. I would suggest it is somewhat of an exaggeration of reality to make that sort of claim, and the facts of the matter clearly demonstrate that.
    The member made reference in his speech to how wonderful free trade agreements are and that the government has moved forward on many different free trade agreements. We are very much aware of that. We have supported the free trade agreements, as the Liberal Party has in the past.
    The concern I have—as would most Canadians, if not all—is the overall trade balance. When the Conservatives took government, there was a trade surplus of billions of dollars; they have turned it into billions of dollars of trade deficit.
    Can the member explain why there is a deficit?

  (1605)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government has engaged aggressively in promoting trade and in negotiating a variety of free trade agreements and foreign investment promotion agreements with countries around the world.
    Our government is interested in free trade that would create jobs in this country. It is not interested in the drug trade, as the Liberals are, to promote marijuana smoking. Our government is interested in free trade for jobs; their party is interested in smoking marijuana.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would not describe the speech I am going to give on Bill C-4 as being really pleasant. Indeed, I participated in the study of this budget bill as a member of the Standing Committee on Finance.
    Of course, the fact that this is essentially an omnibus bill already shows a total lack of respect for Canadians, as well as our witnesses. These witnesses were rushed and lined up on the benches of the committee room to testify to their concerns about this bill, in a very short period of time. Obviously, this also shows a blatant lack of respect for our institutions.
    The Conservative government has no qualms about introducing a whole series of measures in one catch-all bill. Many of these measures have nothing to do with the budget, while others deserve serious and thorough consideration as part of separate bills in other committees.
    I am therefore condemning this umpteenth disrespectful act from this government. This is something quite serious. It basically undermines public confidence and it undermines the functioning of our institutions, making them dysfunctional. The responsibility for this act and its burden fall squarely on the shoulders of this Conservative government.
    We have already had to swallow this kind of bitter medicine. It is familiar to us and we try to object. Obviously, we work primarily based on facts instead of working to win at all costs, as the Conservatives do.
    To top it all, the member for North Vancouver moved a motion that upon reading is so ridiculous that it would be funny if not for its tragic consequences. Basically, my colleague's motion ensured that the day for the clause-by-clause consideration of the omnibus bill, which included a total of 472 items, ended at midnight, that all items not voted on that day were deemed passed, and, furthermore, that all non-voted amendments, that is, our honest and fair proposals, the kind of proposals that deserved to be carefully considered, were deemed rejected.
    Let me tell it like it is. It is not enough that the government has a majority and can abuse it utterly shamelessly. It wants a double lock on power. In other words, it is doing everything it can to make its position unassailable at the expense of our institutions and Canadians. It is even laughing at our witnesses.
    The New Democratic Party tabled its amendments at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, November 26. There was a meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance that same day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The committee met for three hours, during which it heard from about a dozen witnesses in two groups of six or so.

  (1610)  

    Everything happened so fast. We could not really dig into the issue, and the witnesses were unable to truly explain their positions. That was all after the NDP tabled its suggestions.
    That is unspeakable behaviour on the part of the government. The government cannot give us a single reasonable argument. It cannot even say that there is any sense of urgency. I should point out that, unfortunately, we lost a month of work in the House because of prorogation. The government has no valid reason for acting that way except for its intrinsic cowardice.
    The Conservatives want to win at any price and are abusing their majority in the extreme. That majority is shrinking as they lose players—we will talk more about that later. We can all watch closely as the Conservatives self-destruct and wait for the day when the government loses its majority.
    I would like to comment on the omnibus nature of this bill. As a member of the official opposition, I think it is terrible. The government does not care that my colleagues and I object. That seems to be par for the course. That is unacceptable on the part of the government, but it is to be expected.
    It does not make any sense for the government to turn a deaf ear to the opinions of experienced and attentive observers who also disagree with the completely unacceptable omnibus nature of the government's budget implementation bills.
    In a relatively long article, after talking about how the bill makes a mockery of the confidence convention and how it fails to respect our institutions, columnist Andrew Coyne said that all we know is whether MPs voted for or against the omnibus bill as a whole. MPs cannot make a distinction between or express their views on specific parts of the bill that should have been bills in their own right.
    He added that there is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent not a single act of policy, but a sort of compulsory buffet. He finds it alarming that Parliament is being obliged to rubber-stamp the government’s whole legislative agenda at one go.
    In my opinion, Mr. Coyne is a credible individual whose opinion counts. When he goes that far in talking about the government, we should take notice. The only government members who are present are barely listening. It is rather unfortunate.
    Since I have only a minute left, I would like to quickly talk about a concern I have that is related to my role as the member for Beauport—Limoilou and thus the beautiful Quebec City.
    TeraXion is expanding and over 90% of its sales are made internationally. With regard to venture capital for labour-sponsored funds, Alain-Jacques Simard, CEO of TeraXion said:
    [For TeraXion,] the Fonds [de solidarité FTQ] was a kind of catalyst, and since January 2010...we have...doubled our sales.
    For the benefit of the House, I would like to point out that during the most recent Gala des Mercuriades in Montreal, in 2013, TeraXion was given the award for export and development of international markets.
    Given that Canada is losing its ability to export and many of its companies are disappearing, it is extremely worrisome that the government is working against our exporters.

  (1615)  

    Mr. Speaker, today we have heard some fine statements about the economy. The problem is that we currently have almost as many unemployed workers as we did at the height of the recession in 2008. Since the Conservative government came to power, 80% of Canadians have seen their incomes drop. It is all well and good that Canada is progressing, but the more Canada progresses, the poorer most Canadians get. Obviously, as poverty increases, so does the use of food banks. Canadians are being forced to turn to charity in order to survive.
    Can my colleague explain how these Reagan and Bush style policies have hurt Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague for the question.
    As a politician and a keen economic observer, I believe that we have been making mistakes collectively in the west for the past 35 years. The real problem is that, despite the claims from the right, and especially the far right, there has been no clear evidence of any collective prosperity linked to the withdrawal of the state, tax cuts, downsizing or the slashing of our social programs; on the contrary.
    As my hon. colleague explained, it is a fact: the majority of Canadians are paying the price, especially since incomes are no longer keeping up with the cost of living. Only a fraction of the population is enjoying increased wealth, although even that increase is really slowing down. Indeed, I would remind the House that the Bank of Canada reduced its growth projections for Canada to 1.6%, which is very troubling.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague started to talk about what the bill does to workers' rights. We know that some elements of Bill C-4 will violate workers' rights. There have been other bills, such as Bill C-377, which forced unions to disclose their financial information to the general public, even though this information is already provided to their members. Bill C-525 goes even further with respect to the right to organize.
    Is my colleague concerned about this trend? The Conservatives are trying to weaken workers' groups and groups that advocate for workers' rights, the rights of average Canadians, of those who work hard every day. At the same time, they are giving rights and powers to the minister. Does the member share my concern?

  (1620)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for her excellent question, because that is a very big concern.
    In fact, I will focus on a very specific aspect that Bill C-4 will change. Right from the very first day that we studied this bill, an army of public servants were able to answer our countless questions, actually only a fraction of the countless questions we had.
    I would like to cite a very specific example because I want to focus on the measures that will affect the public service. The new arbitration, the new powers assumed by the minister will affect other sectors of activity. With regard to the definition of essential services, the official who answered my questions did confirm that no category of workers, no public servant could be automatically excluded from being providers of an essential service. If the minister ever abused his power, litigation would be the only recourse. Therefore, this is a means of bringing the courts into labour relations. This is a very serious mistake because we should always encourage negotiation. That will absolutely not be the case with this bill, and it is setting the stage for a generalized deterioration of the climate in which working conditions are negotiated for workers in general.
    I again thank my colleague for her question.
    It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 38 to inform the House that the questions to be raised tonight at the time of adjournment are as follows: the hon. member for Hochelaga, Infrastructure; the hon. member for Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, Science and Technology.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak again to Bill C-4. I had the opportunity to speak to it at second reading before it went to committee.
    I am happy to talk to my friend from the Liberal Party and ensure that he understands what is in Bill C-4.
    What I found funny this week when I was listening was that I was speaker 69 last time and I think the speaker before me wanted to go to the vote on it, and I know we are relatively close to that again this time.
     We have had a large number of speakers to the bill. It was funny that we were hearing from the opposition that we were not given enough time to speak on the bill. Then this week, I hear from a number of opposition members that we keep repeating ourselves. We keep repeating ourselves because there is only so much in this bill and everybody understands what is in it. One either agrees or disagrees with it. It is not that complicated.
     The opposition says that it is an omnibus bill. Yes, it is a couple of hundred pages: 100 in French, 100 in English. Can they read that? I am not sure. I know I can and I am pretty sure my opposition members can read that much.
    Anyway, I want to talk about the areas in Bill C-4, which is the implementation bill of the budget and other measures. People seem to miss the title of the bill, which does say “other measures”. Therefore, it was not just what was in the budget in the spring, but other measures that this government thought were important to bring forward and to get through the House, and I will talk a little about that.
    I want to talk about the things that directly affect my riding.
     The first thing I want to speak about is the lifetime capital gains exemption basically for small business. The largest employer in my riding has about 600 employees. The municipality, in fact, has about that many employees, or a bit less. The vast majority of employers in my riding are small and medium-sized businesses.
    These businesses are often individually owned businesses or group owned. Very few are traded on the stock market, but there are some there, such as financial offices of different organizations in terms of credit. We have components of different larger organizations, but the vast majority are medium-sized businesses owned by small groups of individuals or individuals themselves.
     Through this bill, we would increase the capital gains. Business owners could save based on the amount they could retain after they sell their business or pass it on. Small and medium-sized businesses are often passed on to family members. The sale of a business would allow for money to be left in the pockets of the entrepreneurs. They created the jobs and economic activity in my riding and have earned the right to retain earnings. It is their retirement often.
    Not all businesses in my riding own their buildings or real estate, for example. Therefore, the retained earnings they would get and the savings they would make on the change to the capital gains exemption would be significant to them, to their families and to their retirement.
    We often hear concern about turning a business over, whatever that business might be, because of the cost of capital gains and what would be left in one's pocket after the taxes were paid. This measure would allow for a little more to stay in an owner's pocket, which I think is very important.
    The next thing I want to talk about is the accelerated capital cost allowance for clean energy generation equipment.
    We have the ACCA on a number of items across the country. It is part of the accounting packages that we allow for accelerated capital cost allowance. Basically, it would allow a company to write-off capital expenditures much faster than it would have been able to under normal charts in terms of expected lifespan. It is an accounting piece that would allow companies to invest in equipment and realize profits from that equipment in a much quicker manner. I am very supportive of that.

  (1625)  

    Part of it is that we have included clean energy generation and clean energy equipment that did not qualify previously for the accelerated capital cost allowance, and this does that. For companies in my riding, if they are not directly involved in the clean energy generation business but are suppliers of those businesses—for example, parts for equipment they may buy—it makes a significant difference to those small and medium-sized businesses being able to take advantage of that ACCA.
    I would now like to talk about the hiring credit for small business. In budget 2011, we brought forward the $1,000 per employee small business hiring credit, and we are continuing that process through Bill C-4. This would allow those small and medium-sized businesses in my riding an opportunity to grow, to provide economic growth not just for Burlington but for Ontario and for Canada.
    Growth comes in a number of ways, through sales and so on, and if businesses continue to grow, they often need more people. We want to encourage employment through Bill C-4, through our whole budget, our economic action plan, and this mechanism helps encourage employment, particularly for young people in my riding of Burlington. It is a relatively expensive place to live, and we are having an issue with young people who have grown up and gone to high school in Burlington, have gone away for post-secondary education either at McMaster next door in Hamilton, in the area or across the country, and are having a hard time finding positions to come home to in Burlington. The mayor and the city council have looked at this. The small business hiring credit would assist small businesses in my riding to hire young people and help them get started in their careers after their education.
    We are doing what we can federally, as is the municipality through a number of programs, to encourage local employment for young people, particularly ones who have a connection with our community and have added to its quality of life.
    The other couple of areas I would speak to are on the other categories in the bill. I am fortunate enough to be the chair of the justice committee, which I will talk about last; but first, I have also been fortunate to be assigned to the citizenship and immigration committee, which is a new experience for me. I had not been on that committee before, and this fall I was asked to sit on the committee. I have enjoyed my time there. Part of the discussion we have been having was with Bill C-4. As members know, there were a number of areas under the “other” category, and the finance committee sent those parts of Bill C-4 to those committees for further study.
    At the citizenship and immigration committee, we had the opportunity to talk about two things that are in Bill C-4. One is the passport issue. I think we have done the appropriate thing. People who come into my office to talk to me about passports are somewhat surprised, and even I was surprised, that passports were under Foreign Affairs. In actual fact, we are moving it over to Citizenship and Immigration, where it is more appropriate for it to be managed, and that would make for a better system.
    My final point is that the Supreme Court Act was also submitted in Bill C-4 and was referred to my committee. We had excellent committee meetings on this issue. We talked about what we are doing, moving forward, in being able to appoint individuals to the Supreme Court. It was an excellent discussion. We had a number of meetings with a variety of different witnesses, suggested mostly by the opposition, so we were able to deal with that issue and send it back to finance. I think it was the appropriate thing to do.
    I am happy to answer any questions that may come my way.

  (1630)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when public servants testified before the Standing Committee on Finance, they said that eliminating the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board is what lead to the surplus being taken from the employment insurance fund and put into the consolidated revenue fund. The government does not put a single cent into the employment insurance fund; workers and employers do. Taking that money makes it more difficult for workers to access benefits that they have already paid for.
    How can the member justify that government measure?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's questions, and I will say hello to her sister-in-law from Burlington when I see her.
    The fact of the matter is that the government looks at all programs, including EI, and we look to where there are efficiencies and effectiveness. I was not at the finance meetings to hear what the public service witnesses had to say, so I am not sure what their testimony was.
     I am very proud of this side of the House, this government. When we came to office we looked at the EI program, and the member is absolutely right that EI is funded by the employer and the employee, and we set up a fund for that money to go into so that governments could not take that money and use it for general expenses, as has been the case in previous years. We set that up, and I am happy with what we are doing. It is only appropriate for EI and all programs that the government of the day look at how to be more efficient and more effective in providing the services that those programs are to provide, and I am supportive of what we are doing in the EI program.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with lots of interest to my colleague go on and on about what he considers successes but what many of us on this side would challenge. We actually led the way when dealing with an almost-bankrupt government back in 1993 as a result of previous Conservative governments, when they had an opportunity to be here.
    However, I want to ask the member very specifically about the issue of the refundable tax credit for the disabled, and whether he really understands that non-refundable tax credits are only good for those people who have an income. For the somewhere around four million people who are in need of this tax credit, with all of the wonderful things the member talks about why is it that nobody was paying attention to changing that disability tax credit to apply to the people who do not have enough income and truly are deserving and need that? And why has the government not decided to make that a fully refundable tax credit and really help people who are very much in need?

  (1635)