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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 10 a.m.



[Routine Proceedings]



Government Response to Petitions

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


Committees of the House

Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics 

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, concerning the Main Estimates 2012-2013: Votes 40 and 45 under Justice, 15 and 20 under Parliament and 45 under Treasury Board for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013.

Commissioner for Children and Young Persons in Canada Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, today, I am pleased to introduce a bill to establish the Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young Persons. The true measure of a nation’s standing is how well it attends to its children, including their health, safety, material security, education and socialization.
    As we know, Canada ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on December 13, 1991.


    The purpose of my bill is to establish an independent statutory officer, office of a commissioner of children and young persons, to advocate at a national level for the needs, views and rights of children and young persons, and to promote, monitor and report on the effective implementation of Canada's obligations under the convention.
    I believe very strongly that the creation of the position of commissioner will affirm clearly the importance that Canada accords the youngest and most vulnerable segment of our society. I hope that I can count on the support of the House for the passage of this bill.

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



Rights of the Unborn   

    Mr. Speaker, I have the privilege to rise today to present a petition from the people in my riding of Saint Boniface.


    This petition calls upon the House of Commons to confirm that every human being is recognized by Canadian law as human by amending section 223 of our Criminal Code.
    Mr. Speaker, at times, as members of Parliament, we are called upon to deliver petitions that we may not agree with, and this is one of those times.
    I am presenting two petitions from the citizens of my riding requesting that the government amend legislation relative to the definition of a human being.
    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions.
    The first one is from petitioners who are in support of Motion No. 312. This petition calls on the House to amend section 223 of the Criminal Code regarding the definition of when a child becomes a human being and calls on the House to consider 21st century medical evidence.

International Trade  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns the Canada-Europe agreement on comprehensive and economic trade.
    The petitioners call on this House to reject any agreement that restricts the favouring of local goods, services and food, restricts the farmers' use of seeds, results in precautionary seizure of property for alleged infringements of intellectual property and increases the cost of health care.
    The petitioners also call on the government to disclose the contents of the agreement.

Rights of the Unborn  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present two petitions today from members of my riding, residents of St. Thomas, Aylmer, Belmont and Port Stanley, asking for a change to section 223 of the Criminal Code.



    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present a petition from 30 or so people from Sherbrooke who oppose Bill C-30. They are asking that Bill C-30, which would make it possible to spy on Internet users without a warrant, not be passed.
    Such access to the personal information of Internet users violates the rights and freedoms guaranteed by section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and unfairly treats all law-abiding Internet users like criminals. These people are opposed to Bill C-30. I have the honour to present their opinions here today.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition regarding sickle cell disease and thalassemic disorders.
     Sickle cell disease affects blood cells that carry oxygen throughout our bodies. In sickle cell disease, red blood cells harden into long slivers that block veins and arteries causing injury to blood vessels of organs, including the brain and lungs. About 10% of children develop strokes. Children with sickle cell also are extremely vulnerable to infection and have periodic health crises that cause terrible pain and difficulty breathing, and their lifespan can be reduced by about 30 years.
    The petitioners are calling upon the House of Commons to adopt Bill C-221, An Act respecting a Comprehensive National Strategy for Sickle Cell Disease and Thalassemic Disorders.

Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to present two petitions.
    The first petition is from residents primarily in the Toronto area who are urging the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Prime Minister to make it very clear to the People's Republic of China that Canada wants to see action on human rights, particularly in relation to the practitioners of Falun Dafa and Falun Gong, but obviously, as well, for Christians under persecution in China and Tibetan monks under persecution in China.


The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition today comes from residents within my own riding of Saanich—Gulf Islands, primarily from Salt Spring Island.
    The petitioners urge this Parliament to take action to address the urgent crisis of climate change. They urge that the government commit and develop a plan to reduce by 25% from the 1990 levels carbon dioxide levels by 2020 and by 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. This was legislation passed by this House on a private member's bill in the 40th Parliament introduced by my colleague to my right, the hon. member for Thunder Bay—Superior North. It is time we took action.

Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 453 could be made an order for return, this return would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.


Question No. 453--
Mr. Glenn Thibeault:
     For each fiscal year from 2006-2007 to 2010-2011, what is the total amount of: (a) payments made to the government by credit card; and (b) merchant fees paid by the government to credit card providers?
    (Return tabled)


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

Government Orders

[Government Orders]


Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act

Bill C-38--Time Allocation Motion  

     Mr. Speaker, I move:
    That, in relation to Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, not more than six further sitting days shall be allotted to the consideration of the second reading stage of the bill; and
    That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for government orders on the sixth day allotted to the consideration of the second 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 said stage of the bill shall be put forthwith and successively, without further debate or amendment.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1 there will now be a 30 minute question period. As we have done in the past, we will try to keep questions to about a minute and the responses to a similar length. We will go on the rotation used in question period, so preference will be given to opposition members. However, some government members will be recognized for questions.
    The hon. member for Skeena—Bulkley Valley.
    Mr. Speaker, there are two major travesties taking place today, and I will remind the government of its own previous opinions on this. One is how this budget bill is being implemented and two is what is actually contained in these 421 pages is a travesty and injustice to Canadians.
    My first question for my friend across the way is on the implementation. Someone he knows well once said: the interest of democracy I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation and on such concerns?
    The bill contains many distinct proposals and principles and asking members to provide simple answers to such complex questions is in contradiction to the conventions and practices of the House.
    The Prime Minister said that before he was Prime Minister.
    There are 421 pages of complex and individual ideas now lumped together in an omnibus bill. If the government had the actual courage of its convictions and believed that these were right issues to debate and present to Canadians, it would not lump them all together: the rollback of OAS rights to Canadians, the devastation of pay equity rules that apply to federal contracts and a ripping up and destruction of environmental protections when it comes to major projects.
    If the Conservatives used to believe that these distinct issues should stand on their own merit for debate so Canadians can understand what is being applied, why the change of heart, why the change of convictions now?


    Madam Speaker, we think it is very important that Canadians have an opportunity to listen to this debate. We have allowed seven more days to allow a fulsome debate before, and we hope that it will receive support, going to committee. What is almost unprecedented is that we will set up a subcommittee as well to look even more closely at this and to allow more witnesses to appear before the committee and voice their concerns.
    I would suggest there will be a lot of Canadians, and in my further answers I will reflect on quotes from many of those Canadians, who think it is very important that we get this moved along for the economy, for jobs and for the long-term prosperity of this country. The debate will continue and we encourage all hon. members to be part of the debate. There will be seven more days of debate before it even goes to two levels of committee for further discussion.
    Madam Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of State for Finance. Obviously, I will not be asking a question on time allocation because we already know that the government is abusing its power and has already tabled time allocation hundreds of times, whether it be in the House or in committees, which is totally abusive. I think that question would be geared more toward the government House leader.
    However, since he is Minister of State for Finance and he knows about numbers, we worked on committee together, could he tells us the formula? How does he work out six days on a 500-page document when on a 200-page document it is three days? Are we missing some kind of formula here? Is it based on the number of words or number of pages? How does it really work? How does the government set time allocation? Is it based on the number of pages, or is it just that the Conservatives wake up in the morning and say that today they will close debate in six days or three days or four hours? How does it work?
    Madam Speaker, my friend across the way and I sat through many hours on the finance committee and we agree on a lot of things and, of course, we will need to agree on what I will reflect on right now because I believe it was his government in 2005, on Bill C-43, that amended dozens of different pieces of legislation. I had the privilege of sitting in the House following that debate and I am sure that was an important debate and fairly concise.
     What we are expecting here is that focus. I would encourage everyone not to just stand up and read a speech that has been repeated time and time again. I ask that they make a focus point. I encourage all hon. members to discuss with their constituents and bring their thoughts forward to the debate.


    Madam Speaker, I continue to be shocked that, in a parliamentary democracy, the first thing the government does is limit debate. We are dealing with a very important bill, one that will change many lives and have a great deal of impact, and the first thing the government does is limit debate.
    How will limiting debate help economic growth? I see no reason why this bill has to pass this week rather than in three weeks. Why is it urgent that we pass it now and have such a short debate about such fundamental issues?


    Madam Speaker, as I said in one of my previous answers, there will be seven full days of debate before it ever goes to committee to discuss it and bring witnesses in. When we talk about limiting debate, it was the hon. member's own party that managed to filibuster and limit debate. It did not allow any more than two or three minutes for the Liberal Party and no time for the Green Party to speak when the budget was tabled. It troubles me when the hon. member asks that question. We are providing seven days. We are going to provide an opportunity for anyone in the House, depending on what the whips will allow, to speak his or her mind and those of his or her constituents. We encourage people to do that.



    Madam Speaker, again, what we are hearing this morning from this bulldozing government is quite scandalous. What is more, the minister is trying to teach us a lesson. He is telling us how to intervene during debates. Unfortunately, this government has developed a bad habit of using time allocation, especially when we are talking about a bill that is 425 pages long and amends 60 or so other pieces of legislation.
    The thing that gets me the most—and this is what I want the minister to address—is that there is a pile of new measures in the budget implementation bill that the government has said nothing about before and a pile of poison pills.
    Is the government really doing this to muzzle the opposition and the general public on a pile of measures that we will only later realize were insidiously rammed through by this government in the budget implementation bill? I would like the minister to answer that question directly.


    Madam Speaker, this has provided a great opportunity already. I have pages and pages of quotes from Canadians and associations across this country, whether they be groups of educators or the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Let me read one quote by the FCM. It represents an awful lot of Canadians. It represents the municipal level of taxpayers. It consists of elected officials who speak to their constituents on the ground every day. It stated:
    Canada's municipal leaders welcome today's commitment—
    Referring to the tabling of the budget:
—by the federal government to continue working with cities and communities to rebuild the local roads, water systems, community centres and public transit that our families, businesses, and economy depend on. ...
    Today's budget continues building a new infrastructure partnership that creates jobs and strengthens Canada's future economic foundations.
    Those are Canadians wanting us to get on with this so those infrastructure projects can move forward.


    Madam Speaker, the 425-page bill before us here today deals with complex issues that were not disclosed in advance. I also heard several MPs say that they had heard rumours about major changes to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and huge changes to the Fisheries Act—probably the most significant change to that legislation in 40 years—hidden in the budget implementation bill.
    This has nothing to do with the budget and everything to do with coastal communities that will have an incredibly hard time adjusting to such a major change concerning habitat protection. It is inconceivable that this change is not being examined by the Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans. We are talking about just seven days of debate and then the bill will be sent to a special budget committee, even though this will have an enormous impact on Canadians and their communities. They will not be able to maintain the same quality of life.
    Why are the Conservatives in such a hurry to send this to a committee that has nothing to do with the budget?


    Madam Speaker, I would object to the suggestion that we are hurrying this through. Most Canadians watching this debate, and those who will be watching for the following seven days, can also watch two different levels of committee proceedings.
    I also understand that the Senate, hoping it gets to that stage, will put forward a number of committees that will hear further from Canadians. I cannot even tell the House how many Canadians that will allow to give presentations.
    I would suggest that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities might object to what that hon. member was talking about because it is faced with the challenges of developing water systems, waste water systems and roadways in its municipalities. It has come to us with its challenges and said, “Can we make the Fisheries Act workable? We don't want to imperil fisheries at all.” The FCM has been very clear about that. It has asked that we make it workable and that is what we will do.


    Madam Speaker, I would like to continue on with my Liberal colleague's question.
     There are many different pieces of legislation in Bill C-38. In the past, the government has restricted debate on other bills to two, three or four days. If we add up the number of days that we might want to debate all of the different pieces of Bill C-38, according to the government's timetable it would add up to a lot more than seven days.
    I want to talk about the government shifting away from funding basic research and the fact that it is hurting Canadian researchers in that area. It is a very specific area and a principle that is part of the bill. It needs to be discussed. I want to make sure I have the time to collect all of the information and talk about it.
    Madam Speaker, we have had quite a bit of time to bring forward the discussions that we have each had as members of Parliament reflecting what our constituents have been telling us.
     Certainly, my constituents have been telling me to move on with this. We are the strongest country in the G7 as far as fiscal capacity. My constituents are telling me that what we are doing is right. They are asking us to continue doing that. That is what the budget implementation bill for budget 2012 is all about. It is enabling what we have put forth in the budget that people have had quite a length of time to discuss among themselves and share with their MPs.
    Mr. Speaker, after all, we are talking about the budget and the reason why this budget should be passed and passed within a reasonable amount of time. I spend a considerable amount of time reading what the economists are saying about the budget, as I think most members do.
    I have a quote here from Craig Wright, RBC's chief economist, who said, “The federal government has delivered on its promise of guiding the Canadian economy towards improved fiscal performance....”
    Did I just hit the odd economist who has endorsed this budget or is this a trend? Could the hon. member enlighten the House with respect to that?
    Madam Speaker, it is a trend, but a very good trend.
    We consult with economists on a regular basis. Four times a year we consult with Canada's top economists to determine whether this government is headed in the right direction. We ask them if our analysis is equivalent to that of private sector economists, and we reflect that in the budget. That is reflected in this budget. They help guide us in the right direction, so of course they will tell us that this is the right direction.


    Madam Speaker, as my colleagues have said, what is going on is scandalous. The government has had months to work on the budget. This 425-page budget affects people from all walks of life and will mean major changes for all Canadians, yet the government says that we cannot spend more than six or seven days on it. This 425-page budget affects women, people with disabilities, the environment and everything.
    What are you so afraid of that you have to shut down debate and democracy? Answer me. What do you want? Do you want to bring people to their knees?


    I would remind all members to address their comments to the Speaker.


    Madam Speaker, Canadians expect us to debate in the House. They expect us to bring new thoughts, new ideas, their thoughts and their ideas. They do not expect us to just regurgitate the NDP ideology that we should tax everyone more and then everything will be better. We watched that happen in Europe. We watched the NDP policy in Europe. The outcome of that is Greece.
     Canadians have told us to continue to do what we are doing. We are bringing low taxes to Canadians, providing them opportunities, reducing the red tape that stops Canadian businesses from being able to compete internationally. That is what we are doing in this budget. We are simplifying the business processes for businesses so they can compete internationally.
    Madam Speaker, I quoted the Prime Minister to my friend on a conviction that his leader and his party used to have about this type of measure. My friend has used the past record of the Liberal governments to justify his actions now. It seems passing strange, because when the Liberals made these types of actions, his party had convictions around this type of measure.
    I will quote to him again, a friend who sits quite close:
    Here we go again. This is a very important public policy question that is very complex and we have the arrogance of the government in invoking closure again. When we look at the Liberal Party on arrogance it is like looking at the Grand Canyon. It is this big fact of nature that we cannot help but stare at.
    He has to be careful. We have to understand that in these 420 pages, revoking pay equity or destroying environmental protections that Canadians rely upon is not something that his government ran on in the last election, nor does it have a mandate to do so. Lumping it together in an omnibus bill like this is undermining the very institution that we all represent, and our ability to hold government to account.
    Does he not believe in the convictions that he, his ministers of culture and immigration, and the Prime Minister, used to have with respect to these types of draconian measures?
    Madam Speaker, the convictions that this government has, has always had and will continue to have, are to do what is best for the country. We have put forward three budgets in a row that have focused on jobs and the economy. With this one we now have the opportunity to look longer term.
    What have the results been of the previous budgets? Almost 700,000 net new jobs. Those are the results that matter to Canadians. More Canadians are working now than at the beginning of the recession. Not many countries can say that. We are trying to leave the old ideologies of the NDP out of the way. We do not want to overtax those businesses so that they lay people off. We continue to reduce taxes and provide an environment where our businesses can compete and grow jobs.
    Madam Speaker, I could not get a direct answer to my last question about how the government calculates when it is time for time allocation, even though it has done it a couple of hundred times, whether it has been in the House or in committee. It is not based on the number of pages, so we will let that one go.
    I am going to try to match up some of the answers to some of the questions, because he is just answering questions based on his question sheet. My question is going to try and understand his answers.
    There is a problem with the bill. The NDP members do not understand it because they are left-wing ideologists. The Conservatives do not understand the bill because they are right-wing ideologists. Therefore, do I understand correctly that the government will consider all Liberal Party amendments for this bill? I would like a straight answer.
    Madam Speaker, it is nice to have a little levity in the House of Commons this early in the morning, and I thank my hon. friend for that. By the way, I do not have the question sheet; I actually have an answer sheet.
    My answer is to provide some more quotes that I would like to read into the record because the opposition seems to think that Canadians are not prepared to move forward on this economic action plan for 2012.
    One concern that has been raised is about sustainable development. Let me read a quote from Vicky Sharpe of Sustainable Development Technology Canada:
    In these tough economic times, SDTC is pleased to see the Government's emphasis on stimulating the economy through increasing business innovation.
    Those Canadians are telling us to move forward. We have seven days of fulsome debate. We encourage people to get to the point instead of arguing over whether or not it is sufficient. Let us use the time properly.


    Madam Speaker, the member toured the country, as I did, on the issue of pensions. There were many town hall meetings that took in input, and it strikes me as strange that now it is almost as if a wall is going up about input in this place.
    There are hundreds of pages in this document that touch on many critical areas. I am a member of the finance committee, and some of the members are present. We do not have expertise in fisheries or the environment. These particular controversial areas should have been hived out of this document and put to the appropriate committees. It is troubling to see this happen.
    There is controversy around this document because of the fact that it is like an omnibus bill. It goes into areas that are not going to get properly critiqued because the time for discussion is condensed down to what the member calls reasonable; for 400-some pages, these few days are certainly not reasonable.
    Madam Speaker, with all due respect to my hon. friend, that is quite a bit of time to discuss this bill, especially considering the urgency. We are running out of days before the spring rising of the House, and it is important that this legislation get through so that we can enable some of this, and I referred to FCM's request to get this moving quickly.
    I need to remind my hon. colleague that committees are the masters of their own domain, and if they choose to take a more serious complete look at this they can. However, we have also said that we recognize the challenges of the finance committee, a great bunch of MPs, in that time is limited, so we are going to put in a subcommittee to help the finance committee study some of the finer points of this legislation.
    Madam Speaker, the world has acknowledged that the Canadian economy is doing so well because of the hard work and the good work of this government.
    Part of doing the right thing includes eliminating the penny. Some would wonder why we are eliminating the penny, and I would ask the member if he could explain the rationale behind it. I believe it is another example of us doing the right thing.
    Madam Speaker, that may seem like a small item, but people back home told me after the budget was tabled that we had finally done a common sense thing. They told me we have a majority and we are doing the right thing. We have waited a long time to do the right thing. When we tell Canadians that it costs 1.6¢ to manufacture a penny, they ask why we have been manufacturing them for so long.
    Common sense is what this Conservative government is all about.
    Madam Speaker, the member just mentioned common sense. Common sense is not about putting time allocation on a bill this large. It is not about putting time allocation on a bill that will have so much impact on Canadians.
     I could talk about the experimental farm in Kapuskasing. This farm provides a service, research, to northern Ontario and northern Quebec, and the Conservatives say that research is important. Why, then, are they closing down a farm that provides research to northern Ontario and northern Quebec? That is atrocious. That is why we need more discussion on the bill.
    Why is the government trying to shut down debate?
    Madam Speaker, my interest in agriculture tells me that the private sector is actually very interested in taking over research in this country, and by doing this, we are providing them an opportunity.
     I will give canola as an example. The private sector has funded research on canola, and western Canada and Ontario are increasing their acreage in canola. The reason it is doing so well is that the private sector was allowed to invest in research and development. We are just providing that opportunity to the rest of agriculture.


    Madam Speaker, others before me have said how atrocious it is to put time allocation on the bill.
     The bill could be called one of two things. It could be called the deconfederation of confederation act, or it could be called the charter of rights for foreign and domestic corporations to basically exploit our resources without worry.
    As debate is being closed in the chamber, will the minister assure us that the bill will be allocated to at least four separate subcommittees—those being environment, fisheries, human resources and finance—so that we can discuss this bill in detail?
    Madam Speaker, I have never been accused of being the House leader, so I will leave it up to him to decide where the bill goes. I do know it was standard procedure, even back in the dark days when the Liberals were in power, for a finance bill or a budget implementation bill to go to the finance committee.
    We are actually expanding that. This is ground-breaking. We are providing another subcommittee that will provide hours of opportunity for witnesses to appear and explain how important the pieces of this budget implementation act are to them.
    Madam Speaker, it is very difficult to be brief when the government is doing something as outrageous as tabling a 420-page omnibus bill that destroys decades of environmental law, much of it brought in by the previous Conservative prime minister, Brian Mulroney.
    I want to quote people who are not able to be characterized as NDP ideologues. Professor emeritus Ned Franks said:
    These omnibus budget implementation bills subvert and evade the normal principles of parliamentary review of legislation.
    In the National Post, Andrew Coyne , speaking of this travesty, Bill C-38, wrote, “This is not remotely a budget bill, despite its name. The scale and scope are on a level not previously seen or tolerated”—
    Order, please. Order, please. I must give the hon. minister 30 seconds to respond.
    Madam Speaker, I must suggest that my colleague across the way could perhaps have used her time better in actually asking a question pertinent to the budget implementation act, Bill C-38. That would have been very important.
    I would love to have had more time to read into the record all of the quotes from associations and from Canadians who support--
    It is my duty to interrupt the proceedings at this time and put forthwith the question on the motion now before the House.


    The Deputy Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    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.
    And the bells having rung:



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

(Division No. 187)



Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Del Mastro
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Finley (Haldimand—Norfolk)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
MacKay (Central Nova)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
O'Neill Gordon
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Young (Oakville)
Young (Vancouver South)

Total: -- 145



Allen (Welland)
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Dionne Labelle
Doré Lefebvre
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)

Total: -- 122



    I declare the motion adopted.
    I wish to inform the House that because of the proceedings on the time allocation motion, government orders will be extended by 30 minutes.


    The House resumed from May 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
    Madam Speaker, as I was saying when I was interrupted, hon. members know that Canada is a world leader in a very competitive global economy. Members also know that our government is committed to protecting the environment even as we work to protect the economy and create jobs.
    Across our files: climate change, both mitigation and adaptation; water quality; water monitoring, both in the area of the oil sands and right across the country; the renewal of our Great Lakes water quality treaty with the United States; the development of clean air strategies; cleaning up contaminated sites; protecting species at risk; maintaining and growing our national parks and protected spaces; stiffening the enforcement of environmental regulation; operating the chemical management plan; and improving and contemporizing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. That brings us to responsible resource development and Bill C-38.


    As I said yesterday, we all know that, thanks to the work of this government, Canada has received worldwide recognition for having overcome the economic crisis of the past few years.


    We are taking decisive action with responsible resources development legislation in our jobs, growth and long-term prosperity bill to create a modern regulatory system for the 21st century that would help foster jobs, investment and growth.
    It would also enhance environmental protection and encourage responsible development. This initiative would ensure resources are allocated where they can do the most good; that is, on those major projects that may actually pose a risk to the environment. It would also assure public participation and involvement, accountability for decisions, and stronger environmental enforcement and compliance tools. Through improved environmental protection, Canada would also be better placed to address the concerns raised by aboriginal groups.
    The legislation before us introduces enforceable environmental assessment decision statements that would ensure proponents of major projects comply with required mitigation measures. It would provide federal inspectors with authority to examine whether or not conditions of a decision statement are met. It would authorize the use of administrative monetary penalties for violations of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, the Nuclear Safety and Control Act and the National Energy Board Act.
    It would provide new funding in support of improving pipeline and marine safety. It would allocate $13.5 million over two years to improve pipeline safety across Canada, by enabling the NEB to increase the number of inspections for oil and gas pipelines by 50%, from about 100 to 150 inspections per year, and double from 3 to 6 the number of annual comprehensive audits in order to identify safety issues before they occur.
     It would fund $35.7 million over two years to further strengthen Canada's tanker safety regime, including ensuring appropriate legislative and regulatory frameworks related to oil spills and emergency preparedness and response.
    In short, the responsible resource development initiative is an intelligent approach to environmental protection that goes hand in hand with the resource development that creates jobs and wealth for Canadians. I am very proud of the accomplishments and the dedication of this government to the environment. We are serving Canadians every day of their lives and protecting Canada for years to come.



    That is the way of doing business that our economic action plan is based on. Our approach meets the economic needs of Canadians every day in terms of jobs and growth and will enable us to build a strong economy for future generations.


    If I could repeat myself, that is the path our economic action plan will follow, a path that every day serves the economic needs of Canadians for jobs and growth and that builds a strong economy for generations to come.
    Madam Speaker, it is nice to hear that the Minister of the Environment thinks this budget is pro-environment when, in fact, anybody reading this 400-page document, which includes 200 pages eviscerating 40 years of environmental law, would form an opposite conclusion.
    I wonder if the minister could speak to the matter of how he rationalizes the downgrading of federal environmental laws against the commitments under Canadian trade agreements that we will not downgrade environment laws for an economic advantage.
    Madam Speaker, I would answer simply that what we are doing in an appropriate legislative timeframe is addressing issues that have been very clear to all, to successive minority governments in this House.
    We are improving and we are contemporizing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency as well as with regard to major pipeline projects under the jurisdiction of the National Energy Board to ensure that we address the issues that are relevant today. We are eliminating duplication even as we provide for more rigorous examination of the environmental potential for negative impact on the environment or on the people who live in proximity to these resource projects.
    However, in short, I would say that rigorous environmental protection can also be timely.
    Madam Speaker, I would like to ask the minister about the repeal of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. Right now, the Minister of the Environment is to publish a climate change plan each year detailing measures being taken to meet Canada's commitments, including the timing and expected reductions, forecasts for emission reductions as a whole and an explanation of how any measures that were not implemented as planned will be redressed.
     The independent National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy is to assess each year's plan and offer constructive expert feedback but the NRT has been eliminated. The Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development is to report regularly on Canada's progress in implementing its climate plan and achieving its target.
    Repealing the act will eliminate all of the above accountability measures and I am wondering what the minister will put in place to be accountable on Canada's international climate commitments.


    Madam Speaker, I anticipate that next week, when the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development presents his annual report, that members will perhaps see his acknowledgement of Canada's legal right to serve notice of our withdrawal from the Kyoto protocol and that, in this final year under the protocol, we will again appropriately report, as provided under the protocol, our greenhouse gas inventory.
    With regard to the national round table, I have a number of times in this House thanked the round table that was created 25 years ago, a full quarter of a century ago, for serving Canada well. However, that organization's time has passed. There are any number of other similar bodies in academia within the NGO community who can adequately address connections between the environment and the economy.
    We are moving for a post-Kyoto climate change regime that will include all of the major emitters, both in the developed and the developing world.
    Madam Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today to speak to Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, introduced by the government's finance minister who was rated the best finance minister in the world by his colleagues in the G8.
    I will begin by congratulating all of the members on our one year anniversary, which occurred yesterday, particularly those who were elected for the first time. I know we will work closely together to ensure that public policy decisions are made wisely and with the best interests of Canadians at heart.
    I saw quite an old movie recently called The Candidate. Robert Redford, who starred in the movie, is picked to run as a democratic candidate for senate in California against a republican senator who has been around for a number of years, who is quite accomplished and who is expected to win once again. However, Robert Redford, as the democratic candidate, wins the senatorial seat. In the last scene of the movie, Robert Redford is standing in a hotel room across from his political consultant who ran his campaign and he mouths the words, “What do we do now?”.
    When this government, under the leadership of the current Prime Minister, ran in the 2011 election, we knew exactly what we would do on May 3 of last year. We knew that the people had sent this government to Ottawa with a strong mandate to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. We were sent here with a strong, national Conservative majority government to implement a plan. We were the only party with a plan, a workable plan, a plan that first started in 2006 when we were first elected. The first three years, we had surpluses in our budget, which we applied to bring down the debt of the government by $37 billion.
    However, with the downturn in the economy in 2008-09, certain stimuli measures were required to be put in place, which we did.
    Since that time, since the end of the recession in 2009, this government has created 690,000 net new jobs. We are the only government that has recovered all of the jobs lost during the recession of the G8.
    We have a corporate tax rate of 15%, and that is a great brand that we have around the world. What we found after we lowered the corporate tax to 15% was that investment rose but, more important, corporate tax revenues rose. We have more money in general revenues because we lowered the tax than if we had an increase in taxes.
    The opposition states that we need to increase corporate taxes. What it does not understand, however, is that corporations are not people. They do not pay taxes. People pay taxes. Madam Speaker, pardon me for speaking while members are trying to interrupt, but that bird has been plucked. There are no more feathers left on that bird any more.
    I need to tell members something, and they do not need to take my word for it. However, the IMF, the World Economic Forum, the Economist Intelligence Unit, Forbes magazine, Bank of Canada, everybody says that this government is on the right track, doing the right thing, bringing jobs and economic growth to Canada. That is why we are the number one performing economy in the G8 bar none.


    The budget that was introduced by the Minister of Finance on March 29 is a long-term plan and the plan involves a comprehensive agenda that will exceed our time in office. This is not a Conservative plan or a Conservative budget. This is a Canadian budget that looks out, not to the next election cycle, as previous governments would have done, but to Canada's long-term interests and prosperity. This is one of the first governments that has ever thought of doing that. It is because we care about Canada and the long-term prosperity of Canada.
    A number of the examples that were given in the budget and the pillars that it was built on relate to innovation. A lot of governments before had talked about innovation but products were not produced. There is no such thing as an innovative product if there are no customers to buy it. Our government will focus on innovative products where there is a demand for those products and they will be purchased. We put $400 million into a venture capital fund for this very purpose.
    The next pillar that we based our budget on was regulatory reform. I know some of my colleagues on this side have talked about regulatory reform, the resource sector and the environment sector and have spoken quite eloquently about them. However, opposition members are mistaken when they believe that more government, more red tape and more regulation leads to more rigorous scientific evaluation. What it leads to is time wasted, workers who are not hired and investors who look at our regulatory regime only to say that it is not worth it and they go elsewhere. As a country, we cannot afford that. What we have done in the budget is streamline the regulatory process so that investment can be approved or not approved depending not on the merits of the project but based on rigorous science. That is what this government has proposed.
    The next pillar that this budget is based on is jobs. We have created 690,000 net new jobs since the end of the recession in July 2009. That is a record that stands tall. Nobody can hold a candle to Canada when it comes to our job creation performance record. We have lowered personal income taxes for people. The average family is saving $3,000 in personal taxes. As a father raising eight-year-old twins, the money is better in my pocket than in the government's pocket because everyone who has kids knows that we are always be asked for something. Our job creation record is outstanding and we are told that by everyone around the world.
     We are streamlining our immigration system to get rid of the backlog for those people who have faint hope when applying to get into this country. We will streamline the immigration process under the leadership of our Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, who is doing a fantastic job.
    The final pillar of the budget is trade. Trade is the future of our nation. It will bring jobs and investment to this country. Since 2006, we have signed nine free trade agreements that were opposed by the NDP each and every time. We are now reaping the rewards of all of those trade agreements. Job creation is up, investment is up and exports are up. I have a number of companies in my riding of York Centre that export, such as Bombardier, Sanofi Pasteur, Estée Lauder and Planters Canada.
    I will wrap up by saying that this budget is a Canadian budget and I would urge all members on that side who are interested in the long-term interests of this country to support the budget.


    Madam Speaker, I note my colleague's comments about extra dollars in his pocket. I come from a territory where many people suffer with low income, not the income of parliamentarians that puts them in the top 5% of our country.
    Seniors and elders in my territory have worked hard all their lives and they will now have to add another couple of years on to that. They already have low incomes. While the quality of income is reducing, the member opposite, one of the top 5% of wage earners, talks about his ability to put an extra $3,000 in his pocket. I am insulted by that.
    We have to talk about equality. When we have wage inequality in the western world, the population suffers greater social and health concerns.
    How would my colleague respond to all those people who are not in the top 5% of wage earners, people who work hard to make a living and are now told they will have to work an extra couple of years just to get a pension?
    Quite easily, Madam Speaker. The member talks about parliamentarians being in the 5% of wage earners and says that he cares about poor people. That is very noble of him.
    When we put forward a 25% increase in the GIS in last year's budget, that member and his party said no. That party forced an election on it. That was simply outrageous.
    Now he has the nerve to get up and talk about what we will do. We are putting people to work. We are giving people jobs. We are creating investment. We are giving the private sector an opportunity to expand and create jobs. That is the best welfare program we can ask for.
    Madam Speaker, I was interested to hear my friend say that this is a Canadian budget. I come from Prince Edward Island, the cradle of Confederation, and I might remind the hon. member we are part of Canada but we certainly feel left out in the budget.
    There are provinces where people can get their EI claims processed. Prince Edward Island is not one of them. There are provinces where people can talk to someone at Citizenship and Immigration Canada if they need its services. Prince Edward Island is not one of those places. Two hundred and thirty-two jobs were cut from the Department of Veterans Affairs. If a veteran in Prince Edward Island wants to talk to a live person, that individual is out of luck. If someone wants to talk to someone on the computer, the cap sites are being closed.
    Prince Edward Island is part of Canada. Why has Prince Edward Island been left out of the budget?


    Madam Speaker, once again the opposition misses the entire point. Twenty-five per cent of this budget is for the Canadian social transfer, which has not been touched. In fact, we have guaranteed a 6% increase to 2016 on the social transfer consistent with nominal GDP.
    Hon. members on the other side claim that we are not doing the right thing. I am sorry to tell them but job creation is the right thing. We are doing the right thing for Canadians. That is why they sent us here. We put a plan to them in last year's election and they sent us back with a strong mandate to implement that plan of job creation, growth and long-term prosperity.
     I am really ashamed of the opposition for not standing up proudly and supporting Canadian jobs and Canadian investment.
    Madam Speaker, I am pleased to share my time with the hon. member for York South—Weston.
    Bill C-38 is a complete assault on the democratic process. The government has tabled a 421-page budget bill, the majority composed of significant policy reforms far outside budget matters, all the programs and policies that are of critical significance to Canadian families and communities.
     The bill introduces reforms to long-standing policies and programs. When I say long-standing, it is 50 years of environmental, fishery, health, pension, employment equity and immigration policies and programs. All of these are significant public policy matters and legislation that normally would come before the House in separate proposed bills. They would go through full debate, go to committee review and would afford the opportunity to Canadians who are concerned and affected by these policies to be consulted. It is absolutely shameful what the government is doing in this bill, and I cannot say anything less than that.
    Then the government imposes closure on the minimal debate that it has allowed us to have on behalf of our constituents, on likely the most critical bill to come before the House in decades. It is a bill that commits billions of dollars in spending, at the same time significantly eroding its constitutional mandate. So much for the Conservative government platform of open, transparent, grassroots democracy. We have closure after only a few hours of debate on a 421-page budget bill. Is that transparency, open government, participatory government? I will let Canadians decide for themselves.
    The government claims its budget is all about creating jobs, yet according to the analysis by the Parliamentary Budget Officer it will actually result in the loss of 43,000 jobs.
    Bill C-38 introduces pension rollbacks. It proposes major changes to Canadians' access to public pension benefits on which they have come to rely. Despite complete silence during the election, despite analysis by the PBO that the changes are financially unnecessary, the Prime Minister, post-election and from Davos, Switzerland, announced significant reductions in OAS benefits, now implemented through the bill. This is in spite of the fact that the majority of Canadians have no access to private pension plans. The effect will be that many Canadians will be denied old age security until the age of 67. There will be disproportionate impacts on women, already making up the highest percentage of Canadians living in poverty, and those surviving on minimum wage or working as physical labourers.
    The government has said that there is a lot of time to save up to survive those lean years. It has said this to families that already have record personal debt, that contributed all their lives toward a pension, that are likely overwhelmed caring for elderly parents, or trying to pay off their mortgages, or university fees for their children or prescriptions. They should not look to fall back on EI. There are no special favours for seniors. Under the new laws, they can now relocate to other provinces to earn their keep.
    Bill C-38 would severely reduce transparency and centralizes power in the cabinet. It would reduce the audit and reporting powers of the Auditor General. It would limit the rights of Canadians to participate in reviews of major industrial projects to those directly affected, as determined within the complete discretion of the minister. It would transfer powers from independent quasi-judicial boards to ministers to decide on assessing or approving major industrial projects. It would cut libraries. It would further cut Statistics Canada. What is next, book burnings? We already have the witch hunts against those who are assisting communities and first nations in trying to determine what the impacts of major projects might be on their health or livelihoods.
    However, most important, to me and to the many Canadians who have spent decades volunteering their time intervening in multi-stakeholder processes to ensure that we develop sound, credible environmental laws in the country, laws that have been held up and marketed around the world as the model for how to do economic development and at the same time ensure sustainable development and protection of health and environment, the bill would rescind critical laws that have been in place for 40 to 50 years. It is absolutely reprehensible and contrary to the prior practices, which I used to brag about around the world, of intensive consultation with industry, the public and impacted communities.


    The Conservatives are amending the federal Fisheries Act. They are strangling the unilateral federal power to protect fish and fish habitat, not just for the benefit of Canadians but for the sake of the preservation of the species. The minister formerly spoke of avoiding duplication. I have worked hand in glove with federal and provincial agencies over forty years toward removing any sense of duplication. We already have in place scenarios of review and approval of projects where the federal government is already invisible, despite its constitutional powers and its mandates under Canadian law.
    In truth, the government is amending the Constitution, without consultation, by removing its exclusive power to protect our fisheries, which further erodes the Crown's duty to protect aboriginal rights and titles.
    It imposes a two-year time limit on reviews. It empowers the National Energy Board to make decisions on endangered species. Heaven forbid, we actually have a federal law on the books where the government is obligated to go through a very thorough process with appropriate scientists and careful review with the public and anybody impacted. The government will short-circuit the process and give that to the National Energy Board to decide.
    In essence, the bill would download mitigation and cleanup costs from the proponent of a major project to impacted Canadians and first nations. It would allow the federal government to transfer its powers and duties to provinces. We are downloading possibly unconstitutional measures.
    This is mere months after the government committed to finally exercise its authority and responsibility to ensure proper monitoring of the oil sands development on the Athabasca, the Mackenzie basin. It is cutting monitoring dollars. It is cutting a 100 more scientists, while muzzling the remaining ones.
    Of personal interest to my constituency, the government is shutting down all the regional emergency and oil spill response teams. That is in the wake of the largest fresh water spill in North America, where the federal government completely dropped the ball and failed to deliver on its responsibilities on emergency response to these spills. This is in addition to a major spill in Wrigley, Northwest Territories, a major spill near the Lubicon First Nation in Alberta and massive fish kill from derailments in the Cheakamus River in B.C.
     What is the government's response? To save a few pennies, it is removing all capability of the federal government to exercise the responsibility. It regulates the railroads. It has a responsibility for fisheries. It has responsibility for first nations peoples. In the very least, it has responsibility for transboundary waterways. It is completely dropping the ball on its responsibilities.
    Is all of this legal? Downgrading environmental laws offends the clear mandate of the Minister of the Environment under the Department of the Environment Act. Contrary to what a series of Conservative members have propounded, the minister has, under that law, a singular mandate to protect the environment, not to sacrifice it to fast-tracked energy projects fronted by foreign investors.
    The government, in downgrading its environmental laws, is actually also violating its trade laws. From NAFTA to the most recent free trade agreements with Panama, Canada's trade deals forbid Canada to weaken its environmental laws and regulations for an economic advantage. In exchange for those expanded markets, Canada committed to improve, not downgrade, its environmental protection laws. Therefore, the government is not only failing to exercise its constitutional responsibility, it is not only failing to deliver on its environmental mandate, it is violating the very trade agreements about which it brags.


    Madam Speaker, it is worthwhile to note that the government has once again moved time allocation on a very important bill.
    This is a budget bill. It is one of those bizarre ominous bills in which the government has made the determination to take what I believe is a cowardly act, bringing into this bill legislation that should have been standing on its own. I am referring to the environmental legislation.
    What the government is doing, through the back door and by putting in time allocations, is undemocratic. Quite frankly, it is just the wrong direction for the government to be moving in with regard to the environment. The legislation is devastating to our environment.
    Does the member agree with Liberals that the environmental portion of this ominous bill should have been stand-alone legislation? The government is wrong to bring it in through the back door in this ominous bill. Does the member agree?
    Madam Speaker, I do not have to agree with just the Liberals, I am agreeing with over 100 of my colleagues who very demonstrably made this case in the House.
    I participated in the processes to develop the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. I participated in the development of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. All of those processes were open, transparent and participatory. They occurred over many years.
    Previously, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, there was an advisory body consisting of industry, the provinces, the federal government and the public, to advise on proper implementation of this bill and to consider everyone's interest. In one full blow, inappropriately through a budget bill, with no opportunity for discourse or dialogue with the Canadian public, we have this absolutely reprehensible move by the government. I know that Canadians will chastise it for this. It is incumbent on the government to separate this bill and to open it up for proper review and discussion by Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I am standing here today to correct some misinformation that is being perpetuated by not only this member but a number of members of the House of Commons with regard to the length of debate, et cetera.
    I just heard my Liberal colleague from Winnipeg North make what sounded like a hypocritical statement about time allocation. In my hand I have the past 10 years of time that was dedicated to budgets. In the last 10 years, not a single other budget bill was debated longer than the 7 days we are about to do, the 28.5 hours we are about to do, in this House. Not a single other one.
    Let me read for the member, and I would like to ask her to reflect on this because I am going to ask her a question about it: 1992, 11.2 hours, 4 days; 1996, 16.9 hours, 5 days; 2004, 10.7 hours, 3 days of debate; 2005 was the longest one at 21.8 hours or 7 days by the Liberals; and ours is 7 days, 28.5 hours.
    Is the member prepared to apologize for the misleading information she has provided?


    Mr. Speaker, this is the second time in two days that I have heard this comparison about a decade. I will remind the hon. member her government is responsible for six years of those. If time has been given short shrift, it is the Conservatives' responsibility. We can always compare to the worst-case scenario.
    The point that other members in this House and I are making is it is not simply the length of the debate of a budget bill but the short-circuiting of discussion of significant policy matters, generally speaking, by the public of Canada who have a right to come forward and tell us their views on the many extraneous public policy issues in this bill. It is absolutely a disgrace.
    Mr. Speaker, on the issue of the assault on democracy, one could not even read this bill in 28.5 hours. The bill is enormous. It touches on more than just how much money we are going to tax Canadians, which is what a budget is about. It touches on the environment, fisheries, pensions and so many things that are not supposed to be part of a budget, but they are.
    I note the comments by my colleague for Winnipeg North about this being an “ominous” bill. I think that was a slip of the tongue as it is an omnibus bill, but I also think it is an ominous bill for Canadians. The bill is missing some things. There is nothing here for the burgeoning demand for public transit in this country. There is a huge infrastructure deficit, but the bill is completely silent on whether the government is going to attend to the problem.
    On immigration, my colleague for York Centre suggested that we are just getting rid of the people who are on the faint hope list. However, this has nothing to do with getting rid of people on a faint hope list. This has to do with people who have discovered that the government gives them faint hope because it changed the rules after their application was in. After a couple of years, it decided to cut them off the list and give them some of their money back. These people have spent countless sums on legal fees, tests, police checks, et cetera, that they will never get back. The Conservative government is completely uncaring about the huge devastation it is causing those would-be immigrants from other countries by leaving them on a list for 10 years and then cutting them off.
    The bill has nothing on the huge increase in fuel prices in my riding in the past few weeks and months. I hear about this daily. Ordinary Canadians are worried that they will not be able to afford to get to work and that seniors will not be able to afford to get to the doctor. Seniors' pensions do not go up by the amount that fuel prices have gone up in the last little while. The government is completely silent on it.
    The government suggests that the bill is about jobs. Well, according to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, whose reports the Conservatives do not like, the bill would actually cost the economy 43,000 jobs. That is a lot of jobs. The Conservatives' oft-touted figure of how many jobs they have created since the recession ignores the fact that they have been in government for much longer and the number of people looking for work has gone up. The percentage of people in the workforce who cannot find a job has gone up significantly since the Conservative government took office. It is all well and good to say that there was a recession and we are back, but we have done nothing about creating the structures in this country to create full employment. This budget does nothing more about it.
    On pensions, the Conservatives talk about how there is a crisis. There is no crisis. In fact, the crisis they claim is because baby boomers are retiring. However, their solution exempts most baby boomers from the solution as baby boomers would continue to get the full OAS and GIS. It is the people who come after the baby boomers who are going to be shortchanged. They will be penalized doubly: they would have to pay for the baby boomers because the government says it is a crisis, but they would get nothing in return.
    Canadians are going to wake up and smell the coffee at some point, and realize that the Conservative government has got it wrong and there is not a crisis. There may be crises in other countries that spend significantly greater amounts of their budgets on pensions, but not here in Canada where we spend a small fraction of what is spent in other countries on basic OAS.
    What I really want to tackle the government on, and I should not be doing this in the context of a budget bill but it is in there, is the elimination of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the replacement of it with the Canadian environmental evisceration act. The decision by the government to incorporate this in a budget bill has nothing to do with budget, it has nothing to do with spending of money. However, the government's suggestion that it is stronger is absolutely wrong, and I will give some examples.


    The definition of an environmental effect in this budget is significantly different from the definition in the old act. The old act suggested the environment is land, water, air, et cetera, and that has not changed, but the environmental effect is the effect of any change on such things as wildlife, critical habitat, individuals, health and socio-economic conditions of human beings, physical and cultural heritage, and the current use of land and resources. That is not in the new bill. The new bill talks about environmental effects as being: fish, as defined in section 2 of the Fisheries Act, which is changing; aquatic species, as defined in section 2 of the Species at Risk Act; migratory birds, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Migratory Birds Convention Act; and any other component of the environment that is set out in Schedule 2.
    I will read Schedule 2. That is a moment of silence for the environment because Schedule 2 is empty. There is nothing there.
    The government suggests that it would protect the health and environment of human beings. It is not in this bill. It has left it out. The minister can make regulations under Schedule 2, but he can also change them. He can also decide not to have any regulations. It is very clear that the old act was very specific. It protected the environment, not just of fish, birds and the air but of human beings, their culture, heritage and dwellings. That is missing from this bill. It does not go unnoticed by this side of the House that it is a reduction in the protections that would be available to the environment by the government.
    There is another big change in this act. The old act talked about needing environmental assessments any time there were projects, which included any physical work, proposed construction, operation, modification, decommissioning, abandonment, undertaking and proposed physical activity. There is a good definition of what a project is. The new act talks only about designated projects. The minister would get to decide what a designated project is. He would make regulations under section 84 for the definition of a designated project. Therefore, not everything that we have come to expect would be assessed. That is gone. The minister would get to decide which things will be environmentally assessed. As a result of that discretion being left to the minister, based on the current minister, woe betide the environment. That is not very helpful to the environment, abandonment of what can go on.
    I do not have enough time to go into the machinations of what this bill would do in many other areas. Unfortunately, I will not have time to do that in part because time allocation has been applied by the government, which, with its majority, is determined to cut off debate. That debate would be cut off before I could even read all of the portions of this bill that would affect Canadians in an adverse way.
    We now know, and it does not take much reading to discover, that the government's agenda is about helping its friends in the oil patch. In particular, with the definition of “designated project”, I am willing to bet there will be a whole bunch of things that will not need an environmental assessment any longer. When those environmental assessments happen, the government has said that they will be streamlined. They will take two years, no more and no less. If a project takes longer to study it, if it is that big, if it crosses all of Canada and takes longer, should we not do it right rather than rushing to do it wrong and harming the environment?
    The definition of “sustainable development” is still the definition that existed in the previous act. However, it is not going to be possible to have sustainable development under this act if the government, as we suspect, abandons its responsibility to study many of the projects that are now being studied and if it abandons its responsibility to study those elements of the environment that are important to human beings and not to just fish, birds and other wildlife.


    Mr. Speaker, West Coast Environmental Law says:
    For decades, Canadians have depended on the federal government to safeguard our families and nature from pollution, toxic contamination and other environmental problems through a safety net of environmental laws. Today's budget would cut up this environmental safety net...
    It further states:
    A robust, sustainable economy depends on a healthy environment. The multi-billion dollar clean up costs from the Exxon Valdez and the Gulf oil spill remind us that it is citizens who pay the price when things go wrong.
    Does the hon. member think that the environmental sections of this bill should be hived off, as the Liberals have called for, and sent to committee for public scrutiny in a clause-by-clause study?
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP as well has determined that this portion of the bill—and perhaps several other portions, but this portion in particular, which deals with the environmental assessment changes—has nothing to do with budgets. It has nothing to do with whether we tax people or whether we give people back their money. It has to do with protecting the environment, and it ought to be studied in much greater depth and by the right parts of the government, meaning by the environment committee and the environment departments rather than by the finance department. It has nothing to do with finance and everything to do with the environment, and yes, it ought to be hived off.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate the hon. member. As usual, his analyses and comments are excellent.
    This new budget basically ignores sustainable development, or the co-operation among various rural communities throughout Canada and the development of economic projects and drivers that will create jobs.
    How is it that we have only six or seven days to debate a budget that will have an unbelievable influence and unacceptable impact on many regional economies? Why are the Conservatives hiding things throughout this 425-page budget that will only benefit big business?


    Mr. Speaker, these changes and the speed being proposed for their adoption are at the nub of what is going on here, particularly with the environmental issues. May 14 is now the deadline. Why is May 14 the deadline? There must be a project in the works that needs this kind of non-environmental assessment and that cannot begin until the government has passed this bill. My suspicion is that there is some other agenda that we have not yet heard about. Is that not the way that the government has behaved so far?
    We did not hear about the cuts to the OAS until somebody in Davos decided to leak the information. We did not hear about the evisceration of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act until we saw it in the budget. This certainly was not campaigned on by the government, yet here we are, so I suspect we have more surprises in store from the Conservatives and their hidden agendas.
    Mr. Speaker, in addition to the reprehensible downgrading of environmental law, by following this procedure of introducing changes to the environmental assessment and fisheries laws through the budget, the government has actually violated the side agreement to NAFTA, which obligates Canada to provide advance notice and opportunity to comment on any proposed change to environmental law and policy.
    I wonder if the member could speak to not just the substance of it, but to the government's violation of its international commitments as well.


    Mr. Speaker, it certainly appears to me and to most casual readers to be a violation of NAFTA. However, will we be accused of being anti-Canadian if we ask our friends in Washington to suggest that the government should have given notice to both Washington and Mexico, the partners in NAFTA, that it was about to downgrade its environmental protection system? There certainly should be some involvement by our partners in all of our so-called free trade agreements, some of which we actually did support.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate I will be sharing my time with the member for Saint Boniface.
    Recently our government delivered the economic action plan for 2012. This budget is one that would support jobs for Canadians, grow our economy, reduce red tape and increase efficiencies across government. This budget is a moderate approach to returning to balanced budgets in the medium term while making key investments in business and innovation. This is a budget Canadians can count on. There are many items in the budget that would help Canadians find jobs and save money.
    While we are focused on growing the economy and putting more Canadians back to work, the opposition is focused on negativity, fearmongering and killing Canadian jobs.
    In my remarks, I will focus on some key areas of the budget and highlight why the changes we are making would be good for Canadians' future.
    A few things I would like to focus on are the changes to the old age security, reducing red tape in our project review processes and improving efficiencies at Veterans Affairs.
    With regard to OAS, the opposition is trying to scare our seniors into thinking that we are taking away their benefits. That could not be further off the mark. What we are doing is ensuring that benefits remain for the long term, because we know that Canadian seniors need these benefits.
    Let us talk about the changes to OAS. OAS is a government program, funded through general revenue, that if left in its current state will become unsustainable. What we are doing is introducing a reasonable plan that would be phased in over a long period of time and that would ensure that these benefits our seniors need remain far in the future.
    We are making OAS more accessible to seniors by providing automatic enrolment instead of having them go through an application process. We are also introducing the option of deferring the beginning of OAS benefits, an option that would allow more seniors the choice for what is right in their situation.
    Our decision to make changes to OAS is not an easy one, but it is the right one, and the opposition knows it.
    For our most vulnerable seniors, we have created a GIS top-up. In budget 2011, we announced additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples for more than 680,000 low-income seniors.
    We have also moved to reduce taxes for our seniors. In 2012, a single senior could earn at least $19,542, and a senior couple $39,084, before paying federal income tax. As a result of our actions since 2006, 380,000 seniors have been removed from federal tax rolls.
    Through these measures, we are taking the tax burden off many seniors so that they can keep more of their savings.
    We will continue to make responsible decisions that ensure Canadian seniors are receiving the benefits they need in retirement.
    On environmental and project review, the opposition has spoken out against our plan to streamline the process for project reviews. Somehow it has come up with the notion that duplication, red tape and barriers to economic development are good things for Canada. The difference between our government and the opposition is that we actually support Canadian jobs and growth in the economy. What we are doing is making sure that projects that need more oversight get it in a timely manner; for smaller projects that have little impact on the environment, we are making sure they are dealt with through a quicker process, as they need less scrutiny.
    What we have now is more duplication, a long and unclear review process for both large projects that require more assessment resources and smaller projects that are minimal environmental risks.
    Projects in the queue have to go through multiple steps and multiple levels of government approval processes that are not clearly defined, and they are not given an estimated timeline. In some cases the federal review process is only begun years after an approval at a provincial level or from another federal agency. The result is wasted time, effort and money.
    While projects are going through a complicated review process, it costs the business, it costs the economy and ultimately it could mean new jobs are not realized.
    While large projects do need close review, many smaller projects, such replacing an existing culvert or constructing a new pumping house for a maple syrup plant, do not need the same level of scrutiny. These smaller projects, in the current review system, are taking up much of the resources that could alleviate the length of time it takes for a larger project to be reviewed.
    If the opposition had its way, it would ensure that all reviews would go as slowly as possible, thus wasting time and effort on projects that do not need that kind of survey.


    The opposition would effectively kill jobs in sectors where there is huge potential for economic growth, such as the natural resource, oil and gas sectors. A clear example of the NDP's intentions is the fact that it actually sent representatives to Washington at taxpayers' expense to oppose the Keystone pipeline, a project that will create thousands of jobs in North America.
    The economic action plan will commit to bringing forward legislation to achieve the goal of “one project, one review”; make new investments to improve regulatory reviews; streamline the review process for major economic projects; support consultation with aboriginal peoples; strengthen pipeline and marine safety; continue to support the major projects management office initiative, which has succeeded in shortening and streamlining reviews and improving accountability; and ensure the safety and security of Canadians and the environment as energy resources are developed.
    The opposition would put Canadians out of jobs. We want to make sure Canadians have work for generations to come.
    With regard to Veterans Affairs, the opposition has been trying to convince our veterans for months that our government is slashing the budget for Veterans Affairs. As we can clearly see, that is just not the case. The opposition kept telling our veterans that benefits were being cut. The total reduction to the Department of Veterans Affairs is only 1.1% in an effort to reduce red tape and bureaucratic barriers. This will make for easier access to benefits and help ensure our veterans receive the care and support they deserve.
    I will take this opportunity to again point out that while opposition members have criticized the government on veterans, not once have they voted in favour of the measures to increase veterans' benefits.
    The reality is that budget 2012 strongly supports veterans and their families. We have promised to maintain benefits for our veterans and we are definitely following through on that promise.
    I have elaborated on a few of the important measures brought in by action plan 2012. This budget supports growth and jobs for Canadians. It acknowledges the reality that we are working with a fragile global economy; this budget proves, though, that Canada remains a leader in fiscal management, as we are making responsible reductions to balance the budget while growing our economy and creating jobs.
     I encourage all Canadians to go online and visit or call their MPs' offices to learn more about economic action plan 2012. With the plan that is in front of us, we have the sound fiscal management to ensure growth and prosperity well into the future.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to refer to one issue here. Within the cuts that have taken place, Parks Canada has been hammered viciously by the government.
    We saw the government talk with great enthusiasm about all of the great work it did with respect to increasing the size of the national parks in the Northwest Territories. Part of what was supposed to happen was a commitment to the people of the Northwest Territories that there would be some economic return, that these parks would be well managed and that they would increase tourism, but what do we see in the budget? We see huge cuts directly to national parks, cuts that will cause our economy not to get a boost from tourism. Where is the thinking there? On the one hand, the Conservatives love to take the credit for expanding national parks; on the other hand, they are slashing the budgets for these parks so that they cannot do the things they are supposed to do with that increased size.
    Mr. Speaker, certainly the government is moving a number of areas of efficiencies to try to make government more economic and more compact, and the delivery is certainly felt at the final end. In other words, the idea is to grow the economy and encourage the private sector to invest in our economy. We feel that as a result of eliminating the deficit and keeping taxes very low, the opportunities in all the communities—in my rural community and in the member's rural community—will continue to grow through the years. Once the stability has taken effect, we are very confident that we will see growth and opportunity for Canadians across the country.


    Mr. Speaker, in Bill C-38, the number of changes to virtually every environmental law ever passed in this country is literally shocking to anyone who has practised environmental law. The hon. member will remember me from when he was Minister of Environment in Nova Scotia all those years ago and approved Agent Orange spraying, driving my group to court at the time. It is all water under the bridge, so I have nothing but goodwill toward the hon. member for West Nova.
    However, I ask the member now if he has reviewed section 5 of the new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act? Can he explain to Canadians how federal environmental reviews will now be limited to fish and migratory birds only?
    Mr. Speaker, I would not have gone back into history but since the member mentioned it I remember our days together in Nova Scotia. What I do know is that the member was quite prepared to take on companies and government and yet it was okay for neighbours to use that same spray on their lawns. Their neighbours and kids and so on did not matter because taking on government was far more fun.
    The fact is that we are moving toward efficiency. We are absolutely committed to environmental control, environmental regulatory protection and the right penalty process. Those people who cause problems should be held accountable.
    However, to delay a process is not progress, does not help Canadians and certainly does not help the environment.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a brief point of order. At the relevant time, the mix of 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid and 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid was never registered for home use.
    That is a matter of debate rather than a point of order.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary on a short question.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for all the hard work he does as chairman of veterans affairs committee. I was pleased to hear him talk about veterans in his budget speech. It is important to ensure that we protect the men and women in uniform and those who have served so bravely for our country.
    I would like to give the member another opportunity to cite those things that he feels highlight the needs of his community, things that would make things better in his community.
    Mr. Speaker, we are just wrapping up a committee review of the dozens of changes that have taken place in the delivery of service and our response to the needs of veterans. As our former minister, Greg Thompson, used to say, we can never do enough.
    I think all members of the House understand that the initiatives are incredibly important for our veterans down the road, and I feel the same about the initiatives in the budget right across the country. As a rural member, I am in tune with the impacts of a budget and the overall impact is one of positive long-term growth, which we should be proud of.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to stand here in the House to speak to the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act to implement our 2012 economic action plan. Both this legislation and our recent budget represent an ambitious, substantive and positive response by our Conservative government to the economic challenges of today and the opportunities of tomorrow.
    I am proud that the measures contained in the bill and in budget 2012 will fuel the next wave of job creation and position Canada for a secure and prosperous future.
    By focusing on the drivers of growth, innovation, business investment, education and skills, these new measures will solidify, strengthen and draw upon the entrepreneurial sectors' role as the driving force behind Canada's economy.



     Our plan sets out a comprehensive agenda to bolster Canada’s fundamental strengths and address the important challenges confronting the economy over the long term, like the demographic challenges arising as a result of an aging society.
    Canada’s businesses, entrepreneurs and innovators have proven time and again that they are up to the task, provided they are given the chance. With our economic action plan, our Conservative government is ensuring that they will have all the opportunity they need to flourish.


    For starters, this ambitious agenda includes a new approach to supporting entrepreneurs, innovators and world-class research.
    As a world leader in post-secondary research with a highly skilled workforce, Canada has strong fundamentals for innovation. In fact, Canada has the highest proportion of population with post-secondary education of anywhere in the world.
    With $10.1 billion of annual federal investment to support post-secondary education and $2.5 billion annually for labour market agreements with the provinces and territories, it is no surprise that Canadian students perform well in international tests. Canada also compares favourably to most other G7 countries with respect to job related training.
    However, for all of this promise, Canada continues to lag behind our peer nations in terms of overall innovation performance, including with regard to private sector investment in R and D and the commercialization of research into products and processes that create high value jobs and economic growth. Our government is taking important steps to foster the innovation needed to fuel jobs and economic growth.
    First, we set up an expert panel to determine the reasons for this lagging performance, and now we are responding to the panel's recommendations in a way that will create high value jobs through investments in education and training, basic and applied research, finance opportunities for businesses with the potential to become globally competitive, and better linkages between public research and market needs.


    Among other things, economic action plan 2012 will double the contribution budget of the industrial research assistance program to better support research and development by small and medium-sized companies.
    It will refocus the National Research Council on demand-driven applied research that will help Canadian businesses develop innovative products and services.
    It will support innovation through procurement, by connecting small and medium-sized companies with federal departments and agencies to build their capacity to compete in the marketplace. And the plan will help high-growth firms access risk capital by committing significant funds to leveraging increased private-sector investments in early-stage risk capital, including a $400 million investment to support the creation of large-scale venture capital funds led by the private sector.
    Furthermore, it will support private and public research collaboration through internships for graduate students, and funding for business-led research and development networks.
     The SR & ED tax incentive program will be enhanced by removing capital from the expenditure base, making it more cost-effective through design improvements and a measured rate reduction, and providing greater predictability through administrative improvements.


    However, to effectively compete and succeed globally, Canadian job creators need more than just bright ideas. They must be supported by a modern regulatory environment that promotes competition, business investment and economic growth. This implies a competitive and efficient tax system, a well functioning financial system and access to international markets.
    That is why the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity bill includes key commitments in all of these areas, which would improve conditions for business investment and drive the next wave of job creation. This means we are transforming not only how we innovate, but how we regulate. We are supporting responsible resource development, improving the review process for major energy and resource projects to make it more timely and transparent while protecting the environment, and introducing legislation to modernize the regulatory system to realize our objective of one project one review.
    These measures are all fundamental to our success but, ultimately, Canada's success rests upon maximizing the power of our greatest asset, our people, and unleashing their full productive potential. With that in mind, the bill makes significant investments in training, infrastructure and work incentives, and supports job creation by facilitating the participation of under-represented groups in the labour force.
    Employment insurance, for example, is Canada's single largest labour market program. Our budget plan will make a number of targeted, common sense changes to make EI a more efficient program that promotes job creation, removes disincentives to work, supports unemployed Canadians and quickly connects people to available jobs to improve their quality of life and Canada's economy.
    At the same time, we will ensure predictable and stable EI rates by limiting rate increases to 5¢ per year until the EI operating account is in balance and then move to a seven year break even rate. In addition, we are extending the temporary EI hiring credit for small business for one year to reduce the cost of hiring new workers. This will benefit approximately 536,000 employers whose total EI premiums were at or below $10,000 in 2011, reducing their 2012 payroll costs by about $205 million.
    In more targeted labour market actions we are also investing $50 million in the youth employment strategy to assist more young people in gaining tangible skills and experience and connecting them with jobs in fields that are in high demand.



    At the other end of the demographic scale, we are also funding the extension and expansion of the successful ThirdQuarter project, which helps employers find workers over 50 who have the skills they are seeking.
    I am especially proud of this project, piloted by the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce, which provides an online forum that makes it easier for individuals to find jobs that match their skills, while helping businesses and organizations to recruit employees who have the skills they are seeking.


    I would be remiss if I closed without quickly reviewing other important initiatives in the economic action plan 2012. They include: investing an additional $30 million in the opportunities fund to enable more Canadians with disabilities to obtain valuable work experience; proposing $100 million to support first nations education, as well as $175 million to build and renovate schools on reserve; supporting further improvements to foreign credential recognition; and more and more.


    Securing long-term prosperity for Canadians in uncertain times means we must act today. Under the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity bill, we have taken decisive action to that end by increasing employment opportunities in the long term and ensuring economic growth.
    That is why I am urging the House today to support the measures set out in this bill.


    Mr. Speaker, the member across talks about jobs, growth and economic stability. I wonder if she can explain how putting thousands of people out of work, which the government is doing by giving pink slips to a lot of people across different government departments, will assist in jobs, growth and the economy.
    I would also like to know if the member could elaborate on the experimental farm in Kapuskasking and maybe give us an idea of the exact date of that closure because those workers would like to know. They have been given a pink slip but they have not been told the exact closing date. They could base their decision-making on that closure date, given the fact that they have only been given 120 days to make their decision.
    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to jobs, it is very clear across the world that Canada is looked at as an example of success following a recession that touched us all.
    When we look at the statistics, the IMF and the OECD look at Canada as being one of the countries that will see the strongest growth going forward. Growth means those jobs are actually succeeding. We have had almost 700,000 net new jobs since the recession, 90% of those jobs are actually benefiting people who are in full-time occupations and 75% of those are in private sector positions.
    What will not help us create jobs is the NDP plan: a $10 billion corporate tax increase that would kill jobs, GST increases that would kill jobs, doubling of the CPP that the CIFB said very clearly would literally shut down dozens of small businesses across the country, and, of course, the EI 45-day work year that it advocates for would kill more opportunities and more jobs. The single biggest measure that would negatively impact Canadians would be the carbon tax that it wishes to place on Canadians at this time. It is the worst time possible.
     We will to stick with our plan. We are the best in the G7 and we will stay there.


    Mr. Speaker, I think one of the greatest threats that the government has brought forward with regard to this budget and this bill that we are debating today is the fact that it is taking other issues and bundling them together and trying to pass them along with the budget.
    Many would suggest that there should have been a series of other legislative agendas or other bills that should have been brought forward, thereby being provided due diligence and scrutiny of the House and committee. The government is doing a disservice to Canadians by taking issues, such as our environment, and passing, through the back door, substantial changes to environmental legislation that will have a profoundly negative impact going into the future.
    Why did the government choose to go through the back door, changing important environment laws, on a budget debate when it should have been stand-alone debate in itself?
    Mr. Speaker, as my hon. colleague well knows, the budget implementation acts are traditionally very broad. Let me give an example to my colleague from the Liberal Party of a budget bill that his party put forward in 2005. In fact, Bill C-43, which was introduced in the 38th Parliament, amended dozens of different pieces of legislation including 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 Public Sector Pension Investment Board Act, and more.
    It is hypocritical to stand in this place and tell Canadians that what is being done is unusual, because it is not. That member knows it, the members from the official opposition know it and every member of Parliament in this place knows very well this is not unusual. This is the way it goes. That member ought to be apologizing for misleading Canadians when he and his party have done exactly the same thing in the interests, they say, of Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Western Arctic.
    I want to begin my remarks today on Bill C-38 by saying, and it should be said, that this clearly is not only a budget implementation act.
    I found it very interesting to listen to the parliamentary secretary's comments just a few moments ago when she chided the Liberal member for the record of the Liberal government, bringing in a massive omnibus bill as well. I remember that bill, C-43, but it is curious, because I seem to remember that the Conservatives in opposition at that time certainly had lots of concerns about what was hidden in that massive bill. I think it was about 1,000 pages. I remember the debates in this House about how the Liberals were trying to hide things and rush them through.
    Here we are today in 2012 with another budget implementation bill, which is anything but. It has become a massive cover for putting through major public policy issues under the guise of a budget implementation bill.
    I want to say, just for the record, that it is really bad public policy. It is a terrible way to make decisions. It is a direct attack on the ability of members of Parliament to examine legislation.
    Much of the stuff that is in the budget implementation bill should be coming to the House as stand-alone legislation. When we go through the list, go through those 422 pages that comprise the current budget implementation act, we can just see how far-ranging the directions are in the bill.
    For example, we know it is raising the age of eligibility of OAS and GIS from 65 to 67, something that the Prime Minister never campaigned on in the last election. For heaven's sake, it repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, meaning that the government is no longer required to report on its emissions under the act. That is in a budget bill? The Conservatives are putting that through in a budget bill? Is there something they want to hide from Canadians? I think so.
    As we have heard many times in the House, it guts the environmental assessment regime and fish habitat protection. Again, this should be stand-alone legislation that the government should have the guts to bring forward on its merit and be willing to debate in this House, instead of trying to sneak it through in a budget implementation bill.
    Just in terms of the changing environmental assessments, this would have a major impact on my province of British Columbia, on things like the Enbridge pipeline, where there has been incredible public interest in being involved in a democratic public process to comment on the environmental impact and assessment of that project.
     What is the government doing? It uses the budget and the budget implementation act to actually shut down and to gag the public and say that not only is it putting short timelines on these major assessments but it will also delegate authority to other authorities, including the provinces, so it is basically narrowing the opportunities people have to comment on these important things.
    To add insult to injury, not only does the bill gut environmental requirements; it also goes after civil society organizations by saying that the Canada Revenue Agency will tighten up what kind of political activities they can be engaged in. There is an attack on both sides, by legislation and by trying to fetter and gag the work that very important organizations do in our country to bring awareness to these major environmental projects that have a huge impact on all of us.
    Here are a few other little gems in the budget. It would repeal the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act. I am familiar with this, because as a city councillor in Vancouver over many terms, we actually used the federal fair wage act to set a benchmark for what we did municipally to pay fair wages to municipal contractors.
    Now all of a sudden this act is gone. It has been there for decades. I do not know how far it goes back, but it has been a benchmark of what is considered to be fair wages.
    Presumably this is now being completely eliminated because the Conservatives want to give more handouts to their corporate buddies and they want to undercut union wage rates. This is an attack on labour, just like we have seen with Bill C-377, where the government is attacking labour and trying to allege that they are not transparent organizations when we know they are. This is hidden in a budget implementation act.


    It would also amend the Employment Equity Act so it would no longer apply to federal contractors. This is a major shift in public policy. I was part of the standing committee that reviewed the Employment Equity Act. It has to be reviewed every five years. The federal government is mandated to cover employment equity both in terms of its own direct services and of all the areas it covers like transport, airlines and banks. To amend the Employment Equity Act so it no longer applies to federal contractors is just a sheer gift and bonus to the Conservatives' buddies in saying that things like employment fairness, fair wages and ensuring diversity in the workplace would not count anymore and they would not have to worry about it. This is a major and dramatic shift in public policy.
    I also want to mention a few local things that are very concerning to me, such as the cuts to the CAP program, which is purely mean-spirited. Low-income people who can currently gain access to the Internet through the community Internet access program would no longer have access to that. This is just a small thing, but it really does affect people. We live in an Internet age but there are lots of Canadians who still do not have their own computer or access to the Internet and they use the community access program to have that opportunity and capability. Why on earth would the Conservatives go after that? Why would they target people in that way?
    As the health critic for the NDP, I want to speak briefly about some of the health aspects in the few minutes I have left.
    We have said in this House many times how absolutely staggering a $31 billion decrease in health transfers to the provinces would be. This is a massive shift. The Conservatives unilaterally made a decision about health transfers in this country without any negotiation, debate or co-operation with the provinces and territories. It is something that is unheard of. This is a major assault on our health care system.
    It goes even further than that. One of the little sneaky things that is in the budget is the amendments to the Food and Drugs Act to give the Minister of Health more power, supposedly on the basis of streamlining and improving the efficiency of various classifications of foods and drugs. However, it would basically give the minister more power to set up her own regulatory process and go outside the system. Again, this is something that should be coming forward in its own piece of legislation.
    I will conclude by talking about what the budget does not address.
    I live in Vancouver, and in Metro Vancouver probably the greatest issue we face is the lack of affordable housing. I have met with the Canadian Rental Housing Coalition in Metro Vancouver, which by the way, is made up of building owners, apartment owners, tenant groups and co-op housing groups. It is a broad coalition and they are all saying the same thing: the federal government must be part of a solution to build affordable housing in this country.
    Where do we expect workers to live if they are paying 50% or 60% of their income in rent? The hotel workers and the people who work in the stadiums, on the waterfront or in the service industry can no longer afford to live anywhere close to where they work. This is a major issue in Metro Vancouver and also in other Canadian cities, yet there is not a single word in the budget implementation act that would make this a priority. It is just zero. It is as if it does not exist anymore.
     We look at the contrast of the handouts to the Conservatives' friends in the corporate world while ignoring the real priorities of Canadians for basic human needs like housing, shelter, good pensions or even access to the Internet. All of these things have either been ignored or cut.
    This is a terrible budget, a terrible bill. We should be offended as parliamentarians that this budget implementation bill is so broad. It has so much in it that we cannot even begin to debate, especially now that there is a gag order on the time we have for debate, which was passed earlier today. What an affront to parliamentary democracy.
     We are here to stand up to say we oppose the bill and will use everything we can to oppose it all the way.


    Mr. Speaker, a few months ago the Prime Minister was overseas and he talked about senior pensions. A huge outcry swept our country from coast to coast to coast. It was, “How dare the Prime Minister look at our pension programs?” Canadians treasure these programs and they are seen as fundamental social programs that are absolutely essential, not only to keep and maintain but to look at ways we can enhance them. I appreciate, to a certain degree, they might have backed off from what the original thoughts were, but still a vast majority of Canadians believe, and the Liberal Party believes, that we have to maintain the option for retirement at age 65 as fundamental to our pensions.
    Could the member comment on raising the age of eligibility from 65 to 67? We believe that is wrong and that it has to be maintained at 65.


    Mr. Speaker, the meeting the Prime Minister attended was a very exclusive meeting of billionaires and big movers and shakers in Davos, Switzerland. It was pretty insulting to all Canadians that he chose that venue to make a major decision about the Conservatives' intention to bring about a fundamental change in our pensions system. Therefore, I would agree with the member.
    I recently held a public forum in east Vancouver on pensions. People are hopping mad, not only seniors but also younger people, because they know the impact this change will have. By raising the age of eligibility, it means people in their older years will have to work longer. It also changes the dynamic in the job market and means there are fewer opportunities because more people are now forced to work longer or else they will be on the provincial welfare roll. This is another example of provincial offloading.
    Mr. Speaker, once again I stand to take advantage of this opportunity to tell Canadians that the member opposite is misleading them. The previous NDP speaker said earlier that democracy was at risk in all of this, but she was misleading when she said that the limited time was unprecedented. Seven days is actually, historically, the longest period of time in the last 20 years. She was upset about there being 10 years. Well let us go 20 years.
     The member opposite who just spoke was also upset about seven days of debate. Over 20 years, the debate was two days in 1992, four days in 1993, four days in 1994, five days in 1995, three days in 1996, two days in 1997, three days in 1998, four days in 1999, three days in 2000, three days in 2001, four days in 2003, three days in 2004 and it goes on.
     In 20 years we have never seen this length of debate ever before. Seven days is plenty of time. We need to start talking about the measures that the members will support and that can help Canadians do better.
    Mr. Speaker, we have never seen such a terrible bill that has so much horrible stuff in it that we will not even get to talk about because the debate will happen so quickly.
    We have to look at the context of what is taking place here. Almost every piece of legislation that has come the House from the Conservative government has been under a gag order of some sort of closure. What are the Conservatives afraid of? Are they afraid that more of us will speak to it, or are they so dismissive of democratic practice that they want to shut down debate in the House?
    The member can read from whatever list she wants. The fact is the record of the current government in gagging members of Parliament in debating substantial issues in the House is happening on a weekly basis. The budget implementation bill is just the latest example.
    Mr. Speaker, there are many things about Bill C-38 that I could speak about, such as the total rewriting of Canada's environmental protection law, repealing the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, raising the age of retirement to 67, the elimination of the National Council of Welfare, the elimination of employment equity for federal contractors, weakening the Auditor General, having cabinet-approved pipelines rather than the arm's length National Energy Board and the gutting of the regional employment insurance appeal process. However, as the only member of the opposition from the three northern territories, I will speak about how the bill would change the three acts that could be considered the constitutions of the three territories without having consulted the people of the north.
    Clauses 214, 215 and 216 of Bill C-38 would amend the Northwest Territories Act, the Yukon Act and the Nunavut Act. They would amend these acts to give the federal cabinet the ability to make more regulations governing the fiscal capacity of the three territories. Instead of moving toward the Conservatives' promise of improving and devolving northern governance, which is the fourth pillar of the Prime Minister's much-promoted northern strategy, these amendments would actually increase the amount of control Ottawa would exercise over the three territories. There is no provision to ensure that the three territorial governments would have any input or that there would be any measure of consultation or approval over the nature of these regulations or any changes made to them by future federal cabinets. This is hardly responsible government for the territories.
    All of us who use the Westminster system of democracy know the key to responsible government is having control over fiscal matters. These amendments completely make a mockery of any statements from the Conservatives that they believe in consulting with and building a better north.
    In the past Parliament, I tried to lessen the intrusiveness of the federal government over the people of the north. Over and over, I spoke to northern leaders and my constituents and then presented a bill that would give more certainty and control in the Northwest Territories over their fiscal capacity. It was to be achieved through actual legislation.
    Speaking to my bill at committee, Mr. Chris Forbes, the assistant deputy minister, Federal-Provincial Relations and Social Policy Branch, Department of Finance, described how the borrowing limit provisions were a holdover from when the only institution the territories could borrow from was the Government of Canada. Since 1983, the territories have been able to borrow on the open market. Colonial at the start and colonial it continues under the Conservatives.
    My bill was well supported across the Northwest Territories.
     If the Conservatives had consulted with the people in the north, they would have heard that what northerners wanted was this federal control over borrowing removed. So far we have not been any consultations on these amendments, unless they have been done in secret. They exclude Canadians because they do not care what Canadians have to say about many of these aspects.
    The Prime Minister has made a point of stressing the growth of governance in the territories. If that is what he wants, then the Conservatives should have done the right thing in amending these three acts, and that is to take the federal government and the federal Department of Finance completely out of the process.
     Where are the members for Yukon and Nunavut on these changes? Do they support increased control over the territories by Ottawa? Is it okay with them that the legislative assemblies of the territories lose autonomy with these changes? Why the silence?
    The people of the north have proven they can govern themselves. They have proven they are capable managers of money. Moody's Investment Services has given the Northwest Territories an Aa1 rating. This rating is second highest and places the NWT in line for credit risk with most of the provinces.
    Moody's rating takes into account recent developments related to the Deh Cho Bridge project. The credit opinion notes that Moody's:
—had already included the Deh Cho Bridge liability in our calculations of the NWT's net direct and indirect debt, reflecting the government's debt-like obligation to make periodic availability payments. As such, formal assumption of the related debt is not expected to alter the NWT's credit profile in a material way.
     According to Moody's, the rating reflects:
—prudent fiscal policies that have, over the past several years, limited debt accumulation. A well-developed fiscal framework (including a Fiscal Responsibility Policy which guides the NWT's fiscal policies and use of debt) should help to ensure that the debt burden remains low and affordable.
    The NWT's fiscal responsibility policy mandates how the NWT may borrow. The policy guides the GNWT fiscal policy and use of debt and includes guidelines respecting the types of activities for which debt can be issued, as well as limits on total debt and debt servicing costs to ensure affordability. A borrowing plan is required to detail options and preferred choices for funding the short-term and long-term borrowing requirements of the government at minimum cost.


    Our territory is responsible. It is acting in a manner which many other provinces should emulate.
     However, these amendments do not treat the territories as responsible. Instead, they treat them in a paternalistic, uncaring fashion, without any concern what northerners think about changing their constitutions.
    The people of the north have the same political rights as Canadians who live in the provinces. History has given us a designation as territories rather than provinces, but regardless what we are called, changes to our laws in Parliament should make northerners more equal to other Canadians instead of less.
    All three territories are anticipated to be the great growth area of our great country. Northerners say “Respect us, treat us as equals, don't make us come cap in hand to Ottawa to be treated in a manner that other Canadians take for granted”.
     The Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees all Canadians a right to a legislative assembly. It guarantees all Canadians that rights are held equally and that Canadians are treated equally by laws. These amendments do not move our legislative assemblies closer to equality with the provincial legislatures. These amendments actually move the northern legislatures further from equality.
    Through a long and arduous process and negotiations on this issue over three years, my government was never told that the Minister of Finance would create these new powers for the federal cabinet.
    Is the Conservative government so insensitive that it thinks it can now operate by decree?
    A process that started as government-to-government negotiations has ended up as laws from master to vassal. Shame on this process that is blind to the desire of all northerners for equality, for respect and for their own political rights in our great country.


    Mr. Speaker, I want to pick up on another issue which I think is really important for us to cover, and that is the issue of health care. All Canadians are concerned with regard to the future of health care. They want to have a certain level of comfort in knowing that the federal government will be there for them in a very real and tangible way.
    One of the greatest accomplishments of Paul Martin was the establishment of the health care accord, which ensured a guaranteed increase in funding. This would ensure that the federal government would continue to play a strong role in terms of demonstrating leadership on the health care file for all Canadians.
    To what degree does the member believe the current Conservative government is committed to that ongoing financing commitment for the provinces across Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, this is an issue in which the three northern territories are treated in an equal fashion to the provinces in Canada.
     We have the same concerns as all the provinces do. After 2015, if we see reductions in the increases in health care transfers, with ever-aging populations, ever-increasing costs of doing business in the north, which is incredibly expensive, with the cost of energy climbing upward, we simply will be unable to afford the systems we need to protect the people who live in these territories.
    Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat disappointed to hear my friend's position. His riding extends to the north of my boundary, in northern Alberta. I thought he would be very happy with this budget because it would do a lot for Canadians.
     It would establish our place, as has been indicated the World Economic Forum, as the soundest banking system in the world for the fourth year in a row. We continue on with that same track record in this budget. We do that through promoting sound resource development, ensuring that one project, one review, is the order of the day and ensuring that during that review, Canadians have the ability to comment on it. We are also moving forward with the development of good, sound, straightforward environmental policy ensuring that the reliability of the environmental data instead of having five or six competing things going on at the same time with the same issue involved and getting different results.
    I know he and his party did not support Canada's economic action plan in relation to building infrastructure across the country, $45 billion which is a record amount. Will he step apart from his party at this time? He knows this is a good budget for the north. He knows this is a good budget for Canadians and Canadian jobs. Will he not stand for his constituents right now and support this budget?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague, who resides in the riding next to mine in Alberta, is represented in the legislative assembly in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, which has rights and privileges that we in the Northwest Territories can only hope to have for the future. When he refers to my riding, he is actually referring to the jurisdiction of the Northwest Territories, a separate political entity in this country, one that has to move forward and one that will be part of the economic development of this great land through mining, oil and gas, and all measure of natural resource development.
    The people in the jurisdiction I represent want control over what happens, just as the member has that same control in Alberta in his legislative assembly. We want what and expect the same things that other Canadians have. We do not expect to see the little that we have already denigrated by this legislation and this Parliament.


    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Mississauga—Brampton South.
    I am happy to stand today and support the budget action plan 2012, Canada's economic action plan, because it is so important. It is certain to bolster Canada's long-term economic strengths and promote job growth, and that is what it is all about.
    We are federal representatives who support Canadians in their endeavour to have a better quality of life, and hat is exactly what Canada's economic action plan 2012 does and I am proud to stand up for it.
    This is such a good budget for the people I represent. This budget is all about me coming forward to talk about what my citizens are so excited for in this particular budget. It starts with job creation to innovation and invention. It is important to continue to invent things and to work hard to have patents and intellectual interests that actually stimulate growth in our economy because we can sell that to others.
    I am proud to say that in my riding of Fort McMurray—Athabasca, we have more patents registered than in all of the rest of Canada combined. It is certainly more than any other jurisdiction of that area or that population. That is why it is important to have innovation and invention, which the budget speaks to.
    From my background as a retailer, although the elimination of the penny for some people it is heartfelt, it is a good business decision, good for Canadians and good for northern Albertans.
    We will prosper under this budget and continue to have a great quality of life. I am very proud of our government and I am proud of this particular budget. It goes without saying that we on this side of the House are proud of this budget because it takes a step forward.
    We saved serious amounts of interest payments when we knocked down $39 billion in direct payments two or three budgets ago. Then we got into a budget of promoting economic wealth through creating jobs, infrastructure and a better quality of life. Now we have an austerity budget, a budget that, in my mind, is more about efficiency and productivity than any other budget in Canada's history.
    I will elaborate on a few of my favourite initiatives. I am very happy to see in this budget that some education has been taken from the Senate, in particular the Senate's ongoing inquiry into the involvement of foreign foundations in Canada's domestic affairs. This has brought a lot of attention to the Senate and to this budget, and some people speak against this. However, for me that is not the case.
    I donate a lot of money to charities. I support charities and I sit on a board or two. I have done that for years. I think it is clear that some charities are not respecting the rules regarding political activities. It is necessary to do that because Canadians expect their charitable donations to be used for those particular purposes and not for some political purpose or some economic purpose beyond the mandate of that particular charity.
    I will quote Senator Finley who said in March of this year:
    Shady foreign money is being used to influence Canadian domestic and commercial policy in an obscure fashion.
    There is nothing wrong with groups advocating for environmental conservation. However, there is a problem when their unstated intent is to undermine Canadian industries and do irreparable damage to Canada's economy.
    We are not talking about $100 here or there, or somebody paying for some protest signs. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that are being funneled from other countries, other interests, including petroleum foundations that are in competition with petroleum foundations and petroleum companies in Canada. They are actually funnelling them to our country and to other countries to fund environmental and aboriginal activists working to block our economic development.
    Some people say that they should be able to do that. I have no problem with Canadians doing that as long as Canadians know what they are doing, know where the money is coming from, know where the money is going and they obey the law. However, Canadians deserve to know. It is time to find out clearly where that money is coming from, who it is going to and what it is being used to fund. Bluntly, it works against taxpayer dollars and it costs more taxpayer dollars to follow through with that economic policy that this place and the members of this place put forward and have put forward. They are working contrary to that purpose, exactly contrary to it, and it costs Canadians more money. I do not think that should continue unless, of course, Canadians want it to continue and Canadians know about it.


    Economic action plan 2012 proposes measures to ensure that charities devote their resources almost exclusively to charitable rather than political activities. How would it do that? First, by proposing that Canada Revenue Agency enhance its education and compliance activities with respect to political activities by charities. I do not think many actually understand the ramifications of this and that they need to stick to their knitting and do what Canadians expect them to do with their charitable donations.
    Second, to improve transparency by requiring charities to provide more information on their political activities, including the extent to which they are funded by foreign sources. We do not know where this money is coming from. We are starting to learn a little about it. I think most Canadians would be shocked to find out that some of these groups that are opposing our development strategies are funded by oil companies abroad. That is troubling because it is Canadian domestic policy in which these foreign governments are interfering and that should not be allowed. We certainly should not be allowing them tax breaks.
    Whether members agree with my position, the government's position, regarding exporting our resources throughout the world, I think 99.9% of Canadians, I hope, believe that this decision is about Canadian jobs, the Canadian economy, Canadian prosperity and our quality of life, every life in the country, including the lives of the constituents of the member for Western Arctic who spoke briefly before me. It is about Canadian policy and it should not be made by foreign trusts for foreign priorities that are operating strictly against our policies and what Canadians voted for last May, one year ago. I congratulate the Conservative majority government. Canadians voted for us to move forward with these initiatives, not to have foreign interests, foreign governments, foreign oil companies interfering in our domestic policy. This is Canadian policy that should be made at home in the best interests of all Canadians.
    If Canadians do not like it, their job is to de-elect us, just like it is to re-elect us. I think they will like these policies because they will have a better quality of life, a better job and a better family life as well, because all of those things add up for a better quality of life.
    Probably the most obvious budget proposal for me to speak to today is responsible resource development. This is one of the things that throughout my adult life I have pursued. I consider myself an environmentalist. I have spent a tremendous amount of time outdoors. I am a registered trapper in Alberta. I almost finished a masters degree in environmental law in Australia because that was my passion at one time.
    I believe the concentration on one review for one project will be better in the end because all of the resources and thought processes will go into that one review. Instead of two, three or four reviews that are competing and have competing interests, we would have one review. We would get all the experts to work on that one review and we have the assessment forwarded with a yes or no so people know where they stand. We cannot wait 5, 6, 8, 10, 12 years where we have money to invest or where outside companies or Canadian companies have shareholders who expect to receive a return on investment. We cannot wait a decade or more for a yes or no answer. We need to ensure we provide that answer to them. What is so exciting for me today is that the budget has a responsible resource development part in it.
    In the next 10 years, more than 500 major economic projects, representing $500 billion in new investment, are planned across Canada. I am proud to say that a recent study by the Canadian Energy Research Institute estimates that in the next 25 years the oil sands growth, which I represent most of, will support an average of 480,000 jobs, which means $2.4 trillion to our GDP. What is important in relation to this is that there is one review. We would put all our effort into that review to ensure we streamline it, to ensure we give an answer to the people who are investing and to ensure we get the best possible results for Canadians. Protecting the environment, ensuring we stand up for Canadian families, Canadian jobs and consulting properly with first nations across the country, all of those things are important.
     Our track record speaks for itself. We have gone through a minority opposition government, two minority governments and now a majority government. Canadians have spoken loudly. They trust the Prime Minister and they trust the cabinet to stand up for their priorities and we will continue to do that through this budget.



    Mr. Speaker, I have learned something remarkable, that the government's attack on charitable organizations is a means of counteracting an economic war between oil companies. I just learned that. I would like the member to tell us a bit more.
    Which foreign companies are we talking about? Which foreign governments are funnelling money into Canada? I believe it would be interesting to know this.


    Mr. Speaker, I am sorry that the member was not at natural resources committee to hear testimony in relation to this particular activity. The testimony was very clear. I invite him to look at it. It was probably about a month ago that we heard testimony in relation to this. The member can follow the records and see how these foundations are funded.
    It is more important to concentrate on their motives. Why would an oil company in some other part of the world work directly to block our ability to move forward with resource development? That is what I would like to know. That is a question that the member opposite should ask himself. Why would a foreign foundation funded by oil companies that are owned abroad fund protest movements and blockades in our country? There is only one reason I can think of as to why they would do that. The motive is clear.
    Mr. Speaker, I followed my colleague's speech intently. We worked together on environment committee for many years.
    He and several of his ministers have been making pretty impressive and frankly wild comments about the funding of Canadian NGOs. We are hearing now that apparently international oil companies that are probably active in the oil sands are funding environmental NGOs to attack Canadian oil. I am wondering if the member could name the oil companies, the foundations, and their activities. More important, I wonder if he could stand outside the House and name them.
     Is the member prepared to go as far as the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of the Environment who have said on public record that these contributions are illegal? Can he stand and state categorically that these contributions are illegal?
    Mr. Speaker, I have worked with the member. Although he wears the cloak of a Liberal he has a Conservative value in him somewhere; I have seen it.
    My colleague wants to know what is standing between Canadians' quality of life, between moving forward with proper resource development and moving forward with regulatory change. He wants names, but I am not allowed to provide them. The member for Ottawa South is one of those people.
    Mr. Speaker, economic action plan 2012 builds on our successes. A number of tax reductions have been extended to Canadian seniors, to Canadian families and to Canadian businesses. Could the hon. member detail for us those tax reductions that will be most beneficial to his residents?
    There are just so many of them, Mr. Speaker, that I cannot do them all justice. The best thing that we did as a government was in 2006 to 2008 when we paid down debt of $37 billion. That was the first thing we did.
    My riding is diverse. The average age in the northern area of Fort McMurray is 29 but there are a lot of seniors in the south. We provided $2.5 billion in annual tax relief to seniors and pensioners, including taking 380,000 seniors from the tax rolls. That was just the start of it. We have provided many tax credits, such as the children's fitness tax credit and the children's arts tax credit. There are about eight or nine others.
    The reality is that we give money back to Canadians. They know how to spend it a lot better than I do and a lot better than bureaucrats do. Canadians deserve more of their money and that is why we gave them Tax Freedom Day about 11 days earlier than ever before over the last 43 years. Conservatives believe that Canadians know how to spend their money better than anybody else in here does. That is why they continue to vote in support of this government.


    Mr. Speaker, economic action plan 2012 is Canada's plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The plan is focused on the priorities of hard-working Canadians and on our families. Our economic action plan is focused on prosperity for all Canadians. We are taking clear and decisive action to further strengthen our economy, and create quality jobs and a better quality of life for generations to come for our children and our grandchildren.
    I will use my time today to highlight certain economic imperatives and to frame the choices we face globally, as governments and citizens alike work to secure long-term prosperity in a difficult global environment that is not about to change soon.
    The OECD and the International Monetary Fund predict that our economy will again be among the leaders of the industrialized world over the next two years. For the fourth year in a row, the World Economic Forum said our banks are the soundest in the world. Among G7 countries, Canada has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment. We have the highest credit rating. Canada is one of only two G7 countries to regain all of the jobs lost in the recession. This was achieved because our government made historic investments in infrastructure, and we encouraged businesses to invest and helped them to avoid layoffs.
     In order to come out of a recession, during the recession we must take measures that are timely, targeted and temporary in nature. Governments should never create new permanent programs or institutionalize new government bureaucracies because of a recession. In today's era, resisting protectionism is crucial.
    The best road to take to create long-term prosperity and new markets for Canadian products and services is to pursue free and open trade. For example, a trade agreement with the European Union is a key part of the most ambitious trade expansion program in Canadian history. With one in five Canadian jobs generated by trade, a Canada-EU trade agreement has the potential to benefit our nation enormously. It would mean a 20% boost in bilateral trade, a $12 billion annual increase to Canada's economy, which is the equivalent of almost 80,000 new jobs or about an additional $1,000 for the average Canadian family. Such an agreement would benefit Canadian workers, particularly those working in technology in Mississauga and Brampton, and chemicals and plastics, wood and wood products, and resource and renewable energies.
    The second and even more important ingredient is the type of foundation we stand on. What we do to prepare before the storm is a good indicator of whether we will be the first to emerge once the hurricane has passed. The wealth we enjoy today here in Canada has been based on the good growth-oriented policies, the right and often challenging choices, and the hard work done in the past by our Conservative government. We have engaged in the transformations necessary to sustain job creation, economic growth and prosperity now and for the next generation. This means two things: making better economic choices now, and preparing ourselves now for the demographic pressures that our economy will face.
    We need to keep tax rates down. Keeping taxes low and ensuring the sustainability of our social programs and fiscal position over the next generation is key.
    Let us review the record of our Conservative federal government. We reduced personal income taxes and cut the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We allowed seniors to split their pension. We established the working income tax benefit for low-income working people. We removed more than a million low-income Canadians from the federal income tax rolls altogether. We established the registered disability savings plan and the tax-free savings accounts, the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP. We introduced the children's fitness tax credit and the children's arts tax credit. Altogether, an average family of four saves more than $3,100 in taxes. That is money that stays in their pockets to spend on their priorities.


    At the same time, our government reduced taxes on businesses that create jobs for all Canadians. That is a significant advantage for Canada and the global economy. It is helping to create jobs and preserve jobs in communities across our country, now and for the long term. Our Conservative government rolled out one of the largest and most effective economic stimulus plans among the nations of the G20. In Mississauga and Brampton, those investments put our neighbours to work. However, they also helped us to build lasting infrastructure like the new Sheridan College, new swimming pools, a new ambulance station and basic road construction. It was done without taking on the massive debts and long-term deficits now faced by many other countries. It was done without raising taxes.
    As a result, in those difficult years Canada has outperformed most other industrialized countries. Since July 2009 our Conservative government has created nearly 700,000 net new jobs. Our net debt-to-GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G7 by far. Whether it is family finances, running a small or large business or running the finances of the entire nation, what we do before and during the economic slump is a good indicator of how bright the future will be. That is why economic action plan 2012 builds on our successful approach. It is a clear plan to make effective and targeted investments to support world-leading research, innovation and entrepreneurship. It supports an ambitious trade expansion plan and puts into place a globally competitive business tax regime. It is also why we are focused on implementing economic action plan 2012 now.
    For example, our Conservative government in the past has reduced the general tax rate from 22% in 2007 to 15% in 2012 and cut the small business rates to 11%, while raising the small business threshold to $500,000. That is more than $60 billion in tax relief for job-creating businesses. What does this all mean? KPMG says that business tax costs in the U.S. are 55% higher than in Canada. Forbes magazine says that Canada is the best country in the world to invest and grow a business. Canada has gone from being the least tax competitive G7 country to being the most competitive now. That is from 2005 to now.
    So what does this mean on the ground? As I mentioned, it is almost 700,000 new jobs since July 2009. For those who are the proud beneficiaries of one of those 700,000 jobs, it means food on the table, the ability to pay their mortgage and to provide a bit more for their family.
    Canada has regained all the output lost during the recession. Business investment in Canada is projected to reach record highs, well beyond pre-recession investments. In addition, we have removed over one million low-income families altogether from the tax rolls. We are cutting taxes in every possible way we can. We have targeted personal income taxes and cut them to the lowest tax rates. We have extended the hiring credit for small businesses. We have increased the amount Canadians can earn tax free. We have provided seniors with the much-needed ability to split their pension income. Most notably, though, we reduced the GST from 7% to 5%. That is something that helps all Canadians every day, every time they make a purchase. It puts approximately $1,000 back into the pockets of the average Canadian family. With this plan, total savings for the average Canadian family are approximately $3,100. Our government has cut taxes over 140 times since Conservatives took office, to the lowest point in almost 50 years.
    This next subject is close to my heart as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Budget 2012 is a clear victory for our veterans. I have had the great opportunity to travel across the country to hear the priorities of our veterans. We made a commitment to maintain all benefits to veterans and budget 2012 delivers on that promise.
    Our government is also increasing health care transfers to the Province of Ontario by 6%. That is at a time when Ontario says it will only increase its health care spending by 2%. We are delivering more for Ontario. That is this Conservative government delivering for the people of Ontario.
    I am very proud to stand in support of economic action plan 2012.


    Mr. Speaker, I was very interested in the remarks by the parliamentary secretary because she talked about the bill as if it were about most of the things she was talking about today. However, it is curious that a bill that spends one-third of its time on environment deregulation was not even mentioned in her speech. A bill that provides for major changes in the employment insurance program, which will allow further changes in benefits without any reference back to Parliament, was not mentioned. The abandonment of federal responsibilities for fish habitat, which is very important for employment in sport and commercial fishing in my region, was not mentioned. The elimination of the Inspector General of CSIS, a very important part of the civilian oversight of CSIS, was not mentioned, nor were cuts to emergency preparedness, the raising of the old age security age and reductions in the coverage of federal contractors' employment equity.
    The things she talked about, wonderful themes the government likes to put in its talking points, were not actually the stuff that we find in the bill before us today.
    I wonder if she would like to comment on some of the actual content of the bill.
    Mr. Speaker, I would be delighted to do so. Perhaps if the hon. member had listened to my speech, I did in fact talk about transformative change in our departments and ensuring that we have long-term prosperity for future generations. That is exactly what we are doing with the OAS.
    We continue to have a growing seniors population. As they continue to age, we will have fewer and fewer workers providing tax dollars to support their pension incomes and their health care costs. We need to take measured, prudent steps today to ensure the long-term sustainability of our programs.
    This is exactly what our government is doing. We are acting today in order to ensure long-term prosperity for this generation and for future generations.
    Mr. Speaker, there is no seniors crisis. There is no need for the government to look at increasing the age for OAS from 65 to 67. The government knows that. The Parliamentary Budget Officer knows that. There is no justification for increasing the age of retirement in Canada from 65 to 67.
    In the budget, the government says it will cut 19,000 jobs. Many of those jobs will be the types of jobs that provide services to vulnerable Canadians from coast to coast. That is the real impact this budget will have.
    The government has chosen to bring in time allocation, and this is not the first time. We can talk about back-to-work legislation for unions at Canada Post. We can talk about Air Canada back-to-work legislation. We can talk about the pooled pension program and the Canadian Wheat Board. In endless legislation, the government has brought in time allocation to prevent legitimate, good, solid debate in the House of Commons. Instead, we have a minister who wants to pay $16 for a cup of orange juice.
    The government's priorities are all wrong. When will the government bring in the type of legislation that will deal with our environment through the front door as opposed to the—
    In fact, Mr. Speaker, our priorities are squarely focused on the priorities of Canadians, average Canadians who are struggling to meet their bills, struggling to make their mortgage payments, struggling to ensure that their children can go to hockey practice or soccer practice. These are people who work every day and then sit in their car and commute back home. They are focused on putting groceries on the table. That is why we have reduced taxes in every possible way we can. That is why we want to ensure that money is left in the pockets of average Canadians to spend on their priorities.
    I do not believe that we can tax our way to prosperity. I do not believe any government can do so. Our record speaks strongly to that. Our country is the most successful country coming out of this recession.
    If the opposition members have serious concerns about helping Canadians, they would stand in support of the budget.


    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to enter the debate, but not so pleased to see that we are again faced with time allocation, especially when we are debating a bill that is so big. All too frequently time allocation seems to be the habit of the Conservative government, which decides it will simply crunch everything in. This is not a four-page bill, as some of them are; this is 400 pages that impact not only the budget but a multitude of other agencies and regulations, and it will dramatically change many areas.
    I would like to share my time with the hard-working hon. member for British Columbia Southern Interior.
    In earlier comments the member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca talked about this tale. I believe the member for Ottawa South asked him to please explain what the tale was about. I do not mean the tail on a donkey; I mean the tale with “e”, which is more like Aesop's Fables. He talked about the NGOs and charitable organizations that are going to be impacted because of their charitable status and that foreign oil companies will get them to do their bidding, especially when it comes to his riding of Fort McMurray—Athabasca.
    I had a quick peek to see which foreign oil companies he was referring to. They are BP p.l.c., which I believe is a British company; Chevron, which I believe is an American company; ConocoPhillips; Exxon Mobile Corporation; Imperial Oil; Korea National Oil Corporation; Nippon Oil; Royal Dutch Shell; and Sinopec, the state company of China. They are not actually donating money to charities to get them to engage in destroying our energy policy; they are mining the oil sands. Why on earth would they ever give money to other folks to stop them from doing the very thing they are doing?
    There are more foreign national companies in the oil sands than one can count. That is okay; no one says that is a bad thing, but for the member to suggest that somehow foreign companies are trying, through the back door of an environmental group with a charitable status, to lobby to stop what is happening when they are indeed doing it is the height of incredulity. Who would believe it for a second?
    Clearly it was a bit of a fable. Maybe it was a mixed metaphor. Maybe that is what it was. Maybe I just did not quite get the mixed metaphor about the foreign oil companies that are actually mining. Bless them, they are entitled to do that. This country is a trading nation, and they can come here if they play by the rules. It is a little unfortunate that the state oil company of China made sure it got a sweetheart deal to ship out raw bitumen and did not actually create jobs in Alberta for Albertans or, better still, in Sarnia for Ontarians. I leave that to the Conservatives to defend, because clearly that is not something we did.
    I have heard from the other side that when it comes to OAS, we have this demographic bump, which I happen to be part of. I am at the tail end of the baby boomers. There are others in the House who are at the front end of the baby boomers, but we all know that there is this demographic bump. However, it is a bump; it is not forever. It is a bump. When we are finished with the bump and go back to the other end—a little piece beyond the bump, because we will all, unfortunately, meet our maker—that group will be gone, and we do not have another baby boomer group after that. Is the government now suggesting that once that happens, there will be no reason for the retirement age to be 67 and we will go back to 65 when that group is gone?
    Clearly it is about planning for the demographic that existed and that everyone knew about. Back in the 1960s, everybody knew there was a demographic called the baby boomers. Now a plan should be put in place, and the plan does not need to include retiring at age 67. Most actuaries across this country have said that it is not needed, that it can be financed, that it can be done properly if we make the choice.


    Over and over again I have heard my colleagues on the other side say there will be fewer people working to support seniors, as if seniors do not pay taxes. There is this misbegotten belief that when one becomes a senior, it is a tax-free holiday for the rest of one's life. That is not true. Seniors pay into the system like everyone else, but they are made to sound as if they are some sort of parasite on the system, drawing money out and not actually doing anything for the country. I find that a very difficult thing to swallow, because clearly these are the folks who built this great country; we should have respect for them, but I really believe that has not happened.
    I would say to the government that there is no legitimate, logical, rational reason to go to age 67, but then again, that would not quite go with its policy, would it? Still, there is no need to go to 67. There is no need to do it and there is no sense in doing it. The government should leave the age at 65.
     The one thing that is rational and logical and the one thing that absolutely will happen is that when seniors living in poverty get to the age of 65, they will live in poverty until they are 67 because of what the government is doing. That indeed will be the reality for them. However, that reality does not need to happen, and the government should prevent it from happening by amending the bill and making sure that the age is kept at 65. I would ask the government to do that.
    One of the things in the bill reminded me of the days in the province of Ontario when we had a Conservative provincial government back in the 1990s, led by a premier called “Harris”. I remember a number of folks from that government because I get to see some of them here. There are cabinet ministers in this place who were cabinet ministers in that place. I believe in 1995, or it might have been the spring of 1996, one of the first bills that Mr. Harris created was an omnibus bill that changed regulations and the face of Ontario for the worse. It attacked the poor and went after everyone else. Now we see it again. It is déjà vu all over again.
    Mr. Gary Schellenberger: Who was the leader of that government before that?
    Mr. Malcolm Allen: Actually, the leader of the government before that is now a Liberal. Things change in life. At some point in time, leaders decide to do other things.
    One of the things that bothers me a great deal in the bill is about the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and people need to be concerned because things get hidden in the bill. On the surface of it, many aspects of this agency appear to be on their way to being privatized, which sets a dangerous precedent.
     Sheila Weatherill, who was hired by the Conservative government to look at CFIA, said that part of the reason the listeriosis crisis broke out was that there were not enough public inspectors doing the work that needed to be done to keep our food safety system and keep our food safe. She recommended that be changed. To give credit to the government, it decided to make the change, but now it is going back on those changes.
     The government is moving backwards. It would take us back to a place before the listeriosis crisis of 2008, a place where the food inspection system would not be as rigorous as it should be and would not live up to the standards that Canadians expect or think it is, which is even worse. When Canadians think they have a certain standard in place and it turns out not to be true, they lose faith in the system.
     On the labelling piece, as it starts to unravel, if there is a complaint or health concern about a label, I am not sure who the contact would be, but I guess it would be a 1-800 number. People would call 1-800-something to say that they did not like the label. The response might be, “Are you validated to complain about that label?” Of course, the answer would be no, they are not validated, and therefore they would no longer have a complaint. If someone called CFIA, they would say, “Sorry, we do not do that anymore. We have handed that off.” Whom would we call for health and safety complaints about labelling and food? Would it be a call centre? Where would it be and how would it be staffed? Would it be staffed with folks who just follow a chart that says if the question is Y, answer X, or if the response is Q, make it a P? Who knows?
    Clearly this government has rammed a whack of legislation into a budget bill and made it an omnibus bill, which it did not have to do. Oversight is needed, whether on environmental regulations, CFIA or the multitude of other things in the bill. The government could have brought the budget implementation bill, which would have taken care of the piece that it is required to do, and we could then have debated the other legislation piece by piece. We could have had an honest, open debate in a democratic fashion and not be faced with time allocation.


    Mr. Speaker, I admire greatly the work the member does in this House, particularly in the area of agriculture.
    I know that the hon. member shared my concerns, and many Canadians' concerns, when the government snubbed its nose at existing law that required that it consult with farmers on the Wheat Board, and when the government snubbed its nose at the order of the court that it ought to obey the law.
    The hon. member heard the member for Fort McMurray—Athabasca basically saying, and encouraging, that we should now spend millions of dollars for Revenue Canada to investigate the very organizations that are going to help small communities, first nations and Métis settlements to intervene in the review of major projects that might impact them.
    As I have mentioned in the House previously, there actually is an obligation on the Government of Canada, a commitment, to provide advance notice of an opportunity for consultation, for anybody in North America who might have a concern with the proposed new environmental law.
    I am wondering if the member shares my concerns about not just the content of this bill but the manner in which the government is bringing these matters before this House.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague from Edmonton—Strathcona. I note her great work and the great career she has had in the environmental movement, working on behalf of all of us across this land. She deserves a great deal of credit.
    The member is absolutely right about process. There is no reason to stuff this bill with environmental protection regulations that are going to be done away with. There is no excuse for it. There was no need for it. It is absolutely reprehensible that it has actually happened. It should not have occurred.
    When it comes to the environment, one of the things I have learned, and I am not an environmentalist, far from it, is that the air we breathe around here moves from somewhere else and the water that goes through that stream moves from somewhere else. We cannot build a wall around that environment and say we are living in the bubble.
    What is done here or over there will indeed impact where we are here. That is a troubling piece, when all of that impact can have not only a hemispheric piece, an interaction, but indeed a global piece. As we used to say, think globally, act locally.
    At the end of the day, it is about how we act. It is not about how we have inaction. It needs to be action. This is about to bring us inaction, and that is not a good start.
    Mr. Speaker, as I listened to my colleague speak, he brought up the issue of food safety and I am very glad he did.
    I believe the member is facing a dilemma, because he and his associates asked that we do more for food safety. I am happy to tell him what he probably already knows, that there is an additional $51 million in this budget for food safety, to enhance our food safety systems.
    I am so interested in knowing exactly how this member will vote. I already saw how he voted on the budget, but as I told him during question period, he has an opportunity to redeem himself during these budget implementation votes. He can vote in favour of additional funding for food safety, just as he has been asking for.
    How does the member respond to that?
    Mr. Speaker, I did not realize I had gone that far down the list that I needed to be redeemed. If I need redemption, I hope my hon. colleague will help me find it. It is probably a horse running in the fourth, but then again Fort Erie is closing the slots and that may actually do away with the raceway, so there may not be any horses there anymore.
    It is abundantly clear, and this parliamentary secretary knows it, that this one-term funding that has been dropped in for this one budget year will disappear. He knows it and so does the minister. It will disappear. The budget will decrease, along with the agriculture budget, which got hit by 10%.
    If anybody needs to redeem themselves, I would suggest it is my hon. colleague across the way and the minister who allowed the agriculture budget not to be trimmed but to have a meat cleaver taken to it. It had its arm chopped off to the tune of 10%-plus.
    That is where redemption ought to be for farmers. It ought to be for that minister and that parliamentary secretary to stand up for farmers and fight to get that money back to make sure that farmers across this country are looked after, protected and well maintained. That did not happen through this minister and parliamentary secretary.


[Statements by Members]



Kitchener Rangers

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to congratulate and to pay tribute to Steve Bienkowski, winner of the Lions Club 2011 Citizen of the Year award for Kitchener—Waterloo.
    Steve is the chief operating officer of the Kitchener Rangers and the impetus behind their ongoing success over the past decade. The Kitchener Rangers may be out of the playoffs, but they are still winners in our community.
    Under Steve's leadership, the Rangers have become strong community partners, making important contributions to our region's economy and generous donations to local charities.
    In addition, the team's emphasis on player participation in the community reinforces the hockey heritage of our region and provides role models for aspiring young players and fans.
    Please join me in saluting Steve Bienkowski and thanking him for his outstanding contributions.

Randy Kapashesit

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to a great leader and a good personal friend, Randy Kapashesit, chief of MoCreebec on Moose Factory Island. The people of the James Bay are shocked that a leader who had so much vision was taken from us so suddenly.
    Randy was an advocate for aboriginal equity. His vision for sustainable cultural and economic development for the MoCreebec people involved the building of co-operative housing and the immensely successful Ecolodge at Moose Factory.
    Randy also had an international vision. He worked with the United Nations North American Indigenous Peoples Caucus. He was planning for the 2014 conference.
    However, Randy also loved music, ideas and people. Whenever we were in the presence of Randy, we knew we were in the presence of someone who was very profound and special.
    I am deeply sorrowful that I cannot be there with his family and community as they say goodbye. However, on behalf of the New Democratic caucus, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to his partner Donna, his children Waseyabin and Ajuawak and the people of the Moose Factory region who have lost a great leader.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, international trade is truly a kitchen table issue. It means opportunities for Canadian business and for Canadian jobs.
    More than 60% of Canada's annual income and the jobs of one in five Canadians are generated by trade. Canada's advantage is enhanced by strong people-to-people ties with countries around the world.
    Canadian business, including those in my riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore, applaud measures taken by our Conservative government, including the signing of trade agreements with Panama, Costa Rica, Jordan, Honduras, Columbia and Peru and the modernizing of free trade agreements with Chile and Israel; the pursuit of new trade agreements with the European Union, India, Japan, Morocco, Ukraine and the great trading nations of the Pacific rim; the beyond the border initiative to streamline trade with the U.S.A., our largest trading partner; the lowering of corporate taxes, making Canada a preferred country to establish headquarters and create jobs; and maintaining the lowest deficit and debt ratios in the G8, underpinned by the world's most stable financial sector.
    We have expanded opportunities for Canadian businesses, Canadian young people and Canadian families.

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, I attended an event at Nathan Phillips Square, organized by members of Toronto's Vietnamese community, specifically the Vietnamese veterans.
    The ceremony was intended to help commemorate and remember those who have given so much in the name of national service. It highlighted the differences that make us unique, but more important, it helped us to pay tribute to the qualities and the goals that unite and cause us to work co-operatively for a better tomorrow.
    In effect, the ceremony called upon the Vietnamese government to respect basic human rights and it called upon Canada's government to redouble its efforts to show leadership on this issue. These are qualities that all Canadians can support.
    Because of this, I would like to extend a special note of congratulations and thanks to all of those who work tirelessly to advance this positive message of peace, collaboration and justice for all.

2012 RBC Cup

    Mr. Speaker, this Saturday, Canada's national Junior A hockey championship will commence in Humboldt, Saskatchewan. One hundred and thirty-three teams from 10 leagues make up the Canadian Junior Hockey League and all start their season with the goal of making it to the RBC Cup. These teams represent the best of hockey in small-town Canada, a place where people play for the love of the game.
    This year, the tournament is being hosted by the town of Humboldt, whose Humboldt Broncos will show the Woodstock Slammers, the Soo Thunderbirds and the Penticton Vees the same thing they recently showed the Portage Terriers: how hockey is really meant to be played.
    The Broncos, who have twice won the national Junior A hockey championship, are an active part of the community. They love their fans and Humboldt loves its Broncos. That is the key. The Broncos will defeat the Slammers, clobber the Thunderbirds, upend the Vees and embarrass the Terriers, not just with superior hockey skills, though that will soon be evident, but they will win the RBC Cup because they have the greatest hockey fans in the country, fans who will provide the heart necessary for victory.
    Congratulations to Humboldt and its great volunteers for hosting the RBC Cup.




    Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the courage and determination of Sonia Scalzo, a constituent in Joliette who, for the past six years, has been working hard to raise awareness among Canadians about the military's use of the internationally controversial anti-malarial drug mefloquine.
    The drug is meant to prevent malaria, but it can have serious side effects for some people, including hallucinations, anxiety and aggression.
    The United States stopped systematically prescribing this drug to its soldiers in 2009, but we continue to administer it to our Canadian troops.
    After Ms. Scalzo's lonely six-year battle and seven refusals by the Canadian Forces ombudsman to investigate mefloquine, I am joining her in calling for a thorough review of this important issue.
    I want to thank her for her exemplary courage. Her tenacity is an inspiration to all the soldiers and military families who have been affected by mefloquine.


Manufacturing Industry

    Mr. Speaker, one needs look no further than the riding of York Centre, the riding I am privileged to represent, for evidence that our Conservative government's policies have created an environment in Canada for business and manufacturing to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
    Bombardier, the single largest employer in the GTA, whose airplane manufacturing plant is located in Downsview Park, has reached an agreement with WestJet to supply 20 Q400 planes for WestJet's newly created regional carrier, with the option for an additional 25 aircraft.
    WestJet chief executive Gregg Saretsky said “The Q400 won out because it flies fast, it can fly longer range and we can get more people on the aircraft...”.
    I am proud to represent a riding that demonstrates the quality of Canadian innovation and manufacturing. This is just one example of the benefits our government's policies are having on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
    Both NDP and Liberal job-killing tax hikes would raise the cost of manufacturing and drive investment and jobs elsewhere.
    I congratulate Bombardier on its achievement, and I look forward to continued success under economic action plan 2012.

Beef Industry

    Mr. Speaker, this week the Canadian Cattlemen's Association hosted the Alberta Beef Producers to meet with members of Parliament and continue working closely with our Conservative government developing policy to enhance Canada's beef industry.
    Canadian beef producers are moving ahead. The industry is growing and poised to fill all those orders that our Minister of International Trade and Minister of Agriculture are securing around the world.
    The cattlemen appreciate the advance payments program our government provided. They support the government's entry into the trans-Pacific partnership negotiation. They support our efforts to secure free trade with Japan and increase the age limits for Canadian beef.
    Beef producers support our efforts to get them unlimited duty-free access to the European Union market and the 500 million customers that my constituents and producers in Crowfoot are determined to feed.
    Canada's cattle producers, and the ones in my riding as well, appreciate having input into our government's policy-making process. The government is listening.

Great Places in Canada Competition

    Mr. Speaker, my riding of Parkdale—High Park in Toronto is home to many vibrant, culturally rich and engaged neighbourhoods. I am proud to call myself a resident and representative of these neighbourhoods.
    I rise today to recognize the achievement of one neighbourhood in particular. In the Canadian Institute of Planners' Great Places in Canada competition, Roncesvalles Village is now one of eight finalists selected from a field of ninety submissions.
    The community organized, worked together and cast more than 200,000 votes in support of its neighbourhood being the best in Canada.
    I want to congratulate the residents of Roncesvalles Village on building their community with strong social engagement. Roncesvalles is without doubt really one of the best neighbourhoods in Canada.


Polish Constitution Day

    Mr. Speaker, today is Polish Constitution Day. On May 3, 1791, Poland adopted Europe's first democratic constitution only four years after the Constitution of the United States was signed.
    Soon after its adoption, Poland would lose its freedom to foreign occupation. However, the Constitution of May 3 would continue to serve as a symbol of freedom, democratic rights and the fight for Polish independence.
    Today May 3 is celebrated as a national holiday in Poland, where major streets and monuments throughout the country are dedicated to its memory.
    Here in Canada, Polish Canadians reflect on the long-standing historic legacy of the fight for liberty and democracy. They also celebrate the fact that Canada reflects those same values and that Poland is now a free and prosperous European ally.
    I join with Polish Canadians in celebrating this holiday and would like to take this opportunity to remind Canadians that we must always stand on guard for individual freedoms and always resist the forces that seek to limit it.


Daniel Larouche

    Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, April 29, Daniel Larouche passed away. He was the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada representative for the workers at the Stadacona mill in Quebec City.
    Mr. Larouche made a name for himself during the painful labour dispute at White Birch Paper, where he worked selflessly representing the Stadacona mill workers.
    Former Stadacona CEO André Sarasin described Mr. Larouche as a credible, trustworthy person with an intelligent approach to the issues. Renaud Gagné, vice-president of CEP-Quebec, said Mr. Larouche was a craftsman and everyone at CEP is mourning his loss.
    I saw Daniel Larouche on several occasions. I am sorry to see this man, who was so dedicated to and respected by the workers he represented, leave us just a few short years before his well-deserved retirement.
    I want to offer my sincere condolences to the love of his life, Ginette Bouffard, his children, Katherine-Sarah and Thomas, and all his fellow workers.

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, our government remains committed to positive measures that focus on employment, growth and long-term prosperity.
    Unfortunately, on the NDP side, it does appear as though the MPs have not yet fully understood their role, since many of them remain voiceless, while others continue to party, even paying for clowns on the taxpayers' dime. Worse still, their leader dared to describe public servants as “racist”, when they are simply doing their jobs. He is setting quite an example for the new MPs.
    The leader of the NDP and his apprentice MPs are great at improvising. They have a long way to go before discovering successful economic policies for the Quebec and Canadian economy.
    Only a strong, stable Conservative government under the leadership of our Prime Minister was able to pull Canada out of this economic crisis with dignity. Our government will continue doing what is necessary to create jobs and return to a balanced budget.


World Press Freedom Day

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to mark World Press Freedom Day reminding us of the profound importance of freedom of expression, the lifeblood of democracy, consecrated as a core freedom in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law, while the rise of the Internet and social media have underpinned and propelled the Arab Spring.
    Yet we cannot ignore the obverse side, the criminalization of freedom of expression, as in the case of Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil, or the targeting and murder of journalist Marie Colvin in Syria, or the establishment of an Internet firewall, as in Iran, to quarantine Internet freedom, or that the same Internet that transports the best of free speech also transports the worst of assaultive speech, including even state-sanctioned incitement to genocide, thereby warranting remedy and sanction.


     Let us join together in celebrating World Press Freedom Day in the hope that freedom of expression will be protected, that journalists who are imprisoned for exercising it will be released, and that those who attack this freedom will be held accountable.


Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, the NDP leader has a history of making inaccurate remarks. He leads his party by example with over-the-top attacks on government policy and unnecessary personal attacks on members of Parliament. The leader of the NDP will do absolutely anything to make the news, even if that means misleading Canadians.
    On Monday, he misled Canadians by saying that there were two sets of books for the F-35s. That is absolutely ridiculous. In reality, the deputy minister of National Defence testified to Parliament stating, “we just had one set of books”.
    Canadians want to know when the NDP leader's baseless smear campaign will end.
    Maybe it is the NDP that has two sets of books: one to sell Canadians on voting NDP and the second, after being elected, to undermine Canadian jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.



World Press Freedom Day

    Mr. Speaker, today is World Press Freedom Day, and the NDP would like to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives while keeping us informed.
    Even now, around the world, many publications are censored or banned because of their content or because they campaign for greater freedom and democracy.
    Freedom of the press is the cornerstone of every democratic society, and Canada is no exception. In fact, Canada should be a leader in respecting basic rights, such as freedom of the press.
    Unfortunately, the Conservatives are venturing into dangerous territory. They value ideology over facts and refuse to listen to environmental and financial experts. The Prime Minister's Office protects information as though it were the crown jewels.
    Never has a government allowed journalists so little access to information. Maybe it is trying to prevent all of its scandals from being exposed.
    The NDP is against such a blatant lack of transparency toward journalists and, by extension, the Canadian public.
    The NDP will remain vigilant to ensure that journalists' freedom of expression is respected and protected.


New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, virtually every day, the NDP makes an over-the-top characterization about government policy, unwarranted personal attacks and exaggerated claims. The NDP's willingness to accuse without proof and without hesitation reflects a deeper rot within that party.
    Just this week, the NDP's new leader stood in his place and made a baseless smear about highly trained public servants. He claimed that these highly trained public servants were making immigration decisions based on race. I would ask for the proof behind this baseless allegation but we all know, as always, there is no proof.
    The leader of the NDP will do absolutely anything to make the news, even if that means misleading Canadians. Canadians want to know when the NDP's baseless smear campaign will end.
     While the NDP is playing its schoolyard games, we will continue to focus on what matters most to Canadians: jobs, economic growth and log-term prosperity.


[Oral Questions]


National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, last month, the Conservatives changed their parliamentary report on plans and priorities with regard to the F-35. The first version of the report indicated that the purchase of the aircraft had been approved by cabinet; however, a new version, which they changed retroactively, states that cabinet has not approved this purchase.
    Why did the Conservatives want Canadians to think that the purchase of this aircraft had been approved and why did they change their story?
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the government has not signed a contract to purchase these aircraft. We have been clear. We will await the results of the improved oversight process, implemented as result of the Auditor General's report, before purchasing such aircraft.


    Mr. Speaker, the official excuse is that it was a typographical error. The Conservatives want us to believe that someone typed the word “definitions” when he or she actually meant to type two words “options analysis”.
    Are there any other typographical errors about the F-35s that the government would like to make the House aware of? For example, when it told Parliament that the plane would cost $14.7 billion but cabinet thought the plane would cost $10 billion more, was that just a typing error?
    Mr. Speaker, as I think has been made very clear, $15 billion has been the estimate of the acquisition and maintenance costs. In any case, the government has been very clear and the facts have been on the record for years that the government has not signed a contract and has not bought any aircraft. None of that is even remotely planned until the current aircraft reach the end of their useful life in the later part of this decade.
    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General showed that the government did not provide information to the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The deputy minister of National Defence said today that he provided the full costing of the F-35s to the Minister of National Defence, the full $25 billion. Why was that information not passed on to Parliament?


    Mr. Speaker, the deputy minister made it quite clear. If the member were actually reading the deputy minister's testimony she would see that the deputy minister made it clear that the information was presented in the way that it has always been presented over many decades, long before this government came to office.
    The more important point in the Auditor General's report is that the Auditor General has questioned the reliability of some of these numbers, which is why the government has committed to re-examining this matter before proceeding.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish the Conservatives cared more about the mental health of the Canadian Forces than about covering their tracks on the F-35s.
    A report on mental health services at the base in Petawawa described the situation as a crisis. It says, “They should not have to fight for services, or wait in the desert of their minds hoping help will come soon”. The situation will only get worse when the government closes a mental health facility on July 1 and cuts other front line mental health workers.
    Will the government reverse this plan and give the members of our Canadian Forces the help they need and deserve?
    Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is relocating a clinic to Petawawa to ensure that soldiers, their families and those in need of mental health counselling will have closer access and better access to that treatment.
    In fact, the member opposite, as so often is the case in this place, is simply wrong. Lieutenant Colonel Sean Blundell , a family doctor and commanding officer in the area has said, “We are not under budgetary restraints”.
    Mr. Speaker, the report states that the Petawawa mental health system is broken, struggling to provide even basic care, with people waiting four months just to see a medical professional. It reads:
    Our soldiers who fought for the freedom of children, mothers, fathers, grandchildren and all others in far away countries...are worthy of quality mental health services.
    However, the situation is not unique to Petawawa. After a year in which suicides of Canadian Forces members nearly doubled from the previous year, and with so many suffering from PTSD, how can the government cut Canadian Forces mental health services with so many men and women requiring this assistance?
    Mr. Speaker, I will bring this into the realm of reality. The Canadian Forces have in fact increased the number of mental health services. In fact, we now have over 378 full-time mental health professionals. We are working to hire more, to double the overall number since taking office in 2006.
    When compared with our NATO allies, studies have told us that the Canadian Forces now have the greatest ratio of mental health care workers of any soldiers in NATO. We will continue to invest in the 24 integrated personal support units across the country and we will continue to work with departments like Veterans Affairs and others. The member and his party have opposed every one of those steps.
    Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, the deputy minister of National Defence said that the Auditor General got it wrong. This is consistent with the Auditor General's report that said that both DND and Public Works disagreed with his conclusion that they had shown a lack of due diligence.
    Yet in recent weeks five ministers in the front row, including the Prime Minister, said that they agreed wholeheartedly with the recommendation and the conclusion of the Auditor General.
    Who is wrong? Is it the deputy minister about the Auditor General being wrong, or is it the Prime Minister who said that he agreed with the Auditor General?
    Mr. Speaker, the one who has it wrong is actually the Liberal Party. This is not what the deputy minister said. I would encourage the members to actually fully read his testimony. The thing he has quoted is a very specific item that is not a general comment.
     The government has accepted the report of the Auditor General and is acting on those recommendations.


    Mr. Speaker, the F-35 secretariat has just been renamed the “new Canadian fighter aircraft secretariat”. However, we do not know if there will be an open and transparent bidding process.
    On the one hand, the Minister of Public Works said, “we've hit the restart button.”
    On the other hand, last Tuesday, Lieutenant-General Deschamps, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, told us that only one jet had been considered: the F-35, of course.
    Who is telling the truth? Is it Lieutenant-General Deschamps, or will there be an open and transparent bidding process?


    Mr. Speaker, in response to the Auditor General's report, the government has announced that it will take a number of steps before proceeding. We intend to examine all these facts and options before continuing with the process. We have been clear about that.


    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report makes it very clear that cabinet had F-35 costing very similar to the PBO as long ago as 2010. The deputy minister of National Defence today repeatedly avoided responding to the question of who authorized the release of the lowball number.
    If the Prime Minister now accepts the Auditor General's report and its conclusions, it follows that he authorized the release of the lowball number, he authorized the vilifying of the PBO and he misled Parliament and Canadians. Why?
    Mr. Speaker, the preamble of that question is completely wrong. As the deputy minister himself has indicated, the data released is consistent with how the Department of National Defence has treated such data in the past.
    However, as we said, as a consequence of the Auditor General's report, we are taking a more careful look at all of this costing. We are committed to providing all of the results of that examination to Parliament.


    Mr. Speaker, it is time to put an end to this reign of lies and confusion in the F-35 file. The opposition has denounced it, the Auditor General has denounced it and the Parliamentary Budget Officer denounced it again this morning.
    When we asked the Parliamentary Budget Officer whether the Conservatives deliberately provided false costs, he clearly answered “yes”. If only the Conservative ministers could provide such clear answers.
    I will try again. What is the total cost of the F-35s?
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the hon. member and all opposition members are the ones causing confusion in this matter.


    We have been very clear. We are responding in a comprehensive way to the Auditor General's report. There will be greater transparency, greater ability to report to Parliament and to the public, more oversight and more independence.
    Here are a few facts for the member: there is no contract signed and no money spent.


    Mr. Speaker, it is all well and fine for the Conservatives to try and change their tune, but the fact remains that they did not tell the truth.
    Australia and the United States are deferring their F-35 procurement because it is too risky. Japan is going to pay $10 billion for only 40 F-35s. The price of the F-35s continues to skyrocket every day, but the Conservatives are causing confusion by trying to have Canadians believe that the price is $10 billion less than the actual cost.
    Why are the Conservatives hiding the truth from taxpayers?


    Again, Mr. Speaker, let us be clear on the facts. This is a 15-year memorandum of understanding which Canada has entered into. The obvious intent here is to replace aging CF-18 fighter aircraft in years to come. We are now looking at a more comprehensive way to ensure that there is greater reporting and transparency to Parliament, to the public. This is what the Auditor General has asked for. There is a difference in accounting in terms of how those numbers are arrived at.
    There was no money spent, no contract signed, but we will proceed to ensure that the Canadian Forces have the best aircraft to protect our country in the future.
    Mr. Speaker, the government's answers are making less sense and getting more convoluted daily. At least there are others willing to tell the truth.
    Today, when the PBO was asked if the government was seeking to mislead Canadians about the real cost of the F-35s, he gave a clear and simple answer, yes. Is there any minister on that side of the House who is honest enough to stand and take responsibility?
    Mr. Speaker, let us listen to what the professional public service had to say about that. Deputy Minister Fonberg, in responding to committee this morning about this issue of reporting and numbers given to the PBO, said the following, “To the best of my knowledge we fully responded to the PBO's request”. He went on to say, “I don't believe he raised issues with us on a substantive nature of the response, so I'm not sure what conclusions he”, the PBO, “was drawing”.


    Mr. Speaker, I guess the answer is no. No one will take responsibility for misleading Canadians and no one will take responsibility for suppressing information to Parliament's independent watchdogs. Instead, the Minister of National Defence says that buying a fleet of fighter jets is like buying a minivan and, by the way, he has offered accounting tips to the Auditor General, who apparently has it all wrong.
    For how much longer will the government keep up the ridiculous claims that the PBO cannot do his job and the AG cannot count?
    Mr. Speaker, what I do know is that the no-defence party's mini-me is doing his best to confuse Canadians on this file.
    What we know is that the Department of National Defence is moving toward an important procurement to see that we have CF-18 fighter aircraft replaced in the coming years. We have a more comprehensive process in place now in response to the Auditor General. We have responded in a way that will give greater transparency, greater information to Parliament and the public.
     There has been no money spent and no contract signed. Canada's interests are protected and so are the interests of the Canadian Forces.


Ministerial Expenditures

    Mr. Speaker, of course ministers have to travel. However, it would be nice if they refrained from doing so simply for photo ops with limousines and F-35s. Furthermore, having a driver is not unusual. What is unusual, however, is keeping a driver on standby 24/7, 360 days a year, as the President of the Treasury Board of Canada did.
    Hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars are being wasted. Whenever we ask ministers about their lavish lifestyles, they justify this wastefulness by saying they work hard. Well, Quebeckers and Canadians also work hard and want value for their money. They also want their government to act responsibly.
    When will the ministers start acting accordingly?


    Mr. Speaker, what the hon. member fails to discuss in the House is that standby does not mean drivers get paid for all of that time. In fact, they get paid for one-eighth of the time, which meant 45 days of overtime, not 260 days, as he is trying to allege in the House.
    We have a system in place. We have drivers and cars, just like their colleagues do in Manitoba and just like their colleagues do in Nova Scotia, NDP colleagues. If members are going to complain in the House, they should come here with clean hands.


    Mr. Speaker, we in the NDP like drivers and workers, whether they are unionized or not. However, unlike the Conservative government, the NDP does not attack their rights. The Conservative caucus is completely shameless.
    While essential public services are being axed, the government is spending more and more money on cabinet's every little whim. The Conservatives brag about their fiscal responsibility, but they do not walk the talk. Their limousine parties and $16 glasses of orange juice prove it.
    Would any Conservative minister agree that having limousines on standby is an abuse of power?


    Today, Mr. Speaker, those members are defending the workers. Yesterday they were condemning the workers for working overtime. That is the hypocrisy on that side.
    I will say in the House that we are looking at some changes and we would like to ensure that we can defend the taxpayer better because we believe that change can be positive. In this place:

And the men who hold high places
Must be the ones to start
To mould a new reality
Closer to the heart.

    Mr. Speaker, there those members go, another rush to excuses when they get caught.
    Last week it was the minister who refused to stay at a five star posh hotel that was not good enough for her. Then we had the outrageous charges for the government chauffeurs. Then we have the Muskoka minister who not only blew through the $50 million slush fund, but who has a driver at his beck and call 360 days a year.
    On talk radio last night, it was asked how often an average Canadian took a limo. People said maybe once, maybe for their prom. Therefore, is every night prom night for Conservative insiders?
    Mr. Speaker, that is another fly-by-night question. As I have already reiterated, on this side of the House, we would suggest that the hon. member come here with clean hands. We have the Nova Scotia NDP government, cars and drivers and the Manitoba NDP government, cars and drivers. That is the right thing to do in certain circumstances and with the right Treasury Board guidelines, to which we adhere.
    The hon. member has not come here with clean hands. What a La Villa Strangiato?
    Mr. Speaker, I think he thinks it is a joke when the government gets caught for abusing taxpayer dollars.
    He needs to understand that we are not asking ministers to shack up at the Paradise Motel when they do travel. We are not asking them to travel like common people on the public transit. However, we do expect them to treat taxpayers with respect, just like the New Democratic government in Manitoba does.
    I see ministers who get their limo and ride from the bottom of the Hill up to the top of the Hill every day, and that is five minutes. Those Conservatives might talk the talk about accountability, but when will they step out of their limousines and walk the walk?


    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that on this side of the House we are new world men and women.
    What I would say for hon. member is that we are adhering to the guidelines, that we are in fact ensuring the guidelines are better. We want to do some changes. This could be one area of the changes.
    The fact is the member stands in the House with righteous indignation, but his colleagues and his cohorts use cars and drivers. It is, in the right circumstances, the right thing to do. When will the member stop speaking out of both sides of his mouth?

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to food is about to begin his first ever official mission to a developed country. That country is Canada.
    When the rapporteur on housing came to Canada, the result was a scathing report about third world conditions faced by first nations, Métis and Inuit in our country.
    The fact is, for far too many of these communities, there is simply not enough food.
    Will the minister do his job and agree to meet with the rapporteur to discuss this crisis in Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, our government continues to assist first nation communities across the country to expand their economic opportunities and realize their full potential. Through skills training and employment incentives, we have invested significantly in measures to ensure first nations have access to food, shelter and economic opportunity.
     We accepted the UN rapporteur's request to come to Canada. Government officials will be meeting with the rapporteur, and we look forward to his report.

Access to Information

    Mr. Speaker, with the help of public funding, the Conservatives have amassed a large volume of data about individual Canadians. It is all in their central database, the Conservative information management system known as CIMS: names, addresses, phone numbers, religion, ethnicity, political activity and on it goes.
    The risk of abuse is enormous. Who in the government has access to CIMS, and has that database ever been consulted when the government is responding to an access to information request, a grant application or an immigration file, yes or no?
    That being said, I want to give him occasion to rise and explain the activity of the Liberal member for Guelph who has been forced to admit, after—
    Gotcha. We gotcha.
    Mr. Speaker, you can call the member to order whenever you wish.
    He has been forced to admit that his activities in the last election deceived his voters by putting a false phone number and a false message in place. He is the one who is engaged in a roboscandal.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the duplicity of the government knows no bounds. While its ministers spend like royalty it looks for so-called efficiencies by surreptitiously cutting programs to the most sick and vulnerable.
     Suicides in the Canadian Forces have almost doubled. The current government cut veteran suicide prevention programs and the specialists who treat post-traumatic stress disorder. PTSD causes a lifetime of mental pain and suffering. Can the Minister of National Defence justify these callous cuts as easily as he defends his bloated perks?
    Mr. Speaker, virtually all of what the member has just said is false. We are not reducing, but are in fact increasing, the support for the Canadian Forces members, veterans and their families, as we have done consistently since taking office. We are working toward doubling the number of mental health professionals available to members. We have opened joint personnel support units across the country. We continue to work with the civilian mental health care workers in associations across the country to see that they are able to help our reservists as well as our regular force members. We are very proud of what we have done. We will continue to make those investments.



Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism expressed support for mandatory bilingualism for officers of Parliament. He said, “Very good bill. I can tell you that, personally, I will support it—”.
    However, two hours later, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages spoke out against the bill, which he deemed “unnecessary”. In committee this morning, he did not know if he was for or against it.
    Given that his ministers cannot agree, will the Prime Minister provide assurances that the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism's opinion will prevail?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House that we will fulfill our responsible commitments with respect to official languages. As to the bill he mentioned, which I discussed this morning at the Standing Committee on Official Languages, the government has not yet made a decision.
    However, I want to make it clear that it is our government, with our Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality, our appointments and our commitments, that will continue to protect and promote both French and English within the Government of Canada.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, it is important to take money laundering seriously.
    However, the Minister of the Environment's accusations against environmental groups are insulting. This is an unsubstantiated attack against groups that have the support of millions of Canadians.
    Accusing environmentalists of laundering money is simply a political vendetta. Revenue Canada is cutting its budget for the investigation of tax fraud but is going to spend more on attacking environmental groups.
    Will the minister do the right thing and apologize?


    Mr. Speaker, the NDP members abandoned decorum and civility a couple of days ago. Now they have lost their sense of humour. The opposition members can whinge all they want but the fact of the matter is some charitable organizations have allegedly used funds from outside this country inappropriately in regard to their charitable status. They can call it money laundering, they can call it a financial shell game or they could call it three card monte.


    Mr. Speaker, budgets are used to set priorities, and the Conservatives' priority is to waste millions of dollars harassing foundations while cutting the budgets for tax fraud investigations and the RCMP's proceeds of crime program.
    The RCMP estimates that $5 billion to $15 billion is laundered in Canada each year by real criminals, not environmentalists.
    When will this government stop attacking those who disagree with it and target the real criminals?


    Mr. Speaker, almost everything my hon. colleague said is absolutely wrong. As I said, there have been allegations of inappropriate channelling of foreign funds through Canadian organizations that have charitable status. I am glad we caught the attention of the opposition, the general public and the charitable agencies so they can examine their practices and ensure they conform with their charitable status.


    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are harassing ecologists and slashing funding for oil spill protection and monitoring measures, but that does not solve the problem.
    Yet another oil spill has appeared on British Columbia's northern coast. At one kilometre long and 60 metres wide, this catastrophic spill is threatening the community of Hartley Bay.
    In 2003, the Conservatives were warned about the growing risk of oil spills. That oil spill appeared two days ago. Can the Conservatives tell us what they have done so far to clean up the mess?


    I would be delighted to, Mr. Speaker.
    Environment Canada has been notified of the release of a small amount of oil from a Second World War warship sunk off the coast of British Columbia. The Canadian Coast Guard is the lead agency. Environment Canada's national ice service overflew the site to observe and to report on the release. It appears that this time the environmental impact will be minor as there appears to be less than one litre of oil on the surface. The leak is being patched by divers.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives promised the people of Hartley Bay two years ago to clean up this mess. They are not just failing to protect coastal communities, they are putting them at further risk, all the while cheerleading for raw export of pipelines and supertanker projects.
    The government recklessly closed B.C.'s only oil spill response centre. Now it is gutting environmental laws for pipeline and fast-tracking of new threats. Why is the government putting the health and life of coastal communities at risk all in favour of their friends in the oil patch?


    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague clearly misunderstands the operational realities of the environmental emergencies office. Environment Canada staff are not first responders. They very seldom attend the site of a pollutant release. They do support the lead agency, be it municipal, provincial, a federal department, be it Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard or the National Energy Board. We will continue to do that. There will be no negative impact from the consolidation of our six offices to two.

Sealing Industry

    Mr. Speaker, members on this side of the House have stood in solidarity with Canadian sealers while opposition members have consistently sided with Hollywood activists who would not know a seal if it bit them.
    What is the government's reaction to the Liberal senator's recent admonishment of the cultural significance and economic importance of this traditional hunt?
    Mr. Speaker, this is yet again another attack by a Liberal senator to try to undermine this safe, humane and sustainable hunt that is vital to coastal communities in northern and eastern Canada.
    Members on this side of the House have been unequivocal in our support for the Canadian seal industry. We will not abandon this industry at the behest of opposition parties or irresponsible and out-of-touch animal rights activists. We will continue to put the livelihoods of hard-working Canadian families first.


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

    Mr. Speaker, today is World Press Freedom Day, but on this day of all days, the Minister of Canadian Heritage's new code of conduct for CBC is forcing journalists to become the government's mouthpiece. That is not good.
    The code requires employees to “Loyally [carry] out the lawful decisions of their leaders and [support] ministers in their accountability to Parliament and Canadians”. Journalistic independence and freedom of the press be damned. This is serious. Journalists who sign on will have to obey the direct orders of the Prime Minister's Office.
    How can the Minister of Canadian Heritage look us in the eye and justify that?
    Mr. Speaker, perhaps my colleague should take a little time to research the facts before writing and asking questions like that. Maybe he should talk to CBC. The policy is an internal one. It has nothing to do with our government. CBC did not ask us for a policy. That decision was made internally.
    If he does not believe me, he can write to Hubert Lacroix, CBC's president and CEO. It was not our choice; it was theirs.


    Mr. Speaker, it actually gets worse. Not only do journalists have to swear an oath of loyalty, but the chair of the board of the CBC now has to swear an oath of friendship to the minister. Is it really that hard for him to find a friend?
    It is World Press Freedom Day today, and we have to remember that the CBC must remain at arm's length to the government.
    Why does the Minister of Canadian Heritage need to force the new chair of the board of the CBC to be his buddy?
    Mr. Speaker, it is an utterly ridiculous question. It is an internal decision of the CBC. It has nothing to do with this government. Let us make better use of this time.
    Joining us today in Ottawa are the recipients of this year's Governor General Performing Arts Awards. I am very proud to see that the members of Rush are with us in the House of Commons. We welcome them to our political limelight.
    Order. The hon. minister should know that it is not up to him to point out guests in the gallery.



    The hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

Official Languages

    Mr. Speaker, scorning the tradition of independence of journalists and the CBC is not enough for the Conservatives, who are also attacking parliamentary traditions.
    When it comes to honouring one long-standing tradition—bilingual officers of Parliament—the Minister of Canadian Heritage could not care less.
    Will the minister honour the French language and our parliamentary traditions? Will he support our bill on bilingual officers of Parliament and will he abide by the recommendations made by the Commissioner of Official Languages?
    Mr. Speaker, I am always surprised by how the NDP members like to talk out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to official languages.
    During the election campaign, the NDP nominated unilingual anglophone candidates in francophone ridings in Quebec. At this time, the head of the Public Service Alliance of Canada is a unilingual anglophone. NDP members are always talking out of both sides of their mouths regarding official languages. Our Conservative government is protecting, promoting and investing in Canada's official languages.
    Mr. Speaker, let us mention the Supreme Court justices.
    Yesterday, the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism said that my bill on the bilingualism of officers of Parliament was a very good bill. A few minutes later, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages flatly rejected it. This morning, that same minister flip-flopped and now he has no idea what he wants.
    There are two official languages in this country, and officers who serve Parliament should be able to speak both.
    Are the Conservatives going to support Bill C-419 or not?
    Mr. Speaker, there are two official languages in Canada, but as I was saying, the hon. member speaks out of both sides of his mouth.
    The first time the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst was elected was under the leadership of Alexa McDonough, who did not speak French. He said she was bilingual enough to be the Prime Minister of Canada, but she could not deliver a speech in French.
    To hear him tell members of the House of Commons that we do not respect the French fact in Canada is ridiculous.


The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, budget 2012 continued its war on the environment by scrapping 50 years of protections.
    The environment commissioner recently said that “public consultation has always been a bedrock of environmental policy” and “there will be a significant narrowing of public participation”. He also expressed concern about changes to the Fisheries Act.
    Does the government have the courage to send these changes to the environment committee to be studied instead of burying them at the finance committee?
    Mr. Speaker, there will be every opportunity for the opposition to participate in the finance committee on the debate. The rationale is to permit people with a direct interest in the infrastructure being proposed, which is consistent with the scope of the hearing, to be heard and express their views, as well as those with the expertise to bring something to the hearing so that it can be considered.
    Mr. Speaker, in response to the massive cuts ordered by this hands-off, fend-for-yourself and good-luck-with-that government, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is preparing to put the onus for food labelling inspections on consumers themselves.
    What will the government tell the mother of a celiac child when she contacts the CFIA's website to say that her child is sick because the gluten in his or her yogourt or ice cream was not properly labelled?
    Mr. Speaker, we think that Canadians should be able to trust labels. The agency immediately acts to recall any mislabelled product that is a threat to human health.
    When nutritional claims on labels are found not in compliance, CFIA works with the company to take corrective action.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, today SNC-Lavalin will face its shareholders, engulfed by scandal. Money laundering, fraud and corruption are among the shocking allegations facing the company.
    A distinguished member of this House once said, “High ethical standards for Canadian enterprise are not up for negotiation”. Do members know who said that? It was the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
    Will the government be reviewing its business with SNC-Lavalin?


    Mr. Speaker, these are very serious allegations being made against this company, and the government will do everything it can to support this investigation.
    Canada is party to a number of international agreements, and we have strict laws for companies in Canada. Other governments expect Canadian companies to respect the rules both here in Canada and when operating abroad.


    Mr. Speaker, problems are resurfacing at SNC-Lavalin. Questions were raised when the company built a prison for Gadhafi. Now we have learned that the problem could be much bigger. There is talk of millions of dollars in bribes to senior managers in North Africa. In addition, Swiss authorities were the first to take action.
    My question is simple: were the Conservatives asleep at the switch, or did they have their heads buried in the sand?


    Mr. Speaker, as I just said, these are very serious allegations being made against this company, and the government will do everything it can to support this investigation.
    I will repeat again that other governments expect Canadian companies to respect the rules, both here in Canada and when operating abroad.

Status of Women

    Mr. Speaker, last year, Canada was shocked to learn of the case of Shaima Jastaina, a Saudi citizen who was arrested for the simple act of driving a car. Saudi Arabia remains the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive, a routine act for most women in any democracy.
    Today we have been informed that the 10 lashes sentence received by Ms. Jastaina has been dropped.
    Would the parliamentary secretary please update this House on Canada's reaction to these latest developments?
    Mr. Speaker, we are extremely pleased by reports that Shaima Jastaina's sentence has been dropped.
    From the outset, Canada has fully supported the cause of Saudi women. In fact, during his trip to Saudi Arabia in March of this year, the Minister of Foreign Affairs raised this important issue with the Saudi foreign minister and the president of the Human Rights Commission.
    We continue to call on Saudi authorities to review their position on the driving ban and implement the necessary reforms to ensure equality among all their citizens.

Science and Technology

    Mr. Speaker, the budget's language says to cut funding for research at NSERC but to protect industry collaborations, scholarships and discovery grants. However, there is not much left to cut at NSERC. So, the RTI grants will be cut, the source of funding to repair and purchase medium-sized equipment.
    Researchers are furious. It is like sending a carpenter to work without a hammer.
    Why did the minister force cuts to funding used to fix and buy needed equipment?
    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to say that this government has provided investments for science and technology, including equipment, at record levels. Never in the history of our country have scientists in Canada seen so much funding for research, for the buildings in which they work and for the equipment they use.
    We have a brain gain because scientists around the world want to do their research here.
    The real question is whether the opposition will vote for this kind of support in the budget.


The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are increasingly worried about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing in the shale gas industry. Even though this is mainly a provincial matter, the minister has confirmed that the federal government has some responsibilities under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. That is exactly what the Conservatives want to eliminate by attacking environmental impact assessments in their budget.
    Does the government realize that it has a duty to protect the public from the harmful effects of shale gas?
    Mr. Speaker, that is false, absolutely false.


    I would remind my colleague that the primary responsibility for shale gas rests with the provinces and territories except, as he said, where it might be found on federal land. We are continuing to accumulate data and the latest scientific information on this legitimate resource practice. We will continue to work with the provinces and territories.


Canada Revenue Agengy

    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to the fair and equitable tax treatment of all Canadians. Our Minister of National Revenue has been working hard to ensure that Canadians are treated in a fair and respectful manner by CRA. It was this government that introduced the taxpayer bill of rights as well as the Office of the Taxpayers' Ombudsman to provide Canadians with a clear statement of their service rights and a venue to voice concerns.
    I understand that the minister has recently become aware of some troubling videos that do not meet our high expectations of CRA staff. I would ask her to inform this House of the steps she has taken to address this.
    Mr. Speaker, I was recently made aware of some very troubling videos that have been made using CRA resources. I find these videos totally disrespectful to Canadian taxpayers. This is certainly not how CRA officials are trained.
    I have asked CRA senior management to investigate and take appropriate disciplinary measures immediately. I have also asked the Taxpayers' Ombudsman to review all CRA training videos and to ensure that they respect taxpayers' rights.
    We demand professionalism from CRA employees and this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable.


    Mr. Speaker, this week, the Minister of Finance said that government would not mandate the use of the banking ombudsman for dispute resolution. This goes against the clear best practices laid out by the World Bank and even G20 consumer protection finance principles that he signed. Instead, banks will be allowed to police themselves, leaving the ombudsman no choice but to close its doors. With this decision, the minister is creating a race to the bottom.
    Why are the big banks being put ahead of consumers and small businesses? Will the minister reconsider his decision?
    Mr. Speaker, it is the requirement now that all federally regulated financial institutions, the banks, have a dispute resolution process. We passed legislation with respect to that. All of the banks do have a dispute resolution process and we are formulating the regulations. As the government, we will make the rules and we expect the banks to follow.


Freedom of the Press

    Mr. Speaker, May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. According to UNESCO, it is a day to alert the public and make people more aware of this cause. And so, I am sounding the alarm. A new code of conduct has been imposed on CBC, requiring journalists to support ministers in their accountability to Parliament and Canadians. If journalists fail to abide by this new code of conduct, they may be subject to disciplinary measures up to and including immediate dismissal. This reeks of totalitarianism.
    How can the government justify the fact that it is secretly trying to make CBC the new Pravda? I am asking the government to allow CBC to maintain its independence. The government already has Sun TV News.
    Mr. Speaker, these allegations are simply false.


Presence in Gallery

    I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of the recipients of the 2012 Governor General's Performing Arts Awards: Earlaine Collins, Janina Fialkowska, Paul-André Fortier, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart, Des McAnuff, and Deepa Mehta.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    The Speaker: I would remind hon. colleagues that there will be a reception in room 216 immediately following question period.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, hearing the announcement of the reception, I will try to keep this as brief as possible for myself and the government House leader.
    We have some questions about what the government plans for the next number of days. First, we would like confirmation from the government on the NDP's next opposition day.
     As well, on Bill C-38, the omnibus bill that the government has lumped in a whole suite of quite damaging and fundamental changes, not just to the way Parliament works and the government's procedure of shutting down debate, but also in Canadian life, such as pensions, pay equity and environmental protections, will the five days remaining for debate be in their full context or is the government planning to introduce other measures of disruption of Parliament's ability to hold the government to account?


    Mr. Speaker, on the last point, I would say no.
    Today we will continue debate on Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, which would implement our budget, economic action plan 2012. As the economy is our government's most important priority, we have ensured that this will be the longest budget debate in the past 20 years. It might have been y much longer than that but that is as far back as we went in our research. This debate will have been longer than every other debate at second reading on a budget implementation bill in the previous two decades. Why is it longer? We think all members of the House should be focused on the economy but we hear very little about it in question period. The economy is our priority. We have ensured that this will be the longest debate in the past 20 years so there will finally be a focus on the importance of the economy, job creation and economic growth.
    The bill would implement many important measures from our budget. To recap, the Minister of Finance tabled the economic action plan 2012 on March 29. We then had four days of debate on the budget, three of which, I would remind the NDP House leader, were filled by one member, the NDP member for Burnaby—New Westminster who prevented most of his colleagues and all parties from getting a chance to debate the budget. On Wednesday, April 4, the House voted on and approved the budgetary measures put forward by the finance minister. It was then, on Thursday, April 26, that we introduced Bill C-38, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act, to implement measures that the House approved. On that day, I indicated to the House that we would be having the second reading vote on May 14. We are on track to keep that commitment.


     Today is the second of seven days this bill will be debated prior to the second reading vote on May 14. Tomorrow will be the third day. We will continue with the fourth day of debate on Monday, May 7; the fifth day on Tuesday, May 8; the sixth day on Wednesday, May 9; and the seventh day on Friday, May 11.
    This ample debate will allow hon. members from all sides of this House an opportunity to put forward their views on this bill, especially since the NDP member for Burnaby—New Westminster will no longer be able to block other MPs from speaking, as he did during the Budget debate.
    And finally, Thursday, May 10, will be the third allotted day, for the NDP.


[Government Orders]


Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act

    The House resumed consideration of the motion that Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, be read the second time and referred to a committee, and of the amendment.
    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour for me to follow my colleague from Welland on this debate. He quite eloquently spoke to the flaws of this bill. I would like to also thank him for his work on the agriculture file and on behalf of farmers.
    Just prior to the start of this debate, my colleague from Malpeque and I were discussing how what we are witnessing is a transformation of our country. We were discussing the state of our country, and this omnibus bill, which lumps in all these measures that are chipping away at what many Canadians believe in, is just an example of this. I would go so far as to say that although we speak the same language, we are dividing ourselves into two new solitudes. One is represented by the government side, which represents a minority of citizens in our country, and the other side is represented by this side here, which represents the majority of citizens, citizens who really do not want to see major changes to our social net or to our system.
    What are we seeing? We are seeing a government saying that it is all about job creation. At the same time, we are seeing a tremendous loss of public service well-paying jobs. I would like to remind people in the House that especially in our small rural communities, well-paying jobs are the main economic driver. These are the folks who drive the economy. They are the ones who go to restaurants and buy the local cars. They are the ones who keep our communities alive. What we are seeing here is that a lot of these jobs are being cut, and, as I will explain later, it is for no real reason.
    Just before I move on, I would like to talk about what I call “union bashing”. We have well-paying jobs in this country, both in the private and public sectors, because we have a labour movement that has worked hard to ensure a high standard. I was talking with some representatives of the Canadian Police Association the other day when they were in town. They told me the reason they have well-paying jobs as police officers is that police officers, with the exception of the RCMP, have unions or associations, and the reason the RCMP has a livable wage is that the bar has been set by people who are represented by unions. At the same time we see Bill C-377, the accountability of unions act, loading a whole bunch of red tape on police associations and other trade unions in the country, which is totally unacceptable.



     What are the budgetary consequences of this 2012 budget?
     First, there will be at least 19,200 jobs lost in the public service. Second, there will be a total of between 50,000 and 72,000 jobs lost in the economy, including 1,119 jobs lost at the Department of National Defence, 162 fewer trade officers in Canada, 840 layoffs at Health Canada, 650 layoffs at the CBC, at least 4,800 layoffs in the NCR, 252 layoffs in client service at Veterans Affairs Canada, 100 food inspectors laid off, and I could go on.


    What are we seeing, then? We are seeing that for no reason, the public service, consisting of civil servants who are professionals and do their jobs, is being reduced for what I would submit are ideological reasons. Why are they ideological? I am not sure if people are aware of this, but by the year 2014, the current government, since 2006, will have given the corporate sector over $220 billion of corporate tax cuts. That is $220 billion. Let us juxtapose that with raising the age of qualification for pensions to 67 and the hardships that will cause to a lot of seniors on marginal income. Let us juxtapose that with other cuts to the public sector and to the environment.
    I would like to also say that choices are made by government. It appears the choice has been to make these drastic cuts to not only the public sector but to our way of life. There is a choice in spending billions of dollars on F-35s or even $30 million to somehow glorify the War of 1812, which nobody really cares about. We can tell that to pensioners who are trying to make ends meet and see what they have to say about it.
    We talk about economic recovery. We talk about the fact that Canada supposedly has led the world economic recovery, whereas research that has been done has shown that two countries have been stronger than Canada in recovering from the economic downturn. One is Sweden, the other Australia.
    Let us talk about Sweden, a country where there are no strikes, where everything is done by collective agreement and where the law mandates that labour is represented on corporate boards so that there is a working relationship between government, corporations and labour. Let us talk about a country where there is free tuition, free care for seniors, free child care, over 400 days of paid parental leave per child and full benefits for part-time workers.
    If my colleagues in the House are not sure of these statistics, I urge them to see the film Poor No More, narrated by Mary Walsh. In the film she takes us to Sweden and compares what is happening here. I know that the argument will be that we want to raise taxes; well, Sweden is a country that has high taxes and provides services, and it is a country where people are working and there is virtually no unemployment.
    In a March 29 article entitled “A budget that screws the planet for short-term profits”, Marc Lee, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, stated:
    This is a colonial vision of the economy as a quarry for foreign interests. Instead of ensuring development of resources in a manner consistent with real long-term needs like energy security, the [federal government] is open to any foreign investor who wants our resources, and Canadians will politely have to clean up the mess afterwards. While there will be some Canadian jobs in all of this, most of them will be of short duration in the construction phase, but the budget also increases the capacity to bring in temporary foreign workers.
    Let us talk about the short-duration jobs.
    We here are against the northern pipeline that will send raw bitumen through our territory and to the waters off the coast of British Columbia to Asia. One of the reasons we are against the pipeline is that the jobs that will be created are short term. We are shipping jobs outside of the country. It is interesting to have a government that says we need to create jobs and that at the same time, through its policies, will be shipping jobs outside of the country.
    Mr. Lee goes on to say in his article:
    Our penchant for planetary destruction just cannot happen fast enough. Under the mantra “one project, one review” environmental considerations will get lumped in with everything else, meaning that review processes for destructive mining and oil and gas projects will be fast-tracked.
    Therefore, instead of having a review that looks at and ensures proper oversight of these projects, we will get this fast-tracking.



     I am going to say a few words about the environment as well. At least a third of Bill C-38 is devoted to environmental deregulation. The government is doing everything it said it would do, and more.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent speech.
     The weakening of the Auditor General’s oversight powers is one of the very important elements of this bill.
     I would like my colleague to tell us what the consequences of reducing those powers will be.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question and I would like to thank my colleague.
     Obviously, if the Auditor General does not have the authority or capacity to do his work, there will be less oversight of what the government is doing. There will not be as much oversight. Less oversight amounts to interfering in the democratic process, and that is what we have already seen, since 2006, with this government.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech, which I appreciated enormously.
     In this budget, everything possible is being done to exploit natural resources and send them out of the country as fast as possible.
     Is the bottom line that this country is for sale? Why are we not doing any primary processing? Why are we not creating value-added jobs?
     How would the member answer that question?
    Mr. Speaker, I would first like to thank my colleague for her question.
     The key is pressure from multinationals. This is the government’s policy in response to pressure from multinationals, which do not want us to do any processing in this country and do not want us to have a strong economy in Canada. It benefits them when we send our resources elsewhere, to other countries, where they will be processed at a lower cost because decent wages are not paid there.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for his excellent presentation.
     If I recall correctly, the government party’s slogan in the last election was “power to the regions”.
     I would like my colleague to go into more detail for us about the consequences this budget will have for the regions, rural communities and the north, because many of the measures being proposed in this budget at present will have a significant impact on those areas.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that question and I thank my colleague for it.
     What we are seeing here is an attempt to transfer powers to the regions without there being enough money to support what the regions want to do. That means that the responsibility will fall to the provinces, the regional districts. This puts a great deal of pressure on our small rural communities, including the ones I represent.
     That is irresponsible, in my opinion.


    Mr. Speaker, it is a great pleasure for me to rise in the House today to speak in support of Canada's economic action plan 2012. I am pleased to be sharing my time today with my hon. colleague, the member for Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, who I know is a hard-working and effective representative for his constituents.
    A year ago today, during a time of immense global economic challenge, Canadians from coast to coast to coast were asked to make a choice about who would lead them on a path toward jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. On May 2, 2011, they made that choice. They chose our Prime Minister and this government to lead and chart Canada's path.
    Canada's economic action plan 2012 is a forward looking, dynamic and exciting plan to increase Canada's competitiveness in a swiftly changing global economy to create jobs for today and those as yet unimagined, to open doors to stable growth and long-term prosperity, all of this while keeping taxes low and returning Canada to balanced budgets over the medium term.
    Budget 2012 takes significant steps to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation and world-class research. Budget 2012 improves conditions for business investments and investments in training. Budget 2012 provides for needed infrastructure and vital social programs and services and is there for Canadians.
    I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the residents of Vancouver South, to congratulate our Prime Minister and our Minister of Finance on the careful and considerate measures in the budget. I am excited by what this budget means for Canada. My neighbours, friends and colleagues are also excited about what this budget provides for our province, our communities and our families.
     British Columbia is a province of immense potential. We have abundant natural and energy resources. We are culturally diverse and blessed with the potential of an educated and innovative workforce. Through our ports, roads, rail lines and airports, we are the gateway to the Asia Pacific. B.C. is in many ways vital to Canada's future, and Canada's economic action plan makes that future even brighter.
    For British Columbians, the budget would increase access to support for business innovation by creating the western innovation program, or WINN, a new program that would provide financial support to innovative small and medium-sized enterprises in western Canada. This is exciting news for entrepreneurs and the many new and inventive projects on which they are working. This new program will spur innovation and create jobs for the future.
    The people of British Columbia are also excited to note the government's commitment to responsible resource development in the budget. The government is taking steps to modernize the regulatory system for project reviews. By streamlining the review process for major economic projects, projects can proceed in a timely fashion, while still protecting the environment. The realization of one project one review is welcome.
    The government, through this budget, has renewed its commitment to the major projects management office initiative by proposing $54 million over two years to continue to support effective project approvals. Through this initiative, the approvals process for major natural resource projects will become more effective, as the average review will occur within two years instead of the archaic and project killing process currently in place taking 4, 7 or 14 years.
    However, the budget is not just about moving projects; it is about effectiveness and balance. This means ensuring that the voices of people who may be affected by potential projects are heard and that the environment is protected. That is why our government is also taking important steps to ensure that the rights and interests of aboriginal peoples are respected and that they benefit from the economic development opportunities. Budget 2012 proposes $13.6 million over two years to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to support consultations with the aboriginal peoples related to projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
    Furthermore, our government has committed to responsible energy development and to that end will invest $35.7 million over two years to further strengthen Canada's tanker safety regime and ensure that pipelines in Canada are carefully monitored, environmental consequences are understood and emergency response is improved.
    Budget 2012 also proposes $13.5 million over two years to the National Energy Board to increase the number of inspections of oil and gas pipelines, from approximately 100 to 150 inspections per year, and double from 3 to 6 the number of annual comprehensive audits to identify issues before incidents even occur.


    Members of the House should know that the natural resource sector is of vital significance to British Columbians. It is therefore crucial that we move projects forward in a timely, responsible manner. Undue delays cost money, time, lost opportunity and, most important, jobs. However, what is most important is that the projects can anticipate a consistent approvals process which is conducted in a timely manner, that the rights of our aboriginal ancestors are understood and respected and that our environment is protected and safety regimes strengthened.
     Budget 2012 accomplishes all of this as it strives to update Canada's regulatory systems and processes, while balancing Canada's economic and environmental needs.
    Canadians and British Columbians are also excited to see our government take direct action to create jobs. That is why, since 2006, the government has placed a strong emphasis on access to skills training, support for post-secondary education, building a fast and flexible economic immigration system and developing untapped potential in the labour market.
    Budget 2012 builds on this foundational work with an enhanced labour market focus and a number of targeted investments that will help respond to current labour market needs and challenges and meets longer-term labour market needs as well. The government will introduce measures to streamline processes and increase funding to better integrate and enable access for certain under-represented groups in the labour force, including immigrants, persons with special needs, youth, aboriginal peoples and older Canadians.
    As an example, for young Canadians our government has committed to enhancing the youth employment strategy by investing $50 million over two years to assist more young people to gain the skills and work experience that they need. In addition to enhanced skills, this funding will also help to connect these young people with jobs in areas with skills shortages.
    In addition to measures for under-represented groups, our government has also made a commitment to create an advisory council to increase the participation of women on corporate boards. With leaders from the private and public sectors, this council will link organizations to a network of skilled and experienced women and empower them to step into leadership roles and participate at the highest levels of all Canadian sectors.
    Furthermore, we are taking important action to create jobs by extending the hiring credit for small business for an additional year. Almost 650,000 Canadian businesses are eligible for this credit. In my province, this is important, as small and medium-sized enterprises in B.C. are thriving and account for over 38% of the total value of goods exported from B.C., a value of $29.3 billion in 2010.
    I have consulted with small business owners in my constituency and they are unanimous in their support for this action. They know the difference it will make for their businesses and for those whom they will be able to hire. They know that for every job that is created, there is a positive ripple effect for businesses, families and for our communities.
    It is clear that budget 2012 is excellent news for Canadians and British Columbians. As I have already outlined, the comprehensive measures it contains will grow our economy, create jobs and prosperity, but budget 2012 also provides a stable framework for federal and provincial programs.
    Canadians and British Columbians have come to depend on provincially administered services like education and health care. During the last election, our Prime Minister committed to protecting these important programs by not cutting and, in fact, increasing federal transfer payments to the provinces. Unlike the former government, our government is balancing the need for economic growth with strong programs.
    For British Columbia, major transfer will total over $5.6 billion in 2012-13. This long-term, stable and increased support helps ensure that British Columbia has the resources required to provide essential public services and contributes to shared national objectives, including health care, post-secondary education and other key components of Canada's social programs. The federal government will contribute over $4 billion through the Canada health transfer, an increase of more than $1.2 billion since 2005-06, and almost $1.6 billion through the Canada social transfer, an increase of $393 million since 2005-06.


    British Columbia will also benefit from continued direct targeted support in 2012-13, including $67 million for labour market training and $33 million for the wait times reduction fund. This is all significant support for British Columbians and the people of Vancouver South. I understand their enthusiasm and echo their appreciation of the commitment from our federal government to our province—
    Order, please. I am sorry, but the member's time has expired.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Joliette.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her remarks.
    There is one thing I would like to know regarding the environment. Why does a third of Bill C-38 focus on environmental deregulation?


    Mr. Speaker, the bill does not provide for deregulation. It provides for a modernization of existing regulations. The bill provides a process. People will know the consistent, ongoing process for getting through the system.
    The bill also provides more environmental protections as well as more checks and balances.
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague talked about tax cuts and lower taxes. It seems to me that the Conservatives believe that almost every problem can be solved with lower taxes.
     Canadian mining companies up north want to hire some local skilled labour and even train the local folks to take the skilled jobs, but they cannot do it because not enough people finish secondary school. No amount of tax cuts will allow young people to get the skills and education they need to get good jobs. There is a problem. This is an example of where we cannot simply lower taxes and fix a problem.
    We need to help young people get the skills and education they need so they can get good jobs and good wages. They then can pay taxes and lower the tax burden for everybody else. I do not think the Conservatives ever think about future tax burdens.
    Mr. Speaker, I disagree with the hon. member on the opposite side. This government has lowered taxes for the average Canadian to the tune of $1,000 per family. That will put more money in their pockets for the additional credits they can do in arts and other areas.
    At the same time, we have also increased transfer payments to the provinces. This is a consistent formula that the provinces can depend on and it provides an excellent framework for educational institutions, health sectors, et cetera to plan on.


    Mr. Speaker, the theme of the budget is about creating jobs, wealth and opportunity for all Canadians. Could the member tell us why we need to implement these changes now, so that we can provide a future for our young people?
    Mr. Speaker, in the fragile global economy, our country needs to look toward Asia-Pacific countries to expand our markets. In doing so, there will be some historic changes in how the world's economy will be restructured.
    It is so important for us to invest in skills training, education, entrepreneurship and innovation, so we can then direct these areas of the different sectors in Canada to work toward expanding our trade for a stronger economy in the future.
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. friend claims the bill would strengthen the environment. I would like her to find a single section in the bill that could be considered strengthening the environment. All I find is gutting.
    Mr. Speaker, I already noted in my speech that we are going to be increasing environmental protection by checking on pipelines not only 100 times but 150 times. We are also going to double the number of inspections from three to six. These are tangible, precise and specific safety features. We are also demanding the use of double-hulled oil tankers down the coast.
    These are specific safety features in the bill that would strengthen environmental protection.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Vancouver South for splitting her time with me. It is a pleasure to rise in the House today to speak in favour of our government's economic action plan. Allow me to start by quoting just one of the many positive assessments of our recent budget.
    David Frum of the National Post wrote that under this Prime Minister, “...Canada can fairly claim to be the best-governed country among advanced democracies in the world” and that the recent “federal budget locks up Canada’s lead”. He explained that the world's major economies share a common economic problem. How do we nurture a fragile economic recovery while returning to a balanced budget?
    In the United Kingdom we see the danger of moving too quickly: the economic recovery falters. In the United States we see the danger of moving too slowly: dangerous debt levels and the loss of the country's AAA credit rating. Canada has the pace just right. We are on track to balance the budget in the medium term. The Canadian economy continues to grow. In fact, Canada's economy has expanded in nine out of the last ten quarters. Since July 2009, the Canadian economy has created nearly 700,000 net new jobs, the strongest job growth record in the G7.
    Contrary to the assertions by the members opposite, these employment gains have been in high quality jobs, with 90% in full-time positions, and over three-quarters in high-wage industries and in the private sector. For the first time in more than three decades Canada's unemployment rate is well below that of the United States.
    Among major industrialized countries Canada has an enviable economic record. The world has taken notice. The World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking system as the soundest in the world for the fourth consecutive year. Forbes magazine ranked Canada number one in the world for business to grow and create jobs. Our economy outperforms our major trading partners. Canada is well ahead of other G7 countries in returning to balanced budgets. The International Monetary Fund projects that by 2016, Canada's total debt-to-GDP ratio will remain at about one-third of the G7 average and more than 20 percentage points below that of Germany, the G7 country with the next lowest ratio.
    This afternoon I will speak to three reasons why I believe MPs should support our economic action plan.
    First, the economic action plan continues our focus on creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for all Canadians.
    Second, our action plan will ensure Canada's social programs are sustainable in the long term so that they will be there for future generations when we need them.
    Third, we will return Canada to balanced budgets by achieving fair, balanced and moderate savings.
    Our action plan proposes a number of measures to create jobs and opportunities for Canadians. I will focus on one measure, our responsible resource development initiative. Here are some important facts. In 2010, natural resource sectors employed over 760,000 workers. In the next 10 years, new investments of more than $500 billion are planned across Canada. The problem is that those who wish to invest in our country have been facing an increasingly complicated and cumbersome set of rules that add costs, delay projects and kill jobs.
    In my home province of British Columbia, in the government's 2010 Speech from the Throne, it was noted that some $3 billion in provincially approved projects were “stranded in the mire of federal process and delay.” The B.C. Minister of Finance, Kevin Falcon said, “We have many projects on the table today that are in the billions of dollars that could have important ramifications for jobs and employment and revenues.”
     There are numerous examples of economic opportunities missed and jobs lost due to needless bureaucratic duplication and red tape. I will provide one such example. There is a proposal to develop a 396 megawatt offshore wind energy project in Haida Gwaii in British Columbia. The proponent estimates that the project would have a capital investment of $1.6 billion and would create up to 200 construction jobs. The federal decision to approve the process came 16 months after the provincial decision.
    Our action plan 2012 proposes to remove these impediments that are unnecessarily delaying responsible resource development and costing Canadians jobs.


    The Conservative government would focus on four major areas to streamline the review process for major economic projects. We would make the review process for major projects more predictable and timely, we would reduce duplication and regulatory burden, we would strengthen environmental protection, which is very important to note, and in British Columbia, as across the rest of the country, it is very important that we would enhance our consultation with first nations people.
    As has already been established, Canada's financial situation, compared to other advanced democracies in the world, is enviable. Our government is not content to rest on our laurels and ignore the challenges that will face Canada in the coming decades. Our action plan is proposing necessary changes to our retirement system to ensure that it will be there for all Canadians.
    Here is the challenge that we will be facing in the not too distant future. In the 1970s, there were seven workers for every one person over the age of 65 collecting old age security. Today, there are four workers for every senior collecting OAS, and in 20 years the number will be only two. In addition, in 1970 life expectancy was age 69 for men and 76 for women. Today it is 79 for men and 83 for women. At the same time, Canada's birth rate is falling. Given these demographic changes and realities, the cost of the old age security system will grow from $38 billion in 2011 to $108 billion in 2030. This program is funded out of general revenue every year and this increase is simply unsustainable.
    Our action plan 2012 would put the OAS program on a sustainable path by proposing legislation to raise the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS benefits gradually. The phase-in period would begin in April 2023 and it would not be fully implemented until January 2029. Let me be very clear. These proposals would not impact those currently collecting benefits or those nearing retirement. An 11-year notification period followed by a six-year phase-in period would ensure that individuals have significant advance notification to plan their retirement and make necessary adjustments.
    At least 34 other countries are increasing the age of eligibility for their programs. They all realize that they need to ensure the sustainability of those programs for future generations. Our actions would ensure that OAS remains strong and is there for future generations when they need it and is available for all seniors today who are currently receiving the benefits.
    Finally, our action plan 2012 would keep Canada on track to a balanced budget over the medium term. We would not raise taxes. Doing so kills jobs. We would not cut transfers to individuals, nor would we cut transfers to other levels of government for health care, education and social services, as was done by previous governments. Our government would return to balanced budgets while continuing sustainable increases in transfers for health, education and social programs. Federal transfers to my home province of British Columbia would total over $5.6 billion in 2012-13. This represents a 23% increase, over $1 billion more, than the province received from the former Liberal government.
    Canada is a very blessed country. Due to the leadership of our Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, our country has avoided the worst of the global economic storm and is on a sound financial footing. The measures I have discussed today—responsible resource development, long-term sustainability of our social programs and modest cost savings to return to a balanced budget—are part of our action plan that will create jobs, economic growth and prosperity for all Canadians.
    I would ask all hon. members to join with our government and support economic action plan 2012.



    Mr. Speaker, regarding the environment, several times today in the House, I have heard that certain organizations are to be targeted because they are a thorn in the side of the multinationals and the oil companies.
    I have trouble with this concept. I would go so far as to subscribe to a conspiracy theory because I find this strange. I think that the members across the way think that way. However, as far as I know, the organizations are made up of Canadian citizens, volunteers, people involved in our communities who see the impact of the decisions made by multinationals. The multinationals and oil companies, on the other hand, are made up of people from abroad, and the majority of these companies do not necessarily care about our future.
    I am trying to find a balance. I get the impression that the government tends to forget that the social contract for the power that it holds comes from Canadians. Why attack the Canadians who are identifying these problems? They are the ones we should be listening to, not the multinationals.


    Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is standing up for Canadian citizens and for Canadian jobs, 760,000 jobs in the natural resources sector.
    We know the NDP members oppose any development of the oil sands and have called for a moratorium on the development. They oppose any hydrocarbon, fossil fuel development at all. So it is no surprise that they are also opposing the Canadian jobs that result from these projects.
    We have seen that they oppose Keystone XL which created over 140,000 jobs. They opposed the northern gateway pipeline, right off the top. They are also opposing the private sector unions which are clearly onside with natural resources development, and have said they support our regulatory reform because they know that these projects give good jobs and good benefits to Canadians. That is why we will continue with our responsible resource development plan.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not quite sure if I got this right from the member. He mentioned British Columbia getting more in transfers from this government than the preceding government. I think that is based on a formula which is called equalization and has been in existence for quite some time.
    As a matter of fact, Newfoundland and Labrador, where I come from, is actually getting less money. No, let me correct that, we are actually getting no money from the federal government. That is because of the resources that are off Newfoundland and Labrador's coasts and because of what we have done. I would go back to the fight, what happened between Danny Williams and the Prime Minister.
    I want to ask the member about one thing. He keeps talking about skills and development. Small towns across this country just lost the community access program which delivers high-speed Internet for the smallest communities. It is an issue of poverty. People making below the median income of $30,000 cannot afford these large bills for high-speed Internet. The local library decided to provide that service for all citizens, and now it is gone. It is a little disingenuous for a member from rural Canada to be talking about the fact that they are losing this essential service.


    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's question was all over the map, from British Columbia to Newfoundland. I will try to focus on equalization and transfers to the provinces.
    I do not know the hon. member's electoral history or if he was here during the time when the Liberal government cut $25 billion in transfers in health and social transfers to the provinces. Certainly, we did fix the equalization program to ensure that it was fair for all Canadians.
     I also have no problem discussing the small-town impacts of our bill. I toured a local production facility, Britco in Agassiz, British Columbia. It produces housing units for natural resource development projects. The company sees a direct link between our plan to have regulatory reform and its business model. It has increased the number of its good, high-paying, high-skilled jobs, because of our program to ensure that we have responsible resource development.
    I will continue to support the budget, as people in small-town Canada do.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to address Bill C-38 on behalf of my constituents in Mount Royal.
     While my constituents might understandably assume that the bill relates to the budget, in fact this 400-plus-page omnibus bill actually has very little to do with the budget. Many of the proposals therein have particularly deleterious consequences for the environment. Accordingly, I will be splitting my time with our environment critic, the hon. member for Etobicoke North.
    A related problem is that while this budget implementation bill is supposed to flow from the budget speech, which itself is not only a financial statement but a statement of values and a reflection of priorities, this budget, in its reflection of priorities, does not note or even utter the words “social justice”. It does not note or even speak of “fairness” or “equality”. It does not note or even reference the Charter whose 30th anniversary we celebrate this year, nor does it reference or note anywhere the word “humanitarian”.
    While the budget speech did outline certain measures that we see legislated in Bill C-38, this budget implementation omnibus bill goes above and beyond anything we have seen and beyond any of the enabling authority of the budget itself.
    In its 400-plus pages, there are amendments to more than 60 statutes. It covers everything from fisheries to nuclear safety, from territorial borrowing limits to air transport. It is an enormous hodgepodge, bundling together legislation not unlike Bill C-10 that does not allow for the necessary differentiated parliamentary discussion and debate, let alone the necessary oversight of the legislation. It imbues the executive with arbitrary authority to the exclusion of Parliament, thereby serving as a standing abuse to the canons of good governance, transparency and accountability. Indeed, this alone should be cause for its defeat.
    As Andrew Coyne has put it, and I quote, “The scale and scope is on a level not previously seen, or tolerated”. He notes that this bill makes “a mockery of the confidence convention” and that there is no “common thread” or “overarching principle” between the legislative items therein, let alone its standing contempt for Parliament in matters of process and procedure.
    Moreover, and again on the crucial issues of parliamentary process and procedure, which are principled concerns, while the bundling together of disparate pieces of omnibus legislation as a confidence bill is problematic enough on its own, this bill is slated to go to the finance committee in its entirety. Accordingly, the review of the environmental regulations therein, which overhaul, weaken and undermine the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and environmental protection as a whole, will thus not be reviewed by the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development, where it belongs. The provisions that abolish the First Nations Statistical Institute and make changes to the First Nations Land Management Act will not be the subject of examination and study by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, where it belongs. I can go on with numerous examples in this regard.
    If circumventing proper and thorough parliamentary review in committee was not enough, the government, as we saw earlier, has invoked time allocation to limit the amount of time and discussion on this bill.
    I am not suggesting that invoking time allocation, as the government has done again and again, or the use of an omnibus vehicle, as has occurred with Bill C-10, are against the legislative rules. What I am suggesting, as have many commentators, is that its use here and now on this particular omnibus bill is unnecessary, prejudicial, suprisingly undemocratic, in effect, unparliamentary and otherwise unsubstantiated and unwarranted.
    Surely if Parliament had to debate something like going to war, it would be easy to see why we might time-allocate to ensure we get to the most pressing debate first, or if there were court decisions that affected many statutes, we might easily welcome an omnibus bill that would make the same change to many statues. What is so disconcerting with Bill C-38 is that the government need not be in a rush. There is no coherent or compelling theme to the omnibus proposals contained in the bill.
    The opposition is not opposed to some of what is in Bill C-38. For example, the proposed changes to the custom and tariff rules sound reasonable. What we are opposed to is the take it or leave it, one size fits all omnibus approach to legislating that does not allow the necessary differentiated and deliberative oversight or review, or review by the particular and appropriate parliamentary committees. The government and the opposition can co-operate if the government would simply respect the opposition and be responsive in debate.


    Again, I will remind my colleague that the government assumes that its legislation in every instance is perfect and, in so doing, believes there are no amendments that need even be tendered let alone adopted. This occurred in the case of Bill C-10 when, in response to amendments I introduced at the time, the government summarily rejected them because they came from the opposition, it seemed. It reintroduced the amendments on its own, a matter that could have been avoided, as the Speaker then noted in terms of the procedural complications that then ensued. Moreover, while I will be voting against this bill in large part because of the way it was introduced and how it is being pushed through Parliament, in terms of matters of process and its abuse, I will use my remaining time to outline some of my objections to the substance of the bill. Regrettably, time is limited and I therefore cannot address every flaw of this legislation.
    First, Bill C-38 marginalizes low-income seniors by increasing the qualifying age for OAS from 65 to 67. While the government claims this change is necessary, and it did so just now in debate, for the sustainability of OAS, this contradicts Canada's chief actuarial officer and the PBO, who agree that the change is unsound and unnecessary as the current situation and system is sufficiently sustainable.
    Second, the government proposes to close the files of federal skilled workers who applied prior to 2008, without any chance on their part to review or appeal this decision. It is not surprising that some have announced plans to take the government to court over this as a matter of fundamental fairness and due process. Indeed, all who apply to Canada should have their applications judged on their merits, not an arbitrary deadline set by the minister and applied in a retroactive fashion.
    Third, cuts are being made to various food inspection agencies. These agencies keep Canadians safe and secure while ensuring the food chain is not contaminated. The government has yet to explain how these cuts would not prejudice the health and safety of Canadians or how food safety would be maintained in the absence of complete and adequate funding.
    Fourth, the true nature of public service cuts in this bill still remains unknown. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives estimates that in addition to the 19,200 positions being eliminated in budget 2012, there will be a further 6,300 jobs cut as a result of the government's previous strategic reviews that have yet to be implemented, and a further 9,000 cuts as a result of the government's budget operating freeze. That would create a total of 34,500 federal public service job cuts associated with this budget cycle alone. As well, the Parliamentary Budget Officer agrees that the government's figure of 19,200 public service jobs being cut does not represent the full number. He said, “...additional job losses will be required. ...we're actually talking about cuts on top of cuts”.
    I raise this in particular to note that we are being asked to rubber-stamp the government's agenda without the necessary information, in a manner that precludes the necessary oversight and review and when it is clear that there are inconsistencies with what the government is saying and what independent experts assert. Parliamentarians must be afforded the facts and figures upon which they are being forced to pronounce, as was the case in Bill C-10. We did not receive it then and we are not receiving it now. This, in effect, amounts to a kind of standing contempt of Parliament.
    Fifth, and my colleague from Etobicoke North will speak further to this in a moment, this bill rewrites Canada's laws on environmental assessment and repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, weakening our environmental regulations but with consequences far beyond this.
    In an email just this morning, a constituent wrote this. Considering that when environmental damage is caused, it has a domino effect on our food and water and thus affects Canadians' health and livelihood, these issues are actually also human rights issues. We have the right to safe clean water, safe accessible food and the myriad of other essential benefits we get from a properly functioning ecosystem.
    Sixth, we have the elimination of a series of libraries and archives throughout different departments as part of the latest budget cuts, including the Canadian Council of Archives, which may close as soon as this Friday. This would affect historians, researchers, the media, Parliament and the public who deserve to have information preserved in addition to access to this information.
    While I do not have time to elaborate on what this bill includes, I will close with a note about what is not in this bill. This bill does not address that which must be addressed. First and foremost is job creation, not just loss of jobs. Nor does it address the issues that matter most to my constituents in terms of social justice, access to justice and the promotion and protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.


    Accordingly, and with this I close, whether it is marginalizing low-income seniors by increasing the qualifying age for OAS or cutting funds to regional development programs that create jobs or not announcing any new funding for affordable housing when the existing program funds are set to expire soon, this budget is simply wrong-headed, misguided, prejudicial and disconnected from the needs of Canadians and from my constituents.
    In short, Bill C-38 marks a sad chapter in Canadian parliamentary history.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his remarks. There is a lot of talk about the environment, which is a hot button issue.
    We know that the Liberals signed and ratified the Kyoto protocol. But why did the Liberal Party not do anything to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
    Mr. Speaker, in truth, we did reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We also introduced a bill in the House to this effect, but it was defeated by the government.
    I think that my colleague from Etobicoke North, an expert in the field, will answer that question.
    Mr. Speaker, my distinguished colleague did not have time to talk about the effects of the closure of libraries and archives, and the lack of access to libraries and archives.
    I would ask my colleague to speak briefly about the impact that this loss of knowledge and history will have.
    Mr. Speaker, it will be very damaging in terms of both the teaching and appreciation of history. However, this is not just about history; we are also talking about getting rid of all the sources of information and every source that has to do with history, science and knowledge. Both members and the public need this information. The public is affected by this decision.


    Mr. Speaker, the government thinks it is promoting oil internationally, the tar sands, yet it has taken such a retrograde attack on anybody who asks questions. It is so militant about dismantling the process.
    Does my hon. colleague not think good luck to poor Enbridge trying to sell its products internationally, when it has to explain that it is coming from a country that has stripped environmental standards down to third world conditions, that in the end what the government has created is a situation where it will be considered an environmental pariah on the international stage because of its continual militant attacks on basic public process, basic public participation, and vilification of anyone who speaks out, that at the end of the day the last thing big oil wants is to have friends like that?


    Mr. Speaker, what is disconcerting is not only the overall approach with respect to environmental protection, or the absence regarding environmental protection, but the prospective chilling effect that the critiques of critics have on the overall discussion of this issue as a whole.
    We saw the same thing with regard to Bill C-10. We see the same thing with regard to Bill C-26.
    There is a pattern here in which those who criticize the government, if it is in matters of criminal justice, are said to be on the side of the criminals and not on the side of the victims, or on the side of the child pornographers and not on the side of those who seek to protect children.
    This kind of indictment, and it is not even by innuendo but indeed indictment, by chilling debate, by silencing dissent, does credit neither to the substance of the legislation, which should be allowed to be debated on the merits, and there is no more compelling concern in that regard than that which relates to the environment, nor to the democratic process itself, which should allow for all forms of discussion, debate, dissent, critique and the like.
    We are missing this, not only in this debate but on other bills as well.
    Mr. Speaker, this is a profoundly sad time for Canada. The government is gutting 50 years of environmental oversight and threatening the health and safety of Canadians, our communities, our economy and our livelihoods.
    We need to be very clear that when the government came to power it inherited a legacy of balanced budgets but soon plunged us into deficit before the recession ever hit. It is absolutely negligent and shameful that the government would gut environmental safeguards to fast track development rather than promote sustainable development, development that meets the needs of today without compromising those of the future.
    The government did not campaign in the last election on gutting environmental protection. Canadians should, therefore, rise up, have their voices heard and stop the Prime Minister's destruction of laws that protect the environment and the health and safety of Canadians. In fact, Maurice Strong, a prominent Canadian who spearheaded the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, just this week urged people who are concerned about the future of the environment to do an end run around the federal government. He urged grassroots groups to mobilize and make full use of social media, saying that there was still some time to bring the pressure of people power.
    Instead of understanding the gravity of the situation and standing up for the environment, the Conservative government returns to tired talking points and trying to score political points by attacking the former Liberal leader, saying that the Liberals took no action on climate change, when it knows that is absolutely false. The Liberals implemented project green, which would have taken us 80% of the way to meeting our Kyoto targets. The Conservatives killed project green, reduced our greenhouse gas emissions target by an astonishing 90%, walked away from Kyoto, having just repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and continue to ignore the fact that failing to take action on climate change will cost Canadians $21 billion to $43 billion annually by 2050.
    Maurice Strong says that the government may be totally negative when it comes to being a constructive force in mitigating climate change. For example, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment continues to rail against Kyoto. Is she aware, however, that her own minister has, for the second time, said that Kyoto was a good idea in its time? He first said it to The Huffington Post and has now said it to the BBC.
    Norway's former prime minister, former chair of the World Commission on Environment and Development and former director general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, recently said that Canada was moving backward on the issue of climate change and warned Canada not to be naive on the issue. She recently told delegates in Canada that despite the weaknesses of the Kyoto protocol, the world could not afford to push it aside without an alternative, as emissions are continually rising. When questioned about the link between human activity and climate change, she said, “Politicians and others that question the science, that’s not the right thing to do. We have to base ourselves on evidence”.
    While the Conservative government claims a balanced approach to protecting the environment and promoting economic growth, when has the parliamentary secretary or the minister actually ever stood up for the environment? Was it through cuts to Environment Canada, cuts to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency or cuts to ozone monitoring? The list of cuts goes on and on.
    Canadians should not be fooled by mere snippets of environmental protection but should in fact pay attention to the government's reducing budgets at Environment Canada and other investments on environmental protection and research by hundreds of millions of dollars while maintaining several tax incentives for the oil and gas sector that the Minister of Finance's department recommended eliminating in a secret memo.
    After we vote against this kitchen sink budget, a budget that devotes 150 pages of a 400-page budget to environmental gutting, the Conservative government will stand up and say that the opposition voted against some good things for the environment. However, the government gives us absolutely no choice, as we simply cannot vote for the wholesale destruction of environmental legislation and 50 years of safeguards.


    If the parliamentary secretary, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Natural Resources really believe that Bill C-38, the kitchen sink bill, is good for the environment, they should have the courage to hive off the sections on environmental protection and send them to the relevant committees for clause by clause study under public scrutiny, and end their affront to democracy.
    I have a list of cuts to Environment Canada and just some of the changes on the environment to be found in Bill C-38. There are cuts of 200 positions at Environment Canada. Last summer the government announced cuts of 700 positions and a 43% cut to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. There are cuts to research and monitoring initiatives, air pollution, industrial emissions, water quality, waste water and partnerships for a greener economy, cuts of $3.8 million for emergency disaster response, and consolidating the unit that responds to oil spill emergencies in central Canada, namely Gatineau and Montreal, far from where emergencies, including those involving diluted bitumen, might occur on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and along the proposed route of the northern gateway pipeline project.
    The government has repealed the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. It has repealed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, which allows the federal government to avoid environmental reviews of many potentially harmful projects and to do less comprehensive reviews where they still occur.
    Canada's environment commissioner says that the changes are among the most significant policy development in 30 or 40 years and that there will be a significant narrowing of public participation.
    While the Minister of Natural Resources complains:
...our inefficient, duplicative and unpredictable regulatory system is an impediment. It is complex, slow-moving and wasteful. It subjects major projects to unpredictable and potentially endless delays.
     Premier Jean Charest says:
    In Quebec, we've very well mastered the ability of doing joint assessments. ... I have learned, through my experiences, that trying to short circuit to reduce the process will only make it longer, and it is better to have a rigorous, solid process. It gives a better outcome, and for those who are promoting projects, it will give them more predictability than if not.
    There are more changes: the weakening of several environmental laws, including species at risk and water; the near-elimination of fish habitat in the Fisheries Act, putting species from coast to coast to coast at increased risk of habitat flaws and population decline; the authority of the federal cabinet to approve new pipeline projects above the National Energy Board; and the elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, the independent think tank with a direct mandate from Parliament. The minister has never said what will replace it. The head of NRT does not know either, as what it does is unique. As well, we see the silencing of government critics through changes to the Canada Revenue Agency and the attempts to seize control of the university research agenda.
    The government should be able to stand on its own merits. It should be able to withstand criticism. Instead of making its arguments, it is just looking to eliminate dissent.
    For decades, Canadians have depended on the federal government to safeguard our families and nature from pollution, toxic contamination and other environmental problems through a safety net of environmental laws. This bill shreds this environmental safety net to fast-track development at the expense of all Canadians.
    Instead, the government could have implemented my Motions Nos. 322, 323 and 325, which focused on Canada's commitment to sustainable development, recognizing that it was not a choice between saving the economy and the environment and, therefore, working with the provinces, territories and stakeholders to develop a green economy strategy and a national sustainable energy strategy to build the jobs of the future for our communities and for Canada.
    When we compromise the air, water, soil and a variety of life, we steal from the endless future to serve the fleeting present.


    Mr. Speaker, I fundamentally disagree with all of the member's speech this afternoon, but I did enjoy listening to her dissertation on what she believes may happen and to the fearmongering that goes with it.
    Assuming that the member for Etobicoke North believes in balanced budgets, what would the member and her party do to balance the budget? Would there be any cuts that she would recommend be made to the Government of Canada?
    Mr. Speaker, I am always evidenced-based, fact-based. This was a well-researched piece of work.
    I will present the evidence for the hon. member. The environment is not a Conservative priority. In 2008, the climate change performance index ranked Canada 56th of 57 countries in terms of tackling emissions. In 2009, the Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada 15th of 17 wealthy industrial nations on environmental performance. In 2010, SFU ranked Canada 24th of 25 OECD nations on environmental performance. Most recently, the environmental performance index ranked Canada 102nd out of 132 countries on climate change. In 2006, the Prime Minister remarked, “Canada's environmental performance is, by most measures, the worst in the developed world. We have big problems”.
    This budget should have taken action to protect the environment, not gut it.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for her charming speech.
    When we talk about sustainable development, we are talking about development that we will be leaving to future generations. I have one daughter who is 26 years old and another who is 21. It is our young people who will be here tomorrow and who will look after our country's future.
    When we talk about the environment, we are talking about the security of these young people. When we talk about oil development, about big businesses that exploit and export everything abroad without considering the cost to the environment, we are putting future generations in debt.
    Yes, the budget is balanced, but by bringing down a balanced budget, the government is putting future generations in debt. They are the ones who will have to clean up the environmental mess we are making today. What does the member think of that?



    Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree with the hon. member. Climate change is our most pressing environmental issue. It requires moral responsibility and intergenerational responsibility. The government does not appreciate that. While it says that it is financially accountable, if it does not take action on climate change today, the costs annually by 2050 will be $21 billion to $43 billion for our children.
    I just returned from Bangladesh, which has a population of 160 million. It is twice the size of New Brunswick and it produces less greenhouse gases than Manhattan. With the one-metre sea level rise, that will affect 20% of its land mass and affect 20 million people.
    Mr. Speaker, an area in my riding of Kingston and the Islands is contaminated with heavy metal from about 100 years ago. It is pretty much unusable. We cannot touch the land. We cannot disturb the soil.
    This is an economic burden on my riding of Kingston and the Islands today. It is a tax, really. Is that not an example of how lax environmental regulations from 100 years ago have an effect for decades afterwards on the local economy?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is absolutely correct. What scares me most about this budget is that it will not affect a few years; the gutting of environmental legislation will affect our country for decades to come.


    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 Scarborough-Southwest, Public Transit; the hon. member for Manicouagan, Aboriginal Affairs; the hon. member for Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Fisheries and Oceans.


    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for Burlington.
    I am proud to rise today in support of our Conservative government's 2011 budget plan. This plan is a cornerstone of our continuing unwavering commitment to provide Canadians with a stable economic road map within a thoughtful, comprehensive economic action plan.
    The budget showcases a long-term prosperity vision for Canada through reasonable, pragmatic measures designed to maintain our enviable economic record and demonstrate our faith in the vibrant Canadian spirit, forged out of hard work, faith, common enterprise, ingenuity and compassion.
    What is our focus? What is our agenda? Our focus, our agenda, is a stable stewardship of our economy to maintain and increase our prospects for success in the short term, in the medium term and in the long term. It is to foster a future Canada that works efficiently for us now and for our children and grandchildren, a Canada that is welcoming and productive and allows all Canadians the opportunity to live full and rewarding lives, a Canada that is prosperous enough that we can continue to support those of us in need and those around the world who need a hand up.
    All of these noble ambitions require a foundational economic and financial strength for which our economic action plan sets a solid framework.
    We cannot foretell all that is ahead of us. We cannot foretell, most assuredly, the actions and consequences of the decisions of other countries with whom we are interdependent in a global economic balance, but we can do our part and more within our sovereign borders to ensure that we are in a position to weather the storms that may come. We can ensure that we are flexible enough to deal with contingencies in an intelligent and caring manner and solid enough to plan ahead, so that a prosperous future does not have to include taking Draconian overnight steps because we have no choice but to raise taxes and overburden Canadian families and businesses.
    It supports a future built on bold ambition that has at its core the certain belief that Canadians are capable of all things: of worthy endeavour in the arts and in business, of global competitiveness, of innovation that will amaze us and save lives, of all the stuff that dreams are made of.
    We will improve Canada's labour market through employment programs and skills training for young Canadians, older workers, Canadians with disabilities and first nations; building a fast and flexible economic immigration system that responds to labour market demands; improving the employment insurance program; and better integrating high-quality researchers in the labour market. We will boost economic growth and job creation through supporting and fostering innovation, investment, education and skills.
     How will we do this? Among the many initiatives outlined in the budget, I would like to highlight a few.
    We will invest over $1 billion to support science and technology and we will provide $500 million to encourage innovative start-up companies.
    Our government will ensure responsible resource development by streamlining the review process, something provincial and territorial governments and industry have been requesting for a long time. This streamlining will ensure reasonable timelines and clarity around the process requirements without compromising, and in fact strengthening, environmental oversight and while meeting strong federal standards.
    We will expand free trade, which our Prime Minister and cabinet have been hard at work promoting.
    The hiring credit for small business will be extended, something that will particularly help many in my riding.
    The budget will provide $150 million over two years for the new community infrastructure improvement fund, $5.2 billion over 11 years to renew the Canadian Coast Guard, a vital resource in our coastal communities, and $275 million over three years to support first nations education and schools.
    Specific programs will be aimed at attracting skilled immigrants to match our country's economic needs.
    Our government will change our old age security delivery to ensure that younger workers today will also have this social program available when they are older, and we will phase in a proactive enrolment regime for both OAS and GIS, which will be warmly welcomed by the elderly and their caregivers.
    We are also promoting more active lifestyles for all ages and enhancing the victims fund to continue our quest to better acknowledge the voices of victims in our federal justice and corrections system.
    To my mind, the great news from this 2011 budget is that we will achieve all of these improvements without raising taxes and without slashing transfers to health, education or support for seniors.


     In fact, we Conservatives have cut taxes over 140 times since forming government. From cutting tax rates and increasing tax credits to making our tax reporting system more reasonable and supporting families with both able-bodied and disabled members, we have provided savings for a typical Canadian family of over $3,100 per year.
    Due in part to our government's low-tax approach, a stark contrast to the NDP and Liberals' higher-tax programs and philosophies, and the amazing fact, verified by the International Monetary Fund, that our net debt to GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G7, Forbes magazine has ranked Canada number one in the world—let me repeat that: number one in the world—for businesses to grow and create jobs.
    Canadians do not need the federal government to hold their hands every step of the way, as we are a nation forged on resiliency and a desire for freedom, but Canadians do need us to clear a path. If that path can be well defined and well lit, all the better, but the fact that such a pathway exists is all that some Canadians need to move forward.
    We need to show ourselves as partners of Canadian enterprise and achievement, not as an extra burden. Everyone must contribute, of course, but confidence to achieve and to have the ability to help others whose time has not yet come often requires the incentive that a prudent, caring government can provide.
    This is such a budget. This is such a time. This is Canada's century. We are being noticed as never before around the world. We are being recognized as never before as leaders out of the despair and confusion of runaway debt. We are the true north, strong and free, and I am proud to be a part of it, proud of who we are and who we intend to be.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the hon. member for her contribution to the debate and I want to come back on one of the points that were mentioned.
    We know that the environmental assessment and review processes in this country may be viewed by some as a burden for any development project. However, I think this is what allows the balance between the economic, environmental and social aspects of any development. The government talks about consultations with aboriginal peoples in this country. I would like to know what it means by “consultation with aboriginal peoples” in this budget, because the Supreme Court already has determined that “consultation” may mean, at times, “consent” of aboriginal peoples in developing projects.
    Is the government talking about consultation with aboriginal peoples in the constitutional sense of the word, or is it talking about consultation in the expediency sense of the word?


    Mr. Speaker, I think there were two questions in there.
    First, certainly, we do not see the environmental assessment process as a burden. We see it as a necessity. However, we also see the need for clarity.
    For those who wish to move forward or who may not, in fact, be able to move forward because of an environmental assessment, we are streamlining that process. We are continuing with the exacting and high standards of the federal assessment process, but it will be administered through the one level of government. We are quite confident that would add more clarity to the process.
    As to the meaningful consultation with aboriginal peoples, we know, of course, what the Supreme Court of Canada said about that with respect to first nations.
     I am a British Columbian member of Parliament. First nations are always consulted with respect to any development programs. Their input is welcome and in fact necessary to bring all peoples together with respect to the future of that province and Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, the member talked about the pathway that the Conservatives have created. What one person may call a pathway another person, certainly me, would call tunnel vision, because in this particular case what we have is a lot of ideology being infused into the policy. The policy is somewhat understated by the government, but nonetheless it needs to be fleshed out.
    That said, I do have a question. In all honesty, what I find is a little disconcerting. Time and time again through this debate—and up until the end of the debate, and going way back as well, even to the last budget—the Conservatives talked about the strong systems now in place that allow Canada to be number one out of seven when it comes to debt to GDP ratio. There are other markers out there that refer to Canada as being a leader in that particular area. Whether that may be the Conservatives or the preceding government is a whole other issue.
    However, the question remains. Why would the government raise the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS from 65 to 67, citing that other countries are doing this, when those other countries do not have the financial strength that we do? Why would the government do that? What would be the impetus? I doubt if the demographers are really winning the argument over themselves who are saying that we have a strong enough economy to support that 20 years down the road.
    Mr. Speaker, yes, we have an economy that is the envy of the world, and that was the point of my remarks—that we have been doing extremely well—but we are still in a fragile time, given our interdependence with other economies in the world. That is why sound stewardship and having the kind of focus our government has are so very important.
    With respect to the specific changes to old age security, we have said time and again in this House that the funds for OAS come out of general revenue. It is not handled the same way as CPP, which we all know is sustainable and will continue. We need to be realistic about the future and we need to ensure that future generations will have the ability to access old age security.
    Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to speak to the budget bill. I want to thank the member for Delta—Richmond East for sharing her time with me today.
    We are dealing with a budget implementation bill. As members know, the budget is normally broken into two bills: one in the spring and one in the fall. We did not get a chance to talk about the budget in general because the NDP filibustered when we first introduced it, which took up all of the time.
    I will talk about a few other things that are in the bill and put on the record how I feel about them. I will start with the jobs, balanced budget and future prosperity aspects of the bill. The budget, the bill, the plan is about this.
    People ask me all the time what the major issue is that I hear about in Burlington. The major issue in my riding is that we need to get back to balanced books at the federal level. Our government has to get rid of the deficit spending that we did during the recession. That is what we are doing with the budget. That is why we need to proceed with what we are doing. The budget brings us back to what we promised.
    I know it is hard for the opposition members to believe that we can actually promise to do something and then deliver it in our budget and policies. It is very difficult for them to understand that. During the election we committed to bringing back balanced books by 2015, and this budget puts us on the road to do that.
     The Minister of Finance has been clear in the House that the budget will get us back and end the deficit spending we have had to do to overcome the worldwide recession. We are coming out better than any other country in the world. Those members know it, the public knows it and the people in Burlington know it. They are telling me that we need to get back to balanced books, and that is what we are doing. It is an election commitment.
    Part of that commitment, and I make no apologies for it, is that we need to reduce some of the federal government spending, and that is about a $5.5 billion reduction. That sounds like a lot of money, but let us look at the whole picture.
    If people follow along and are able to figure it out, the government spends $260 billion. We spend about $40 billion to $45 billion on interest charges on debt, which will still be there. That is why we have to get back to balanced books: so that we can start paying down debt in the way we were doing before the recession. We need to get that under control.
    We transfer a whole bunch of money to the provinces for health care and social services, which are all important things. It is also an important support for the provinces. We did make changes to the equalization payments, as was mentioned earlier. We are committed to providing the provinces the money that we committed to provide. This is not like what happened in the past when we had deficits. What did the government of the day do? It cut its spending and assistance to its provincial partners. In this budget and in the campaign, we refused to do that. We said we would do it on our own.
    That leaves us about $80 billion of federal spending over which we have control. Therefore, we are looking at about $5.2 billion and a few percentage points. If we cannot find a few percentage points to reduce the cost of government out of $80 billion, we are doing something wrong. Yes, it means that the public service has to come to the table with it.
    We are also looking at programs and at what we are doing right. When we do a program evaluation, we look at what its mandate is and whether it has fulfilled that mandate. Is it over, or do we need to continue to fund it?
    The ministers did not get together one night and decide on this. They had the departments come to them with suggestions of what was feasible, what could be done and what was reasonable. That is what we are implementing through the budget.
    There are some great things in the budget, and members can ask me questions about what is in the implementation bill. I am happy to answer, but there are a few things for my riding of Burlington that I would like to highlight.
    For example, we are spending $1.1 billion in research and development, including improvements to the IRAP program, basically doubling the money. This is a jobs budget.


    We have heard the opposition ask us how we will create jobs. We will create jobs through innovation and research—not jobs necessarily for today, but jobs that will be there tomorrow if we commercialize research and development, if we take a leadership role on the industrial level and deliver not just to Canadians but around the world. Our country, like many others, is a trading country. That is why we need free trade agreements. That is why we are working so hard on them.
    I am the co-chair of the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group. I have some relationship with Japan. Japan's government is coming to the realization that it needs partners, that it cannot do it all on its own and that it actually needs free trade agreements. Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, we started discussions with Japan. We are moving forward. We already know as a country and as a government that we need to be traders in the global marketplace or we will get left behind. We deal with that in the budget.
    Today, in this part of the implementation of the budget, there is discussion about what will do on the environmental side. I want people to read the legislation. It talks about substitution. It does not talk about elimination. If there is an environmental assessment at the federal level and another one at the provincial level, we can substitute one for the other, but they have to be at least equal. For those who do not know, most federal EAs have more restrictions and layers than provincial ones. Therefore, if the province takes it over, it has to meet the environmental assessment standards at the federal level. At the end of the day, the federal minister will make the final decision on it. All it is doing is reducing the layers of assessments.
    When I was a municipal councillor, environmental assessments could be bumped up to the province. It delayed many projects, including one in my own ward. There were minor changes being made to save the bank of a creek that was running behind the homes of people. One person did not like how the environmental assessment worked out and how the problem was to be fixed, so it was bumped up to the provincial level. It took months and months to get that resolved. The bank deteriorated but was finally fixed.
    The environmental assessment changes that we are making do not eliminate the requirements of assessment. However, why have two processes when there can be one? Why are people concerned about the timing? I would be surprised, and that is a pleasant word, if anyone could find new information after two years of study on a project. It is taking two years for environmental assessments to be completed. It is not like we are eliminating them. Just because an EA takes two years does not mean it will be approved. There is no automatic approval. It does not say that anywhere. It is a substitution, so instead of having the province do it and having it bumped up to the federal government to do it, we would be using the same criteria to do it once and get all the facts on the table. There is nothing wrong with those implementing the environmental assessment to look at the people who will have input into it and ensure they have professional experience and knowledge to add value.
    There was a question from the previous speaker about the role of the aboriginal community. The aboriginal community is noted in our plan. We will be proactive in communicating with those individuals who will be directly affected, including the aboriginal communities.
    On a personal note, there are some other changes in the budget implementation bill. As someone who has been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, nothing to be too worried about, there are some changes in the bill that will affect those who test their blood sugar every day.


    As someone who thought he was very healthy and had no issues, I would urge everyone to ensure they see their doctor on a regular basis. Issues like type 2 diabetes, if we do not get them early, will be a big burden on the health care system, not today but in the future.
    I thank the government for the changes in the budget.



    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the government member for his very eloquent speech. He is always very passionate and very expressive.
    I think he sits on a committee, perhaps even on two committees. As a committee member, what does he think of the fact that this huge document will be studied exclusively by the Standing Committee on Finance, depriving him of his role in conducting an in-depth study of the important portions of this massive document that he mentioned in his speech? What does he think of the fact that it will not be studied by a number of committees and that it will in fact be reserved exclusively for the Standing Committee on Finance?


    Mr. Speaker, I know the member is new to Parliament. I have sat on the finance committee for five years. We had budget bills in the past that had a lot of different aspects to them. On our side, we have the ability to substitute members who have an expertise or knowledge in an area when we deal with a certain section of the bill. They can sit in the finance committee and discuss those issues there. That is the process.
    Why would we break up the bill and send it to a whole bunch of different committees? It is much better to be focused on finance. It is a financial bill. If there are issues within the bill that members feel they need to discuss and have expertise in, it is up to their party to substitute individuals on the finance committee for those meetings to discuss those issues. It is much better focused. If we were to spread all over the committees, it would not be an efficient and effective way and a good use of members' time.
    Mr. Speaker, I wish the member was here in 2005 when the Conservatives railed against the idea of including the Atlantic accord in the budget. The very things that he said were the things that they railed against. However, I digress.
    He said earlier that he would talk about the inclusion of aboriginals in this debate. Taseko Mines Ltd. is trying to sway the way the Conservative government into excluding aboriginal peoples from participating in the environmental review of a project that would affect first nation communities. What does he say?
    Mr. Speaker, we have committed to our aboriginal peoples that on issues of environmental assessments, they will be consulted. I do not know how much more black and white it needs to be for the member across, but it is there. It is in the legislation.
     If he read the legislation, even the summary, the summary page lays it out. We are committed to discussing these EA issues with those directly affected, including the aboriginal people. I assume the member across will support that.


    Mr. Speaker, journalists at Le Devoir are calling this bill a “mammoth”. I would go even further and say that it is a horse, it is an airplane, it is a brick. We can call it all sorts of things.
    It is illegal for companies or individuals to use computer viruses—so-called Trojan horses—to install software on computers when users want nothing to do with it. This is exactly what the Conservative government has decided to do. It has transformed its budget implementation bill into a Trojan horse and opened up the Canadian telecommunications market to foreign companies while Canadians are worrying about their old age security and their shattered retirement dreams.
    Quite frankly, the government has buried enough legislation in Bill C-38 to block a whole server.
    Why has the industry minister decided to bury his amendments to the Telecommunications Act in the budget implementation bill rather than sending them to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology?
    In March, the government announced rules for an auction that would have a significant impact on this country's digital future and its economy. We had a unique opportunity to promote competition in the wireless telecommunications market and ensure that all Canadians, including those living in remote regions, can participate in the digital economy of the 21st century. The government missed the mark.
    Auctions for the radio frequencies used by our old analog televisions will allow the telecommunications companies that buy them to set up next generation wireless networks.
    The promise made to the people of LaSalle—Émard and every other Canadian was that they will soon have access to much faster wireless networks. Far too many Canadians who live in remote regions still do not have access to high-speed Internet. For them, we had the opportunity to increase access to broadband Internet and to fully include them in the digital economy. The government had the opportunity to bridge the ever-growing digital gap that is currently dividing Canada in two: on the one hand, urban Canada, which is connected to high-speed wireless networks, and on the other hand, the regions, which are connected, but at speeds that are much slower than those available elsewhere in our country.
    The promise was that we could correct the imbalance between urban and rural areas and promote competition in the industry in order to lower costs for consumers. The Government of Canada failed to keep that promise.
    The proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Act contained in Bill C-38 will allow foreign telecommunications companies to operate in Canada if they have less than a 10% share of the Canadian market. These foreign companies will not be able to increase their share of the Canadian market through acquisitions, that is by purchasing rival companies, something that Canadian companies can do.
    We therefore find ourselves in a situation where telecommunications companies in Canada will compete under rules that do not apply equally to everyone. Canadian companies will have one set of rules; foreign companies will have another. Here in Canada, we are used to arguing about hockey or soccer games, where everyone plays by the same rules. However, that is not the approach used by this government. We already knew that.
    Many Canadian telecommunications companies have concerns about these developments. Ironically, the company that stood to gain the most from these changes immediately responded that it would boycott the auction.
    The government was not transparent with Canadians, who have the same questions we do.


    Will the government stand by its decision to open only part of the Canadian market to foreign companies? Are these changes simply the first step in a process that goes much further?
    Does the government plan to continue to gradually lift restrictions on foreign companies' participation in the Canadian telecommunications market?
    Will this government try to take advantage of the fact that it has created a two-tiered market with different rules for different players in order to completely open the Canadian telecommunications market to foreign competition?
    The reality is that we have no way of knowing. Canadian are still waiting for the Minister of Industry to reveal his strategy for the digital economy. An initiative was launched two years ago, almost to the day. Then it was radio silence. The government's approach is hard to follow. It is behaving like a CEO without a business plan. It decides to hire staff without knowing what positions need to be filled. It launches a new product without knowing if it has any clients or if people are even interested in the product.
     It is as though the government decided to sell off its most beautiful beachfront property without telling shareholders whether it wants contractors to build condos, houses, apartments, hotels or businesses. CEOs who do not have a business plan do not get very far, as we know.
     The fact that the industry minister has decided to push through his amendments to the Telecommunications Act by including them in a budget implementation bill, where they will be all be debated together over a very short period of time and along with a heap of other bills, only adds to the sense that the government is just making things up as it goes along.
     Resorting to a catch-all omnibus bill gives the impression that the government is like a tired chess player who is improvising with every move. It is playing a game without having a plan. We feel that the government introduces legislation first and asks questions later.
     These amendments to the Telecommunications Act should have gone to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology for in-depth study by parliamentarians from the opposition parties. This is a fundamental breach of democracy.
     Is the industry minister afraid that the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology might discover that the changes to the act will not really promote competition in the Canadian wireless market?
     Is the government afraid of hearing experts and even some of its own partners say that the proposed changes will not bridge the ever-widening gap between rural Canada and connected Canada?
     Is the government afraid of hearing from wireless network operators that are dissatisfied with the auction rules that have been announced?



    The lifting of foreign ownership requirements and the piecemeal approach to regulation the government is offering are not going to solve the problem of the digital economy. What Canada needs is a plan, a digital strategy. Canadians have already been waiting too long. We need a comprehensive approach to ensure competitive prices in the telecommunications industry, an approach that takes into account the needs of telecommunications operators, consumers and urban and rural Canadians. Rather than choosing dialogue and involving opposition parties in the legislation process, the government has chosen to ride the Trojan horse to hide changes to the Telecommunications Act from the scrutiny of Parliament and the industry committee. That is undemocratic and unacceptable.


     Once again, I urge the industry minister to send the amendments to the Telecommunications Act for study by the appropriate committee and the opposition parties. We have a unique opportunity to bridge the digital divide and build next generation wireless networks to ensure the sustainability of Canada's digital economy, so that no one is left behind.
     Let us not squander this important opportunity. Let us work together.


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. friend for her presentation. I hope she will forgive me for using this as a moment for a comment.
    I have been subjected to speeches on Bill C-38. A number of claims have been made by government members. Having read the bill, a number of the things that have been said are simply not in the legislation.
    For example, it is not required in