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Monday, June 4, 2012

Emblem of the House of Commons

House of Commons Debates



Monday, June 4, 2012

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 11 a.m.



[Private Members' Business]



Canada Post Corporation Act

    The House resumed from April 23 consideration of the motion that Bill C-321, An Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act (library materials), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, we must support reduced postal rates for interlibrary loans. We must support this type of measure in order to counter the significant disparity between the regions with respect to the number of existing cultural amenities.
    It is a well-known fact that Canada cannot provide the same cultural amenities in all regions because of the vastness of our country. Nevertheless, providing access to knowledge must remain the primary objective of every successive government that rules the country.
    Unfortunately, in so-called remote areas, the penetration rate of cultural services via electronic technology remains marginal. As parliamentarians, we must address the challenge of using high technology to somewhat democratize access to knowledge. The government has the duty to make the knowledge accumulated by public services and libraries accessible, for the common good.
    Our collective memory belongs to all Canadians. Subsidizing postal rates for interlibrary loans is imperative in this increasingly global village, as a famous Canadian once said.
    I have spent my life in the world of education, from my schooldays to teaching young homeless people on the street. I have been able to see the harm done by insufficient education. We have a huge responsibility today towards the younger generations in the regions. We must provide young people with the knowledge that will open the doors of the world for them, with their knowledge and culture.
    In these houses of Parliament we are surrounded by millions of books on many subjects, including democracy, science, geopolitics and history.
    How can we have a positive influence on the state of the world if we do not have access to this knowledge? How can we prepare policies for the future without the books and treatises that give us a clearer vision of our present condition? In today's world, knowledge is stored in all sorts of forms and formats. Books are no longer the favoured knowledge tool of all humanity. We must encourage the circulation of all these formats, including books of course, in order to arouse people's thirst for knowledge and their creativity.
    Inventors, creators and scientists from all regions of the country, whether in the early stages of their careers or at the height of their creativity, must have access to the entire corpus of works available in our libraries and archives.
    Ours is a knowledge society. How can we arrange to share the knowledge that is needed for prosperity and the creation of more knowledge with the whole population? Many communities are still facing material poverty, which comes from the difficulty of distributing human knowledge. Our duty to remember must be supported by the documentary sources available; they are one part of our national identity.
    I ask all members to show their faith in knowledge and education. I ask them to make the distribution of knowledge possible and thus ensure the survival of our democracy and its values.
    Recently we have seen democracy breaking out all over the world. Such movements have become possible because of the distribution of knowledge through new electronic communications networks. Politicians here have been impressed by these efforts to bring the democratic debate to the most inaccessible parts of the human family.


    What better way is there to strengthen and spread the values of democracy here at home than to work on improving knowledge sharing networks? Using reduced postal rates to help offset the cost of shipping documents on different media, such as books, CD-ROMs, CDs or films, contributes to democratic expression across the country. Literature, cinema, paintings, dance and sculpture are all important means of human expression and must reach all communities.
    Every child and adult in this country must know the cultural reality of others. We are living in a changing world where education and culture in the broad sense are more important than ever.
    I would be remiss if I did not quote the joint manifesto of UNESCO and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, which joined forces to outline the responsibility of public authorities with regard to human knowledge sharing:
    The public library shall in principle be free of charge. The public library is the responsibility of local and national authorities. It must be supported by specific legislation and financed by national and local government. It has to be an essential component of any long-term strategy for culture, information provision, literacy and education.
    We must not forget our most remote communities. We must not forget first nations populations, which have a right to the advantages afforded by education, which is essential to creating collective wealth.
    This bill makes it possible for our constituents to access documents from our archives and our libraries, and also allows them to create education strategies for people of all ages who need to increase their knowledge of the modern world.
    Enhancing knowledge will allow small rural communities to sustain their populations and prevent rural-to-urban migration. Staying in a community and having access to our written materials, our culture and our creative works is not merely a theoretical aspiration; rather, this is part of sharing multiple Canadian cultural realities, regardless of where we live.
    There are no second-class citizens in Canada. We need to make sure that our culture makes its way into all of our communities. We need to offer young people an opportunity to dream about their development by increasing their knowledge.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak to Bill C-321, a bill that my colleague from Brandon—Souris has put forward on a number of occasions in this House of Commons. I am glad to see that it is moving toward completion for him. He has been an excellent proponent for this particular service and also a very good chair of the transportation committee, on which I served for three years. I am pleased to do this for him.
    Since 1939, Canada Post has set a reduced postal rate for library materials. However, this is under a corporate policy. It is not under legislation.
    Over 2,000 libraries regularly use the library book rate. The library book rate is not a government program and it is not currently financed by the Conservative government. Therefore, I think my colleague will find support on his side of the House for the bill because it will not cost the penurious government any money.
    The ability of Canada's libraries to transfer materials across the country at a low rate allows Canadians in rural and remote locations to have access to the same materials as those who live in large urban centres. For me, growing up in the Northwest Territories when libraries were the dominant form of knowledge and information, this service was absolutely required.
    Through this program, the Ulukhaktok Community Library on Victoria Island in the High Arctic has the same access to library materials as the Toronto Public Library, through the national libraries.
    The rate contributes to the public policy goals of literacy, lifelong learning and vibrant rural and remote communities. Of course, the new information age has assisted greatly in communities across northern Canada. Improvements to other forms of delivery for those information services are still required and those still should be pushed forward.
    Access to knowledge is an essential part of democracy. However, in this latest Conservative budget, we see that the Conservatives are opposed to knowledge. They are opposed to the dissemination of knowledge. They are opposed to the collection of knowledge on the part of the public. We see this over and over again in the budget implementation bill.
     I want to speak specifically to libraries because the Conservatives are also gutting the National Library Service, the very repository of knowledge and information and the very people who not only collect the knowledge but also create ways to disseminate the knowledge across the country to those thousands of libraries that exist in Canada.
     Library and Archives Canada is subject to $9.6 million in cuts over the next three years. Twenty per cent of the staff are being cut. This is a shameful situation in a country where the use of knowledge is so important to the development of our economy and to the development of our citizens in a good and equitable fashion across the whole country.
    The inter-library loan program is being cut. The very program that the bill would help support across the country is being cut by the Conservative government and through the cuts to the national libraries.
    We have a good-intentioned bill that is being superseded by these massive cuts that are taking place at our national libraries.
    Also, within that, the national archival development program is being cut. Across the country, the development of archives, which can hold the information, hold the history of this country, is being cut. The country's history is rich right across the whole country. We need this kind of archival development program in my territory, especially because much of the history is oral and is not easily available. We need to have ways that we can preserve this over time.
    We heard that libraries are being closed at many government departments. The libraries at Agriculture Canada, Environment Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Industry Canada, the National Capital Commission, National Defence, Public Works, the Public Service Commission and Transport Canada are gone. The formation is gone. The availability of information and the people who understand the information and can provide it to others are gone.


    Human Resources and Skills Development Canada has already announced the closure of its library. That information is gone and those people who can provide that information to others right across the country are gone. Canadians expect to have access to a vast wealth of materials managed by Llibrary and Archives Canada. What is going on with this picture?
    Canadian Library Association president Karen Adams said, in part:
    Our national library and archives has a broad mandate to acquire, preserve and make available the documentary heritage of Canada. It is also responsible for the management of the archival records of government. Even before the [latest round of] cuts, Library and Archives Canada was challenged to fulfill its mandate;...
    So what would we have? We have a situation where knowledge would be lost to Canadians; where the ability to deal with knowledge would be lost by Canadians; where the ability to understand what our country is all about, by Canadians through their public government, would disappear. Knowledge would be paid for. Knowledge would be hard to collect. Knowledge would be part of a system that, for Canadians, is so different from what we have expected over the years.
     This is a difficult situation. It is one that I hope my colleague who has put this bill forward will understand and will plead with his government to do something different from what it is doing today with information services in this country. It is utterly vital to the future of our country to have information that is well documented, well understood and that is presented to people. Librarians have those responsibilities. What we see here would be the denigration of our library system right across this country. What is going on this country today? What is the purpose of denying Canadians access to knowledge?
    Can the government ask those fundamental questions? Did it ask those fundamental questions or would it, in an idealistic orgy of cutting, just simply cut out this particular piece of our Canadian heritage and our Canadian future? What is going on?
    An hon. member: It's going backwards.
    Mr. Dennis Bevington: We are going backwards.
     I support what my colleague across the House is doing with his private member's bill, but I do not support what the government would do for information services in this country.
    Resuming debate. It is my understanding that the hon. member for Brandon—Souris is waiving his right of reply.
     Is the House ready for the question?
    Some hon. members: Question.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin):I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

    (Motion agreed to, bill read the second time and referred to a committee)

Suspension of Sitting 

    This chamber will now stand recessed until 12 noon.

    (The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:19 a.m)

Sitting Resumed   

    (The House resumed at 12 p.m.)


Points of Order

Bill C-38  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order today. It may be a little lengthy, so I would just like to establish that it will be acceptable to omit various page and section references and submit them in written form so that members are able to refer to the various precedents that I will be citing, just in the interests of time.
    I rise on a point of order related to Bill C-38. My point of order is based on Standing Order 68(3), which states “No bill may be introduced either in blank or in an imperfect shape”.
    First, let me set aside the argument I will not be advancing. I will not argue that C-38 goes too far as an omnibus bill or that it should be split. I will argue that C-38 is not properly an omnibus bill at all and therefore cannot benefit from the trend toward over-large and complex omnibus legislation.
    I seek a ruling that the bill has not been put forward in its proper form, is therefore imperfect and must be set aside.
    My first observation in relation to the standing rule and how I hope that the precedent will lead you to interpret it comes from a citation of the House in 1982 in which an hon. member said:
    “Shape”, according to the Oxford Concise Dictionary, is a synonym for “form”. Therefore, a bill according to Standing Order 69 [as it then was] must not be in imperfect form. The question of a bill’s form is extensively dealt with in our parliamentary authorities…
    A few of which are then cited from that era.
    Having said I do not intend to argue that the bill must be split as being overly large for an omnibus bill, I still think there is a compelling case that the House must act to set limits around omnibus legislation.
    Speaker Lamoureux stated his concern that some limits must be established in his well-known musings on this subject in 1971. He said at the time:
    However, where do we stop? Where is the point of no return? The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, and I believe the hon. member for Edmonton West, said that we might reach the point where we would have only one bill, a bill at the start of the session for the improvement of the quality of life in Canada which would include every single proposed piece of legislation for the session. That would be an omnibus bill with a capital “O” and a capital “B”. But would it be acceptable...from a strictly parliamentary standpoint....
    This is a critical question, but it is for another time and for the House itself. Rulings from speakers Sauvé, Fraser, Parent and Milliken have confirmed Lamoureux's misgivings but also a general traditional view that it is not for the Speaker to say an omnibus bill has gone too far in terms of its length or in terms of the numbers of different items or complex matters in one bill.


    This point of order does not rest on argumentation that 420 pages is too long for an omnibus bill, nor that amending, repealing or reinstating 70 different acts of Parliament goes too far. So long as a bill meets the tests of being an omnibus bill, tradition will allow it.


    In order to respect the standing orders of this House, any proposed omnibus bill must conform to the established criteria of an omnibus bill.
     Furthermore, to be accepted as a budget omnibus bill, the proposed legislation must further conform to the rule that the implementation legislation must relate to commitments made in the budget document itself.
    The tests for a proper omnibus bill are well established. I cite from our current authorities O’Brien and Bosc:
    An omnibus bill has “one basic principle or purpose which ties together all the proposed enactments and thereby renders the Bill intelligible for parliamentary purposes”.
    That is a closed inner quote. Then it continues:
    One of the reasons cited for introducing an omnibus bill is to bring together in a single bill all the legislative amendments resulting from a [single] policy decision to facilitate parliamentary debate.
    A further citation from Beauchesne's 6th edition, which by the way was cited with approval by Speaker Fraser in 1992, states:
    Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines governing the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the contents of a bill. They must be relevant to and subject to the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title of the bill.


    Speaker Fraser ruled in 1988:
    The essential defence of an omnibus procedure is that the Bill in question, although it may seek to create or amend many disparate statutes, in effect has one basic principle or purpose which ties together all the proposed enactments and thereby renders the Bill intelligible for parliamentary purposes.
    Speaker Fraser went on to say, citing at this point a definition put forward by the hon. member, at the time, for Windsor West:
    I believe that his definition will stand the test of time and be useful to the House and future chair occupants for years to come.
    It is worth noting that, while back in 1982 the energy bill that was split through the action of the House due to determined action of the opposition, the famous bell-ringing episode, was not set aside by the Speaker, still Speaker Fraser cites the energy bill in the 1988 argument and by inference uses it as an example of a bill that went too far in its attempt to claim all legislative changes fit a common purpose. He compares and contrasts it with the free trade legislation, which formed a context within which his lengthy and detailed canvassing of the issues took place in 1988.
     The implication is clear, that in Speaker Fraser's view the 1982 energy bill failed the test of omnibus definition he had put forward. As such, although it is at best obiter dicta, it does serve to add weight to the notion that simply calling legislation omnibus will not assure that it can be accepted as such.
    His final summation on the detailed ruling does indeed confirm that the Speaker has the authority to find if a bill is in proper shape. The Speaker has the authority to determine if a piece of legislation meets the test of being a true omnibus bill.
    Speaker Fraser ruled:
    Bill C-130 is indeed an omnibus Bill—it meets the definition as stated by the Hon. Member for Windsor West in that it has a single purpose, while amending various statutes but without further guidance of the House and based on the practice to this day, it should be allowed to proceed...;
    It is clear that the Speaker is not, at present and in absence of rules from the House to limit the length and complexities of omnibus bills, entitled to rule that an omnibus bill is too long, too complex or too broad in scope.
    It is also clear that the Speaker is entitled to determine if legislation purporting to be an omnibus bill is actually in the proper shape to be considered an omnibus bill.
    The tests are also clear. To be an omnibus bill, it must have a single purpose.


    Bill C-38 has been introduced in an imperfect shape. It fails the tests of being a proper omnibus bill.
    First, it fails because it has no central theme—that “one basic principle or purpose”—in order to be legitimized as a reasonable basis for debate and study.
    Second, it fails because it does not provide a link between items in the bill and the budget itself.
    Third, it fails because it omits actions, regulatory and legislative changes described by representatives of the Privy Council as part of Bill C-38. The omission of items that the ministers and hon. members speaking for the Privy Council assert are in C-38 further confirms the bill is imperfect, unready and requiring a reworking.
    I will take each of these failings in turn.


    First, Bill C-38 does not have a theme of relevancy, one basic principle or purpose, nor does it arise from a single policy decision. I anticipate that the Conservative Privy Council officers will respond to this point of order and say its theme is the budget. It is entitled, “An act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures”. Clearly, a budget is no longer merely a fiscal statement comprising changes to the Income Tax Act and other tax measures. It is understood to be a policy statement, and as such, a policy statement, it can be considered a theme.
    Commentators have warned us that this trend undermines the role of Parliament in proper oversight of the public purse and of individual pieces of legislation.


    Professor Ned Franks, professor emeritus at Queen's University, wrote back in 2010:
    Canadian budget implementation acts...have morphed from short bills dealing with minor items mentioned in the budget speech to enormous omnibus bills...Parliament cannot study them properly...These omnibus budget implementation bills subvert and evade the normal principles of parliamentary review of legislation.
    As the anti-democratic risks of omnibus bills draw greater scrutiny, the links to policy must not be accepted on faith. Nor should they be loose or sloppy in analysis. Much rides on knowing that there is a legitimate link between the measures in an omnibus budget bill and the budget itself. If the link is not there, the legislation fails to meet the test of an omnibus bill.
    The failure of opposition parties in recent years to adequately challenge the creeping nature of omnibus budget bills cannot in itself create precedents. The silence of opposition parties and therefore of the Speaker does not create affirmative approval of the so-called omnibus budget bills of 2009 and 2010.
    I return now to the first test of whether the bill is properly an omnibus budget bill.
    Bill C-38 does not have one central theme. Even if one accepts that the budget document of March 29, with its myriad policy and fiscal initiatives, represents a theme, a single purpose, Bill C-38 contains much that was simply never mentioned in the budget and which further fails to have more than a fanciful connection to the public relations short title of the bill, jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
    This is frankly baffling. Budget 2012 covers hundreds of areas. There was no limit or restriction for the Minister of Finance on the topics that were chosen for inclusion. The Privy Council officers who signed off on the March 29 budget had abundant opportunity to ensure that nothing included in Bill C-38, the budget implementation act, would fall outside the scope of the budget itself. Had they done so, the affront to Parliament would at least fall within our rules. The respect for Westminster parliamentary tradition and our role as parliamentarians would not have been so egregiously abused.
    As it is, I maintain that Bill C-38 fails to meet the first test to ascertain whether it is properly an omnibus budget bill, whether the measures in Bill C-38 are included in the budget itself.
    The following examples establish that Bill C-38 fails to provide a link between the items in Bill C-38 and the budget itself. I will begin with the sections that have completely changed the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
    While “streamlining”, eliminating duplicate reviews and time limits for the reviews found under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act were flagged in the budget, the fact that the act was to be repealed was never mentioned in the March 2012 budget. The budget suggested important amendments to CEAA, but it simply never mentioned repealing the act and introducing an entirely new legislative scheme. It never mentioned that triggers for federal review, in place since the 1980s guidelines order, such as the presence of federal funds in the proposed undertaking as a trigger for required review, would be removed.
    The budget never mentioned wholesale redefinition of the substance of review, of those impacts that require study under the act. These changes are not relevant to the proposed rationalization for streamlining. These and other changes represent a threat and a retreat from federal responsibilities for which no foundation was laid in the budget itself.
    Further, the Fisheries Act was never mentioned in the budget at all. Other than reductions in available funding for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, enhanced funding for first nations fisheries and increased funding for fisheries science, fisheries are not mentioned in the budget at all. Nowhere in the budget is it suggested, or required as a legislative change to implement other parts of the budget, that a major overhaul of the Fisheries Act is to be expected.
    The changes to the Fisheries Act concealed in Bill C-38 are simply the most far-reaching, radical and fundamental changes to the Fisheries Act in Canada's history. Nothing less would have provoked four former ministers of fisheries and oceans, representing fishery policy under three different prime ministers, to speak with one voice in urging the act to be withdrawn. Yet the proposed amendments to the Fisheries Act were not mentioned in the budget at all. They are not anchored to any promised change in the budget. Unmoored from the budget, the changes to the Fisheries Act lack all legitimacy.


    Also unmentioned in the budget are changes to the functions of personnel within national parks. The amendments to the Parks Canada Agency Act are perhaps sensible. They would allow Parks Canada Agency wardens to enforce other acts for other agencies. Regardless of whether such changes would be offensive or not, and without further study of the long-term implications for Parks Canada's core mandate, I cannot say, and whether it is a good change or not is irrelevant to the main point. These changes have nothing whatsoever to do with the budget. Parks Canada's budget was reduced and a new national park was announced without funding for the Rouge Valley near Toronto. Neither of these budgetary mentions have any connection to the Bill C-38 amendments to the Parks Canada Agency Act.
     Amendments to the Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act to give the National Energy Board authority over pipelines and power lines crossing navigable waters, removing authority held under the Navigable Waters Protection Act, were also never mentioned in the budget.
    There is similarly no mention in the budget of changes to the Species at Risk Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act or the Navigable Waters Protection Act. The only reference to the policy area of species at risk within the budget was to provide more funding. If the act governing species at risk required overhaul to deliver on this aspect of the budget, why was it never mentioned? There is no nexus between the one reference to species at risk in budget 2012 and the subsequent legislative changes in Bill C-38. There is no reference at all to policy or legislative changes in the budget related to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act or the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
    I come to the repeal of the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. This repeal could hardly be described as a surprise. The current executive branch has made it very clear that it wishes to repudiate Canada's global treaty obligations. Nevertheless, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider the rules and precedents of Parliament. A measure in an omnibus budget bill is only legitimate if it has some relation to a central organizing theme. The topic of climate change is never once mentioned in the budget.
    The House cannot take the equivalent of judicial notice that everyone knows the Prime Minister intends to kill the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. The Prime Minister, or, more accurately, his Minister of the Environment has all the powers and authority necessary to present legislation to the House to repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act. The Conservatives have a majority of seats in both places, making it a foregone conclusion for this and all the other bills I have mentioned that do not belong in Bill C-38 and that properly tabled legislation will meet with parliamentary approval.
     Should the Privy Council officers respond that “the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity” agenda requires the repeal of this act, they must be called upon to make proof of this assertion. The Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act provisions make its terms moot with the withdrawal of Canada from the Kyoto protocol through the action of the Minister of the Environment announced in the House in December of last year. The repeal of the act included in Bill C-38 is further evidence that the act has no central theme, purpose or principle.
    Moving on from the extensive environmental aspects of Bill C-38, there are other legislative changes for which no foundation has been laid in the budget.
     One of the most serious changes to Bill C-38 relates to a new supremacy of Privy Council to override decisions of the National Energy Board. This change to the National Energy Board Act was not mentioned at all in the budget document. Nor was it shared in advance explanatory notes. It is not connected to any theme, but is a significant change in the context of a quasi-judicial body with a long history of professionalism. There has been no explanation, so it is impossible to find in this change any link or theme to connect it to other aspects of Bill C-38.


    The elimination of the Office of the Inspector General under the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has no connection whatsoever to the budget. Neither are the changes to consolidate the responsibility for reviewing the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service into the Security Intelligence Review Committee foreshadowed in the 2012 budget. To attempt to find a theme that embraces repealing the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, weakening of fisheries habitat protection and eliminating the Inspector General of CSIS within C-38 is an exercise to make your head hurt.
    The new provisions for conditional release decisions within the Corrections and Conditional Release Act are also completely unhinged from anything in the budget.


    There is no logical—or even illogical—link between budgetary measures and the changes in Bill C-38. The repeal of the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act is not referenced in Budget 2012. The repeal of this act could have serious implications. In addition, it is not related to other aspects of Bill C-38, which drives home the point that the bill has no overarching theme.


    One of the most profound changes to Canada contained in Bill C-38 relates to the surrendering of sovereignty in relation to law enforcement. While certain measures for improved movement of goods at the border are mentioned in the budget, the so-called “ship-rider” provisions are not mentioned. The decision to allow the law enforcement officials from another sovereign nation onto Canadian territory to enforce foreign laws is a dramatic and radical change. The Privy Council is, as noted above, entitled to table legislation to reduce the traditional understanding of Canadian sovereignty. Such a radical departure from universally understood principles of sovereignty merit legitimate debate and review. Given the majority of seats held by the Conservative Party, so long as members of Parliament are required by their whip to vote with their cabinet colleagues, any such bill will pass. However, this measure is not linked to the policy direction of the budget. It is not referenced, and as such, it is further evidence that Bill C-38 is not a proper omnibus budget bill at all.
    The complete list of measures that had no connection to the budget involves the elimination of numerous bodies and consequential repeal of numerous agencies never mentioned in the budget. I know that the above list is not exhaustive, but covers many of the larger measures for which there is no link to budget 2012.
    There is another group of things that I find unusual, and that is the third ground on which I make the case that Bill C-38 violates Standing Order 68(3). It fails by omitting actions, regulatory and legislative changes that were described by representatives of the Privy Council as part of Bill C-38. The omission of items that the ministers and hon. members speaking for Privy Council assert are in Bill C-38 further confirms the bill is imperfect, unready and requiring a re-working.
    I will cite numerous examples from the debate at second reading of Bill C-38 in which members of the Privy Council and Conservative members of Parliament spoke favourably to aspects of the legislation that were actually not in Bill C-38 at all. I anticipate that Conservative members may claim that people make mistakes in debate and that the claims that were made about Bill C-38 are not substantive and that statements made in debate cannot add to the evidence that Bill C-38 is imperfect.
     In other Parliaments that may have been true. The occasional enthusiastic slip of the tongue does not undermine a governing party's description of its legislation.
    However, these are not occasional slips. The claims of provisions in Bill C-38 that simply are not there were made by the Minister of Natural Resources and by the Minister of Environment. The claims were made, not in extemporaneous fashion, as if such exists any longer in the governing party of the day. The claims were made in prepared speaking notes. The same words and virtually verbatim text were submitted by a number of backbenchers as well.
    In relation to claims of greater tanker and pipeline safety, I submit the following statements in debate at second reading. The Minister of Natural Resources said:
    Mr. Speaker, the bill would do a great deal to protect the environment...tankers will have to be double-hulled, there will be mandatory pilotage, there will be enhanced navigation, there will be aerial surveillance, and [other] measures will be taken when necessary in particular cases.
    The Minister of the Environment said, “The legislation before us would provide new funding in support of improving pipeline and marine safety....It would fund $35.7 million over two years to further strengthen Canada's tanker safety regime”.
    The hon. member for Prince George said, “We would enhance pipeline and marine safety through initiatives such as a strengthened tanker safety regime”
    The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Trade said, “I would like to speak directly to the budget bill...We will strengthen pipeline safety...Every Canadian would support strengthening pipeline safety”.
    There is a further statement from the hon. member for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, a further statement from the hon. member for North Vancouver and a further statement to the same effect from the hon. member for Kootenay—Columbia.
    There is absolutely nothing in Bill C-38 that advances tanker safety or pipeline safety. The budget document itself mentions such changes are planned, but Bill C-38 omits any reference to them.


    Ironically, after the litany of measures never mentioned at all in the budget that are included in Bill C-38, in this case the budget promises the changes, but Bill C-38 has not a word about pilotage or double-hulled tankers or increasing pipeline inspections.
    We have a choice here. We could either conclude that the ministers and other hon. members were deliberately misleading this House or, because I reject this first notion, I submit the only sensible conclusion is that there are errors in Bill C-38 that have omitted important sections that the ministers honestly believe were in the legislation they were putting before us.
    In the matter of environmental assessment, ministers and other hon. members also asserted specific language to the new provisions to allow for the complete substitution of federal environment review for the provincial one. In second reading debate, the specificity of the language and its repetition suggests they honestly believe the legislation is drafted in a way that it is not. The Minister of Natural Resources said:
    It would allow provincial environmental assessments that meet the substantive requirements of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to be substituted for the federal government assessment. In some cases, the provincial process may be deemed equivalent to the federal process. However, these provisions will only be put into effect if the province can demonstrate it can meet federal requirements.
    The Minister of Natural Resources further said:
There will be an opportunity for substitution by the province but only if the particular province in question has the capacity and the willingness to conduct an identical level review.
    The hon. member for Burlington said roughly the same thing. He said, “I want people to read the legislation.” Frankly, so do I. He said:
    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.
    While substitution of reviews is contemplated in Bill C-38, there is no requirement for an identical level of review, for them to be at least equal, nor for meeting federal requirements.
    The summary pages describing the legislation called the substitution “equivalent”, but the word appears nowhere in the operative sections of Bill C-38. In fact the relevant section of the new CEAA offers no criteria at all for a discretionary decision by the minister that the substitution would be “appropriate”, and I cite that section. There is no requirement for equivalency.
    These examples of claims for subject matter not covered at all in Bill C-38, pipeline and tanker safety, as well as for subject areas included, but without the strength of criteria repeatedly referenced by Privy Council officers in debate, are further evidence that the legislation is imperfect. I will not accept that so many hon. members spoke in an effort to mislead the House. The members clearly believe that Bill C-38 meets the description they have given the House.
    Furthermore, as all speeches delivered by Conservative Party members of Parliament are reviewed in advance by the Prime Minister's office and given the similarity of wording were likely written by the same person on PMO staff, the Prime Minister cannot but agree that the legislation falls short of his own stated goals.
    Whether through hasty drafting or other error, the legislation does not meet the description offered by three members of Privy Council as well as several hon. members. It is imperfect and unready and should be withdrawn.


    In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I wish to put forward one final argument to persuade you to reject Bill C-38, which violates the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. My argument is this: the respect of the body politic of this institution is at stake.


    I recall the words of the late journalist, a great Canadian, James Travers. We happened to both be on the CBC program Sunday Edition in the spring of 2009, discussing threats to our democratic institutions. He commented that we really no longer have a democracy in Canada, and if we visit Ottawa today, what we will see is a democracy theme park. The buildings are still there and we can tour Parliament, but we will no longer see democracy.
    I refuse to accept that is the case. I acknowledge that democracy is not a permanent state of existence. It can be won, as in Arab Spring, and it can be lost. It can be lost through violence; it can be lost through neglect. It does not survive without the constant application of checks on the abuse of power. It needs openness. Those things done by stealth invariably breed an unhealthy loss of respect in our democratic institutions. Sunlight is a great antiseptic. The myriad, unrelated pieces of legislation under cover of Bill C-38 should, to respect Westminster parliamentary democracy, be brought out of the shadows, be tabled separately and studied on their own merit.
    To allow Bill C-38 to masquerade as a legitimate omnibus bill will bring our institutions into greater disrepute.


    Bill C-38 is widely understood in the popular media as a fraud. I will cite a few examples of respected commentators on our system of government.
    Andrew Coyne wrote that Bill C-38 “... is not remotely a budget bill despite its name.” He wrote that, while throwing non-budgetary matters into a budget bill is not unknown, in Bill C-38 “the scale and scope is on a level not previously seen, or tolerated. There is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent not a single act of policy but a sort of compulsory buffet.”
    John Ivison in the National Post, noting that the excuse for this omnibus approach is the urgency to move projects to approval, maintains:
... it’s not so “urgent” that it justifies an end-run around 145 years of parliamentary tradition.... Someone, somewhere deep within the Prime Minister’s Office took the decision to try to cram as much contentious legislation in one mega-bill to minimize the political fallout. It was a dumb move and it has blown up in their faces.... condemned by all but the most blinkered of partisans.
    Terry Glavin wrote in the Ottawa Citizen that:
    Bill a heck of a thing. It’s an omnibus bill that purports to be a budget bill but isn’t. It’s a statutory juggernaut that introduces, amends, or repeals nearly 70 federal laws. It’s been presented to the House of Commons in a manner that may be without close precedent in Canadian parliamentary history.
    Dan Gardner wrote just this weekend in the Ottawa Citizen that:
...the government’s mammoth Bill C-38, which is theoretically the budget implementation bill, but is in reality a vast number of pieces of legislation that have nothing to do with each other, or the budget. Piling most of the government’s legislative agenda together in one bill ensures scrutiny will be kept to a minimum, which is in keeping with the government’s unprecedented use of time allocation and closure to shut down parliamentary debate.
    We, as parliamentarians, must be the bulwark against abuse of power, even in a majority government. Our only shield is our traditions, the standing rules, precedent and our respect for the same. Our only hope is in a fair judge. I turn to you, Mr. Speaker, without fear or favour, sine timore aut favore, to rule fairly and protect Westminster parliamentary democracy, to restore public faith in our institutions and to order Bill C-38, a bill imperfect in form and shape, to be withdrawn pursuant to our standing rules.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member's point of order.
     She said that this bill has to have a common, unifying theme, and it does. It is a budget implementation bill and that common, unifying theme is to implement the budget, as one might expect. That is the economic action plan 2012, the jobs, growth and long-term prosperity act. She says that for the bill to be found in order, it has to arise from a single policy decision. She acknowledges that it does, that being the decision of the budget that was tabled in this House. She then says that another alternative is for it to have direction from Parliament. This budget was approved by Parliament, so there is indeed direction from this Parliament to proceed with this budget. On all three of those tests she has outlined, Bill C-38 is certainly in order. Of course, it is entirely consistent with clearly established parliamentary practice. We have had previous bills of greater length and of equal diversity that implemented budgets adopted by this House and found in order.
    The member makes an effort to identify some items that were not included in the budget. However, in her effort to do so, she actually makes the case that they do all arise out of the budget.
    First, she has objections to some of the measures on streamlining environmental assessment processes. In fact, the budget goes on for pages about streamlining environmental assessment processes, about the importance of responsible resource development. However, in her arguments she went on to advance that her objection is that every single word that appears in the final Bill C-38, all the details of how that has been done, were not in the budget. That is not what the budget has to do. The budget sets the clear policy direction and the budget implementation bill implements that direction. That is exactly what is happening and that is as it should be. That is how these two legislative devices are to work together.
    The member says that the regulatory system changes go well beyond what was contemplated. That is not the case. In fact, the budget makes it quite clear what regulatory system changes are contemplated, and that the objective is to go to one project, one review. So again, her objections there seem to have no basis.
    To use another example, the member said that there is no basis for the provisions in the budget bill that relate to shiprider, the program for joint law enforcement at the border on waterways and on lands, between Canadian and American border officers and police forces so they can act on both sides so people can be pursued across that border. That was part of the Canada–U.S. border action plan, the perimeter security action plan, that was enunciated by the leaders of the two countries in December 2011. It is addressed specifically again in the budget at quite some length. It says in the budget that the government intends to take measures to implement the action plan commitments and other border improvements. Again, this is set out in the budget. With item by item that she has gone through, she has actually made the case for the fact that this bill does proceed to implement the budget and is properly in order.
    The member then objects to a series of measures to balance the budget. Nothing could be more core to our economic action plan than the commitment to balance the budget by 2015, so all those measures are in order. That is what even the most basic and simple budget is all about. I do not see anything that provides a basis for the arguments the member has attempted to advance here.
     Then she proceeded to make a series of arguments that could be best described as debate, disagreeing with the merits of various aspects of the bill. That may be fine for a debate. It is a good reason, if she wishes, to vote against the bill. However, it is certainly not a reason to declare that the bill is not in order.
    At first glance, there is absolutely nothing, not one single basis for legitimacy for requests the member has made that the bill be found not in order. That being said, since her arguments were quite extensive and did go on for well over a half-hour, I will return with more detail on them, item by item.


    Mr. Speaker, unless you as Speaker intend to rule on the point of order immediately, which I doubt very much, as it is the custom to take the matter under advisement and report later, I would simply like to serve notice that the official opposition will reserve our opportunity and right to respond to the point of order at a later date. I hope you will recognize our House leader at that time to add our remarks and opinions regarding the point of order from the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, as my colleague from Winnipeg Centre has stated, if you will be reserving your opinion on this bill, we would like to be able to make formal presentation on this point of order at some point in time in the future.
     I do take some exception to the government House leader's comments in addressing the bill itself. We need to recognize that Bill C-38, even though the government titles it as a budget bill, is, in the eyes of many, a great threat to Canadian democracy and the functions of this House.
    We can talk about the Trojan Horse or using the back door of the budget in order to pass significant measures. The argument that has been presented by the leader of the Green Party is quite accurate when we talk about the bill being an imperfect bill and, therefore, should not be proceeded with. We are going to be very much dependent upon the fairness of the Speaker recognizing this institution for what is worth. We all value the opportunity to ensure that what is happening here is being done in a fair fashion.
    I know there is a great deal of concern in terms of how the bill would have a profound impact, whether it is on the fisheries or the environment. Somewhere in the neighbourhood of 60-plus pieces of legislation would be profoundly, in some cases, impacted and the Speaker does need to take note. As I have said, we will be providing some future comment before the Speaker makes a final ruling on the bill.


    Mr. Speaker, I would lend my support to the point of order by the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. The member is one of our most thoughtful members. This is an amazing piece of research. It is very thoughtful analysis. It merits much reading and consideration. I look forward to poring over it. It is quite the profound piece of jurisprudence in the traditions of Canada and of Parliament.
    The Speaker of the House of Commons has a long tradition in Canada of holding the processes of the House of Commons to a high standard, The Speaker has a long history of overseeing and acting on the integrity of the House and its members. The Speaker has a long history and big obligation in maintaining the democratic traditions of Parliament and the House of Commons.
    I hope the Speaker will give this very important point of order the consideration that it very seriously and obviously needs.
    The Chair will consider the point of order that was raised by the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and the subsequent points raised by other members of this House and will return at a time that is appropriate with a ruling.


[Government Orders]


Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act

     The House resumed from May 29 consideration of the motion that Bill C-25, An Act relating to pooled registered pension plans and making related amendments to other Acts, be read the third time and passed, and of the motion that this question be now put.
    I must confess that my plan to lose two inches off my waistline by summer is not going well. Part of the blame rests with a lovely little restaurant in my riding called La Porto A Casa, which has the best tiramisu in Canada. I am prepared to certify that on the floor of this House of Commons. It has, as a business, been a model of a Canadian success story.
    Only about four years ago, it opened the restaurant and, within several months, it had to double in size of square footage to accommodate the enormous demand. It now employs 16 people in our community. It has never asked for a government grant or handout, but it pays salaries and wages and provides the citizens of Barrhaven with a wonderful meeting place and a good, solid, authentic Italian dinner or lunch.
    The only thing not on the menu, though, is a workplace pension plan. The reason for that is that out of the 16 employees that one would have in a business that size, it does not make financial sense to hire somebody, or a group of people, to administer a pension plan. In fact, there are businesses just like La Porto A Casa, and business owners, just like Ozzie and Caroline, right across this country. They might be small mechanic's shops, landscaping companies, small restaurants or small accounting firms. By themselves, they do not have the economies of scale to provide a workplace pension plan and, as a result, 60% of Canadian employees do not have one.
    However, what if people like Ozzie and Caroline from La Porto A Casa, Sonny from Sonny's Manotick Garage and thousands of other small businesses that employ millions of people combined could pool their efforts and provide such a pension program for their employees?
    Let us imagine if banks, insurance companies and existing pension plans, like the Ontario teachers' pension fund, could offer such a pooled service to employees of small businesses just like the ones I just finished describing. Such would provide an opportunity for the 60% of Canadians who currently lack a workplace pension fund to buy into one.
    That is exactly what the bill before the House proposes to do. They would be called the “pooled registered pension plans”. They would be administratively simple and cost-effective, and they would provide mobility to the workers who travel between small employers on a fairly frequent basis. That would allow these businesses to come together and pool the costs and the risks associated with a pension fund for employees.
    This is an excellent opportunity to allow working people to have greater participation in our economy and to set aside money that would be invested for their future. By the way, that money, when invested, is not simply hidden under somebody's bed. In fact, it is invested in other Canadian companies that then use it to hire people, buy machines and grow wealth and prosperity for other workers, creating a virtuous cycle.
    The opposition has said that it opposes this idea. It does not believe that small businesses like La Porto A Casa and Sonny's gas station in Manotick should be allowed to pool their resources in order to create a pension fund opportunity for their employees. The reason the opposition does not like the idea is because it says that these funds would be invested in the stock market. That is partly true, but they could also be invested in real estate, bonds or treasury bills.


    However, it is true that almost every successful pension fund in the world does invest in the stock market because stock markets grow and it is good when pension funds grow with them. In fact, all of the pension funds that the left of centre opposition claims to support are invested in the stock market. Let us take, for example, the Quebec pension plan, which is the province's equivalent of what we in English Canada call the CPP. It is widely invested in private sector businesses.
     One business in which the Quebec pension plan is invested is Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. It is an oil sands company taking 100,000 barrels out of the Alberta oil sands every day. That would make it a perfect target for the NDP. The only problem is that the same oil sands company pays enough dividends into the Quebec pension fund to cover the retirement cheques of 1,100 workers every year. The opposition would raise taxes on that company, impose a carbon tax and raise taxes on profits. The only problem with that is that the same company can only pay benefits to the Quebec pension fund out of its after-tax profits, which means that if taxes go up, the dividends to pension funds go down.
    Half of the Canada pension plan is invested in companies just like the one I mentioned already. It is invested in the stock market. Even public pension funds that are administered by government are invested in the private sector stock market. Let us take the defined benefit pension plans of, say, the Canada Post employees. The top five holdings in the Canada Post pension plan are Toronto-Dominion Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Nova Scotia, Suncor and Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., all banks and oil companies. The twin villains in every left wing storyline are the ones paying dividends into the pension funds of mail delivery workers and other employees of Canada Post who will rely on the profitability of those same businesses for their retirement.
    The opposition does not believe that pension funds should be invested in the private sector. In fact, it does not think there should be a private sector at all. It believes in growing government and having government take over every sector of the economy. I will explain what I mean by that. Its leader has said that there is something called Dutch disease; that is to say that there are too many Canadians working in the energy sector and not working elsewhere. However, according to the S&P/TSX composite index of the Canadian Stock Exchange, the energy sector is actually not the biggest. The financial sector is. The problem is that the NDP does not like the financial sector either. One-third of the entire valuation of the TSX includes banks and other financial services sectors. The NDP does not like that one-third. Then we have the energy sector, which makes up one-quarter. The NDP does not like that either. Now, well over half of the value of the publicly-traded economy is in the crosshairs of a prospective NDP government.
    The NDP is an opposition party that believes that government should control everything. There is a laboratory for that approach. It is called Greece. In Greece, the government debt is 160% the size of the entire economy. Its debt has now been downgraded to junk status. In Portugal, it is the same thing. Nine other Euro currency countries have also been downgraded. In Washington, where over the last several decades this kind of approach of big public spending has been tried, the government debt is now bigger than the entire U.S. economy and American taxpayers spend more on interest to the People's Republic of China than the People's Republic of China spends on its military.


    On this side, we choose the Canadian way, a free market plan to create jobs and enable small businesses to provide opportunities for retirement security to their employees.
    Therefore, in the interest of jobs, growth and long-term prosperity, I ask members to support the bill.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague for having shared what I would call a completely unrealistic interpretation of reality. It was very entertaining, but alas, totally out of touch with reality. Allow me to explain.
    The important thing to understand is that this government bill will force millions of Canadians to invest their savings against their will and take on the full risk of that investment in a series of private funds, without necessarily getting any guarantees about the quality of fund management.
    In fact, that is already a problem. I would just like to point out to my colleague that, unfortunately, since the beginning of 2012, all stock exchanges have fallen by an average of 10%.
    What does my colleague have to offer new retirees and those retiring in a year or two, other than an extremely high stress level that could end up forcing people to retire later than planned or to go back to work?
    Mr. Speaker, I must begin by correcting the error in the question. No one will be forced to join. It is a voluntary program. People will decide whether or not this plan works for them.
    Furthermore, the member is attacking stock market investments, but all pension funds are invested in the stock market, even public pension funds.


    I already mentioned that half of the Canada pension plan is invested in the stock market. There is no successful pension fund in the world that does not invest in the stock market and therefore there is not a single one of them that can survive and succeed unless businesses have strong after-tax profit. These are mathematical realities that one cannot help but see, even with ideological blinders on.


    Mr. Speaker, I do not know about that last statement. The member's own pension plan, which he just qualified for, is pretty generous and avoids the markets. Perhaps my colleague would like to comment on that.
    When he says that all opposition members are against this sort of concept, the member is overstretching it a bit. On this side of the House, we have said many times that we like the idea of pooled pensions. If we understand the concept of it, we get that. However, if we take it to its logical conclusion, we would go to a supplementary CPP system, which would then be the best investment machinery around for this type of thing.
    I believe in what my colleague is saying, about the mobility of it, about the pooling and how if people pooled with others for their pension plan, that would make a greater investment. However, the specific program that the member talks of, which I am not totally against, has not worked in jurisdictions like Australia, which had problems with efficiency from 1997, as it was described.
    Would the member not take the concept that he speaks of, the majority of which I agree with, into one of the greatest investment vehicles we have, which would be a supplementary CPP?
    Mr. Speaker, the member stands and says that he is against the pension plan for members of Parliament, but I presume he is going to accept his unless he is going to announce the contrary today. Then he says that he is in favour of the concept of a pooled registered plan, but will vote against it. The one thing I have to respect about the Liberal Party is its ability to see all sides of every issue, because those members are on all sides of every issue.
    On this side of the House, we take a clear stand. We are in favour of empowering small businesses in Canada to provide their employees with a pooled pension plan that would help them prepare for their retirement on a voluntary basis. That is where we stand.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to explain to the House and the people of Canada how our government's new low-cost and accessible pooled registered pension plan will help millions of Canadians save for retirement. More specific, I would like to touch on how pooled pensions will benefit small businesses, which are the backbone of the economy, not only in my riding of Niagara West—Glanbrook but across this great land.
    As a former small business owner, I know first hand how difficult it is to save for retirement. There is simply so much else to focus on. Small business owners wear many hats and often the most menial tasks take priority over thinking of retirement or how to save for it. Therefore, by pooling pension plans together, small business owners can pass on the burden of planning for retirement to a qualified and reliable body, freeing them up to focus on improving other aspects of their business, such as improving customer service or, more important, ensuring their survival in the world of free enterprise.
    As a small business owner, I was very committed to providing financial assistance to my employees. For my part-timers, I offered thousands of dollars in scholarships. However, for my full-time and my key employees, who had already graduated or were no longer interested in attending university, I had to find other incentives. Unfortunately, pooled pension plans were not available back then, which would have provided me and fellow small business owners the opportunity to provide our employees with a pension package comparable to any large corporation.
    I looked for ways to try and incentivize my staff to try and keep them around, because small business is very competitive. The only thing I could come up with was registered retirement savings plans, which were not a bad thing. The challenge was that they were very complicated to set up. As members can imagine, with a small business owner, with only five or six employees, trying to meet with financial investors and setting them up with staff is not always the easiest thing to do. Therefore, as a business owner, I really would have appreciated having something like this to take away some of the burden on me by being able to lock these funds in for employees who would use them at a later point in time.
    What I did was set up some registered retirement savings plans wherein I matched some of the dollars that my key employees put in. The challenge was that they were not locked in for pensions. The money could be taken out at any time. The second issue was it was difficult to manage. Members can imagine having 10, 20, 30 or 40 employees all trying to figure out, with a financial adviser, what was happening and trying to make their own decisions when, quite frankly, a pension plan or some kind of professional management would have been helpful. Therefore, from experience, I understand how important a plan like this would be.
    Until Bill C-25 is passed, small business owners will continue to worry about the possibility of their employees being attracted to a larger corporation that offers a more attractive pension plan. This is worrisome to small business owners whose employees form the core of their small business, much more so than the case of large corporations. Small businesses of 5, 6 to 10 people cannot afford the costs of employee turnover. When they lose key employees, it hurts in a big way. In this regard, pooled pensions will benefit small business owners by increasing employee dependability, thereby decreasing the time, burden and costs associated with hiring.
    Equally beneficial to small business, pooled pensions will allow millions of Canadians access to a workplace pension for the first time in their lives.
     Pooled pensions will improve the range of retirement savings options to Canadians by allowing individuals who are not currently participating in a pension plan, such as the self-employed, to make use of this new type of pension plan. Pooled pensions will enable more people to benefit from the lower investment management costs that result from membership in a large pooled pension plan. Further, pooled pensions will allow for people's accumulated benefits to move with them from job to job, all the while ensuring that their funds are invested in the best interests of plan members.
    With our baby-boomer generation nearing the age of retirement, coupled with the ongoing global financial crisis, our government has deemed this time appropriate for the development of pooled pensions. The issue of retirement income security is very important to our government. It is for this reason that the joint federal-provincial working group was established in May 2009 to undertake an in-depth examination of retirement income adequacy in Canada.
     The working group found that overall the Canadian retirement income system was performing well and providing Canadians with an adequate standard of living upon retirement. However, some Canadian households, especially modest and middle-income households, were living with the risk of not saving enough for retirement.
    After over a year of exhaustive research, led by our finance ministers, our government agreed to pursue a framework for pooled registered pension plans.


    Pooled pensions are designed to address the lack of low-cost, large-scale retirement savings options available to many Canadians. Many Canadians continue to struggle taking advantage of the savings opportunities offered to them through individual structures like RRSPs. For example, the average Canadian has over $18,000 in unused RRSP room.
    In addition, many Canadians can only access a workplace pension plan if their employer offers one. Many employers, especially small and medium-sized businesses, do not want the legal administrative burden of offering a pension plan. As a result, over 60% of Canadians do not have a workplace pension. There is not only the legal issues. The fact remains that it is almost impossible for small businesses to join a pension.
    The design features of pooled pensions remove a lot of the traditional barriers that might have kept some employers from offering pension plans to their employees.
    The design of these plans would be straightforward to allow for simple enrolment and management. A third-party pooled pension administrator will take on most of the responsibilities that employers bear in the existing pension plans, including the administrative and legal duties associated with administering a pension plan.
    Pooled pensions will offer Canadians greater purchasing power, allowing them the opportunity to benefit from greater economies of scale. Achieving lower prices means that Canadians will benefit from greater returns on their savings and put more money in their pockets when they retire. Pooled pensions are intended to be largely harmonized from province to province, which also lowers administrative costs.
     Pooled pensions will result in large pooled funds that will enable plan members to benefit from lower investment management cost associated with such funds. The design of these plans will be straightforward and are intended to be largely harmonized across jurisdictions, which would facilitate lower administrative costs.
    Pooled pensions will assist Canadians in meeting their retirement savings objectives by providing access to the new low-cost pension option. Through the pooled nature of pooled pension investments and the auto enrolment of employees, it is expected that members will be able to benefit from greater economies of scale and lower costs compared to small, singular employee group RRSPs. Since pooled pensions will be subject to pension standard rules, unlike group RRSPs, the management will be held to a higher standard.
    Our government decided not to expand the Canadian pension plan because changes to the CPP would require the agreement of least two-thirds of the provinces with at least two-thirds of the population. Federal, provincial and territorial ministers have discussed a CPP expansion, but there has been no agreement. Our government understands that the fragile economic recovery is not the right time to increase CPP contributions, which would be required if CPP were expanded.
     That being said, moving forward on pooled pensions does not preclude future changes to CPP.
    Our government continues to improve Canada's retirement income system. Budget 2011 announced a new guaranteed income supplement top-up benefit for our valuable seniors. Seniors with low or no income other than the old age security and the GIS would receive additional annual benefits of up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for couples.
    In particular, since 2006, our government has increased the age credit amount by $1,000 in 2006 and by another $1,000 in 2009. We have doubled the maximum amount of income eligible for the pension income credit to $2,000, introduced pension income splitting and increased the age limit for the maturing pensions in registered retirement savings plans to 71 from 69 years of age.
    Overall, our government has provided about $2.3 billion in additional annual targeted tax relief to seniors and pensioners through measures such as pension income splitting, increases in the age credit amount and the doubling of the maximum amount of income eligible for the pension income credit.
     In addition, budget 2008 introduced a tax-free savings account, which is of particular benefit to seniors because it helps them to meet their ongoing savings needs with a tax efficient way after they are no longer able to contribute to an RRSP.
    We have also made several other important improvements to specific retirement income supports. Budget 2008 increased the amount that could be earned before the GIS would be reduced to $3,500, so GIS recipients would be able to keep more of their hard-earned money without any reduction in GIS benefits. Budget 2008 also increased flexibility for seniors and older workers with federally-regulated pension assets that were held in life income funds.


    We all win if we make it easier to plan for our future. Pooled pensions would remove the barriers that make it impossible for my business and other small businesses like it to offer the ability to be part of the pension plan for their employees. This is a significant and timeless solution. I am proud of our government for taking steps to provide this opportunity for Canadians.


    Mr. Speaker, in my riding, hundreds of Stadacona plant workers have, for the most part, lost $100,000 or more of their pensions as a result of the losses sustained by their private pension fund. This means that their retirement pensions could be cut in half. It is a real tragedy.
    I am amazed by the government's failure to consider the risks arising from the proliferation of registered pension plans, given that a large number of them are already experiencing difficulties. The other thing that is absolutely absurd is the refusal to increase contributions to the Canada pension plan on the pretext that it would be too onerous for our workers, businesses and communities. And yet, we will have to find the money to contribute to the registered pension plans.
    I will draw a parallel with the mainly private health insurance system in the United States. Private insurance companies now have such high premiums, because of the supposed competition, that even large businesses are finding it impossible to provide health coverage for their workers.
    How can my colleague guarantee that Canadian pension funds will not go down the same slippery slope?


    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure where the question was. There was some talk there about health care, large corporations, pensions and mismanagement.
    As we look at the bill, Canadians, who normally would not have a chance to contribute to a pension plan because of the size of the companies for which they work, would now have the opportunity to do so. As I said, small businesses are the largest employers around our country. For small businesses that hire six, seven, eight or ten people, it is cost prohibitive to set up any kind of pension plan. This legislation aims to pool pensions so that individuals can not only contribute to a pension plan, where otherwise they could not, but they can also take it with them. It is also locked in so that they would not have access to it until retirement age.


    Mr. Speaker, for viewers who might be watching and listening to this important issue, we recognize that this is a tool, albeit a rather small tool that might assist a good number of Canadians. However, what we were really hoping to see come from the government was the larger picture. How will we be able to make some of the changes to the CPP, OAS and our guaranteed income supplement? There is an obligation for the federal government to negotiate with the provinces to try to enhance those pension programs, which are the fundamental programs that most, if not all, Canadians are very dependent on.
    With regard to this specific legislation, could the member indicate to what degree Ottawa has actually received confirmation from which provinces that are prepared to act on this? Are we talking 50% of the provinces on side or 100% of the provinces on side? Could the member indicate how many provinces are on side with the legislation today?
    Mr. Speaker, I think what the member is talking about here is apples and oranges. There are a couple of different things going on here. We understand that the CPP is still something that is happening. It will continue to go on and there may be further negotiations. However, this would add another suite of products that would give options to small business owners.
    When it comes to pension, that is federal and provincial legislation and it is dealt with in a way that we talk about what is required for people to put in. What we are talking about here is setting up something that will add to the suite of services the government has already delivered on. We have introduced pension splitting and tax free savings accounts. This is meant to complement a number of initiatives that we have already looked at in giving employers and employees options to save for their retirement as they move forward.


    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca.
    Earlier, some members mentioned the fact that people may be watching us on television. I hope they have something else to do, because today's debate in the House is really going nowhere.
    This is yet another bill with a rather confusing title. This bill, I believe, deals with pooled registered pension plans, but it really deals with savings, not pension plans. That makes me think that the people who work for the government legislators and think up the titles must also work for the paint companies like Sico, where long, evocative names are given to very simple things. If one day they brought us a bill proposing to cut down all the trees, they would call it “Prioritizing new species of vegetation.”
    This bill does contain good intentions for small employers and small businesses. In itself, that could be praiseworthy, but the reality is different. I was listening to the member opposite talk about his favourite business, saying that it has the best tartufo or tiramisu or cheesecake around; he talked about the muffler repair shop near his house, and all these small businesses. It was wonderful: what a great story. However, I have a tendency to think he was talking about some other local businesses, for example, the local branch of the Royal Bank of Canada, which made a profit of $5.7 billion in the last quarter, the Toronto Dominion Bank, which made a profit of $4.5 billion, or Scotiabank, where the profit was $4.3 billion. I could list a few of those.
    We could believe that our colleagues across the aisle are acting in good faith. We could believe that they are listening to the little guys. Unfortunately, experience proves that they have a natural tendency to listen to the big guys, the big corporations, and neglect the little guys quite often. “Unfortunately”—that is a long word that reminds me of a five-letter word: Aveos. We cannot say that the government looks out for the little guy when we see how it behaved in that labour dispute.
    When I say little guy, I mean the vast majority of the population. I am talking about people whose jobs do not provide them with very good protection plans.
    Usually in society we come up with plans and programs to promote the common good, programs such as the Canada pension plan or the Quebec pension plan. What strikes me is that when it comes to the common good for the little guy, the government just throws something together. Again, it prioritized a solution by throwing something together with its buddies: it says it will do one thing, a good thing, but then it turns around and does another. I keep saying this has to stop.
    People are judged on their intentions. The intention of the Conservative government, generally speaking, is always to favour the big corporations. It wants Canada to be a good place to do business, big business. As we speak, it is the little guy who is paying for it and that is sad.
    In the past six years, the Conservatives have done absolutely nothing to boost retirement security for Canadians. In every one of their interventions—unfortunately, they often intervene in labour disputes—the thing that ends up on the chopping block is retirement security, the security of the working class. Bill C-25 is just another half measure and that is what they are developing.
    Canadians deserve better than that. We will not settle for this. It is not necessarily a problem, but it is not enough. Throwing out a few crumbs in order to move on to something else is not good enough for us.


    I think it is also very important to bear in mind that, according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, most Canadian workers do not have RRSPs. Why? Because they cannot afford them. Last year, only 31% of eligible Canadians contributed to an RRSP, and unused contribution room exceeds $500 billion. When I was preparing my last tax return, the amount that I could have contributed to an RRSP was huge. I do not think I could contribute that much, even if I wanted to. This example simply illustrates how serious the contribution problem is, even though we have a public program that works very well and guarantees some financial security for everyone. However, this government does not seem to care about everyone equally.
    Someone mentioned the fact that the Australians tested the same thing 10 years ago. In the end, that initiative did not work. It did not meet expectations. What does the government want, apart from asking its friends on Bay Street if they feel like investing a few billion dollars in this, just for the fun of it? It is unfortunate, but the Conservatives seem to just do whatever they like. They do not consult anyone. They have no interest in consultation. They go ahead with their own ideas. One might think that they have great ideas, but no, they do not have any strokes of genius. They have not heard the voice of God. They simply came along with their biased opinion that their friends are going to like this.
    That is what is happening. They are working for the upper class. This is unfair, because this government was elected by the public, by ordinary people. We are not talking about giving even more crazy tax breaks to the big oil companies or banks; we are talking about protecting ordinary people.
    A five-letter word is flashing in my mind: Aveos. I hope that one day, the Conservatives will lie awake at night thinking of that word: Aveos. The people at that company lost everything, but the Conservatives do not care at all. That is unacceptable. How can they even introduce a bill that talks about protecting retirees, when these people were run over by a tractor and were told that it was no big deal, that the bosses were right. That is shameful, but that is a whole other story.
    In passing, I would like to mention what a number of journalists think, because we are not the only ones who believe that a public plan would certainly be a better option. For example, the Conference Board of Canada has a disturbing statistic: 1.6 million seniors live in poverty and 12 million Canadians do not have a pension plan. According to the OECD, the Canada Pension Plan and the Régie des rentes du Québec are relatively inadequate and other countries have guarantees and much more generous public pension plans.
    In the United States—they like it when we talk about the United States—maximum social security benefits are about $30,000 a year. Here, they are about $12,000 a year. Is that not a nice parallel? Do they not care? It is too bad, but they have erred so much in the past that I simply do not trust them. It is unfortunate, but that is also what the vast majority of Canadians think.
    I must stop there, but I encourage my colleagues opposite to preach by example, to show some interest in the common good, an interest in consultation. Then, we would be happy to work with them.



    Mr. Speaker, many small employers do not have the ability to offer pension plans because of two key things: the fiduciary responsibility associated with managing a pension plan and the administrative costs. Those are two very burdensome issues that employers would face. The PRPP would give small businesses, which would not otherwise be able to offer a large pension plan or participate in a group RRSP, the tool they need.
     If we do not implement this, how would my colleague address the fiduciary responsibility and administrative cost burden?
    Small businesses are often at a disadvantage from a recruitment perspective because they cannot offer pension plans. Since the member has signalled that he will not vote for this, how would he rectify the recruitment issue that this legislation would address?


    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for her question.
    It seems we agree that introducing more tools to improve pensions for small business employees is a good idea. However, the truth is that the Conservatives will not budge on the rest. The simple solution is to enhance our public pension plans, but they seem to be allergic to anything that would require major state intervention when it comes to meeting ordinary people's basic needs.


    Mr. Speaker, like the hon. member here, I would really like to see a proper CPP enhanced, brought up to date and modernized to work better.
    I find it fascinating that this group across the aisle wants to trust, again, the bankers and the brokers in Bimmers who have caused our problems and encourage Canadians to utilize those pools, many of which already exist, instead of a proper CPP.
    My question for the hon. member is, if the members on the other side trade their gold-plated MP pensions for private pooled plans, will he join me in that?


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the independent MP over in the corner. My colleague changed his political stripes.
    Once again, it is very clear that the government is not interested in funding pension plans. Earlier, we were told how obvious it is that everyone wants to own stocks.
    Sure that is obvious. Of course. Unfortunately, that is how finance is done nowadays, and we saw how that turned out. My colleague was right to point out that, in 2008, those people played with real people's money and savings. I know people who lost 40% of their retirement savings. That means that instead of living for 20 years off their retirement savings, they can live for just 12 years.


    Mr. Speaker, I have a question regarding the last comment by my colleague from Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher.
    The Conservatives' changes to employment insurance will create a huge machine to monitor all available jobs in Canada and to ensure that there is not one unemployed person. If there is a job available somewhere, the unemployed person will have to take that job.
    This measure will be expensive, but they still want to implement it. And yet, the Conservatives are saying that they do not want to make any changes to the current pension system that will improve it.
    I would like him to comment on the apparent contradiction between these two positions.
    Mr. Speaker, this is the first time I have risen to thank the member sitting next to me. I thank her for the question.
    The problem lies strictly with their intention. Their intention is the problem. The Conservatives decided to go to Davos to tell their big buddies that the Conservatives are doing a good job of governing Canada and to come and invest here because the public does not call the shots.


    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill C-25 at third reading. I am very happy to do so. I know that all members in the House share the common goal of making sure that all Canadians have security in their retirement. However, I am rising to speak against the pooled registered pension plan scheme for many reasons.
    One of the reasons is that it would not actually guarantee a pension. As many on my side have pointed out, we should not be calling this a pension plan. Instead, it is a savings scheme. The second reason is that it would put the burden solely on employees and would not require any contribution from employers. It would allow employers to say they are doing something for employees' retirement, but they will pay for it. In that sense, the style of the plan is a bit deceptive.
    It would not be indexed to inflation. When we combine that with no cap on administrative fees or costs, it means that the risks would be entirely borne by the employees. Therefore, when it came time for employees to retire, there would be no guarantee that they would even get back payments equally valued to the contributions they made.
    How do we know that? We have seen the evidence from the Australian plan, which was put in place more than a decade ago, similar to this, called the Australian super fund. In the study of that plan by the Australian government recently, it showed exactly what I said, that the benefits were only equal to the rate of inflation. In fact, the employees who contributed were simply treading water and not really planning for secure retirement.
    I have heard members on the other side ask why on earth I would oppose what is another tool in the tool box for retirement savings. I would first say that I am worried it would become another tool in the tool box of investment planners and banks to make more money for their long-term security instead of making more money for the people who actually contribute to those plans. Their tool box is already full, from my point of view, and there is no need to give them another profit source as I think this plan would obviously do.
    Is it a real tool for employees to save for their retirement? It would certainly take money out of their cheques. Most families are struggling as it is just to make ends meet by providing housing, putting food on the table and providing for their kids. The vast majority of employees do not have any spare money to risk in a plan like this. Their money would be much better invested in an expanded Canada pension plan. The Canada pension plan is not a theory or ideology but a proven plan that has shown it has lower costs. Why does it have lower costs? Because it spreads out the administrative costs over the entire population. It is a plan that has lower risk. Why does it have lower risk? Because it spreads the risk across the entire population and provides a defined benefit indexed to inflation.
    The CPP has a couple of other benefits that we do not often talk about. One of them is that increasing benefits in the CPP would ultimately reduce costs for government because it would reduce the demand for GIS payments. In other words, if people had been allowed to put money into a plan that would provide them a secure retirement and pay for it themselves, they would not be dependent on welfare at the end of their lives in terms of the GIS. That is no criticism of those who collect GIS. Most Canadians have not had the opportunity of having secure jobs with workplace pension plans that pay enough to provide secure income. The easy way to do that is to expand the Canada pension plan.
    This has been on the public agenda since 1996 when the NDP government of British Columbia first put an expanded CPP on the table and tried to convince governments at that time. If it had begun with a slow increase in the contributions made by both workers and employers back in 1996, we would be in a place where the CPP would be providing double the benefits it provides now. We would have made a great dent in the problem of seniors poverty. It is still not too late. The NDP campaigned in the last election to do just that: begin with modest increases in the contributions by workers and employers and, over time, double the benefits that are being paid out by the CPP. Again, workers would be paying for their own secure retirement. It is not a welfare program. There would be no cost to government.
    The Canada pension plan along with its parallel, the Quebec pension plan, have been major contributors to helping end poverty among seniors. As I said, it is an earned pension with all the dignity and self-esteem that comes with having provided for one's own retirement.


    I would point out they are also very good for small business. We are talking about small businesses that are too small, really, to run their own workplace pension plan, that could not bear those administrative costs, that cannot recruit, as the hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment talked about, that cannot recruit employees because they cannot offer the same kind of benefits.
    Yet, if the benefits under the Canada pension plan were increased, it would level that recruitment playing field for small businesses, because people would be earning an adequate pension in all jobs across the country.
    Originally the CPP was designed, along with the QPP, to be supplemented by private pension plans, so the original plan was never meant to provide the full retirement income. It was thought at the time that workplace pension plans and other schemes would fill the gap to bring Canadians up to an adequate retirement income.
    What we have learned is that that has not happened for several reasons. One of those, of course, is that more than 12 million Canadians lack any workplace pension plan of any kind. Even those who do have plans are quite often enrolled in plans which are not portable. We all know the days when people go to work for one company and stay there for 30 years are becoming more and more rare. Even if they had a private pension plan, when they are forced to change jobs, people often have to start over in a new private plan or cash out their benefits at that time.
    The second problem with workplace pension plans that we have seen in the last years of economic crisis is that they are not secure. When a company goes bankrupt, unfortunately, those with disability pensions and those with workplace pensions are almost last in that line of creditors.
     For that reason, the NDP has proposed, as another way of securing retirement incomes, the bankruptcy laws in this country need to be amended to place disability pensions and retirement pensions at the front of the line of creditors in the case of bankruptcy, so that those who have made contributions themselves would have their pension secured before the other creditors of those bankrupt companies. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for action on that very important point.
    The Canadian government, under the Liberals, did recognize that retirement savings were inadequate. The government came up with the registered retirement savings plan to allow people to voluntarily put money into a plan to help supplement the CPP in their retirement. That is a good idea in theory, but the problem with that plan is that because of the high cost of living, the high cost of housing and other difficulties in making ends meet, only 31% of those who are eligible to contribute to RRSPs are actually able to do so. That means that this great solution to fill that gap has not been successful.
    More recently the federal government came up with the idea of tax-free savings accounts. Once again, there is an implicit recognition that there is a gap in retirement income for Canadians. So the tax-free savings accounts were set up. Only about 41% of Canadians have established a tax-free savings account. Most of those say that they are not using it to save for retirement.
     Most interesting to me, over half of those who have tax-free savings accounts earn more than $100,000 a year in income. They are obviously already able to take care of themselves when it comes to retirement. Most Canadians, obviously, do not earn anywhere near this figure and do not have extra money at the end of every month to put into a tax-free savings account.
    The vast majority of Canadians are dependent on the CPP for their own retirement income. When we look at the benefit levels of $12,000 per year, it is clearly not enough. As I mentioned, it was not designed to be enough. It was designed to be supplemented by these other programs which have failed over time to do so.
    Now it is time to revamp the CPP and QPP to make sure they provide an adequate retirement income, that we share the risk, that we spread this out over everyone in society, and make sure that everyone is secure in their income.
    Clearly there are some other measures that are needed to attack the problem of inadequate retirement income. I mentioned amending the bankruptcy legislation in this country, and I think that is very important.
    The NDP also promised that when we are government we will increase the GIS to immediately lift every senior out of poverty at a relatively modest cost.
    Why not proceed with the CPP? The government says the provinces are not onside. It requires co-operation to change the CPP and the QPP. As far as I can tell, only one province was really opposed. I have seen no real effort from the federal government to bring the provinces onside to expand the CPP.
    In conclusion, I would just like to remind members of the House that all Canadians would benefit from an expansion of the CPP, not just the fortunate few.


    It would benefit small business. It would benefit workers changing jobs. In particular, it would benefit those who work hard all their lives in low-wage jobs and are not able to save for their retirement.
    I urge the House, rather than create this new plan, which would do nothing to solve the problem, to turn instead to an expansion of the CPP-QPP program.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the speech by my colleague across the way. I have a couple of comments to make and then a couple of questions.
    First, the TFSA was not necessarily intended for retirement. It was intended for a whole host of things. I would consider 41% uptake to be pretty extraordinary.
    The member talked about expanding CPP and QPP. I assume he realizes that would mean more investment in the stock market for those apparently hated things like banks and resource companies. Does he think that the dividends that Royal Bank, for example, is putting into his QPP are a bad thing, when he seems to want more of them?
    Early in his remarks he called PRPPs a bad plan because people would be forced to pay for their own retirement. A little later in his comments he said CPP was a good thing because people are paying for their own retirement, with the pride that brings. I am wondering if he could explain that apparent contradiction to me.
    Mr. Speaker, my point was that being forced to contribute to a pooled pension plan, which is risky and would have no defined pension at the end of it, is the problem. When people contribute to the Canada pension plan, they have a defined benefit and the risks are shared out over society.
    I have nothing against the stock market except when the risks are borne by individuals who do not have an adequate income to begin with. Then it is not a good solution for saving for their retirement.
    The thing that works is just the thing the member is actually suggesting in the pooled plan. When people pool their resources into a larger plan then it spreads the risk. That is why the CPP is a better way to save for retirement than leaving the risk with individuals or very small pooled plans.
    Mr. Speaker, we in the Liberal Party agree in essence with regard to the CPP and its benefits. This program has been in place for generations. It was a Liberal Party initiative many years ago that made people realize how important pension plans are for seniors, and that is the reason we established a CPP program.
    We would like to see the government demonstrate more leadership on that particular file. The government needs to meet with the provinces and work out a better agreement so that workers today will be able to retire with more money going forward.
    I come from a province where there is an NDP administration. That NDP administration talked about the labour crocus fund as a form for retirees to invest in. It promoted the crocus fund. It is quite different from the pooled pension plan that is being proposed, but the concept of seniors using their private money to invest in a venture capital fund was something it saw as a positive thing even though there were management fees and so forth.
    Would the federal NDP have opposed a venture fund with tax incentives for seniors to invest in that type of approach? Does it have to be CPP or broke?


    Mr. Speaker, I note that the Liberals have 20/20 hindsight and vision back to the things they accomplished many years ago. I just wish they had the same foresight at this time.
    In supporting the pooled retirement savings plan, a big mistake is being made in terms of public policy. We are telling people they are going to get something that is not there, something that is not secure, something that will not deliver in the long run.
    The member asked if I would support seniors investing in venture capital. Only wealthy seniors can afford to take those kinds of risks. It is called venture capital for a reason. Average people who have worked hard all their lives in an average job cannot afford to risk their retirement on those higher risk ventures. They need something secure that will provide them with a defined benefit to take care of them in their old age, and that is the genius of CPP and QPP. They have shown us success over time. That is the reason I think they are the solution to this problem.
    Mr. Speaker, as a former small business owner, I wish to speak in support of the pooled registered pension plan.
    In these tough economic times, our Conservative government continues to work hard to create jobs for Canadians. Naturally, one way of doing this is to support job creators. What do I mean by this? I mean supporting small and medium-sized businesses.
    I am proud to say that this is one of the great aspects of Bill C-25, an act that would implement the federal framework for pooled registered pension plans.
    The bill would remove traditional barriers that might have kept small and medium-sized businesses from offering a pension plan to their employees in the past.
     Members may ask what are traditional barriers. One is responsibility. Under the PRPP framework, the fiduciary responsibility related to the management of pension plans would be shifted from the employer to a licensed third-party professional administrator.
    The second traditional barrier is the administration of the pension. Under the PRPP framework, the administrative burden of the employer would be reduced. Again, most of this burden would be shifted to a licensed third-party professional administrator.
    With these significant barriers removed, employers would be able to offer a workplace pension plan to their employees for the first time. In fact, the business community has already commented on how the reduced administrative burden would be of great benefit. For example, Thomas Lambert, the CEO of Canadian Multicultural Radio said:
    The PRPP is just the kind of option we've been searching for. With the savings on the administrative costs we can incentivize our staff towards better retirements savings.
    By offering a low-cost and administratively simple pension plan, employers would have a new tool to attract and retain skilled employees. I ask hon. members if they would not like to work for a company that offers a low-cost pension option to its employees, a pension option that aims to leave more money in their pocket when they retire. According to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, that is exactly what PRPPs would do. It said:
...(PRPPs) would be a great option to attract new talent to our business. A pension plan draws a lot of the skilled people that we need to the larger corporations and this would be a nice edge to add to a great business.
    There is even more. The introduction of PRPPs would be of great benefit in the self-employed medical profession. Here is what the Ontario Medical Association had to say:
    The creation of pooled registered pension plans (PRPPs) levels the playing field by providing the self-employed, including physicians, with better access to additional savings opportunities that have up until now been unavailable.
    Mr. Speaker, I am just reminded that I will be sharing my time with the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
    Allow me this opportunity to explain how PRPPs would help these employees and self-employed Canadians achieve their retirement goals.
    One of the great features of a PRPP is auto-enrolment. Where an employer offers a PRPP, all employees would be automatically enrolled. Not only would this increase participation, but it would also encourage more Canadians to save for their retirement.
    Another great feature is portability. This means that when employees changed jobs, they could take their PRPP with them from job to job.
    Another innovative feature of the PRPP is that the contributions by members would be locked in. This would ensure that plan members would have savings when they retired.
    I would be remiss if I did not talk about one of the major benefits of the PRPP, and that is its low costs. It is clear that the opposition members do not fully understand this concept. Please allow me a moment to explain its key feature to them.
    Essentially, PRPPs would facilitate low cost through their scale and design by achieving certain economies of scale. It does not matter whether a person manages $1 million or $100 million; the effort is the same.
    As I mentioned earlier, PRPPs would have a broad-based availability. By pooling all these pension savings, the cost of administering the pension funds would be spread over a larger group of people. This would enable plan members to benefit from the lower investment management costs that are typically associated with the average larger mutual funds.
    The low cost feature of PRPPs is something that stakeholders around the country are raving about. I will share with hon. members some of the feedback following our broadly based consultation. According to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business:
    A new voluntary, low-cost...retirement savings mechanism will allow more employers, employees, and the self-employed to participate in a pension plan....


    The Canadian Taxpayers Federation comments:
    Canadians will be able to save more for retirement with this new pension plan. People saving for retirement will enjoy lower costs and more flexibility through their working lives.
    Unfortunately, instead of jumping on board with this great incentive, the opposition members would rather expand the Canada pension plan. Clearly, the opposition members are not interested in creating jobs. They are interested in taxing the job creators.
    Make no mistake; our Conservative government would never take such a reckless and irresponsible position. Our government understands that the last thing job creators need in a time of global economic uncertainty is another tax hike.
    Unlike the opposition, our Conservative government understands it is tax reduction that facilitates the creation of jobs and economic growth. That is why in our economic action plan 2012, our government is committed to extending hiring credits to small and medium-sized businesses for another year.
    Do members know what this would mean? This would mean jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. On the economy, our record is clear. Since July 2009, more than 750,000 net new jobs have been created. That is a result Canadians appreciate.
    With the passing of Bill C-25, federally regulated workers as well as those in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Yukon would be able to take advantage of PRPPs.
    I would hope that every province would pass legislation to implement the PRPP as soon as possible, so that all Canadians would be able to access the low-cost, broad-based pension plan.
    The legislation is a win-win for both employers and employees. By introducing the PRPP, we would be strengthening Canada's retirement income system, a system that is viewed around the world with envy.
    When it comes to PRPPs, our government is on board, small and medium-sized businesses are on board and, most important, Canadians are on board. The only real question is: Why are the members of the opposition not on board?
    I would encourage all members of the House to stand and support the swift passage of Bill C-25. The sooner PRPPs are available, the sooner more Canadians could start saving for their retirement.


    Mr. Speaker, I would simply like to consult my colleague on the so-called collective aspect of the pooled registered pension plans.
    The only collective aspect I see is a collectivization much like that enforced under Stalin more than 80 years ago, in other words, a general misery shared among those who already have very little means, who have limited wages and who work for small businesses that are not on a very strong footing.
    Can my colleague explain the magic formula whereby employees of these small businesses will manage to contribute to this retirement tool the government is proposing without becoming completely impoverished? We know that Canadians currently have $500 billion in unused RRSP contribution room and that this has been the case for a long time. People do not have the means to use these savings vehicles.
    Where is the solution? What will this do other than make people poor?



    Mr. Speaker, let me say that in our society we are quite unlike that of Stalin, unlike a communist state where it is a totally planned economy. We do not have a totally planned economy. We have an economy that allows businesspeople to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit, thereby achieving the best they can for their employees and for the economy in general.
    What the member opposite should know is that there are many ways for people to achieve retirement. One way is through their principal residence that they would have built and renovated as they contributed to its mortgage.
    Another way is if people are lucky enough to have a company pension plan. That is fine, but if they do not have that, like most small and medium-sized businesses, this is what the pooled registered pension plan would do.
    The member mentioned that the RRSP is another tool that only the rich can afford. That is not true. I think what we are doing is giving the employees or the individual businesspeople that option to decide how they want to save their money. Certainly the tax-free savings account is another option we have provided.
    There is an array of tools people can use to plan for their own pension.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to remind my colleague across the way that in his speech, basically, he illustrates that all the opposition are against this type of measure, which is not true at all. I certainly do understand why this is in place. The only thing I would say is that it is just a small tool in the shed that we can use. I suggest we should go a little further, given the situation that society finds itself in and the imperative of trying to find stable income in the retirement years.
    However, it does not come without some problems. There are other examples around the world; for example, the Australian example. Here is what was written about the program in Australia from 1997. It said: assets in the system have grown substantially through contributions, but net earnings from investments were relatively low. Despite the presumed role of competition, the investment performance of the system continued to be restrained by high fees and costs.
    That is from the similar system in Australia. I wonder if my colleague would comment as to how this program would not do that.
    Mr. Speaker, it seems like the member is only focused on Australia. I would suggest that if he were to look at the provident fund of Singapore and some of the pension funds in Japan and Taiwan, he would find that there is exactly that, where they issue an array of products for employees to participate in.
    One of the problems with a centralized mega-fund, as is the case with the CPP, is that one is confined by legislation and, therefore, must invest in very conservative investment instruments. When this is opened up to a more open society that reflects the way our changing world economy and financial system is moving, the individual professional investor who can take advantage of tools like derivatives, commodity investments, options and so on, would be in a better position to buy you better growth in your pension plan.
    Before resuming debate, I would remind all hon. members to direct their comments and questions to the Chair rather than to their colleagues.
    Resuming debate. The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened to the hon. colleagues across the aisle and the NDP members just do not seem to get it. They continue to advocate for something that is neither feasible nor has the support perceived.
    I am talking about their proposal to double the Canada pension plan. There are several problems with this proposal. I will outline them for the NDP and see if it can be convinced once and for all that doubling the CPP is simply not practical.


    Any change to the Canada pension plan is subject to a formula specified in the legislation. In case the NDP did not know, I mean the legislation governing the Canada pension plan. The legislation clearly stipulates that the CPP can only be amended by a consensus of two-thirds of the provinces, representing two-thirds of the population.
    At the 2010 finance ministers' meeting, a number of provinces had strong objections to expanding CPP benefits. However, the ministers made a unanimous decision. They unanimously decided to set up a framework for pooled registered pensions plans.
    Unlike the NDP's proposal, which does not have the support of the provinces, the decision to move forward with pooled registered pensions plans was unanimous. That is not the only problem with the NDP plan. To expand CPP benefits or, in the NDP's case, to double them, we would have to raise contribution rates.



     Higher contribution rates would mean higher payroll costs for small and medium-sized businesses and higher premiums for workers and the self-employed. Unlike the NDP, our government remains focused on the economy. This means focusing on job creation and economic growth and Canada's long-term prosperity. Our government does not believe that now is the time to jeopardize Canada's fragile economic recovery by imposing higher costs on job creators.
    The House might be interested to hear that many other groups share our government's philosophy that expanding the CPP in these turbulent economic times is the wrong choice.
    For example, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, CFIB, for every 1% increase in CPP premiums beyond the current 9.9% tax rate, it would cost 220,000 person years of employment and force wages down roughly 2.5% in the long run. For those who want to double the CPP, they might be interested to know that, according to CFIB calculations, to double CPP benefits would kill 1.2 million person years of employment in the short term.
    All these so-called solutions proposed by the NDP would be detrimental to Canada's economic performance. They would result in lower economic growth and lower job creation. This would mean more unemployed Canadians, a sort of the NDP way.
    Members can rest assured that our Conservative government will not engage in such a reckless plan. Our government has a strong record of job creation and job growth. In fact, I am pleased to say that, since July 2009, over 750,000 net new jobs have been created in Canada. That is a result that Canadians appreciate and a result that the residents of Mississauga—Brampton South appreciate.
    It is important to remember that Bill C-25 represents the federal portion of the PRPP framework. In order to make this available to all Canadians, the provinces must put in place their own PRPP legislation. Once that happens, PRPPs will be a key element to Canada's retirement income system.
    However, my constituents may be denied the opportunity to partake in a PRPP. Unfortunately, the McGuinty government has indicated that it may tie the introduction of PRPPs to an expanded CPP. Simply put, such a decision serves only to deny hard-working Ontarians of a low-cost, broad-based workplace pension plan.
    Guess what? Many others feel the same way. This is what the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association think of Mr. McGuinty's plan. In their words:
    We do not support the concept that PRPP implementation should be tied to CPP enhancements. Given the time and processes involved in making any changes to CPP, this would only serve to delay an initiative that, in its own right, is viable, innovative and beneficial to Ontarians.
    They go on to say:
    It is time for Ontario now to step up to ensure that Ontario residents, particularly those who work for small and medium-sized businesses, can reap the benefits of a low-cost, accessible pension plan.
    Why is the McGuinty government denying Ontario residents and my neighbours the ability to save for their retirement? Perhaps it is because, like the NDP, it does not understand how PRPPs work.
    The time for government orders has expired. The hon. parliamentary secretary will have four minutes remaining for her speech when this matter returns before the House.


[Statements by Members]



Olympic Games

    Mr. Speaker, in just under two months, Canada's finest athletes from all corners of our country will embark on a quest for goal at the London Olympics.
    Today, I would like to recognize three world-class swimmers who live and train in Etobicoke and who will be carrying our banner proudly.
    Sisters, Brittany and Heather MacLean, who were both active with the Etobicoke Swim Club from a very young age, will represent Canada in the relays, Brittany in the 4x200 freestyle and Heather in the 4x100 freestyle. Brittany will also compete in the 400 meter freestyle after setting a new Canadian record in qualifying.
    Alexa Komarnycky, a Silverthorn Collegiate graduate, had an early start to her swimming career as she took public swimming lessons at the Etobicoke Olympium at the age of four. She will be representing Canada in the 800 meter freestyle.
    Those three young stars of the pool will contribute to another great chapter in Canada's Olympic history. After an unmatched success in Vancouver, we look to our young athletes to once again own the podium in London.
    I offer my sincere congratulations to all of Canada's Olympians and wish them the greatest of success this summer in London.


Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, hundreds of people from the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands have sent us reply cards regarding the Conservative government's cuts to the Coast Guard and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
    They are calling on the Conservative government to make the security and the development of our coastal communities a priority by putting an end to the irresponsible and reckless cuts, by halting the rash closure of search and rescue centres in Quebec City and Newfoundland, by maintaining the marine communications and traffic services centre in Rivière-au-Renard, by preserving the current owner-operator and fleet separation policies, and by protecting fish habitat.
    With their Trojan Horse, the Conservatives are showing complete contempt for Canadians by hiding all kinds of changes to environmental protection and to fisheries in its budget implementation bill.
    The people of the Gaspé and the Magdalen Islands are angry about this government's choices. The Conservatives need to stop endangering the lives of our fishers, sailors and recreational boaters and stop attacking the way of life of our coastal communities.


Family Tragedy

    Mr. Speaker, on May 17, a school bus dropped off 13-year-old Lydia Herrle in front of her home near St. Agatha. A garbage truck failed to stop and hit her. She has remained in a coma since then.
    I will share some thoughts from the family's blog this past weekend.
    It notes on May 31:
    She battled fever for most of the afternoon.
    Tomorrow we will take the boys to Toronto, to see the hospital, and to see Lydia. They have not yet seen her, so please join me in prayer, that this is a helpful and healing day for them.
    It notes on June 1:
    Lydia's fever spiked in the night, and she has another infection....
    It notes on June 2:
    The boys visit with Lydia yesterday went well.
    For now, the boys have said they don't need to see her again until her eyes are open.
    It notes on June 3:
    Over all, Lydia has done well today.
    The great relief came this evening when the Doctor wheeled the ventilator cart out of the room, indicating they did not think they would need to intubate Lydia to assist her breathing again.
    Today we prayed a lot and invited others to pray for Lydia and for us.
    I ask all hon. members and those watching at home to join in these prayers, to pray for the Herrles and to pray for Lydia.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, Canada's environment is being threatened by the government's destroying 50 years of safeguards through Bill C-38 and the 2012 economic action plan.
    The Conservatives are severely cutting the budget to Environment Canada, gutting environmental legislation, cancelling the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, silencing dissent from environmental non-governmental organizations and continuing to muzzle government scientists, and, in so doing, impacting our economy today and in the future.
    Anyone who disagrees with the Prime Minister is told to “sit down and shut up”. All Canadians should ask who will next be under attack for voicing their opposition. Silence is not an option.
     It is time to stand up and speak up for democracy and the environment in Canada. That is why the Liberals stand in solidarity today with leading organizations across Canada that are committed to highlighting the Conservatives' persistent assault on democracy and the protection of the environment.

Game on the Hill

    Mr. Speaker, today I had the opportunity to participate in the “Game on the Hill”, a friendly game of rugby which took place on the Parliament Hill lawn. The game featured a few of my colleagues as well as local celebrities and members of Canada's national team.
    As a former premier player and university coach, rugby has always been a passion of mine and I am pleased to see this sport's popularity continue to grow. I have no doubt that this is due in no small part to Rugby Canada and the rising success of our national teams.
    Some of my fondest memories are from being on a rugby field, and I encourage all Canadians to get involved in their local leagues. It is a great sport for both children and adults and a great way to stay active. I cannot say enough about what rugby has done for me.
    I look forward to seeing rugby return to the Olympic Games in 2016 and watching our National Seniors Men's Team strive to compete for gold.
    I wish members of the National Senior Men's Team the best of luck as they prepare for the summer series and their game against the United States on Saturday.
     Go Canada go.



Financial Institutions

    Mr. Speaker, administration fees charged to clients of Canadian banks for ATM and branch transactions totalled close to $6 billion in 2011.
    During that time, large financial institutions vacated Stadacona, Saint-Charles, Giffard and Royale Avenue in the riding of Beauport—Limoilou. The exodus of service points toward “power centres” is a real tragedy for businesses and residents in the affected areas. As a result, local businesses have suffered and closed.
    Combined with incredible and shocking transaction fee hikes, this phenomenon is condemning thousands of people in my riding to poverty and exclusion.
    The Conservatives are leaving people out in the cold. Even though, in 2007, the Minister of Finance agreed that bank transaction fees were scandalous, he has not said a word to the powerful people in high finance. Shame.
    The NDP wants to put an end to unfair bank transaction fees and credit card fees for consumers and small businesses. That is something that needs to happen. In 2015, we will have a government that protects all Canadians: an NDP government.


Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, it has been a week since I stood in the House to demand an apology from the Leader of the Opposition for his outrageous and unfounded comments with regard to Albertans. Instead of apologizing, the NDP leader has made a sport of criticizing hard-working Albertans who play by the rules, pay their taxes and contribute to the national economy.
     Every Canadian benefits from the efforts of Albertans who work in the resource sector. Health care, education, retirement savings, infrastructure investments and millions of jobs throughout Canada are dependent on the work of Albertans in the oil and gas sector. Hard-working Albertans deserve the praise of national leaders rather than the nasty and uninformed vitriol coming from the Leader of the Opposition.
     The NDP leader has it wrong, and Albertans deserve an apology.

Canadian Forces

    Mr. Speaker, almost 100 years ago, soldiers from communities like Osgoode went off to serve on another continent and never came home. Unfortunately, through error or omission, some of them were not included on our local community cenotaph in the community of Metcalfe. These omissions were discovered by local historian, Coreen Atkins-Sheldrick, who brought them to my attention.
     Just last week, we were able to pull together a coalition, including the Osgoode Village Community Association and the Osgoode Legion, to begin to raise the funds in order to improve the cenotaph, making room to put those absent names where they belong so they will be permanently remembered and honoured.
    I would like to thank Scotiabank for donating the first $2,000 and I call upon all members of our community to rally together to send the message that, though these great heroes might be fallen, they are not forgotten.


Agriculture and Youth Project

    Mr. Speaker, from June 4 until the end of August, eight teenagers, including two from the community of Pessamit, will be housed in the Centre jeunesse de Baie-Comeau, and, under the supervision of two trainers, will work quite literally in the field with produce growers and livestock farmers in the region, as part of a project called Prends le champ. They will meet dedicated farmers who will offer a summer alternative for these young people sent to the youth centre by court order.
    This kind of initiative is particularly close to my heart, because in my legal practice, as a defender of young people, I have seen the positive impact that integration, personal support and a listening ear can have on young people who have been neglected by society and their families.
    Thus, they will get to know themselves better by taking part in volunteer activities for certain events and by attending workshops to foster their independence. The eight teens will receive salaries and will be called upon to plan and manage their own budgets.
    This innovative initiative attempts to integrate young people from marginal environments into society by allowing them to grow and develop outside urban areas, while ensuring they get a good tan before they return to school.




    Mr. Speaker, Canada strongly condemns the attack Sunday on a church in Bauchi State, Nigeria, where at least 15 people were killed and many more were injured.
     We are deeply saddened to see that Nigerians gathering to practise their faith have again become the target of terrorist acts. Canada urges all people in Nigeria to work with the Nigerian government to counter extremism and terrorism and bring to justice those responsible for these reprehensible crimes.


    On behalf of all Canadians, I want to offer my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of these attacks and I wish the wounded a swift recovery.
    The Minister of Foreign Affairs recently met with his Nigerian counterparts to assure them of Canada's solidarity with the government and people of Nigeria as they continue their fight against terrorism.


Toronto Eaton Centre

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today in the House with a heavy heart full of sadness, sympathy and, I have to admit, anger over the outrageous shooting that took place in Toronto's Eaton Centre on Saturday.
    Chances are, if people have visited Toronto, they have been there. It is the great meeting place of the GTA. It is where teenagers get their first jobs, it is where parents go to buy their kids' skates or new shoes for school. However, more than anything else, it is the place to go for those who want to witness Toronto in its glorious multicultural, multi-generational fullness, one of mutual respect and generosity of spirit. Then there are the tragic, criminal and fatal exceptions.
    On behalf of the entire New Democratic caucus, to the innocent bystanders who were injured and their families, the 13-year-old boy struck by a bullet, the pregnant woman knocked to the floor, all of those traumatized by the shooting, whether they were there or not, and the family of the young man who lost his life, I want to convey our deepest condolences, sympathies and solidarity.

Human Rights

    Mr. Speaker, The Toronto Star, blinded by its ideology, has done the unthinkable. When it had a chance to stand up for Canada and applaud our government for taking a tough stand against anything that glorified a notorious human rights offender like Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe, it made a bizarre choice to criticize us.
    The UN World Tourism Organisation is already backpedaling because it realizes it was wrong. Only The Toronto Star, in a bid to oppose and be strictly contrarian, is, in effect, defending the dismal human rights record of the Mugabe regime. The Star's assertion is nonsense and deserves its rightful place in a trash bin.

ALS Awareness Month

    Mr. Speaker, June is ALS Awareness Month. Also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, this rapidly-progressing motor neuron disorder attacks voluntary muscle control and is tragically fatal for most of its victims.
     We all have a stake in working to find a cure for ALS as this disease could strike anyone regardless of family medical history.


    The ALS Society of Canada is organizing a vigil on Parliament Hill tonight in honour of the 3,000 Canadians who live with this disease every day.


    I would like to particularly salute the work of Blair Polischuk, a photographer and ALS sufferer, who is encouraging all those with ALS to contribute as long as they can. This month he is publishing a book of his photographs to help raise awareness. It is acts like this, big and small, that will bring the attention needed to one day find a cure for this terrible disease.
    In memory of all those we have lost to ALS, including our dear friend Richard Wackid, and in honour of all those who bravely live with ALS, I encourage everyone to do whatever they can to make that day someday soon.

Canadian Forces Day

    Mr. Speaker, on the first Sunday of June each year, we celebrate Canadian Forces Day. We pay tribute to the brave men and women who defend our interests at home and abroad each and every day.
    Over the past year, we have seen Canadian Forces participate in 17 overseas missions, including Afghanistan and Libya. At home, our Canadian Forces have worked tirelessly to protect Canadians by battling fires and floods.
     Every day Canadian Forces members carry out their duties with bravery and professionalism. Their unwavering dedication and passionate commitment have earned our recognition and respect.
    Canadian Forces Day offers everyone the chance to show his or her pride in their achievements and gratitude for their work. Canadians are grateful to members of the Canadian Forces, past and present, who volunteer and are prepared to sacrifice all in service to Canada.
     We recognize and thank all members of the Canadian Forces who put their interests of Canada first in their lives each and every day of the year.


The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, over the weekend The Washington Post offered a stinging indictment of the government's anti-environmental policies with a clear message: Canada is no longer a world leader.
    The article went on to spell out how the Conservatives were rejecting an international consensus to fight environmental degradation and climate change. This foreign capital newspaper accuses the Conservatives of gutting environmental regulations in order to accelerate the development of Canada's natural resources.
    What are they doing exactly? The Conservatives are removing environmental assessments, they are removing protections from freshwater fisheries and they are actively attacking anyone who stands in their way. These changes are enough to make even former Conservative environment ministers blush.
    However, it is the Conservatives who should be blushing as Canada's good reputation is dragged through the mud. The role of the Conservatives should be to ensure Canada meets its obligations to the world and future generations.
    Sadly, those Conservatives just do not seem to care.

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, contrary to what my colleague opposite just said, our government does support our country. We are proud of it on the world stage.
    The NDP has said that Canada's energy sector, which employs hundreds of thousands of hard-working Canadians from coast to coast to coast, is the cause of a “disease”, even though we have recently seen an increase in manufacturing jobs in our country.
    The NDP has signalled that it wishes to impose a carbon tax on everyday Canadians, with the potential to raise the price of basic consumer goods, and this is a policy that many Canadians have already rejected.
    The NDP also supports in raising CPP premiums, which would take thousands of dollars off the paycheques of Canadians every year at a time when our economy is still fragile.
    In contrast, our government has decreased the tax burden on an average family of four by about $3,000, and under our leadership, Canada's economy has seen the creation of over 700,000 net new jobs since late 2009.
    Our government will do what the NDP will not, and that is stand up for everyday hard-working Canadians, their priorities and the long-term prosperity of our country.


[Oral Questions]


The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, just last week, the Minister of the Environment admitted that Canada needed better environmental monitoring, but today we learn that the Conservatives plan to eliminate a key unit studying smokestack pollution. One step forward, four steps back.
    What is the plan to replace Environment Canada's smokestack pollution team? The plan is to outsource its work to that great environmental country, the United States.
    Could the Conservatives tell us how the U.S. environmental protection agency is supposed to monitor smokestack pollution at a Canadian coal-fired power plant?
    Mr. Speaker, it is through measures like the Clean Air Act taken by this government, through measures to ban various toxins and through measures to improve fuel emission standards for automobiles. This government has taken more action than any government in Canadian history to improve the quality of the air that we breathe in the environment in which we live.
    We will take no lessons from the NDP on this. If that member chooses to distrust the EPA or President Obama that is his choice.
    Mr. Speaker, usually countries try to take care of their own environment. They do not outsource it.
    The Conservatives claim that the cuts will not affect monitoring, but they are already being contradicted by our own environment department. Environment Canada's website confirms that the work done by the smokestack pollution team includes enforcement and compliance. Clearly, the minister who just spoke does not even know what programs are being cut.
    Why do the Conservatives not realize what is going on in their own environment department? Are they too busy debunking the theories about environment and volcanoes?


    Mr. Speaker, the only thing volcanic here is that member's temper.
    Through the Clean Air Act, through the restriction on toxins, through the increased enforcement of our environmental laws, through higher fuel standards, through the reduction in carbon emissions as a result of our plan to reduce carbon emissions across the country, through all of these measures, this government, objectively speaking, has made more progress on the quality of our environment and the air that we breathe than any government in the history of the dominion.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are really good at hot air but nothing else.


    Faced with a choice between the Conservatives' confusing explanations and the word of scientists, I know who Canadians will believe.
    The Conservatives cannot continue to say one thing and do the opposite. That also tarnishes Canada's international reputation. Our country was once a leader, a global role model in such matters as the elimination of acid rain—under the Mulroney Conservative government—and the protection of the ozone layer. However, today, because of the Conservatives, Canada is ridiculed and seen as an obstacle to environmental protection.
    Are they not a little ashamed?
    Mr. Speaker, as usual, the Leader of the Opposition is absolutely wrong.
    This government has taken action, it has brought in bills and regulations to better protect the environment and improve air quality in particular. At the same time, Canada is leading developed countries in economic growth.
    The Leader of the Opposition and the NDP wants to impose new taxes that will hurt Canada's economy and kill jobs.
    This government will protect Canadians' environment and economy.
    Mr. Speaker, today, organizations that represent the interests of millions of Canadians are participating in the Black Out Speak Out campaign to protest Conservative attacks on environmental protection.
    The message is simple: major changes to environmental impact assessments and to the Fisheries Act require in-depth study.
    Why do the Conservatives want to make such changes without proper review in spite of dissent in their own ranks?
    Mr. Speaker, the NDP is in no position to lecture us about the environment.


    As this is Environment Week, it is a great occasion for Canadians to celebrate what this government is doing for the environment, for cleaner air, for cleaner water, for regulation of chemicals, for mitigation and adaptation to climate change, Parks Canada and for responsible resource development.
    Mr. Speaker, the minister's explanations are bizarre because he defends climate science to the Prime Minister, but then he happily axes the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and he presses delete on the Kyoto accord. He extols the virtues of science, but he fires scientists, he guts environmental assessments and he stops emissions reporting.
    Why will the minister not put his money where his mouth is, do the responsible thing, do the common sense thing and allow a proper review of the environmental protection changes in the budget bill?
    Mr. Speaker, I can only characterize the content of my colleague's question as sanctimonious twaddle.
    This government is protecting the environment at the same time as it protects Canadian jobs and the economy. A responsible resource development is the hallmark of the budget, which we are in the course of passing, a budget which is receiving more hours of debate than any budget in recent times. This government is getting it done.
    Mr. Speaker, I suppose that would count as sanctimonious claptrap.
    The Conservative Party is not only attacking the environment, it is also attacking freedom of speech. That is the issue which is being drawn attention to by thousands of organizations across the country today.
    The government has attacked charities. It has attacked individuals and institutions, like the environment commissioner. It has shut down institutions, like the round table, that disagree with it, for the only reason, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs said, that it disagrees with the government.
    When will this culture of intimidation be finally brought to an end?


    Perhaps you could ask some of his presumptive challengers to the Liberal leadership how they feel intimidated by the interim leader, Mr. Speaker.
    This government stands for freedom of speech. We are providing more responses to access to information requests than any government in Canadian history.
    With respect to charities' laws, we are seeking to ensure that registered charities simply follow the rules that already exist in the law and that require that they spend no more than 10% of their budgets on advocacy work. That is ensuring that the rule of law is respected.


    Mr. Speaker, I am sure these new rules will apply directly to the Fraser Institute and the Manning Centre, just as they do to every charitable organization that works on environmental protection. I hope there will be legislation for everyone. That is what we want. This is not just an attack on the environment, it is an attack on freedom of speech.
    Does the minister agree with the Minister of Foreign Affairs when he says that the only reason the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy was axed is that it gave advice that the government did not want to hear?
    Mr. Speaker, I will say again that the government has a responsibility to spend public money responsibly. That means that not all agencies that received subsidies in the past should receive them in future.
    We need to have a prudent decline in public spending in order to achieve a balanced budget, so that Canadians can keep enjoying this government's tax cuts and the lower tax burden The opposition's position is always to spend more, increase the deficit and raise taxes, but the Conservatives do not believe in that approach.


41st General Election

    Mr. Speaker, just this past weekend it became clear to the people living in Etobicoke Centre that it was not just the environmental groups that had to worry about a culture of intimidation, a culture that says that people are not free to speak their minds, not even free to go to court, a culture that attacks a court once it makes a decision.
    Does the minister not realize that the phone calls made by the Conservative Party over the weekend were in fact a contempt of the judicial process and an attempt to close down and shut down democracy in Etobicoke Centre? That is exactly what happened.
    Absolutely not, Mr. Speaker. In fact, the defeated Liberal candidate in that riding has demonstrated that he has no shame, this time by fundraising based on false allegations that he retracted in court.
    The Conservative Party, like every party, has a right to communicate directly with voters on issues of public concern. We will not allow the party of adscam, that still owes Canadian taxpayers a missing $40 million, to lecture anyone on public ethics.

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative Trojan Horse budget bill would hurt unemployed Canadians. There is no help for job creation, while EI changes hidden in the bill are drastic and far-reaching. The Conservatives are attacking communities that rely on seasonal industries like tourism, fishing and forestry. Parliamentarians are being forced to vote on these cuts without studying the implications.
    Will the Conservatives start listening to Canadians concerned about these changes and stop ramming the bill through Parliament?
    Mr. Speaker, will the NDP finally climb down off of its high horse and actually work with us to help Canadians get back to work faster? That is what they need.
    We do have skills and labour shortages right across the country, which is a real contrast to a few years ago when we had job shortages. Now it is the other way around.
     We want all those Canadians who do have skills and talents and can get out there and work to be better off working than they are on EI. We will help them to get those jobs and we wish the NDP would help us help them.


Government Spending

    Mr. Speaker, yes, actually we do have a job shortage in this country.
    However, it gets worse. The Conservative's secrecy is keeping the Parliamentary Budget Officer from doing his job. The PBO was created to help parliamentarians review the spending plans of government, but according to the PBO, “The government is refusing to provide plans to parliamentarians....The failure to disclose the requested information is unlawful”.
    Will the Conservatives hand over the financial information the PBO is legally entitled to? Will they stop attacking the PBO and focus their laser on accountability--
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board.
    Mr. Speaker, we will continue to report to Parliament through the normal means, including the estimates process, quarterly financial reports and the public accounts.
    As was clearly shown in Canada's economic action plan 2012, we have found fair, balanced and moderate savings measures to reduce the deficit. These savings represent about 2% of program spending.


    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives are making massive cuts with the budget implementation act, but they refuse to say exactly where, when, how and why. They have decided to keep that information to themselves.
    The Parliamentary Budget Officer does not have access to that information. Neither do government employees. And yet union representatives have clearly indicated that they would have no problem with Mr. Page being kept in the loop so that he can do his job.
    Can the Conservatives give all the information to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, or will they once again find a pathetic reason to hide things from Canadians?


    Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, we will continue to report to Parliament through the normal means, including the estimates process, quarterly financial reports and the public accounts process.
    Economic action plan 2012 is our plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Over 750,000 net new jobs have been created since 2009 and 90% of these are full-time jobs. Part of that plan is returning to a balanced budget and we will continue to do so.


National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, the Auditor General's report notes that two fighter jets, in addition to the F-35s, were apparently considered to replace the CF-18s.
    These two jets even satisfied the high-level mandatory capabilities, but, as if by magic, they disappeared from the Conservatives' radar and no documents were made public to confirm that they were actually considered by National Defence.
    Can the Associate Minister of National Defence tell us what these two fighter jets are?


    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is taking action to ensure that due diligence, oversight and transparency are firmly embedded in the process to replace Canada's aging fighter jets. We are following a seven-point action plan to fulfill and exceed the Auditor General's recommendation. This includes freezing acquisition funding and establishing a separate secretariat outside of the Department of National Defence to lead this project moving forward.
    Mr. Speaker, with responses like that from our colleagues, it is no wonder the Minister of Public Works and Government Services is “tired of procurement problems”. She should join the club. It is big and we are getting jackets made.
    We now know that at least two other mystery planes meet the high-level requirements, come at a potentially lower cost and with guaranteed industrial benefits. Further proof that the fix was in.
    At this time, will the government compare all the planes in an open competition?
    Mr. Speaker, I want to again emphasize that the government is delivering on its commitment to rebuild the Canadian Forces by acquiring strategic and tactical aircraft to transport supplies at home and abroad, modernizing the fleet of army vehicles to protect our personnel and ensuring their mobility on the battlefield.
    The NDP should learn from our efforts to enable our men and women to not only do their jobs safely but also succeed at missions.


Ministerial Expenditures

    Mr. Speaker, there is growing dissent within the Conservative ranks.
    After all the hullabaloo caused by the EI reforms, the elimination of the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy and the omnibus budget bill, now the member for New Brunswick Southwest is expressing his concerns—shared by most people—about the lavish lifestyle of the Minister of International Cooperation.
    When will the Prime Minister begin listening to the concerns of members of his own party, instead of pretending that nothing is going on, while he is holed up in his ivory tower?


    Mr. Speaker, we have answered this question several times.
    All incremental costs that should not have been incurred, including transportation by car, have been reimbursed.
    Mr. Speaker, with the Conservatives, expenses suddenly become appropriate or inappropriate only when someone is caught red-handed. Does that not seem strange?
    After so many scandals and controversies, the minister nonetheless remains in charge of administering aid to the world's poorest countries. It is absolutely fascinating. Although she is clearly incapable of showing judgment in her own spending, we are supposed to trust her to manage Canada's international assistance.
    Changes were made recently to expense claims for trips to Korea, Haiti and Africa.
    What was the nature of those changes, when were those claims changed and, more importantly, why were they changed? Are there more scandals to hide?


    Mr. Speaker, I believe these questions have been answered several times here in this House.
    We as a government have sought to ensure that ministers' expenses for travel and hospitality are significantly below those of our predecessors. That is, indeed the case. That is part of respecting taxpayer dollars, as our government is committed to doing. In the particular instance, all incremental costs that were inappropriate, of course, have been repaid and only appropriate expenses have been reimbursed.
    Mr. Speaker, yet once again the Minister of International Cooperation has been caught altering her travel expenses. This is a pattern of obstruction and interference that dates back to 2006. If she were in the private sector, they would have given her a pink slip long ago, but the Prime Minister gives her the thumbs up.
    Thankfully, the member for New Brunswick Southwest has had the courage to speak out against his party's contempt for the taxpayers.
     I ask a simple question today. Is there anybody over there on the government benches, anybody else, who is offended by her misuse of taxpayer dollars? Is there anybody who will stand up for accountability? Just one, please?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said several times, our government is committed to ensuring taxpayer dollars are respected. That means, in the case of the particular minister, only appropriate costs have been reimbursed. Inappropriate costs that were expensed have all been repaid.
    In terms of accountability, of course, the matter is quite simple. We stay clear to our commitments. The real question about accountability is that of this member who tells his electors one thing to get elected and then, on the gun registry, votes exactly the opposite way in this House.
    Mr. Speaker, Lordy, Lordy, ask a simple little question about accountability and he starts dancing like the very devil in holy water.
    When did it become okay to alter documents? When did it become okay for ministers to charge $5,000 for limos? And when did it become okay to mislead Parliament? We are talking about the latest round of public abuse.
    The Conservatives obviously support everything she has done. My question is, if they are not going to fire her, will they bring in a third party audit so that we can find out why they continually change the travel claims of that luxurious minister? It is a simple question.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not know what answers that hon. member gives when he is trying to explain to his voters why he changes his position from what he says during an election to what he does in this House. I will take his explanation of it as that which he describes to the voters.
    However, I can tell members that when it comes to ensuring that taxpayer dollars are treated with respect, that is what this government does. That is why, of course, in the case of the member in question, only appropriate expenses have been reimbursed.


    Mr. Speaker, the RCMP is one of this country's greatest institutions, but it is an institution in crisis. Last week, the commissioner appealed directly to Canadians for help to restore the lustre of the force and the minister was forced to recognize the need for change. However, there are victims here. These victims want, and expect, meaningful action from the government.
    What is the minister going to do about the many victims who were forced to abandon their career in the RCMP, as a result of sexual harassment?
    Mr. Speaker, I have been discussing this issue with the commissioner from the time that he was appointed. I am very pleased with the very proactive and public way in which the commissioner has voiced his concerns about reform inside the RCMP.
     We are going to be bringing in new legislation. I hope, for once, that that member and her party will support legislation that will enhance the reputation of the RCMP and gain credibility among the people of Canada.



    Mr. Speaker, people can still be thrown in jail if they do not fill out the census. I raise this because of the chorus of righteous indignation that came from that side of the House two years ago about this matter. It is still on the books. People can be thrown in jail if they do not fill out the short form census or the agriculture census.
     Recently a dyslexic man in Pembroke was visited by the police and told he was being arrested because he did not fill out his census. His wife, who is learning-disabled, was also charged. Is there no end to the hypocrisy of the House?


    Mr. Speaker, the government has been completely transparent with Canadians.
    I would remind my hon. colleague that Statistics Canada has released data from the recent census. Canadians voluntarily completed the census in greater numbers this time than in the past, because we decided to help Statistics Canada get in touch with Canadians and encourage them to complete the form. It has been very successful.


Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans continues to gut the Fisheries Act, take away from the fishers and put Canadians at risk on the sea.
    Now, he sees fit to take DFO jobs from St. John's and five other cities, and put them in his own landlocked riding. This is unacceptable. The minister thinks he can score political points by taking fisheries jobs away from where they are truly needed. Will the minister stop trying to save his own skin by robbing from our Canadian coastal communities?
    Across the country we have six centres where we primarily do accounting and procurement. We are moving those into one centre for greater efficiencies. I think taxpayers expect us to do that. We will be able to operate in a more efficient way.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, drug costs are one of the fastest rising expenses in our health care system, yet, despite this fact, the government is ready to surrender more patent protection to pharmaceutical companies in its negotiations for the comprehensive economic and trade agreement with Europe.
    These measures would have Canadians pay an estimated $2.8 billion more per year for their medication. Will the Minister of International Trade confirm that he has given negotiators a mandate for patent extensions in the negotiations for CETA?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is simply incorrect. Our government has always sought to strike a balance between promoting innovation and job creation, and ensuring that Canadians continue to have access to the affordable drugs that they need.
    Our government continues to consult with the provinces and the territories to ensure that the best interests of Canadians are reflected in the Canada-EU trade negotiations.


    Mr. Speaker, the provinces would not have written to Ottawa if the situation were not urgent. With the cost of prescription drugs rising, it seems that the government has no problem passing on an even higher bill. That makes no sense.
    If the Conservatives give in to Europe's demands and allow patent extensions, will they at least compensate the provinces for the rising cost of drugs?


    Mr. Speaker, I believe that the hon. member knows that the prices charged for patent medicine sold in Canada are regulated by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board.
    This will not change under a free trade agreement with the European Union. Claims to the contrary are simply foolish.


    Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, General Motors announced it would be closing the flex-line assembly plant in Oshawa. Two thousand people will be thrown out of work. That is 2,000 family-supporting jobs gone and 1,000 more in spinoff jobs gone. With this announcement, Canada's manufacturing industry suffers yet another major blow. Where is the Conservatives' plan for protecting the manufacturing sector and for protecting Canadian jobs?



    Mr. Speaker, our latest budget proves that we care about the well-being of Canadians and the Canadian economy.
    With respect to the manufacturing industry, it is important to note that, over the past few years, we have reduced its taxes. That is important to the industry. We want business people, manufacturers and those who create jobs to have more money in their pockets so that they can help create wealth in Canada. We introduced tax credits and the 50% straight line depreciation on machinery and supplies.
    I could list all of the positive measures this government has introduced, but I would run out of time.


    Mr. Speaker, I could name a few too: Electro-Motive Diesel, Caterpillar, John Deere and now GM yet again. We are talking about family-supporting jobs.
    The Minister of Finance said, “Automotive engineers, assembly workers and parts manufacturers are the foundation of many communities like my riding of Whitby—Oshawa”. Has the minister given up on his riding?
    Since the government took power, the manufacturing sector has collapsed. Six hundred thousand manufacturing jobs are gone. Why has the government abandoned Canadian manufacturing?


    Mr. Speaker, we all know that the NDP's policies for more spending and higher taxes will not help Canada's manufacturing sector. Driving Canadians further into debt, from one credit card to the other, will not create wealth in Canada.
    Thanks to our economic action plan, over 600,000 jobs have been created in Canada. That is a fact. Our policies are realistic and practical for business people. The opposition's policies would kill jobs instead of creating them.


The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, a number of environmental groups have organized today to protest our government's plan for responsible resource development. Sadly, the opposition parties have joined in this anti-development chorus and have become a part of this misinformation campaign. Of course we know that recently the Leader of the Opposition referred to our resource sector as a disease. Today all 10 provincial ministers reinforce for Canadians the economic benefits and the jobs that will come from developing our immense natural resources in a responsible fashion.
    Could the Minister of Natural Resources update this House on this important issue?
    Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the opposition parties claim, bringing our regulatory system into the 21st century will strengthen environmental protection rather than gut it, will generate significant jobs and economic growth rather than hollow out our economy, and will provide prosperity and security for Canadians for future generations. It is not an either/or proposition, jobs versus the environment. The direction our government is taking is clear: to secure prosperity for Canadians while strengthening environmental protection. That is exactly what Bill C-38 would do.

Cluster Munitions

    Mr. Speaker, the horrible remnants of cluster munitions take a devastating toll long after conflicts have ended. Twenty-five per cent of casualties are children. That is why we must ban cluster munitions. However, instead of implementing the international ban, the Conservatives have proposed legislation to undermine it. They would legalize exemptions that in the U.K. would put people in prison. A former Australian prime minister is calling the government's approach “regressive”.
     Why is the government failing on such an important piece of legislation?
    Mr. Speaker, our legislation fully implements Canada's commitment to the convention and it is in line with our key allies including Australia and the United Kingdom. Canadian Forces will make its policy to prohibit its members from using cluster munitions, including our members serving on exchange within allied armed forces. This legislation would preserve Canada's ability to work alongside our allies.



    Mr. Speaker, this is not the time for rhetoric like that.
    Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser said, “It is a pity the current Canadian government, in relation to cluster munitions, does not provide any real lead to the world. Its approach is timid, inadequate and regressive.”
    Is that how the minister wants other countries to see Canada? When will he change tack and show some leadership?


    Mr. Speaker, our government will in no way compromise the ability of the men and women of the Canadian Forces to do their job and to do what we ask of them in the interest of national security and defence.
    As I stated, our legislation fully implements Canada's commitment to the convention, and is in line with key allies', including Australia and the United Kingdom.


Citizenship and Immigration

    Mr. Speaker, last Friday the United Nations committee against torture expressed serious concern with several clauses of the Conservatives' Bill C-31.
    The UN committee recommended that refugees only be detained as a last resort and that all refugees be entitled to a fair and equitable appeal process.
    Will the Conservatives take these concerns into account and revise this ill-conceived bill, at last?
    Mr. Speaker, the use of detention in immigration matters is a perfectly ordinary tool in all immigration and refugee asylum systems in the developed world, in all liberal democracies. We have created measures in Bill C-31 to ensure that Canada respects its obligations to protect refugees—meaning real victims of persecution. We want to stop those who are not real refugees from abusing our generosity.
    Ours is a very balanced approach that thoroughly respects our legal and moral obligations toward refugees.


Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, by dismissing the concerns of the United Nations, we are adding to the way our international reputation is collapsing.
    The United Nations Committee Against Torture also has serious concerns about the way the Conservative government expressed willingness to use information obtained under torture, in direct violation of international law.
    The committee also took Canada to task for its reluctance to protect the rights of Canadians, our own citizens, detained abroad.
    Instead of attacking the United Nations, will the minister take action on these very serious recommendations?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is a world leader in the promotion and protection of human rights. This is a major thrust of our principled foreign policy.
    Our government remains committed to ensuring that the rights of citizens are continually protected from those who have committed crimes.
    Torture is abhorrent and can never be tolerated. It is contrary to international law and to Canadian values.


    Mr. Speaker, every year more than 24,000 migrant workers return to Canada to help plant and harvest. They pay income tax and contribute to EI.
    Despite their investment made in migrant workers, farmers are now told they will have to hire local workers who, in most cases, are being forced to take a job that does not match their own requirements.
    While the minister did not answer when I asked about vital infrastructure cuts to the rural secretariat, perhaps she would like to try to explain why farmers in the Atlantic provinces or here in Ontario in areas like the Holland Marsh are no longer able to hire the skilled workers they truly need.
    Mr. Speaker, only the Liberals would think of it as a bad thing to try to help Canadians get jobs.
    What we are trying to do is connect people who are unemployed with jobs in their field and in their geographic area.
    We will help Canadians find those jobs. We will help farmers and other employers have access to these people. If they cannot find those people, then they can bring in people from offshore, but we are going to try to put the two together.
    If Canadians who are seasonal workers truly cannot find a job for which they are qualified, EI will be there to support them.



Employment Insurance

    Mr. Speaker, the redefinition of what is considered suitable employment for seasonal workers in Bill C-38 will force them to accept positions for which they are not qualified.
    Does the minister realize what kind of problems this measure will cause for the Mauricie region?
    How can we integrate seasonal forestry workers into the manufacturing or service industries, which require different skills than what they have?
    Mr. Speaker, each of those claims is unfounded and incorrect.
    The truth is that we are trying to connect unemployed workers with available jobs in their field of work and in their region. That is the truth. We will not force a family to move from one part of the country to another. We respect families. That is why we want to help unemployed workers by helping them find suitable employment close to home.


Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, as the Conservatives barge ahead with their cuts, they are ignoring the growing outcry. Community groups and provincial governments are demanding answers about the cuts to science and the needed research to protect the industry.
    Why are they cutting this? Does the minister not understand that his job is to protect fish and the communities that rely on fisheries, and why has he not consulted with provincial governments?
    Mr. Speaker, actually what we are doing is focusing our efforts on fisheries, which I think is an important thing to do if we want to have fisheries available for future generations. In a practical, sensible way, we are going to be focusing our protection on recreational, commercial and aboriginal fisheries and the science that supports them. The member opposite does not need to be concerned.

Search and Rescue

    Mr. Speaker, that is quite a tale.
    Last week in Vancouver, over 100 people packed a town hall meeting to voice their objection to the closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. Coast Guard workers and volunteers, recreational boaters and even yacht owners were on hand to raise their concerns with marine safety, the environment and the economy. The minister knows full well the importance of this station. He knows the risks.
    When will the minister listen to British Columbians and reverse this reckless cut?
    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Coast Guard's highest priority is the safety of mariners, and we deliver that service across the country through a network of search and rescue resources. In addition to vessels of opportunity, the network primarily includes Coast Guard search and rescue stations with their highly trained personnel, the Canadian Coast Guard auxiliary stations and inshore rescue boat stations. In the summer of 2013, Greater Vancouver will be served by the search and rescue station at Sea Island, auxiliary stations at Howe Sound and Deep Cove and a new inshore rescue boat station in the heart of the harbour. Vancouver mariners will be well protected.


    Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government has made historic investments in infrastructure from coast to coast to coast. This has created jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity for Londoners and all Canadians. On Friday, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities announced the start of a series of round tables with our partners to guide the development of a new long-term plan for public infrastructure.
    I would ask the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities to please update the House on this important initiative.
    Mr. Speaker, our government understands how important infrastructure is for Canada's economic growth. This is why we launched the historic $33 billion building Canada fund and made the gas tax a $2 billion permanent transfer to our cities. This is why we are working with our partners to develop our next infrastructure plan beyond 2014. The minister of state and I look forward to having productive discussions across the country this summer.


    Mr. Speaker, the government is closing the visa section in Buffalo after spending more than $1.5 million on renovations and signing a 10-year lease, which would put taxpayers on the hook for millions of dollars for the rent of empty offices. The government is spending money like there is no tomorrow. The Buffalo visa office is one of the most effective in the world. It has been shattered, eliminating walk-in services for everything from lost passports to visa applications, leaving Canadian citizens and new immigrants at risk.
    What else is the government planning to do? When will the government get its priorities straight?


    Mr. Speaker, I think the member meant shuttered, not shattered.
    The truth is that we no longer require that office because we have ended the old, inefficient practice that prevailed under the previous government known as the “buffalo shuffle”. We no longer require foreign nationals to leave the country in order to go to a Canadian visa office abroad in order to obtain the requisite paperwork. We now allow that to happen here in Canada, more easily and more efficiently, providing better customer service at a lower cost. That is this government delivering for Canadians.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, apparently the Conservative government has no problem letting people eat fish with high levels of mercury.
    In Grassy Narrows an updated study by mercury poisoning expert Dr. Masazumi Harada has revealed that 59% of people tested had mercury poisoning and 34% of those tested would have been diagnosed with Minamata disease. Yet in 2010, when I raised the issue of Grassy Narrows mercury poisoning in the House, the Minister of Health stated that the mercury levels were safe.
    Does the minister still stand by her words? Would she eat fish from Grassy Narrows?
    Mr. Speaker, the health and well-being of first nations is a top priority for our government. We continue to work with the Mercury Disability Board and the Government of Ontario to support the work of the board in addressing the issue of mercury contamination.
    Along with our partners, we are committed to supporting Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nation in their efforts to improve the lives of the folks in those communities.

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, in what remains a fragile economic climate, our government is committed to ensuring that Canadian workers have access to priority markets around the world. That is why we continue to pursue deeper ties with the world's largest, most dynamic and fastest-growing markets, like Russia.
    As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Canada-Russia diplomatic relations, could the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade share with the House how our government is committed to deepening our trade and investment relationship with Russia?
    Mr. Speaker, early this week the Minister of International Trade will be leading a trade mission to Russia, highlighting opportunities in the building, aerospace and mining sectors. The minister has now led trade missions to all of the BRIC countries, Brazil, Russia, India and China, countries recognized for their tremendous growth potential.
    Our government's ambitious pro-trade plan with the world's most dynamic markets will continue to create jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadian workers and their families.



    Mr. Speaker, Fabien Melanson is a veteran who bravely served his country. Despite his dedication, he is going to lose his home because the government sent his pension cheques to the wrong address.
    What should have been corrected with just a couple of calls has transformed into a true personal crisis. The Minister of Veterans Affairs' bungling of this file is pathetic. We have lost count of the number of veterans forced to go on a hunger strike in order to be heard.
    When will the Conservatives remedy this situation?
    Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, that situation was addressed some time ago. We also apologized to the veteran and ensured that he has access to all the services and benefits to which he is entitled.
    I would like to make a suggestion to the member opposite. If he really wants to help veterans, he should support the 2012 budget, which maintains all benefits for veterans.



    Mr. Speaker, public libraries and community centres were sideswiped when the Conservatives crashed the community computer access program.
    This program is crucial for millions of seniors and poor kids in places like Schreiber, Marathon, Nipigon, Geraldton, Thunder Bay and across Canada. Half of our lowest income households and many rural Canadians simply cannot get any other Internet access. Internet access is essential for all Canadians, not just the affluent.
    Would the minister reinstate this vital program?



    Mr. Speaker, I would like to say to my hon. colleague that this program has served its purpose. This Industry Canada program has been in place for many years. I can assure him that 98% of Canadian households have access to broadband Internet service.
    The Minister of Industry recently announced a 700 MHz spectrum auction, which will also affect the delivery of high-speed Internet service throughout Canada.

Presence in Gallery

     Canadian Forces Day is an opportunity for all Canadians to recognize the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make on our behalf.


    It is my great pleasure to draw the attention of hon. members to the presence in the gallery of 12 members in the Canadian Forces who participated in today's celebrations marking Canadian Forces Day.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order to correct the record from a question that I asked a few minutes ago in question period.
    I meant to state that today 10 ministers reinforced for Canadians the economic benefits that would come from developing our immense natural resources in a responsible fashion. Instead I said that today 10 provincial ministers reinforced for Canadians, which was incorrect.
    The House appreciates that clarification.

Routine Proceedings

[Routine Proceedings]


Committees of the House

Justice and Human Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 12th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in relation to Bill C-299, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (kidnapping of young person). The committee has studied the bill and decided to report the bill back to the House with amendments.

Citizenship and Immigration  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration entitled “Supplementary Estimates (A) 2012-2013”.

Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, as a member of Parliament for Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, and as a proud member of Muskeg Lake First Nation, with its strong tradition of entrepreneurship and service to military and policing traditions, it is my privilege to introduce an act to amend the Indian Act and to provide for its replacement.
    One first nation referred to it as the “eighth fire”, a first nations prophecy meaning that it is time to build a new relationship. The bill would repeal outdated portions of the act, such as references to residential schools, the wills and estates sections and would return control of the publication of bylaws to first nations governance bodies.
    Most importantly, the bill would require the minister of aboriginal affairs to report annually to the aboriginal affairs committee about the progress made toward the legislation to fully replace the Indian Act with consultation with willing partners.

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



Radiocommunication Act

    He said: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to introduce a bill whose objective is to regulate the development of radiocommunication and broadcasting antenna systems. Many people throughout Canada have complained about the haphazard development of radiocommunication and broadcasting towers. It appears as though Industry Canada's directives are not being respected by proponents. Furthermore, Industry Canada does not seem to be imposing any sanctions.
    The purpose of my bill, therefore, is not only to bring in legislation to regulate the process of installing antenna systems, but also to make the process more democratic by engaging both local authorities and citizens. The development of antenna systems must absolutely be done in a spirit of co-operation and with respect for municipal and rural planning.
    It is for these reasons that I decided to introduce legislation in this area. It is important to note that this bill is not meant to slow down or create obstacles for the development of the industry, but rather to manage this area of activity and get the various stakeholders more involved.

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



The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition signed by people from all over Canada who are concerned about the proposed megaquarry in Melancthon Township in Dufferin County, which will be the largest open-pit quarry in Canada at over 2,300 acres.
     The petitioners are concerned with a number of issues, one of which is that the proposed megaquarry would put at risk the drinking water of over one million Canadians. They ask the Government of Canada to conduct an environmental assessment under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act on the proposed Highland Companies' megaquarry development.



    Mr. Speaker, today I am presenting a petition from people in Chambly—Borduas who are concerned about the changes announced to old age security benefits. First, experts say that this program is viable in the long term. Second, an increase in the age of eligibility for old age security benefits, as announced by the Conservatives, would directly affect middle-class and low-income seniors.
    That is why the people who signed this petition are calling on the government to leave old age security as is, with eligibility at the age of 65. They are also calling on the government to improve the guaranteed income supplement, because the supplement alone, with old age security benefits, is not enough to help seniors out of poverty.



    Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak to a petition signed by people in the riding of Random—Burin—St. George's.
    The petitioners take great exception to the government's decision to raise the age of eligibility for old age security from 67 to 67. They point out, as many others have, that the most vulnerable in our society will be affected by this change. We are talking about a two-year delay that will cost our lowest income seniors over $30,000 in benefits. Single women will be disproportionately affected by this change as they tend to rely more heavily on OAS and GIS payments. Low-income Canadians rely more heavily on OAS and GIS.
    Therefore, the petitioners ask the government to reconsider this decision, recognizing that the most vulnerable in our society need government support, not anything that will do them harm.

Genetically Modified Alfalfa  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two sets of petitions.
    The first petition deals with a moratorium on GM alfalfa by petitioners from my riding. The petitioners are concerned about the potential release of genetically modified alfalfa. They say that the unwanted contamination from GM alfalfa is inevitable because alfalfa is a perennial pollinated by bees and that such contamination will threaten the organic farming systems and the ability of both organic and conventional farmers to sell alfalfa and related products both into the domestic and international markets.
    The petitioners call upon Parliament to impose a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa in order to allow a proper review of the impact on farmers in Canada.


Animal Welfare  

    Mr. Speaker, the second set of petitions, which number more than 200 from right across the country, are in support of my bill, Bill C-322.
    The petitioners are concerned that horses are ordinarily kept and treated as sport and companion animals. They are not raised primarily as food producing animals. They are commonly administered drugs that are strictly prohibited from being used at any time in all other food producing animals destined for the human food supply and that Canadian horsemeat products that are currently being sold for human consumption in domestic and international markets are likely to contain prohibited substances.
     They call upon the House of Commons to bring forward and adopt into legislation Bill C-322, An Act to amend the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act.

Multiple Sclerosis  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present this petition on CCSVI.
     There is real concern among the community that, while the government fast-tracked a drug that was known to cause a fatal brain infection and has now infected 232 people and killed 49 people and another drug that has killed 15 people, the government is reticent about clinical trials for venous angioplasty, which is performed across the country.
    There is also concern that a parallel process is being created, one in which the government says that it will undertake clinical trials, while a key CIHR panellist appears to actively work to prevent this.
    The petitioners call upon the Minister of Health to undertake phase III clinical trials on an urgent basis in multiple centres across Canada.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition from Canadians across the country, including from the riding of the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
    They are calling on the Minister of Canadian Heritage to continue providing the $14 million in funding for Katimavik, since it is a program that helps communities across Canada and that has a positive impact on Canadian youth.


Rights of the Unborn  

    Mr. Speaker, I am presenting two petitions from Canadian citizens, mostly members of my constituency, calling on Parliament to change Canada's definition of a human being.

Aboriginal Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to present a petition from dozens of residents of Guelph adding their voices to hundreds across Canada calling for urgent and immediate action to rectify serious problems, like the resource gap and the provision of safe drinking water, in first nations communities. In the wake of the crisis in Attawapiskat, residents from across Guelph are even more motivated to ensure we immediately address these inequalities and make the lasting changes to our relationship with our first nations communities.


    Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to stand in this House to present a petition signed by Canadians from across the country in opposition to Motion No. 312, a thinly veiled attempt to reopen the abortion debate in Canada.
    Canadians are asking the government, both on the front benches and backbenches, to stand with us in the official opposition and oppose the reopening of the abortion debate, and truly look forward to how we can move ahead and achieve gender equality in Canada, rather than turning the clock back on women in our country.


    Mr. Speaker, Canadians from across Canada have sent a very strong message to the government in regard to its decision to increase the age of eligibility for OAS from 65 to 67. Today, I present a petition from residents of Winnipeg North in opposition. They believe that people should be able to continue to have the option to retire at the age of 65 and that the government not in any way diminish the importance and value of Canada's three major senior programs: OAS, GIS and CPP.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions. The first is from the residents of Port Hardy, Chemainus, Victoria and Montreal. They relate to a call from many thousands of residents across Canada that the Government of Canada should cease and desist from presuming the result of the current joint review panel on a proposal by Enbridge, should adopt a neutral stance and should allow the hearing process to take place without interference from the current Conservative leadership.


The Budget   

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is very directly to the matter before us in the House this week, the omnibus budget bill, Bill C-38. The petitioners are from Calgary, Chemainus, Nanaimo, Ladysmith and various parts of Ontario. They call for the government to immediately abandon the so-called omnibus budget bill and introduce new legislation that contains only those measures that are actually related to the budget.

Rights of the Unborn  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present a petition from a number of constituents who state that Canada's 400-year-old definition of a human being states that a child does not become a human being until the moment of complete birth, which is contrary to 21st century medical evidence. They go one to say that Parliament has the solemn duty to reject any law that says that some human beings are not human.
    Therefore, the petitioners call 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 in such a way as to reflect 21st century medical evidence.
    I see the hon. member for Vancouver Quadra is rising again. She has already been recognized, so she will need the unanimous consent of the House to present another petition. Does she have the consent of the House?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.


    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate being provided with a second opportunity to present petitions.
    I have a petition from residents of Vancouver Quadra, who consider it urgent that the government change its plans to delay retirement age by two years. They point out that four in ten OAS recipients earn less than $20,000 a year in retirement, so that these changes would fall most heavily on the lowest-income Canadians, especially single women.
    The undersigned call on the Prime Minister and Parliament to maintain the current age for receipt of old age security.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 586, 587, 588, 595, 596, 608 and 618.


Question No. 586--
Mr. Mathieu Ravignat:
     With regard to the commitment the government made in Budget Plan 2007 in terms of fiscal sustainability and generational equity: (a) has the government published a comprehensive report and if so, what are the findings of the analysis published in this report; and (b) if the report was published, will it be tabled in the House?
Mrs. Shelly Glover (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with the onset of the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s, the Government of Canada’s priority through the global turbulence has been to protect the economy and help create jobs with Canada’s economic action plan. This timely, targeted and temporary response has helped Canada’s economy create more than 750,000 net new jobs since July 2009, the best performance in the G7.
    Additionally, the Government of Canada has also taken numerous steps to address long-term challenges and ensure the sustainability of public finances and social programs for future generations, including implementing a fiscal plan to return to balanced budgets and a downward trajectory of the federal debt; gradually increasing the age of eligibility for old age security, OAS, and guaranteed income supplement benefits from 65 to 67; ensuring that pension plans for public servants and parliamentarians are sustainable, fair and financially responsible; and more. For more information, members may consult chapter 4, “Sustainable Social Programs and a Secure Retirement”, and chapter 5, “Responsible Management to Return to Balanced Budgets”, of budget 2012, available at
Question No. 587--
Ms. Denise Savoie:
     With regard to Transport Canada and the government's role in regulating cruise ship emissions in the vicinity of Victoria and Ogden Port: (a) what are the names of all the cruise ships that were subjected to emissions monitoring from 2006 to 2011; (b) on what dates was each ship monitored and what type of monitoring was carried out from 2006 to 2011; and (c) for each cruise ship, what were the results and findings of the monitoring?
Hon. Denis Lebel (Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker,Transport Canada did not perform any cruise ship emissions monitoring in the vicinity of Victoria and Ogden Port from 2006 to 2011.
Question No. 588--
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
     With regard to the preparation of Budget 2012: (a) with how many groups and organizations did the Department of Finance consult; (b) with which specific groups and organizations did the Department of Finance consult and, of these, (i) how many were led by women, (ii) how many were represented by women during the consultations; (c) with which individuals, if not part of an organization, did the Department of Finance consult, and how many of these individuals were women; (d) with which specific groups and organizations did the Minister of Finance consult and, of these, (i) how many were led by women, (ii) how many were represented by women during the consultations; (e) with which individuals, if not part of an organization, did the Minister of Finance consult, and how many of these individuals were women; (f) which individuals and groups were consulted with respect to ensuring the inclusion of women’s interests in the budget; (g) which individuals and groups were consulted with respect to measuring the impact of the budget on women; (h) what specific steps, measures, processes and reviews were established by the Department of Finance to ensure consideration of women’s interests in the preparation of the budget; (i) what specific steps, measures, processes and reviews were undertaken by the Department of Finance to ensure consideration of women’s interests in the preparation of the budget; (j) what specific steps, measures, processes and reviews were established by the Department of Finance to assess the impact of the budget on women; (k) with regard to (j), on what dates were these steps, measures, processes and reviews (i) established, (ii) undertaken; and (l) was the budget modified as a result of actions undertaken as described in (h), (i), or (j), and, if so, which modifications were made?
Mrs. Shelly Glover (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to parts (a) through (g), the Department of Finance and the Minister of Finance sought the input of countless individuals and groups of both genders as part of the 2012 pre-budget consultations, including holding a series of round table discussions with community and labour organizations, business leaders, economists, academics, industry leaders, and others in communities across Canada; organizing a town hall meeting; meeting with finance ministers from all provinces and territories; meeting with the non-partisan Economic Advisory Council; sitting down with leading representatives of the other political parties; writing every member of Parliament and senator to ask them for their local priorities; conducting an online pre-budget consultation open to all Canadians; monitoring the pre-budget hearings of the Standing Committee on Finance of the House of Commons; and receiving and reviewing unsolicited written correspondence from Canadians.
    With regard to parts (h) through (k), the Department of Finance has committed to perform gender-based analysis, GBA, on all new policy proposals, including the tax and spending measures developed in the preparation of the budget, where appropriate and where data exist.
    The key elements of such analysis include integrating questions concerning the different impacts of government policies on women and men within the analysis of policy proposals, ensuring that gender impacts are factored into policy development and decision-making processes by presenting gender implications and substantiating findings with relevant, reliable gender-disaggregated data.
    For each policy proposal generated by the department for ministerial decision, finance officials must: complete a GBA template for policies developed by the Department of Finance, conduct a full GBA where appropriate and where data exist and include the main conclusions of their GBA in their notes to the minister.
    In addition, the department implements, on an ongoing basis, an integrated GBA approach that includes a senior manager within the department as the champion of gender-based analysis, whose responsibilities include fostering awareness of the requirement to conduct gender-based analysis and facilitating the performance of high-quality gender-based analysis; GBA training for analysts, which is included in the department’s training curriculum and is offered to both new and existing employees; an introduction to gender-based analysis in the department’s new employee orientation session; an internal website that outlines the department’s commitment to gender-based analysis and provides information on GBA training sessions, GBA tools for analysts and managers, and useful GBA links across the federal government; and reporting on the progress made in implementing the department’s objectives concerning GBA work in the annual departmental performance report.
    Going forward, the Department of Finance will continue to ensure that gender-based analysis remains well integrated into the development and assessment of its own policies and programs, where appropriate and where data exist, and will continue to challenge other departments and agencies to do the same.
    With regard to part (l), as in previous years, the Department of Finance and the Minister of Finance gained valuable insights through the pre-budget consultations and gender-based analysis.
Question No. 595--
Hon. John McKay:
    With respect to the production of the June 1, 2010, Statement of Requirements (SOR) for the procurement of a replacement for Canada’s CF-18s by the Directorate of Air Requirements at the Department of National Defence: (a) on what date was (i) the SOR ordered, (ii) the SOR completed; (b) when was the Minister of Defence first shown (i) a draft of the SOR, (ii) a final copy of the SOR, (c) when was the Prime Minister first shown (i) a draft of the SOR, (ii) a final copy of the SOR; (d) was the Minister of Defence consulted on the drafting or the SOR, and, if so, on what date; and (e) was the Prime Minister consulted on the drafting or the SOR, and, if so, on what date?
Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the statement of operational requirements was developed by the Royal Canadian Air Force, RCAF, through analyzing the history of fighter operations in Canada and accessing various intelligence sources to identify potential current and future threats in order to make an informed assessment of the future threat environment. This process built upon the “Future Combat Air Operations System” report that was produced in 2003 and was further developed into the “Operational Requirements Concept” document in 2005-2006 and the high-level mandatory capabilities in 2008.
    At the joint capabilities review board on September 25, 2008, the next generation fighter capability high-level mandatory capabilities, HLMCs, were approved by the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff. As these high-level mandatory capabilities provided the core of the operational requirements, the formal statement of operational requirements drafting began at that time. The statement of operational requirements' drafting was completed upon endorsement of version 1.0 of the statement, dated June 1, 2010. This document was officially approved by the Chief of the Air Staff and endorsed by the Chief of Force Development and the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff.
    With regard to (b), the statement of operational requirements was developed with an understanding of the current and emerging technologies that the Canadian Forces would likely encounter and be challenged by in the decades ahead, as well as the proliferation of these technologies. This understanding shaped the expected capability deficiencies that led to the Royal Canadian Air Force initiating the development of operational requirements in 2008. It is important to note that the statement of operational requirements is a technical planning document internal to the Department of National Defence that is not normally shown to the Minister or Associate Minister of National Defence or other members of cabinet. The role of the document is to derive and define specific requirements that will form the basis for the request for proposal, RFP, that is issued to industry to initiate the procurement of a new capability. As a matter of course, senior officials are made aware of the key elements of the mandatory requirements in the statement of operational requirements through briefings and other internal documents.
    With regard to (b)(i) and (b)(ii), as the draft of the statement of operational requirements was a working copy, the Minister of National Defence was not shown this draft. The statement of operational requirements is a technical planning document internal to the Department of National Defence that is not normally shown to the Minister or Associate Minister of National Defence or other members of cabinet. However, the Minister of National Defence was briefed on a number of occasions over the final six months leading to the final statement of operational requirements being produced and the government decision. The information presented to the minister was presented via detailed briefings and briefing notes that focused on the high-level mandatory capabilities as well as the key attributes critical to a next generation fighter aircraft for the Canadian Forces. The minister was aware of the contents of the statement of operational requirements after its completion and on March 1, 2011, he was provided a formal briefing to address security concerns surrounding the provision of the statement of requirements to a Parliamentary committee. The document reviewed in this context was the final version of the statement of operational requirements version 1.0, dated June 1, 2010.
    With regard to (c)(i) and (c)(ii), the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces have never briefed the Prime Minister on the draft or final version of the statement of operational requirements.
    With regard to (d) and (e), as outlined above, the next generation fighter capability statement of operational requirements is internal to the Canadian Forces. The statement of operational requirements is an operational-level document and as such, the development of the document and the consultation process were done at the staff level by subject matter experts to determine the operational requirements for Canada’s next generation fighter. Therefore, neither the Minister of National Defence nor the Prime Minister was consulted on the drafting of this document.
Question No. 596--
Hon. John McKay:
     With regard to the F-35 models used for the backdrop at the press conference on July 16, 2010, in Ottawa, Ontario, at which the Minister of Defence announced the sole-sourced procurement of the F-35 for the Royal Canadian Air Force: (a) on what date and by whom within the government was Lockheed Martin informed that the F-35 models were required for the July 16, 2010, press conference; (b) from what location did the F-35 models originate; (c) on what date did the F-35 models commence transportation to Ottawa; (d) how were the F-35 models transported to Ottawa; (e) with respect to the Canadian maple leaf painted on the F-35 model’s vertical stabilizers, (i) on what date was it painted or applied to the vertical stabilizers, (ii) was the cost expensed to the government of Canada; and (f) what was the total cost to the government for the press conference?
Hon. Peter MacKay (Minister of National Defence, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), Lockheed Martin offered the use of the F-35 model for the press conference on July 16, 2010, and paid for its transportation.
    With regard to (b), the F-35 model originated from Forth Worth, Texas, U.S.A.
    With regard to (c), the F-35 model began transport to Ottawa on July 8, 2010.
    With regard to (d), the F-35 model was transported to Ottawa via flatbed transport truck.
    With regard to (e)(i), the Canadian markings were applied to the model by Lockheed Martin on July 15, 2010.
    With regard to (e)(ii), Lockheed Martin paid for the application of the Canadian markings.
    With regard to (f), the total cost for the announcement was $47,313 in Canadian dollars.
Question No. 608--
Mr. Wayne Marston:
     With regard to raising the eligibility requirement for Old Age Security from 65 to 67 years as proposed in Budget 2012: (a) what will be the total impact on the fiscal framework for the fiscal years 2021-2022 to 2025-2026, (i) by year, (ii) by thousands of dollars (inflation-adjusted), (iii) by thousands of dollars (non-inflation adjusted), (iv) by percentage of the amount of planned government spending, (v) by percentage of GDP; and (b) what is the expected decline in recipients for each fiscal year from 2021-2022 to 2025-2026, (i) by number, (ii) by percentage?
Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, to ensure that the old age security, OAS, program remains sustainable, the age of eligibility for OAS and guaranteed income supplement will be gradually increased from 65 to 67, starting in April 2023, with full implementation by January 2029. An 11-year notification period, followed by a six-year phase-in period, is being provided to ensure that individuals have significant advance notification to plan their retirement and make adjustments.
    The Chief Actuary is responsible for providing revised expenditure projections to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, HRSD, when legislative changes are made to the OAS program. Once the Chief Actuary has submitted his supplementary report on revised program expenditures to the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development in the 11th actuarial report on the OAS program, the minister will table it in Parliament within 30 sitting days, as per the Public Pensions Reporting Act. However, the Chief Actuary has provided the government with a preliminary estimate showing that $97.9 billion would be spent on the OAS program in 2030 if the proposed changes are implemented. Without changes, the cost of the OAS program will grow from $38 billion in 2011 to approximately $108.7 billion in 2030. More details on the expenditure impacts of the change in the OAS age of eligibility will be provided once the 11th actuarial report is tabled in Parliament.
    If members require information on projections for the OAS program without the change to the age of eligibility, they may refer to the 9th and 10th actuarial reports on the OAS program, the most recent reports available, at
Question No. 618--
Mrs. Carol Hughes:
    What is the total number of public sector jobs eliminated during the fiscal year 2011-2012 within the constituency of Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, listing each department or agency by municipality?
Hon. Tony Clement (President of the Treasury Board and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the Treasury Board Secretariat cannot produce employment statistics by riding.


Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

     Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 592, 599 and 603 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.


Question No. 592--
Hon. Scott Brison:
     With regard to Table 4.1.1 in Budget 2010 (also included in Table 6.7 of Budget 2012 under Budget 2010 spending restraint): (a) what is the breakdown of expected savings for each department, agency and organization, in each of the fiscal years 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2016-2017, and ongoing, for each of the following areas, (i) International Assistance Envelope, (ii) Containing the administrative cost of government, (iii) 2009 strategic reviews; (b) as of Budget 2010, what were the total expected expenditures under the “International Assistance Envelope” for each of the fiscal years 2011-2012, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016, and 2016-2017; (c) which departments, agencies and organizations are included in the “International Assistance Envelope”; and (d) where the full budget of the department, agency, or organization is not included in the calculation of the “International Assistance Envelope”, (i) which components of that department, agency, or organization are included in the envelope and which are not, (ii) for those components included in the envelope what is the breakdown of their funding by vote or statutory authority?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 599--
Mr. David McGuinty:
     With respect to greenhouse gas emissions: (a) what particular programs or initiatives was the Minister of Natural Resources referring to in the statement that “since 2006, our government has invested more than $10 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build a more sustainable environment” (interview with The Hill Times published Monday, August 16, 2010); (b) what is the full breakdown of that spending; (c) for each program in (a), (i) what was the total amount of emissions reductions which resulted, (ii) how was the amount of reduction quantified and by whom; and (d) for all programs included in the $10 billion expenditure, what was the average cost per unit of greenhouse gas emissions reduced?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 603--
Mr. Kevin Lamoureux:
     With regard to Aboriginal affairs, what are the dates and reference or file numbers of all and any reports submitted to or prepared by, for, or on behalf of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada, or its predecessor departments Indian and Northern Affairs Canada or Indian Affairs and Northern Development, concerning the conduct of any of the following: (a) band council or First Nation elections in Natuashish, including the former community of Utshimassits or Davis Inlet; (b) band council or First Nation elections in Sheshatshiu; (c) band council or First Nation referenda or plebiscites in Natuashish, including the former community of Utshimassits or Davis Inlet; (d) Innu Nation elections or by-elections; (e) Innu Nation referenda or plebiscites; and (f) Innu Nation votes connected with the Innu Nation land claims and self government process, including the June 30, 2011, vote on the New Dawn/Tshash Petapen agreement?
    (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]


Sixtieth Anniversary of the Reign of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II

Hon. Jason Kenney (on behalf of the Prime Minister)  
     That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen in the following words:
    We, Your Majesty's loyal and dutiful subjects, the House of Commons of Canada in Parliament assembled, beg to offer our sincere congratulations on the happy completion of the sixtieth year of Your reign.
    The People of Canada have often been honoured to welcome Your Majesty and other members of the Royal Family to our land during Your reign, and have witnessed directly Your inspiring example of devotion to duty and unselfish labour on behalf of the welfare of Your People in this country and in the other nations of the Commonwealth.
    In this, the Diamond Jubilee year of your reign as Queen of Canada, we trust that Your gracious and peaceful reign may continue for many years and that Divine Providence will preserve Your Majesty in health, in happiness and in the affectionate loyalty of Your people.
     That the said Address be engrossed; and
    That a Message be sent to the Senate informing their Honours that this House has adopted the said Address and requesting their Honours to unite with this House in the said Address by filling up the blanks with the words “the Senate and”
    He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour to rise in celebration of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee.


    We salute today the 60th anniversary of Canada's Queen.
    On June 2, 1953, Her Majesty was asked in the Coronation Oath, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Louis St. Laurent, and the Canadian delegation at Westminster Abbey, to “solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of”, among other realms, “Canada...according to their respective laws and customs”, This the Queen solemnly promised to do.
    This solemn oath, made 60 years ago in the presence of the Canadian prime minister and officials, the Queen has upheld to the fullness of her considerable ability and with the magnificent charm and grace for which Her Majesty is known throughout the world.



    How many peoples around the world, torn apart by war and corruption at the highest level, would rather be in Canada, where we have stable institutions, peace and good government by the head of state, the Crown? How many sensible people have observed with envy the strength, dedicated perseverance and great wisdom of our most gracious head of state?


    Two years ago, Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh made their 22nd official visit to Canada. They have met more Canadians and shaken more hands and opened more events and institutions than even the most experienced members of this House can claim to have done in their long career.


    She has served as Colonel-in-Chief, Captain General and doyenne of the captains of proud regiments, including the Royal 22nd Regiment, the Régiment de la Chaudière, the Royal Canadian Air Force, the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Calgary Highlanders.


    She is patron of over 33 charities in Canada, including the Canadian Red Cross, the Canadian Nurses Association, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Canadian Cancer Society and Save the Children, among many others.
    In a life dedicated to serving others, Her Majesty has served Canadians and become intimately acquainted with our country, its regions, its peoples and our hopes and aspirations.
    It is Her Majesty the Queen who opened the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, invoking the allied victory in which Canada and the United States shared 14 years earlier, and calling the seaway “a victory of another kind”. In English and French, she invoked Canadian history from the times of Cartier and LaSalle to the present, the scene of so much of North American history.
    Her Majesty's life has been the history of Canada. She has known personally every prime minister since Mackenzie King who she met as Princess Elizabeth in London in the 1940s. While it is not known if she met R.B. Bennett, she did meet Arthur Meighen during the 1951 royal tour a year before she became Queen.
    Canada has had 22 prime ministers up to today and the Queen has known 13 of them, more than half of all the prime ministers in the history of Canada since we re-founded our country with Dominion status in 1867.
    In fact, the story goes that even Pierre Trudeau was known to admire the Queen personally. It is even said that so great was his personal regard for Her Majesty as a stateswoman with encyclopedic knowledge of Canada, that he deliberately entrenched the monarchy in the Constitution Act of 1982, which, of course, can only be amended in this respect with the unanimity of all provinces.
    It was Her Majesty the Queen who opened the Canadian Centennial celebrations of 1967, the Centennial of Confederation. It is the Queen who signed into force the Constitution Act of 1982 in front of these Houses of Parliament.
    The Queen, then, has been with us on all the most important occasions of our modern national life. She has borne with us through thick and thin, through peace and war, as she did in the service of His Majesty's forces during the Second World War, through prosperity and times of economic downturn.


    Continuity is a central theme in Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee. We are very proud that Her Majesty is carrying on the great tradition of the Crown as the guardian of our rights as Canadians, including protection of freedom of religion, language, and our civil law system. Our constitutional monarchy has survived every war and revolution, remaining loyal to the Canadian people and their rights.


    She shares with that powerful and evocative symbol of Canada's founding, Queen Victoria, who chose the location of the capital in which we sit, the achievement of 60 years on the throne.
     In 1897, the then prime minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, was in London for the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth's great-grandmother, Queen Victoria. A few years later, this great Quebecker, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, known above all for his Canadian patriotism, celebrated the Canadian role in uniting the Canadian family throughout, at the time the British Empire, during the South African War.
    Laurier overcame his earlier opposition to that conflict and instead came to recognize that Canada's service under the Crown on the African veldt was a source of pride and international prestige.
    Laurier said in this House in 1900:
is there a man whose bosom did not swell with pride, the noblest of all pride, the pride of pure patriotism, the pride of the consciousness of our rising strength, the pride of the consciousness that that day the fact had been revealed to the world that a new power had arisen in the west.
    This quotation from 112 years ago is how I answer that charge that Canada's monarchy is somehow a hindrance to our sense of nationality in 2012.
    The Queen is Canadian. All of the proud associations we share with the monarchy are Canadian through and through. Canada, in fact, Canadianized the monarchy in 1931 with the Statute of Westminster. Before then, it could be argued that we shared a common imperial crown. However, after 1931, Canada had a monarchy in its own right.



    In this era of internationalism and in a country with many regions, three founding peoples and two official languages, we benefit greatly from having a head of state who resides not in Quebec or Ontario or any other region, but who can visit each region as equally as possible. Queen Elizabeth represents all regions and all Canadian peoples equally.


    When we speak of the Crown in Canada, whether in this Parliament or in a myriad of institutions across the country, we are speaking of a uniquely Canadian institution, shaped and tailored by Canadians over the decades and generations to our own needs and requirements. It is not something imposed on us. We ourselves have chosen it and continue to choose it every time we reopen this House and this Parliament in Her Majesty's name and under her mantle.
    Every day we Canadians enjoy the protection and benediction of that crown and mantle, and every day we open this House, praying for our sovereign lady, the Queen.
    Let me close with a prayer, one that is an invocation from the Canadian Book of Common Prayer for the Queen in celebration of this remarkable achievement, her diamond jubilee:
    O Lord...the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth: Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth...that she may alway incline to thy will, and walk in thy way: Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally after this life she may attain everlasting joy and felicity.


    It is a great honour and privilege, on behalf of all members of Parliament from all regions of Canada and on behalf of the Canadian people, to congratulate Queen Elizabeth II on her 60 years of service to the people of the Commonwealth and to the people of Canada.


    It is an honour to congratulate, on behalf of the Canadian people represented here in this Chamber, Her Majesty upon achieving by the grace of God this tremendous milestone of 60 years as our gracious and faithful Queen.
    God bless Canada, and God save the Queen.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration for his wonderful grace to our gracious queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.
    It is indeed an honour for me to rise on behalf of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition to give a few words in honour of this tremendous celebration of her 60 years on the throne as Queen of England, Queen of Canada and Queen of the Commonwealth.
    When we look at the history of Queen Elizabeth and her family, it is truly an amazing history to be able to live in the time of her life and see what she has done from June 2, 1952, on to today and for the years to come. She has been a symbol of grace and a symbol of wondrous achievement in what she has done. With her respect for all peoples, all religions, all languages, the Commonwealth, family and, above all, her faith, she has been what I would call a beacon of light and a beacon of hope for all people, not just of the Commonwealth but of the world. She has truly lived her life in the service of her country and the Commonwealth. That is much to the chagrin of many people. People in the United States, for example, would love to have someone like Queen Elizabeth as their head of state, as she truly resembles tradition from long ago.
    As someone who was liberated by the Canadian military and her allies, the Brits, the Poles and the Americans, I can say her undying support for the men and women who wear the uniform has been nothing short of absolutely fantastic. Her love and her respect for the men and women of the service and those who become veterans is truly an example that we can all take to understand that democracy is not free, that freedom is not free. It is those men and women who are willing to sacrifice all for king and country and queen and country, and why they do what they do is truly tremendous. Her respect for them is truly tremendous.
    As a Canadian of 56 years old, living under Queen Elizabeth as the monarch of Canada has been truly a wondrous thing. Coming from the Netherlands, I gave up an oath to one queen to give a pledge of allegiance to another queen, and it is really quite something. I did it without hesitation. As we say, I am a Dutchman by birth, but a Canadian by choice. I am deeply honoured that Canada has retained the ties to the Crown, because it is the Crown that is the symbol of our history and of our direction. In fact, the chair you sit in, Mr. Speaker, comes from Westminster.
    With our ties to England, our ties to France and our ties to other countries, we are indeed a commonwealth of nations. Her search for justice and for peace among all nations and all religions is truly tremendous.
    Who can forget her speeches when she gives the Queen's address on Christmas and New Year's? It truly is an amazing thing.
    When we look at 1992, it was a terrible year for her, with the efforts of her children and that of Westminster, and she handled herself with grace and dignity. It truly was a very difficult year for our Queen, but she handled it with such grace. Upon the death of Princess Diana, who but the Queen could have handled that with such grace, dignity and respect? It was not just for Diana and her family and her son, Prince Charles, and the grandchildren, but for all of England and all of the world that was suffering through that tragic death of our great Princess Diana. It was the Queen who showed the leadership. It was the Queen who showed the way forward.
    Now that she celebrates her 60th year on the throne, it is we as Canadian subjects of the Queen who wish her the very best, long continued health and long continued success. It is we as Canadians who thank the Queen for her service, for she truly has done God's work on the throne of England and the throne of Canada and that of the Commonwealth. She truly has been a symbol of hope, truth, justice, charity and love.
    On behalf of our leader and all New Democrats across the country and on behalf of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, we say God save our Queen and may she live a long and glorious life. God bless.


    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to express our strong feelings as members of the Liberal Party on the occasion of the diamond jubilee celebrations of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
    Like the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I was also combing through the debates of the past. It is an interesting contrast. The expression of congratulations to Queen Victoria in 1897 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of her reign was, of course, proposed by the Prime Minister of the day, who was Sir Wilfrid Laurier, to a packed house. The motion was seconded Sir Charles Tupper, the leader of the official opposition.
    As the leader of the Liberal Party today, it is a great honour for me to be able to participate in this, not debate, but this discussion and this motion. I think it is important for us to use this occasion to reflect, not simply on this day, on this weekend, where many of us have seen the celebrations that have been taking place, but also for us to be reflecting, as well, on the significance of her reign over 60 years and for us to be reflecting on the achievements of those 60 years and the impact they have had on our own country, Canada.



    It is an honour for me to speak about this historic event—the Queen's celebration of the 60th anniversary of the start of her reign—but at the same time to reflect a bit on the importance of the principles of the constitutional monarchy from which we have benefited over the years.


    I think it is important for us to reflect on the significance of her reign and her understanding of Canada and the role she has played not only in the evolution of our own country but also in the evolution of the British Commonwealth.
    We can all remember. I suppose we cannot all remember, but some of us can. Certainly I can remember going to school in the 1950s, soon after her taking on the responsibilities as monarch, and looking at a map of the world on the wall. Of course the map on the wall in the 1950s would be coloured with different colours for different countries.
    There was this huge pink space covering so many parts of the globe. India, which was at one time called the jewel of the empire, received its independence in 1948 prior to Queen Elizabeth's assuming her responsibilities. It is also fair to say that certainly, for most of Africa, parts of Asia and for great parts of the world, the world was still an imperial and colonial place.
    The world was also divided between east and west by what Winston Churchill, in his famous speech at Fulton in 1946, described as an iron curtain, which went from the Baltic to the Adriatic.
    Growing up at that time, there seemed to be certain things that would never change. One of them, of course, was the fact that the world was divided between the communist and non-communist worlds. The second was that the colonial and imperial world was changing, but there were some bastions in that world, like South Africa, which would always be divided and always be ruled by a racial minority.
    What we have seen through her long reign is that Queen Elizabeth has in fact not only presided over her country, her many countries of Canada and Australia and elsewhere, where she is recognized not only as the head of the Commonwealth but also as Queen of the country, but she also presided over an extraordinary transformation.
    The first great transformation was the transformation from empire to commonwealth. It had its roots, as the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism has said, in the Statute of Westminster in 1930-31 when Canada assumed far more responsibilities for its self-government. It took a huge transformation of the world to go from a world where Britain was at the centre of an empire, where the sun literally never set, to the point where Britain was one country among many equals participating in the Commonwealth of Nations.
    For those of us who have been students of British constitutional history, it really should have come as no surprise that the monarchy was quite able to make this adjustment from being an active political head of state to being more of a ceremonial head who presides over an extraordinarily diverse and democratic polity. It has been done with grace, distinction, understanding and intelligence, without condescension and rancour, and with a great deal of humanity and compassion.
    Those of us who have watched the Queen when she has come to Canada and those of us who have had an opportunity to meet her and speak with her and the members of her family have always been struck, certainly I have, by the enormous sense of intelligent engagement, great affection and deep knowledge that Her Majesty has for this country, the political changes that are under way in this country, and all of the ramifications and meanings.
    My colleague, the member for Wascana, was reminding me of this when he told me about a visit that the Queen had made to Regina in 2003. When the Queen visited the University of Regina, she dedicated the opening of the First Nations University and laid a stone tablet in the building. This is what she said at that time:
    This stone was taken from the grounds of Balmoral Castle in the Highlands of Scotland—a place dear to my great great grandmother, Queen Victoria. It symbolizes the foundation of the rights of First Nations peoples reflected in treaties signed with the Crown during her reign.
    Bearing the cipher of Queen Victoria as well as my own, this stone is presented to the First Nations University of Canada in the hope that it will serve as a reminder of the special relationship between the Sovereign and all First Nations peoples.
    Those of us who are familiar with the law of aboriginal peoples will know that of all the relationships that are cherished by the first nations people of Canada, it is the relationship with the Crown which is perhaps most important because that is a relationship of equals. It is a relationship of nations, between sovereign people and based on respect. When we look at the great historical proclamation of 1763, we realize to what extent many of the historic rights and freedoms which all Canadians have and value do not come against the opposition of the Crown, do not come by fighting against a tyrannical monarchy, but, rather, come because the monarchy has had the good and common sense to recognize those rights and lay them out in our law.
    I have the comments made by my friend, the member for Wascana, and they are very helpful. In Regina, in 1973, in talking about Canada, the Queen stated the following:
Canada asks no citizens to deny their forebears, to forsake their inheritance—only that each should accept and value the cultural freedom of others as he enjoys his own. It is a gentle invitation, this call to citizenship.
    What wonderful words those are, “a gentle invitation”. She has described in those words something of what we see as great in our own country, its sense of civility, its sense not simply of tolerance but of celebration of difference and, at the same time, our deep understanding that unity has to mean something as well.


    I think all Canadians took enormous pride, certainly I do, and I know it was a moment of great importance in the history of our country when Queen Elizabeth was present for the signing of the Charter of Rights of Freedoms and for the patriation of the Constitution of Canada, an important moment because it was a constitutional moment. It was a moment in which we reflected on where we had been before and where we would go in the future.
     When one looks at all of the polling information, all of the reflections, the public opinion that one can see, it is very clear in all of that, that if there is one central document in which Canadians take pride, if there is one central moment of which Canadians of all backgrounds are proud, it is the moment of patriation and it is the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.


    If we look at all of the polls that have been conducted in Quebec and across Canada, we see that Canadians are proud of two things: that the Constitution is now Canadian, thanks to its repatriation; and that a charter of rights is enshrined in the Constitution. What we must understand is the importance of our relationship with the constitutional monarchy represented by Her Majesty the Queen.
    At the beginning of my speech I said that, in 1897, we had celebrations similar to those that will be held on the weekend, but they were to celebrate the reign of another queen—Queen Victoria.
    Naturally, I was very happy that the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism quoted the important words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier at the time of Queen Victoria's death.
    I would like to share another important quote that ties into today's celebration.



    In the debate on June 2, 1897, we have a little bit of a sense of our connection with today, June 4, 2012, what did Wilfrid Laurier say when he was talking of Queen Victoria? He said:
...above all this there has been the personality of the sovereign herself. The personality of the sovereign herself has been high in everything that has tended to cultivate and adorn her reign. public life, though she has been a constitutional sovereign in every sense of the term, yet it is known that on more than one occasion she has exerted a personal influence in unravelling difficulties and in carrying the nation successfully through troubled periods.
     Perhaps one of her chief glories, perhaps the chiefest of all her glories, is that in so far as she has been a sovereign she has been in every sense a model constitutional sovereign.
    For us Canadians, one thing which we cannot forget is that under her reign we have obtained the inestimable benefit of responsible government. It is as dutiful subjects that we approach her on this occasion and not as sycophants; but it is our pride to give her upon this occasion the allegiance, the willing allegiance, of free men.
    I think those words, with a couple of perhaps small amendments that one has to make because of the changing circumstances of our time and the dramatic revolutions of equality that have taken place in our own country, one could cite exactly these words and apply them directly to Queen Elizabeth.
    Just as we now speak of the Victoria era and of Victorian times, I think we all recognize that in these last 60 years we have seen a new Elizabethan era, an era in which rights around the world have literally exploded.
     There has been violence, yes, but it is because of the principles of constitutionalism, because of the principles of tolerance and of respect and of understanding the tides and the winds of change that the monarchy has been able to preside over these dramatic changes. These changes have produced great improvements in the life of hundreds of millions of people, which has meant that hundreds of millions are now governed by their own leaders for whom they have voted and with whom they have participated.
    It also means that in our own case of Canada, we have gone one more step in our constitutional evolution, a natural and important and historic step with the entrenchment of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the patriation of our own Constitution.
    In celebrating this event it is important for us to recognize that as we look at the event on television it is celebrated with great gusto and great joy by the British people, but it is also an event in which Canadians can take pride. It is a connection that we have. It is a connection that transcends race, religion, creed and background.
    We have a constitutional monarch who is above politics, rancour and division, and who allows for change and evolution at all times to be taking place and for the vigour of partisanship to exist. This system that we have, this great country which we continue to build, we build in a context of friendship and of respect.
    It is in that spirit, and as Sir Wilfrid Laurier said, “in no sycophantic spirit” that we celebrate this great occasion today.


    Mr. Speaker, it is with great pride that I join parliamentary colleagues today in paying tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
    We have heard some very fine tributes, some anecdotes and memories of the enormous span of what has occurred in the time of her reign, moments of great affection which we relate to this particular queen as well to the system of government in which we have a head of state who resides in another country.
    It certainly is the case that the notion of being a constitutional monarchy is found with disfavour among many of my friends and colleagues, and I will include among them many in my own party. There is a sense that this is somehow an anachronism. However, I would like to stand today not just to pay tribute to Her Majesty the Queen, but to point out the many ways in which this system of government, of constitutional monarchy, makes sense for Canada.
    I first want to pay tribute to Her Majesty the Queen, the person. What an extraordinary life. The hon. Minister of Immigration did a wonderful job in refreshing our minds as to what happened to a young princess, the various blows in history that were so very personal to this one little girl, first the death of her grandfather and then the abdication of her uncle from the throne which put her in direct line to becoming the Queen of England and of all of the realm and Commonwealth. They were extraordinary times and she never failed to rise to the occasion.
    Tragically then there was the death of her father, King George VI. For most of us, the loss of a parent is a time for deep grieving and we need to be alone to cope and deal with a moment of great personal grief. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would have been for a young woman to realize that, with the loss of her father, personal grieving was something that duty would not allow. She stepped into the role of sovereign within moments of her father's death.
    Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh as well as her children, and the Prince of Wales who has been a prominent global environmentalist, and the ways in which they have conducted themselves have been examples to us all of duty over personal desires or momentary digressions. They have consistently applied themselves to the task, but particularly in the case of Her Majesty the Queen.
    I have had occasion to meet with various members of the royal family, although I have never been so fortunate as to meet Her Majesty. However, because we were sharing anecdotes earlier, I recall one story. It is with respect to a friend of mine who at that time worked for a member of Parliament and was somehow put in a position on the royal tour of 1996 of looking after the two young princes. Will and Harry were young boys and their parents were busy with official duties, and lacking for anything to try to entertain them. It happened quite out of the blue that my friend suddenly had to look after the two little boys. To me this brings together the notion of the personal and the role as the symbol of our country. He decided that it might be entertaining for the young princes to see our brand new toonie. He pulled one out of his pocket and said, “You see, boys, this is our new coin. There's a polar bear on our coin.” They were fascinated by it. They took it from him and they looked at it and said, “Oh yes, it's a polar bear.” Then they turned it over and said, “Oh, and it's granny on the back.” Then they asked if they could. I thought how dear was that for these little boys that their grandmother was on the coins of the realm, literally.
    As we celebrate this Diamond Jubilee, so many stories are being shared through the media with respect to the sense of great affection and the role she plays as matriarch of a family that has gone through and endured tremendous stresses, while at the same time being our symbol.
     Why does that make any sense in a modern country? Constitutional monarchy does something quite wonderful.
    In the United States, where the notion of constitutional monarchy in 1776 was rejected and rebelled against King George III, members will notice that with the elected officials in the United States, the president and so on, the public clamours for royalty. Therefore, there is this notion of the first lady, the first family, the first dog, the family dogs of every president of the United States. I can recall the names of family dogs of presidents of the United States going back to F.D.R.'s dog Fala and who can forget Checkers, or L.B.J. and his beagles.


    This is an unhealthy fascination with people who are, like all of us parliamentarians, mere mortal elected officials. We come and we go. Our duty should be to our country and to serve in Parliament. It confuses things altogether to have so much pomp and ceremony surrounding an elected official, such as a president or a member of Parliament who holds the title of leader of their party and hence becomes a prime minister.
    It is very healthy that we do not turn a prime minister into a royal. In order to avoid that natural human temptation, we need the monarchy. We need to know that there is a royal family, and we are not electing it. We need to keep those roles separate and a constitutional monarchy allows us to do that. It allows us recognize that we in Parliament, built on the Westminster parliamentary system, although I have to admit we are slipping on that point, should recognize that our prime minister is merely first among equals and the head of state is Her Majesty the Queen, ruling over all of the Commonwealth.
    There is another important relationship, and I am grateful to my friend, the hon. leader of the Liberal Party, for mentioning it. Canadians need to think about, particularly those who do not see a role for a monarchy in our modern era, that the most direct relationship that exists between Canada's first nation peoples and those of us who are descendant from the colonizers is directly through Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family.
    I want to enter into the record some quotes about this.
    Lord Denning, one of my favourite erudite and wonderful writers from the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, back in 1982 made this comment about the relationship between Canada's first nations and the Crown. He wrote, “No Parliament shall do anything to lessen the worth of these guarantees”. He speaks of the guarantees of rights of indigenous peoples in Canada through their relationship to the Crown. He said, “They should be honoured by the Crown in respect of Canada as the sun rises and the rivers flow. That promise must never be broken”. Lord Denning was very respected jurist from the High Court of the United Kingdom.
    I also want to share some thoughts from the current national leader of the Assembly of First Nations. National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo has spoken of these relationships very recently. In fact, these words were on the occasion of the May visit between the Assembly of First Nations leadership and Their Royal Highnesses the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. I will quote National Chief Atleo. He said:
    I would like to thank the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall for spending time with First Nations leaders today as we have an historical relationship with the Imperial Crown pre-dating the existence of Canada. The meeting focused on the enduring relationship between First Nations and the Crown based on Treaties and noting the upcoming 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 in October 2013, and how renewing the relationship must be the basis of our work today to achieve fundamental change for First Nations in Canada.
    Canada, as a successor state, has not honoured the spirit and intent of Treaties and the Chiefs made sure to remind them of previous assurances provided by Queen Elizabeth when she affirmed the Treaties in an address on July 5, 1973 to the Chiefs in Alberta, stating “You may be assured that my Government of Canada recognizes the importance of full compliance with the spirit of your Treaties”.
    It is this relationship which is quite fundamental. We often talk about Canada as being founded by two nations, primarily England and France, but I agree with John Ralston Saul, that it is a fairer country because we are founded more on three pillars than two. We are more a stool than an unbalanced twosome. We are because of first nations' founding position in this country of ours. I think we must respect the fact that first nations' rights go beyond inherent treaty rights. Indigenous rights go beyond what is in treaties and they are primarily recognized through a very direct and personal relationship.


    The ancestors of our current Queen signed promises and commitments to first nations people in Canada, and that treaty relationship of Crown to indigenous peoples is one that continues and must continue.
    On this 60th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, I join with all my friends in Parliament in saying, in a very personal way, that we have been so very fortunate to have such a dedicated, such an exemplary, such a hard-working and wonderful monarch who so truly loves all of the Commonwealth and has clearly shown her affection for Canada through so many visits. On this her Diamond Jubilee, we have all been honoured.
     I thank the current Privy Council for making the decision to create a special medal and to allow each one of us as parliamentarians to work with our local communities to find those people who have done so much work in their community that they can be recognized with a Diamond Jubilee Medal.
    This brings us all together, and as other members have said, the fact is the Queen is beyond partisanship, beyond rancour, plays no role in our domestic politics, but sets an example. When we all take our oath as members of Parliament, we swear one thing only, and that is our allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. We do this again today as we recognize, celebrate and commend an extraordinary woman on 60 years on the throne.
    Long may she reign. Long live the Queen.
    Pursuant to an order made on Friday, June 1, Motion No. 13 under government business is deemed adopted.

    (Motion agreed to)

Canada–Jordan Economic Growth and Prosperity Act

Hon. Ted Menzies (for the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway)  
     moved that the bill be concurred in.
    Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
Hon. Ted Menzies (for the Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway)  
     moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise in the House today to commence the third reading debate on the Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act.
    The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement is yet another example of our government's commitment to helping Canadian businesses compete in markets abroad and create more jobs for Canadian workers here at home. We continue to see fierce competition in the global marketplace, with emerging economies and global players further establishing themselves in a wide range of sectors and integrating themselves into global value chains.
    In a number of countries, Canadian firms are at a disadvantage because their foreign competitors have preferential market access under some form of free trade agreement. Like other initiatives in our negotiating agenda, the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement addresses this serious issue by levelling the playing field with key competitors who are already benefiting from preferential market access to Jordan, namely, businesses from the United States and the European Union.
    Through the negotiation and signing of the free trade agreement with Jordan, our government is ensuring that Canadian firms are on an equal footing to compete with firms from across the world in the Jordanian market.
    Opening doors to trade and investment is the right approach to create opportunities for Canadian workers and businesses in global markets. Our government will do everything it can to ensure that Canadian workers and businesses have the tools and opportunities to build the links needed to succeed in today's global economy. We are committed to bringing continued economic prosperity to Canadians by pursuing bilateral and regional free trade agreements. That is why we are moving forward on an ambitious pro-trade plan to help Canadians compete and win in global markets.
    Over the years, Canada and Jordan have built a strong, mutually beneficial relationship and this free trade agreement continues to build on that important relationship. It is a relationship grounded in common aspirations, aspirations like peace, stability and prosperity for our citizens, and this new free trade agreement would help to move these aspirations forward.
    Members will recall that, in 2007, the Prime Minister joined His Majesty King Abdullah II in a commitment to take our commercial relationship to the next level. The Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, along with related agreements on labour co-operation and the environment signed in 2009, are a direct result of this commitment. This free trade agreement would benefit both Canada and Jordan by giving Canadian and Jordanian exporters unprecedented access to our respective markets, eliminating tariffs on a number of key products.
    Jordan's current average applied tariff is 10%, with peaks of up to 30% applied on some products of Canadian export interests. In fact, 67% of Jordanian tariff lines, covering over 99% of Canadian exports, will be eliminated when the agreement is first implemented. Jordan's remaining tariff reductions will then take place over three to five years.
    Of course, a free trade agreement is not a one-way street, nor should it be. Jordan also stands to gain from this free trade agreement. Our government will eliminate all Canadians tariffs on Jordanian goods immediately upon entry into force of the agreement, with the exception of over-quota supply managed dairy, poultry and egg products which are excluded from the tariff reduction.
    Canada's trade with Jordan is very diverse. Our top five merchandise exports to Jordan are pulses, mainly lentils and chick peas; wood; vehicles; paper and paperboard; and machinery. Our bilateral merchandise exports more than doubled between 2003 and 2011. This free trade agreement would further enhance the Canada-Jordan trade relationship.
    Members will remember that our free trade agreement was just one of the agreements we signed with Jordan in 2009. We also signed a bilateral foreign investment protection and promotion agreement, or FIPA, which came into force on December 14, 2009. This agreement establishes clear rules for investment between our two countries. Canadian investors are particularly excited about opportunities in Jordan's resource extraction, energy, telecommunications, transportation, manufacturing and infrastructure sectors. The FIPA provides Canadian and Jordanian investors with the predictability and certainty they need when investing in one another's markets.


     I am sure all hon. members would all agree that this free trade agreement and the 2009 FIPA with Jordan are no doubt complementary.
    In addition to the free trade agreement and the FIPA, our government also signed parallel agreements on labour co-operation and the environment. The labour co-operation agreement signed with Jordan includes commitments to ensuring that each other's laws respect the International Labour Organization's 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and that they protect labour rights and provide a mechanism to address labour complaints.
    Canada and Jordan have also negotiated an agreement on the environment that commits the parties to maintain high levels of environmental protection, to effectively enforce domestic environmental laws and to not relax or derogate from such laws to attract trade or investment.
    Canada believes that trade liberalization and environmental protection can and must be mutually supportive.
    We are living in very challenging economic times and our government has made the economy its number one priority. In order to ensure that our economy continues to grow and continues to compete in the global marketplace, trade barriers are being broken down all across the world through new free trade agreements.
    Protectionism is never the answer.
    Demonstrating Canada's commitment through new agreements, such as the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement, is key to encouraging other countries, including developing nations, to reject protectionism and embrace free and open trade.
    Our government recognizes that trade and investment are cornerstones of our economic success as a nation. Sixty per cent of our GDP and one in five jobs depend upon trade. While our economy has out-performed much of the world in recent years, we cannot take our success for granted. Hard-working Canadians are counting on us to continue expanding markets and opening doors for our businesses to succeed around the world.
    That is what our pro-trade plan is all about. It is the most ambitious plan of its kind in Canada's history. The potential benefits are enormous. This is why I ask all hon. members to support Bill C-23, the Canada-Jordan economic growth and prosperity act.
    I said earlier in my speech that we should not take Canada's prosperity for granted and we should not. The prosperity that we have today is based on a number of tenets. It is based on a secure and solid financial footing. It is based on free trade agreements and jobs and opportunities for Canadian businesses and workers through those agreements.
    Before I sit down I would be remiss not to ask our opposition critics and the opposition parties to support this agreement, then to move forward and support Panama and support the agreement with the European Union because that is the only way that we will maintain our place in the world and maintain markets for our Canadian businesses and jobs for our Canadian workers.


    Mr. Speaker, I agree with much of my hon. colleague's speech.
    I would like to ask the member for his opinion on a particular issue. A common issue that arises in trade agreements is the effect trade agreements have or do not have on raising or lowering the human rights, labour or environmental standards in a particular jurisdiction. The government has steadfastly asserted that by signing trade agreements it has the effect of engaging with those countries and, therefore, raising those standards in those countries.
    In committee, the New Democrats put forth some amendments to the legislation that would require the legislation to have yearly benchmarks to chart the progress in the human rights, labour standards and environmental standards areas so we would know what effect the trade deals had and we could put the proof of the matter to the government's test. However, government members rejected those amendments.
     If my hon. colleague believes that these agreements do raise those standards, why would the government be afraid of putting in benchmark measurements so we could see if that contention was accurate?
    Mr. Speaker, the question from the hon. member for Vancouver Kingsway gives me an opportunity to correct a point I made earlier today in question period when I answered a question from the hon. member. I did not welcome him to the trade file. It is great to have him on board. He contributes at committee and I am expecting a positive influence from that.
    The question was on engagement in labour and environmental side agreements. There is a side agreement on labour that is recognized by the International Labour Organization and it has to meet certain parameters under the International Labour Organization. The agreement on environment has a special stipulation that says that neither Jordan nor Canada can make any laws that actually derogate from the environmental rules and regulations that we have in place now in order to have a competitive advantage. The reason we have a side agreement on those two issues is because we recognize that they are important and that we need to move forward on both of those files. However, they are not necessarily trade related. They are part of an addendum to the trade agreement, not part of the official text.


    Mr. Speaker, I am going to change my question because the parliamentary secretary did not answer the question by the member for Vancouver Kingsway and it was a good question.
    We know the side agreements on environment and labour are there, but we also know they are not enforceable. If we are going to be able to monitor what happens on these side agreements to FTAs, then we need measurable results. We heard testimony at committee that raised some fairly startling points on labour conditions, especially for migrant workers in Jordan. The only way we will be able to tell for future trade agreements whether the labour and environment side agreements are working is if we have transparent accounting.
    I think the member for Vancouver Kingsway was basically asking why the government is so reluctant to accept the motion put forward that would give us the ability as a committee to actually have the reports, see the reports and be able to make a judgment call on those as a result.
    Mr. Speaker, what both hon. members fail to realize is the entire issue of extraterritoriality. There are certain things we can do when negotiating with another country and certain things we cannot do because they are beyond our sphere of influence.
    However, the labour side agreement is recognized by the International Labour Organization. It covers the right to freedom of association and collective bargaining, the elimination of compulsory labour and the elimination of discrimination. We have also committed to providing acceptable protections for occupational safety and health; acceptable minimum employment standards, such as minimum wages; overtime pay; compensation for occupational injuries and illnesses; and providing migrant workers, which was part of his question, with the same legal protections as nationals in regard to working conditions.
    We know that side agreements on labour are important, but there is a limit under the rule of law to what we can actually impose on a foreign nation. What we are asking here is that we move forward together and embrace improved standards of labour co-operation in Jordan.
    Mr. Speaker, I also sit on the international trade committee and I know our government has an ambitious and aggressive agenda to pursue free trade agreements. We have finalized quite a few agreements within the last few years and we are potentially negotiating a lot more.
    However, what I have noticed in our committee is that the opposition either opposes or drags out all the free trade agreements.
    Could the parliamentary secretary tell the House why it is so important for our government to implement this Canada–Jordan free trade agreement as soon as possible?
    Mr. Speaker, the importance of implementation as soon as possible is quite simple. It is absolutely the basics of economics. We are trading with Jordan today, as I speak here in the House. There are already agreements and deals being written and trade going back and forth from Jordan to Canada and from Canada to Jordan. We are participating in that trading relationship at a disadvantage.
    As I said earlier in my speech, with average tariffs of 10% with peaks of 30%, how are our companies, our businesses and our workers supposed to compete, when we are dealing with a country that has a prohibitive 10% to 30% tariff on Canadian products? It is very simple. Let us compete on an equal footing and we will compete with any country, anywhere in the world.


    Mr. Speaker, I am going back to my question, because I have to advise my hon. colleague in the Liberal Party that it has not really been answered.
    The amendment that was put at committee was to amend the legislation in this House so that Canada would monitor the human rights, labour standards and environmental progress in Jordan and report back to this House every year. We would have measurable benchmarks to chart our own thesis that signing trade agreements does have that effect, and it may. I am prepared to acknowledge that maybe an agreement does have that effect.
    It has got nothing to do with extraterritoriality. It has got nothing to do with international law. It has got to do with presenting information back to the House of Commons so that parliamentarians can actually chart and measure whether or not a particular argument put forth by the government is actually correct.
    I ask my hon. colleague one more time, why would the government not build in annual benchmarks so that we could see if his own argument is accurate or not?
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the second attempt at the same question that members opposite could not get through committee because of the weakness of the same argument.
    The reality is that the International Labour Organization will monitor the situation in Jordan. The International Labour Organization is the venue, not the Canadian government, to go to if there is any suspected abuse of the labour agreement. It is not the place of the Government of Canada to be the police officer or the judge and the jury on everything that goes on in Jordan.
    We are opening up a mutually beneficial trade agreement. For any labour or environmental practices in which we expect to see change, we will use our influence with the Jordanian government and Jordanian businesses and the influence of Canadian businesses to change those.


     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 Vaudreuil-Soulanges, Air Canada; the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Foreign Affairs; the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, Science and Technology.


    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to speak on behalf of the official opposition New Democrats about Bill C-23, an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The bill affords me my first opportunity to speak in this House, not only on this bill in specific terms, but also on what I think are the principles that should guide Canada's trade policy in general. I would like to start by speaking about some of those principles.
    New Democrats are a pro-trade party. We understand deeply that Canada is a trading nation, and always has been. Our economic system depends, in substantial measure, upon selling goods, commodities and services to the world. We are in the enviable position of having a wealth of resources that the world wants to buy. In exchange, Canada also benefits from the importation of many products and services from around the world. These items supplement Canada's natural bounty and provide a richness and diversity that enhance the quality of living for all Canadians.
    However, we approach pro-trade policy somewhat differently from what the Conservatives and, indeed, the Liberals have traditionally done. In our view, trade policy should respect and incorporate thoughtful and established values, trade agreements must meet concrete objectives, Here are some of the core principles that New Democrats believe should guide Canadian trade policy.
    Trade deals must result in increased trade that benefits Canada's export sectors. Disturbingly, data is showing that in a number of cases, Canadian trade deals have resulted in imports exceeding exports, which adds to our trade deficit, costs us jobs and impairs our economic growth.
    Trade deals must be reciprocal. Good trade deals allow fair access by Canadian enterprises to international markets that seek access to our own. Trade deals must create good jobs in Canada. It is vitally important that Canada encourage value-added production and enhance the value of our exports. Shipping raw products out of Canada is short-sighted and shortchanges Canadians. Good deals must raise the economic and social conditions in each jurisdiction. Respect for human rights and a concerted focus to raise the living and employment conditions for the people of the trading nations must be major priorities.
    Trade deals must respect and improve environmental standards. In an interdependent world, that is increasingly aware of our need to sustain development, ensuring that commerce is done sustainably is critical. Finally, trade deals must not damage our democracy by diminishing the ability of governments at all levels to make decisions in the best interests of our citizens. All these issues must be factored in and create a balanced approach to trade.
    As I have said, Canada is a trading nation and engaging in trade is demonstrably economically beneficial to Canada. It always has been.
    However, that does not mean that we have to give up our sovereignty or our ability to set good policy to do so. This leads me to another policy area that is inextricably linked to trade, that is industrial policy. Trade is not only about with whom we trade and on what terms. It is also about what we produce in our country to trade. Industrial policy is fundamentally linked to trade because our industrial policy is about what we make and how we make the things that we are trading.
    The guiding principle for New Democrats is that government must help create the conditions to create and develop good, well-paying, sustainable jobs here in Canada for our citizens and future generations of Canadians. As a cornerstone, a strong industrial policy would help Canadian enterprises make value-added products here in Canada. We must make the successful transition from being hewers of wood and drawers of water to an economy that is based upon secondary and tertiary production.
    The resource extraction sector in Canada is incredibly important to our economy. However, wherever possible, we should be developing our resources before shipping them off to another country for them to add value. Shipping raw logs to the U.S. or China only to see those economies derive the benefits of exponentially adding value is not only unwise, it costs our citizens jobs. Shipping raw bitumen offshore instead of processing it in Canada costs our businesses profits and our economy billions of dollars.
    New Democrats want to encourage a manufacturing sector that makes products here in Canada, high-quality goods made by Canadians making good wages in safe conditions under the most effective environmental protection. In fact, governments all over the world, from the EU countries to China to Taiwan, from Japan to South Korea to Brazil, are partnering with their private sectors to develop domestic industrial policies that position their enterprises to be successful on the world stage while developing their local economies.


    Canada must do the same. Government assistance in market development, R and D support, incentives for sustainable technologies and support for strong education systems are vital parts of a successful trade policy.
    Let me now turn to the trade agreement at hand, Bill C-23, an act to implement the free trade agreement between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the agreement on the environment between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the agreement on labour co-operation between Canada and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Canada and Jordan signed a trade agreement in June 2009. It consists of three separate but linked agreements: the actual free trade agreement and parallel agreements on labour and the environment. The free trade component is relatively straightforward. It eliminates or reduces tariffs on a wide variety of goods and services.
    Currently, Jordanian tariffs are quite low. While some are as high as 30%, the average tariff rate is 10%. Most tariff rates are in single digits. Jordan would eliminate all non-agricultural tariffs, which currently average 11%. These include tariffs of 10% to 30% on many products of Canadian export interest, including industrial and electrical machinery, auto parts, construction equipment and forest products. Canada would eliminate all non-agricultural tariffs in turn and most agricultural tariffs on Jordan's imports to Canada immediately. Over-quota tariffs on supply managed goods, dairy, poultry, eggs, et cetera are exempt from this deal. Non-tariff barriers would be dealt with through the creation of a committee on trade in goods and rules of origin as a forum for discussion.
    Turning to the labour co-operation agreement, the labour rights provisions in the Canada-Jordan deal include both the summary in the main trade agreement of obligations on labour issues and a separate agreement on labour co-operation where the labour obligations are elaborated in greater detail. The agreement references rights contained in the 1998 ILO declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work and the ILO's decent work agenda, which are very substantive. The following commitments are made:
     Each Party shall ensure that its labour law and practices embody and provide protection for the following internationally recognized labour principles and rights: (a) freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (including protection of the right to organize and the right to strike); (b) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour; (c) the effective abolition of child labour; (d) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation (including equal pay for women and men); (e) acceptable minimum employment standards, such as minimum wages and overtime pay; (f) the prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses; (g) compensation in cases of occupational injuries or illnesses; and (h) non-discrimination in respect of working conditions for migrant workers.
    In principle, a complaint regarding labour violations could lead to a ministerial consultation, a review panel for determination of non-compliance and ultimately, to the imposition of fines being paid by the offending government.
    The agreement on the environment obligates both sides to comply with and enforce effectively their domestic environmental laws, not to weaken these laws in an effort to attract investment, ensure proceedings are available to remedy violations of environmental laws, co-operate on compliance in environmental technologies, and allow members of the public to question obligations under the agreement. An independent review panel process is also present.
    After careful consideration of the agreement, I am pleased to announce that Canada's New Democrats will support the passage of Bill C-23. The Canada-Jordan deal is not perfect. It is not a deal in a form that a New Democrat government would necessarily have negotiated. However, after careful consideration of the deal before us, we have determined that it is worthy of support because we think it is good both for the Canadian and the Jordanian people and because it avoids the major problems that characterize other trade deals that the Canadian government has signed.
    Here are some of the major reasons the New Democrats will support the bill. While Jordan is a minor trade partner, the agreement would provide net economic gains for Canada, including in value-added industries, and for Jordan. There is no real evidence of domestic harm to the Canadian economy caused by this trading relationship or agreement. In fact, trade relations and volumes have been increasing among both countries in positive fashion. The New Democrats believe this agreement would bolster business and jobs in both nations. Jordan is a moderate Arab state with a constructive foreign policy that has made, and is making, important progress in the areas of democracy, human rights and labour standards.


    This agreement addresses labour standards squarely, and in particular the rights of migrant workers, which were not included in the trade deal the United States made with Jordan 10 years ago. These include elevated standards of work hours, wage protection and stronger penalties against human trafficking. They also include extending domestic employment standards to migrant workers and affording them the ability to join unions if they so wish.
    Jordan has demonstrated its commitment to raising the living conditions of its workers, including raising the minimum wage twice in the last several years. Anti-discrimination commitments and provisions to raise conditions among Jordanian migrant workers will particularly help women, who make up two-thirds of the migrant work force.
    At committee, the ILO testified that there is encouraging progress on labour issues in Jordan.
    New Democrats supported this legislation at second reading, and at that time we stated in the House that we would consider further support if the labour situation continued to improve in Jordan. In important ways, it has.
    The environmental agreement, while far from perfect, contains a benchmark commitment to enforce environmental standards. In addition, this free trade agreement contains no investor-state provision, which we generally oppose. There are no invasive chapters on public procurement or intellectual property in this deal, which are serious criticisms of other trade deals including in CETA presently being negotiated.
    With no agreement, trade with Jordan will still occur given the low tariffs. It is therefore arguably better to sign an agreement that engages Jordan in a positive, constructive manner with significant commitments than to have none at all. Sometimes it is better to have good progress, if not perfect progress.
    As the dominant economy in this relationship, Canada is in a strong position to ensure enforcement of and compliance with labour and environmental commitments. New Democrats will hold the government to account to make sure it does this. When we form the government, we will actively engage with all of our trading partners to ensure compliance with our agreements.
    Unlike Colombia, Jordan is not a major human rights violator. Unlike Panama, Jordan is not an international money laundering jurisdiction or tax haven.
    I want to read a quote from Ms. Nancy Donaldson, director of the Washington office of the International Labour Organization, who testified at committee. She said:
    The government has placed employment and decent work for Jordanians at the heart of its response strategy....They endorsed the national employment strategy in May 2011...formally signed a decent work country program, or a national framework strategy, for 2012 to 2015.
    The goal is to support national initiatives to reduce decent work deficits and strengthen national capacity to mainstream decent work.
...We're excited about Jordan because very recently the government has decided they are going to require all manufacturers to participate in the Better Work Jordan program. That means, frankly, bad actors can't opt out and have good actors carry the responsibility.
    It's a good policy approach. There are monitoring processes, which are then reported back to the manufacturers, with remedial recommendations where there is non-compliance. Then, after a period of time, they are published for the public to know and for the brands to know.
    We've been in Jordan long enough now that we are seeing some progress in a number of areas where there has been difficulty in non-compliance.
    Mr. Pierre Bouchard, director of bilateral and regional labour affairs in the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development, said:
    To elaborate on those options and what the legal obligations are, it's important to underline that our agreement with Jordan is the first agreement where Jordan makes specific commitments concerning the labour rights of migrant workers.
    These are encouraging signs. This shows a willingness and a good faith attitude on the part of our trading partner, which gives us hope that this deal will encourage continued progress in Jordan.
    While the development of respect for the rights of labour and migrant workers in Jordan is encouraging, there is more work to be done. At committee, there was also alarming testimony about continuing mistreatment of workers in Jordan, particularly in the qualified industrial zones where migrant labour is used. Concerns have been raised about the ability to effectively enforce the standards called for in the labour side deal.
    This agreement also has no real sanctions or penalties for non-compliance with the environmental side agreement.
    While there is no investor-state provision in the free trade agreement, Canada did sign a foreign investment protection agreement with Jordan in advance of this deal, which contains the very problematic tribunal complaint mechanism that subjects governments to attack by multinational corporations, as we just saw in the Mobil decision that will cost the Newfoundland and Labrador government and the Canadian government millions of dollars for simply requiring that certain research work be done in Canada. This shows how important protecting sovereign democratic rights in trade agreements is and why New Democrats believe so strongly in doing so.


    This leads to an important point. Signing an agreement is not an end in itself, and it is not the end of the process either. As with any good contract and ongoing relationship, care must be taken to monitor and enforce the reciprocal commitments if the deal is truly to have integrity and meet its stated objectives. I sincerely hope that the present government will take this care.
    However, we must recognize when we see an agreement that does not have many of the provisions to which we object. We see that here. We must recognize when we are working with a partner who, while by no means perfect, as we are not, is improving with regard to human rights and labour rights. We see that in Jordan. We must recognize when we see a deal that will bring mutual economic benefit to Canada, our trading partner and our business sector. While Jordan is a small trading partner, our trade relationship is growing and we see that this agreement would bring mutual benefit. That is why I am happy to stand with my New Democrat colleagues and support this bill.
    This is the beginning of a new chapter in our trade relationship with Jordan. Our countries already trade with each other every day, but this is the start of a new engagement which we, along with the government, business and other stakeholders, including, most importantly, the labour movement and civil society, believe has the capacity to bring increased economic activity, improved labour standards and a lasting commitment to environmental protection to both countries.
    If these results do not occur, we can withdraw from this agreement. This agreement provides that either party can give six months' notice at any time and withdraw. This is something that is not mentioned enough. We cannot just sign a deal and assume that the market will take care of everything or that others will monitor the agreement for us. We cannot assume that the promised benefits of trade agreements will happen organically and magically without monitoring or working hard. If, as the time goes on, we determine that the benefits are not happening, we should not hesitate to use the termination clause that is present in all trade agreements to get out of this deal, if required. Promises must not just be made; they must be kept.
    In conclusion, I want to say how exciting it is for me to have been named the official opposition critic for international trade at this time. Now more than ever, Canada's New Democrats are poised to form the government, but New Democrats know that this does not just happen and that the trust of the electorate is not something to be taken for granted. It must be earned.
    With regard to trade, I am excited to show Canadians that a New Democrat government would put trade at the top of its agenda. I am excited to work with business, labour, all levels of government and civil society to build a new template for the trade deals we would sign, because New Democrats know we can sign deals that do not hurt our democracy by imposing restrictions on provinces and municipalities to make policy. We need not sell our sovereignty or impair our democracy by insisting on investor-state dispute resolution mechanisms that tip the balance of power away from people to multinational corporations.
    We know we can unite trade policy with sound environmental protection and labour and human rights standards. We know we can have better enforcement mechanisms to ensure these are not empty promises. We know we can sign trade deals that provide a mutual benefit to Canada and our trading partners. New Democrats will write better trade agreements than the current government and the Liberals before them.
    Today our world faces many large questions. Can we have a global economy that has global, social and environmental policies and open democratic governance by the economic decision-makers? Can we ensure that the benefits of increased trade produce shared gains that elevate the living standards of all the people of our world? Can we commit to a more just economic policy that sees trade as a tool to make a better world for every nation? New Democrats say yes, we can. We will continue to show Canadians that a New Democrat government would advocate positive proposals precisely to these ends.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for his speech and endorsement of the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement. I do not know if it was an epiphany on the road to Damascus that occurred, but I have been in the House for 15 years and two things have occurred today that should be noted. Number one, an NDP member of Parliament stood up and endorsed trade and said that Canada is a trading nation, and number two, he said that New Democrats are going to support a free trade agreement. I thank him for that. That took a leap of faith and some courage, because I suspect he will have a little more difficulty with his colleagues than his own epiphany.
    However, I have a question and it is simple. These free trade agreements are written on a very similar template, with labour and the environment attached to them. The free trade agreement with Jordan really is not much different than the free trade agreement with Panama. Panama is off the OECD grey list. It is no longer looked at as a major offender in the money laundering business. If New Democrats are going to support this agreement, why not support the rest?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a fair question. I have not had a chance to review the Panama agreement, but I can say that we can distinguish our support for this deal from others, including Panama and Colombia, with some reasons at this point.
    For example, Jordan has better labour standards. It has demonstrably improving labour conditions. It has comparably better human rights records. Jordan is not a tax haven or a drug laundering centre. It does not prosecute, persecute or murder trade unionists en masse. It is not pursuing serious environmental destruction policies. Jordan is not forcing citizens to relocate due to large scale industrial projects and, as I said, the deal has no investor-state provision in the text, and it protects Canadian intellectual property and public procurement processes.
    I think my hon. colleague has heard the standards and principles that New Democrats will apply, and we will apply those standards consistently to every agreement. Where a country has fulfilled those standards, we will consider supporting it; where it does not, we will not.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments of the member. It is a bit of a revelation in the sense that only last week another one of his colleagues, just a few seats over, stated that the NDP would never support a free trade agreement. The only free trade agreement it would support is one that was drafted by the NDP.
    Having said that, we welcome the flip-flop of the NDP on the trade file. Most Canadians would appreciate the fact that we do need to look at freer trade agreements among other countries throughout the world.
    For years Canadians have benefited immensely by freer trade agreement and other mechanisms that are put into place. Canadians as a whole have concerns with regard to labour standards and environmental concerns, as the Liberal Party has had for generations in recognizing the value of these sorts of trades.
    The question I have for the member is not that far off what the government member has posed. We have the Panama free trade agreement, but has the NDP developed a list of countries with which it is prepared to say that the government should be looking at developing free trade agreements? Is that something the NDP members are looking at? Are they now at a stage where they will review previous agreements as to the countries with which they support having freer trade?


    Mr. Speaker, the only long list I have is a list of the Liberal flip-flops that goes back decades in this country.
     I believe it was the Liberal Party that opposed the free trade agreement with the United States. I believe it was Liberal Party members who said they would withdraw from NAFTA if they formed government. I believe it was the Liberal Party that said it would bring in a national child care program. I believe it was the Liberal government that said it would bring in a national housing program. I believe it was the Liberal government that said it supported and then opposed corporate tax cuts.
    Really, to hear a member of the Liberal Party stand up in this House and talk about flip-flopping is truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague for his presentation and analysis on an important issue and for his appointment to the international trade responsibility, because it is a very serious responsibility.
    As he has said so well, and as others on this side have said in this House, we are a trading nation, but we need to ensure that as we engage in negotiations with other nations around the world, we do so not with a cookie cutter approach, as the government would do, regardless of which country it is, regardless of the history of relations and regardless of the circumstances. We need to ensure we recognize the values that exist between the countries with which we are doing business and with which we would engage, in order to make sure it is a positive relationship for the people, the workers and the businesses of our country and of the country with which we are partnering.
    I would like to ask the member if he would speak to how important the whole question of values is, in terms of our approach to dealing with international trade.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my hon. colleague for the important work he did on the international trade file before me.
    The majority of Canadians want two things in our trade agreements. First, they want a well-structured trade agreement that will benefit Canada and their communities. Second, they want us to sign trade agreements with partners that respect democracy and have a commitment to improving it and improving conditions in their countries.
     Canadians do not want our government to sign trade agreements with anybody in the world who will trade will us, including regimes that have horrible human rights records and are not prepared to commit to internationally acceptable norms of conduct. That is why the issue of trade policy is much more complicated than the simplistic approach of the Liberals, depending on what year it is, if members can determine what the Liberals' approach to trade is, and sometimes the approach of the Conservatives as well, who appear sometimes to be able to sign trade deals with anybody who will come to the table with them.
    What Canadians want is, first, a structured, organized, well-thought-out trade policy through which we determine which countries in the world we can engage with in mutually advantageous trade relationships. Second, we need a new trade template that does not put public procurement, pharmaceutical costs and invasive multinational state tribunal processes at work that threaten the ability of governments in this country to pass public policy in the best interests of their citizens. With those admonitions, Canadians will accept and endorse the New Democrats' approach to trade, which would see more trade in this country done on good terms.


    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member is straying from his facts when he is off into public procurement. He is referring, I believe, to the European Union comprehensive and economic trade agreement between Canada and the EU.
    The reality is that there are already WTO rules in place on procurement, and nobody is forcing anything on the provinces or the municipalities that would change their jurisdiction. They would still have jurisdiction over all the areas where they have jurisdiction now. The difference would be that in areas where procurement is open, the taxpayer would have the benefit that the best corporation with the best price would get that infrastructure contract. That would be the only difference. WTO rules are already in existence.
    Would the hon. member clarify that?
    Mr. Speaker, that is a very thoughtful question, and I thank the member for it.
    First, I cannot comment on CETA because there has been no text released to us, and one thing the New Democrats believe in strongly is that we should see the text before commenting. At least, that is going to typify my response to reviewing trade agreements. I would urge the government to be a bit more transparent about showing Canadians what is in that agreement and I would urge the government not to sign the CETA before it has a chance to put that final negotiated document to Canadians and to stakeholders for our review.
    Public procurement is a very important issue. Some 50 municipalities and towns across this country have passed resolutions concerned about the potential impact that public procurement may have on increasing or impairing the ability of multinational corporations to make good local decisions, perhaps to stir local economic development or to have local environmental policies or to access local food sources. We will wait and see what CETA says, and if it does not impair those abilities, then that will be a good thing. If it does, then the New Democrats will be holding the government to account.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak at this stage of Bill C-23, which is the Canada-Jordan trade agreement.
    A great deal has occurred since the trade agreement was initially agreed to in August 2008, four years ago. When the agreement was officially announced in June 2009, the Arab Spring had yet to occur. The instability that has overtaken the region in the past year has been nothing short of transformative. In this climate, the FTA with Jordan is about to unfold.
    We are supportive of the bill in principle, as we have been supportive of previous trade agreements. However, we remind the government, which boasts about its trade agreement accomplishments, that this agreement with Jordan is now more than four years old and still has not really been completed. That point was raised by witnesses before the international trade committee.
     It is easy to announce new so-called agreements, but it would be nice to finalize them. That seems to be a long time coming. There is a lot of talk by the government on all the trade agreements it has on the go, but we have yet to see much in terms of results. Closing deals is something that the government just cannot seem to achieve.
    I would note that the CETA agreement is not near completion, although the minister said earlier in the year that it would be completed before spring. Now the minister is saying that it is going to be a considerably longer period of time.
    On the trans-Pacific partnership that the government is talking about getting into, the problem is that the price of admission is the selling out of our supply management system. The members of the TPP know it and the government knows it.
     I will give the government some credit, in that it has said it will not put it at issue on the table as the price of getting into negotiations. However, we are concerned about what we are hearing from TPP partners. We know of Canada's great interest in getting in and we know that one of the conditions raised by the United States and New Zealand is in fact at the price of our supply management system.
    This morning I had the opportunity to tour, with a couple of members of the NDP and a member of the Conservative government, some supply management operations an hour outside of Ottawa. The success of those operations is phenomenal in terms of their ability to provide consumers with a high-quality product at reasonable prices.
    Driving through that community, we see quite a number of supply management operations. hose numbers tell us of the health of that industry, not only in terms of the operations themselves but also in terms of the communities and their development. People in the community are bringing sons and daughters into the operations.
     Supply management is a very successful program, and we need to ensure, no matter what the trade agreement, that our supply management system remains intact and successful in this country. I would suggest it is a model of rural development that we should be promoting to the rest of the world, rather than giving the multinational corporate sector the advantages it wants through the demise of supply management.
    However, I believe it is just a matter of time before the government finds a way to transition our supply-managed system to a more open market system. In fact, we have seen the Prime Minister's statement when he signed the deal with the Conservative Party and the Alliance party. The Prime Minister himself said that he would like to see supply management basically be given some time to transfer to the open market system.


    Those are the words of the Prime Minister before he was prime minister. We just simply, from this end, do not trust the government on maintaining its support for supply management when it comes down to the hard fight.
    During the course of committee testimony, Jim Stanford of the Canadian Auto Workers presented the committee with facts that should be of concern to all Canadians concerned about economic growth and the real impact of trade agreements that the government is pursuing. The facts speak for themselves. We have, as a country, lost more ground than we gained through the free trade agreements that we have signed and we have actually performed better with countries that we do not have any such arrangements with. That is a concern.
    According to Mr. Stanford:
    I've reviewed our five longest-standing trade pacts: with the United States, Mexico, Israel, Chile and Costa Rica. Canada's exports to them grew more slowly than our exports to non-free-trade partners, while our imports surged much faster than with the rest of the world.
    Mr. Stanford went on to say:
    If the policy goal (sensibly) is to boost exports and strengthen the trade balance, then signing free-trade deals is exactly the wrong thing to do.
    Mr. Stanford himself said that he supports trade arrangements. He respects the importance of trade. However, I think that statement spells out something that we do not have in this country that the Liberals believe we should have—that is, an industrial strategy, in terms of value added, that has to happen domestically and internally within the country to reap more of the benefits back to Canadians and the Canadian labour force from these trade agreements. I think that is what we are missing. That is something that I think the country has to work on.
    Allow me to focus on the Canada-Jordan agreement itself.
    We should keep in mind a cautionary note included in a recent report by the RAND Corporation, which stated:
    Small states situated next to states in turmoil frequently suffer collateral economic damage. Jordan is a case in point.
    There are a couple of areas of concern that were raised during the hearings by the international trade committee. Among the areas of concern are those related to child labour matters and to other labour-related issues which would best be resolved through an open and transparent agreement. I will get to a statement on that aspect in a moment
    We have heard a bit about the labour conditions and working conditions in Jordan, and it is really a matter of concern. Jordan is a country with a workforce of 1.8 million, of which 313,000 are guest workers. That means they are migrant workers in the country. According to a September 2011 Human Rights Watch report:
    Pressing financial needs have led hundreds of thousands of women to migrate as domestic workers to Jordan, where many face systemic and systematic abuse. This results from a recruitment system in which employers and recruitment agencies disempower workers through deceit, debt, and blocking information about rights and means of redress; and a work environment that isolates the worker and engenders dependency on employers and recruitment agencies under laws that penalize escape. Jordanian law contains provisions and omissions that facilitate mistreatment, while officials foster impunity by failing to hold employers and agencies to account when they violate labor protections or commit crimes, and belittling or ignoring a disturbing pattern of abuse.


    What concerned me as I started to raise questions on this issue was the trade zones in Jordan where these plants for manufacturing garments are. They are not local companies or employers, nor do they employ local employees. These are migrant workers who are coming in. The plants are located in Jordan and there is some spinoff to the economy, but we will find that the companies are owned elsewhere, the managers are often from other countries and the workers are migrant workers, just to put into context the way that these operations work.
    The International Labour Organization, the ILO, in a July 2011 report on Jordan, outlined the following area of concern. It states:
    Since 2006, continuous action has been taken to improve labour law compliance in particular in Qualified Industrial Zones (free trade zones) and the apparel sector as a response to the increasing number of labour infractions in relation to migrant work in this sector.
    It goes on to state:
    In Jordan, labour inspection campaigns are conducted in the apparel sector, as many labour law infringements take place in this sector, mostly concerning migrant workers.
    Therefore, there is a lot of concern being expressed by the ILO as it relates to this issue.
    We did hear testimony that was rather disturbing and it is on the committee record. I would like to mention some of that testimony because we were told by the Jordanian representatives that there was some improvement, and I will grant them that, but it has not improved to the extent that we would like to see. Therefore, I am putting this on the record to make it very clear to Jordan that the Government of Canada is watching, the NDP is watching and we are watching.
    This testimony was given by a Mr. Jeff Vogt, legal advisor to the Department of Human and Trade Union Rights of the International Trade Union Confederation, the ITUC, which is a global confederation of some 160 million workers worldwide, including workers in Canada. He gave testimony on March 29 of this year. He stated from a report that he had done:
    The workers have no rights whatsoever. It's a real sweatshop. Workers are housed in primitive dormitories. The Chinese workers and Bangladeshi workers have no voice. In the dormitories during wintertime, there is not sufficient heat or hot water. Their bathing facilities are a bucket of water; they use a cup and splash water on themselves. The workers are treated with no rights whatsoever.
    He went on to say:
    I would say in that Rich Pine factory, every single labour right under Jordanian law and under the U.S. free trade agreement is being blatantly violated in broad daylight.
    Those are pretty serious allegations. What I find troubling is that those are the working conditions so that the wealthy in the industrialized countries of the world can buy cheaper clothes. There is something wrong with that situation. We would certainly demand that the Jordanian government apply the laws that it has in place so that those kinds of working conditions do not exist.
    He went on further to say:
    I want to talk finally and briefly about the Classic factory in Jordan. It's the largest factory in Jordan. There are 5,000 workers from Egypt, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and China.


    They have $125 million of exports to the U.S., most of it Walmart and Hanes. The workers are working 14, 15 hours a day. Maybe they get two Fridays off a month. The workers are slapped, screamed at. When shipments have to go out, they'll work 18-and-a-half-hour shifts. But that's the least of it. What we have discovered is that at the Classic factory, Jordan's largest factory, there are scores and scores of young women guest workers who have been raped at the Classic factory.
    He goes on and explains further.
    The fact is that, even though Jordanian representatives have come before committee and talked about the laws, from what we are hearing in that testimony, they are not being forced aggressively enough. That should not be happening in the global community in terms of apparel manufacturing. Those are inhuman conditions for people to work in. It is clearly a violation of human rights, and unacceptable.
    I would suggest that the Canadian government needs to be very strenuous in its observation of those labour rights and demanding that proper labour and human rights be applied to the workers following a signature to this free trade agreement.
    The Canada–Jordan labour co-operation agreement would commit both countries to ensuring that their laws respect the International Labour Organization's declaration of fundamental principles and rights at work.
    The ILO's 1998 declaration, which aims to ensure that social progress goes hand in hand with economic development covers the right to freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, the abolition of child labour, the elimination of forced or compulsory labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
    To further protect the rights of workers, Canada and Jordan have also committed to acceptable protection for occupational health and safety; acceptable minimum employment standards, such as minimum wage and hours of work; providing compensation in case of workplace injuries and illnesses; and providing migrant workers with the same legal protection as nationals in respect to working conditions. I think it is very important that that agreement is part of this FTA with Jordan.
    The countries have also agreed, subject to the availability of resources, to develop a framework for co-operative activities that he will allow Jordan to better meet its obligations under the LCA.
    I will come back to what I said earlier. A lot needs to be done to ensure that workers' rights, human rights and the conditions of work are being applied properly because, clearly, as Mr. Jeff Vogt said on March 29, the evidence is that that has not been happening to date.
    The United States department of state, in its most recent country report on human rights 2010, outlined a number of concerns which, even though the statutes are in place, remain. I will not go through all those concerns that are outlined in that report. I have outlined a lot in terms of the rights' issues.
     While the Conservatives have proclaimed the promotion of trade, it has been under their watch that the mismanagement of the file in terms of trading relationships has resulted in trade deficits for the first time in over 30 years.


    With respect to the United States, we have seen the government surprised by increased United States protectionist actions. First, it was surprised by the initial buy American provisions in the 2008 United States stimulus package. Second, it was surprised in the fall of 2011 when buy American provisions returned in the Obama administration's recent jobs plan. Finally, it was surprised by the announcement of the United States Federal Maritime Commission that, at the instigation of United States senators, an investigation in United States-bound container traffic being diverted to Canadian ports and whether to impose fees or tariffs as a result of the diverted trade.
    While we are looking at a lot of trade deals around the world, the government is falling down on the ones we already have in existence.


    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for Malpeque on his excellent speech. He spoke at length about the measures relating to working conditions. That seemed very important to him and it is very important to us as well. The environmental conditions in which industries over there operate are also important.
    What does the hon. member think about the provisions concerning not only working conditions but also environmental conditions in which the industries operate and in which the workers sometimes put their health at risk?


    Mr. Speaker, yes I did go on at considerable length in terms of the labour conditions because they are the most obvious. At committee, for whatever reason, we had no witnesses who talked about the environmental conditions around some of these plants. Maybe we should have.
    However, in terms of the FTA and the side agreements, while they all sound great in words, side agreements are, in fact, that, side agreements. We must, in this agreement and in others, find a way to deal with both the labour side and the environmental side. The critic for the New Democratic Party had a good motion at committee in terms of forcing the government to monitor better the labour conditions. However, we need to encourage the government to find a way to enforce the conditions in these agreements. There is no sense having all these wonderful agreements if we cannot enforce the proper conditions that we spell out as part of the trade agreement in the side agreements. That is just not acceptable.



    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to congratulate my colleague from Malpeque on his eloquent speech. Is he worried about applying a double standard to goods and people?
    In Mexico we saw limits on the number of people crossing borders, but none on the amount of goods. Does this also apply to Jordan?


    Mr. Speaker, to be brutally honest, I am not sure in terms of the movement of people from the country versus the movement of goods, but it is a very good question.
    When Mr. Stanford with the Canadian Auto Workers was before the committee, he gave us fairly good documented evidence that where we have trade agreements in place, our trade is expanding with those countries. We are moving more goods and services and they are moving more goods and services to us.
    However, where we have trade agreements, our net trade balance is getting worse. Where we do not have trade agreements, our net trade balance continues to improve. There is a warning sign there and there should be because in this country we are losing our manufacturing base, and we cannot allow that to happen. The percentage of the GDP from the manufacturing sector is about half of what it was some time ago. We as a country do not want to be just hewers of wood and drawers of water. We want to ensure there good, valuable jobs are created as a result of the trade agreements, and that is where the government is so wrong. It does not have the industrial strategy to go with the trade agreements to ensure we are creating the wealth in Canada and not just exporting wealth elsewhere.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleague's comments with regard to the agreement. He made quick reference to the U.S. and its importance. It is great that we are working on these deals. The government has been working on this now for four years. However, the deal that really creates tens of thousands of jobs across Canada is taking place in the United States.
    Could my colleague comment on that agreement, the negotiations and the trade that happens between Canada and the United States?
    Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the United States is our most important trading market by a country mile. In fact, the importance of the relationship is spelled out in the value of trade on a daily basis, which exceeds $1.4 billion. Therefore, in terms of merchandise trade, in 2010 Canada exported $339.4 billion internationally of which 74.9% was with the United States. The United Kingdom, our second most important trading partner, came in at 4.1% of the exports. China was 3.3%. After that, there was Japan, Mexico, Germany, Korea, Netherlands and Brazil. Those are the top 10.
    I want to make one point with respect to Korea, which comes back to what I said in my remarks earlier. The government talk about all these trade agreements, but it has not done the job in terms of the established areas where we have trade. Korea is a $1 billion market for our beef and hogs, especially hogs. The United States now has an agreement, signed and in place in early May. As a result, within two years, because its tariffs are reducing and ours are remaining in place, we are going to be displaced in that marketplace.
    The government had better get off its butt and get a Canadian trade agreement with Korea so we secure that market. It is a good market for Canadians and we do not want to lose it.


    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today in the House to speak about Bill C-23, which is the Canada-Jordan free trade agreement and related agreements on labour co-operation and the environment. Canada signed this agreement with Jordan on June 28, 2009. The government is taking action during these difficult economic times by reaching out to our trading partners and reducing barriers to trade.
    Jordan is a key partner for Canada in the pursuit of peace and security in the Middle East and we welcome this opportunity to strengthen our ties with this regional leader. These agreements mark a positive step forward, further enhancing Canada-Jordan relations by stimulating increased trade and investment between our two countries. Upon implementation, the immediate elimination of tariffs on the vast majority of current Canadian exports to Jordan will benefit Canadian exporters, Canadian families and Canadian workers.
    This free trade agreement provides Canadian companies with a competitive edge in a variety of sectors, including forest products, machinery, construction equipment and agricultural and agri-foods products such as pulse crops, frozen french fries, animal feed and various prepared foods.
     The Canada-Jordan FTA will also improve the competitiveness of Canadian exporters in the Jordanian marketplace and their foreign competitors, particularly from the U.S. and Europe, which already have trade agreements with Jordan.
    I move:
    That this question be now put.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Winnipeg North.
    Mr. Speaker, I guess the most natural question would be this. We are still in the third reading stage, and the member has risen and posed that this question be now put. It seemed that the bill itself would receive unanimous support of the House. I am not too sure what the Green Party will do on it, but we now have the official opposition supporting it. The Liberals have always been supportive, with a great deal of concern in regard to the agreement itself and ways in which we thought it could have been better. However, it has receive significant support from the House of Commons.
    Why would you have felt it necessary to move that sort of an amendment? Were you instructed by the government House leader to do it, or was this your own personal initiative, as opposed to allowing the debate to continue?
    Just a reminder to hon. members to direct their questions and comments through the Chair.
    The hon. member for Calgary Northeast.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague on the other side for giving me hope and the expectation that he will be one of the supporters of this free trade agreement.
    To answer his question, this agreement was signed between Canada and Jordan on June 28, 2009. This agreement has been debated over long hours, not only in the House but also in committee. Considering the circumstances, considering the tough times all countries are going through, it is important for us to complete third reading and move forward to implement this bill as soon as possible.


    Mr. Speaker, one of the things that recommends this trade agreement over other ones that the government has put forward is better standards for labour issues.
    Does my colleague think the government could do better in terms of negotiating free trade agreements with other jurisdictions if it were negotiating from a better position of strength on its own commitment to labour legislation and free collective bargaining? I ask that question in light of the government bringing in back-to-work legislation three times so far in this Parliament.
    Mr. Speaker, what I have seen from the opposition in committee and in the House regarding any legislation is delays, fearmongering, no support and no constructive debate. Basically it is all delay tactics.
    At the same time, it is important for this government to focus on jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. Therefore, we have to finish business and move forward and implement all of these agreements.
    Mr. Speaker, both opposition parties in the House have said that they are supportive of this agreement. There are not that many hours left for debate and a number of people have some things to say that they want to get on the record relative to this agreement.
    It is bad politics and tactics by the government. The member is always talking about the government, although he is a member of the governing party, not the government. The government is cabinet.
    Give us a lesson.
    Yes, I will, Mr. Speaker.
    The tactics shown by the member, on behalf of the government no doubt, getting his direction from on high, are wrong, especially when he knows full well that we will support the bill. People want to get some things on the record.
     The member is accusing us of fearmongering and says that there is no constructive debate. He talks about how the government is interested in jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The member was at committee when Canadian auto workers stated that there was a problem with our trade agreements in terms of results, that wealth was not being created in Canada and that we were becoming more hewers of wood and drawers of water—
    I hate to interrupt the hon. member. Other hon. members may wish to pose questions.
    The hon. member for Calgary Northeast.
    Mr. Speaker, it is so ironic when a member of the Liberal Party stands and says that the Liberals are all willing to support this agreement. They have been using all kinds of tactics in committee and in the House to delay this legislation. If those members are honest, let them support this.
    The fact is that an agreement with Jordan will open up significant opportunities for Canadian companies in this market as well as in Middle East countries and north Africa.
    Under this agreement, Jordan will eliminate all non-agriculture tariffs and the vast majority of agriculture tariffs.



    Mr. Speaker, according to my sources of information—including people who were members of the previous Parliament—the argument was made many times that increasing trade with Jordan would pave the way for a better dialogue concerning human rights and workers' rights.
    I would like to know what pragmatic goal we have to verify that, and to get further information on the subject.


    Mr. Speaker, I do not know which previous members my colleague from the opposition party is referring to. Maybe that is the reason those previous members are not presently members.
    To respond to his question, I would reiterate what the Minister of International Trade has been saying again and again, which is that Canada will not sign any agreement which is not to the net benefit of Canada and Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, I know my colleague is a member of the international trade committee, so I suspect he has a fair bit of expertise in this area and has probably spent a lot of time studying this agreement. Could the member share with the House some of the ways that this agreement would benefit Canada.
    I know our government has done a lot of work in terms of opening up new markets for trade for businesses and farmers and created all kinds of economic opportunity as part of our broader economic agenda to see our country through a very difficult time. We really are the envy of the world at the current time. I am sure the hon. member would be willing to share with the House some of the benefits that the agreement would bring for our country.
    Mr. Speaker, to answer his question, he is absolutely right that Canada is the envy of the world when it comes to free trade agreements. Upon implementation of this free trade agreement, over 99% of recent Canadian exports to Jordan will benefit from immediate duty-free access to the Jordanian market, with a small number of tariffs to be phased out over three to five years. That is a fact of this agreement.
    Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure I stand in my place to talk about free trade. I have had the opportunity to talk about it on a number of occasions, most recently last week. Today I would like to emphasize a couple of important industries in the perspective of free trade and the benefits of free trade agreements. Our Liberal Party critic talked at great length about some of our concerns in regard to the specifics of this free trade agreement between Canada and Jordan. To avoid sounding overly repetitive, I will try to take a different angle on it, and maybe refer to some of the things I had talked about when I was referring to the Panama-Canada Free Trade Agreement and free trade in general.
    Let me first start off by commenting on the whole idea of the amendment, which I thought was somewhat bizarre for the government to put forward. There is a natural instinct it seems, more and more every day, for the government to do something to limit rights of members inside this chamber.
    One of the favourite things of the Conservatives is time allocation. On a few occasions they have brought in a motion to prevent amendments from being introduced. It is somewhat discouraging, given that the Conservatives have witnessed this afternoon something that is fairly noteworthy, when the New Democratic Party critic brought forward the NDP's official position with regard to this bill. History would likely show that previous votes on this agreement may have reflected negatively coming from the NDP members, but the critic has made the determination that they will be supporting the bill.
    When I posed the question earlier, I was a bit surprised. Most people would be surprised because it was only last week when we were debating the Panama agreement and as members may recall, there was an exchange between myself and a member of the New Democratic Party from the front bench. We were asking about the whole free trade concept and what it would take for the NDP to support an agreement. The conclusion at that point was that an NDP trade agreement would have to be signed in order for the NDP to support it.
    Something has happened between last week and this week. The NDP has come on side with the rest of the progressive world in recognizing that there is merit to trade. We welcome that as it tries to nudge a little bit closer to the centre, quite possibly. I do not really know why per se, but it is encouraging that the NDP has recognized the value of trade.
    As we look forward to having more discussions in the months and years ahead, we need to talk about freer trade. It is not just the formal agreements we need to be concerned about. There are other areas in which we encourage trade. I want to pick up on a couple of those. I made reference last week to what I had thought was a great attempt back in the nineties by the then Prime Minister Chrétien to gather a number of stakeholders, provincial jurisdictions, politicians of all political stripes and stakeholders within the business community. There was a wonderful label put on it, Team Canada. They went out to countries around the world. I believe the first one was in Asia. There were just amazing results when they brought different stakeholders from Canada to another country.


    By having that strong presence, there is a series of doors that open as a direct result of the interest by the national government in saying that it wants to be able to broaden opportunities for both countries and afford the ability of those stakeholders to communicate directly. Ultimately, I believe that tens of millions of dollars flowed from that. At the end of the day, many economic ties were established by that agreement.
    I have made reference to what I have always believed was one of the greatest agreements, if not the greatest, which was the Auto Pact. It was an agreement between Canada and the United States where Canada would be guaranteed a certain percentage of the manufacturing of automobiles and parts in return for purchasing vehicles or having a freer trade with the automobile industry. As a direct result of that agreement over the years, hundreds of thousands of jobs have been created.
    Whether in the manufacturing industry, tourism or information technology, there are many opportunities out there. When governments take the initiative to go abroad, in whatever form, and in this case it is a formalized free trade agreement, then all Canadians can benefit. It creates employment opportunities here as well as for the other countries. We see that as a good thing.
    One of the examples I used when I made reference to Panama was an important industry in the province of Manitoba, the potato industry. I am glad that not only are we supporting the principles of the bill for Jordan, but also the principles of the bill for Panama. If we look at the Panama agreement, in the province of Manitoba the potato industry is huge. Panama consumes a great deal of our potatoes and not just the raw product, but processed potatoes as well. We have three large processing plants which create 1,000 plus direct jobs, not to mention indirect jobs. When we looked at the agreement, we saw that there was value to it and we supported it.
    On the Jordan agreement that we are now debating, again there is benefit, not only for Manitoba, but for all provinces. Perhaps some provinces may benefit a little more because of the industries that Jordan might want to focus on in Canada. This is one of the nice things about being such a diverse country. However, at the end of the day, we have been fairly consistent in recognizing the value of freer trade agreements.
    Having said that, we have some concerns. We have been consistent on those concerns. We need to be aware of the environmental impact and how other countries treat and respect environments. We also need to be aware of labour conditions. That is why committee members, whether it is the critic of the Liberal Party or other stakeholders, are quite willing to share stories or concerns regarding labour standards and environmental laws. Where we can, we have to try to protect both those areas of interest. By doing that, I believe that we are making the world a better place to live and allowing a more equal and level playing field.


    On an equal, level playing field, Canadians can compete with any country in the world. Having said that, we are far from being able to achieve that playing field, but I think it is worth pursuing.
    We have other concerns that we have talked about at length. I want to be able to share some of my thoughts on those concerns. There is the whole idea of the manufacturing industry and the global competitive market. If the government does not do its job, we could lose a lot of valuable jobs. For the most part, I think we would find that Canadians are supportive of freer trade, and the benefits of freer trade, but there is also a great deal of concern about those quality jobs. A lot of those quality jobs that we really have to watch out for are within the manufacturing industry.
    It saddens me to hear of these massive layoffs or companies that are going down and shifting to another region of the world. Some of it cannot be prevented from happening, but there are some things that government can do that would have an impact.
     I would like to cite two recent examples dealing with the whole concept of trade. The first one is in regard to a debate that we had last summer when the government made the determination to get rid of the Canadian Wheat Board. By getting rid of the Canadian Wheat Board, I would argue that ultimately we are going to see fewer Prairie farmers dealing with grain as a commodity. We are going to see larger farms handling the same sort of capacity of grain, but there will be a smaller number of farmers. That will have a serious impact on the number of people employed in that industry. We will see smaller towns or communities that will also be impacted by the government's decision.
    I have been around in politics for a number of years. My understanding was that in the whole debate on the free trade agreement there was a lot of pressure on Canada to end the Wheat Board, as far back as the mid-1980s. Governments, over the years, have resisted getting rid of the Wheat Board, because governments, both Progressive Conservative and Liberal, have recognized the value of the Canadian Wheat Board. It is only the Reform/Conservative government that has made the determination that this will somehow improve Canada's trade relations.
    I would suggest that these types of things will have a very negative impact. When we talk about trade agreements, this is something the U.S. wanted so desperately that the government just kind of conceded it, handed it over to the United States and other international companies. I am not too sure exactly how much wheat Jordan would be getting from our Prairies, I suspect some. The minister says it is quite a bit, and I will take him at his word on that. The point is it does have what I believe is a negative impact, and it is a government policy. The government chose to go in that direction.
    The other major issue that we have had here affected not only the Prairies, but Winnipeg, Mississauga and Montreal. It was the whole Air Canada and Aveos fiasco. I have walked the line with Air Canada workers on several occasions in regard to what has taken place there. As the world gets smaller, we have to look at those valuable jobs, those valuable industries. In Manitoba, the aerospace industry is a very important industry, as it is no doubt in Quebec and Ontario.


    In those three provinces it employs thousands of Canadians. Air Canada had an obligation to sustain those jobs in those three provinces, but the government has let Air Canada off the hook; as a result, those jobs are gone.
    The government does not recognize that it has a role to play in certain industries. I would suggest the aerospace industry is one of those industries. If it is not prepared to play a role and allows the free market to dictate where those jobs will be, my concern is that not only will those jobs be leaving Winnipeg, Montreal and Mississauga but also that potentially we will lose a very important industry. The reason is that other countries will be paying a fraction of the wages employees would earn in those three provinces working at overhaul bases or the like.
    If the Government of Canada wants to move toward freer trade, in principle it is a good measure, but we have to remember that millions of Canadians are depending on the government to also protect those industries that feel threatened, because they are long-term industries with great potential for ongoing development to provide good-paying jobs going forward.
    My last point is a question I asked my colleague in regard to the U.S. With Jordan, our trade is just under $100 million annually. As was pointed out earlier, Canada exports around $340 billion worth of goods internationally. The single greatest recipient of those exported products is the U.S. I believe the government has been neglecting that file. As a direct result, a lot more jobs could end up going south. We have already seen jobs going to the United States that could have stayed here in Canada. The government has been turning a blind eye to that particular trading partner or that issue. I do not quite understand why.
    Another issue is with respect to Korea which, as my colleague pointed out, consumes a great deal of pork. Once again I will bring in the province of Manitoba, which is a billion-dollar trading partner with Korea. A number of months ago, the United States signed a deal with Korea. Manitoba has a wonderful pork industry, but it will have some serious hits because the government does not seem to give any priority to the tariff issues with respect to Korea.
     As the government has now been sitting on this particular file since 2009, it is great to see that we are at a stage at which I suspect the bill will be passed through. I think it is important to emphasize to the government that it needs to focus more attention on countries we are dependent on in terms of being able to maintain and hopefully grow our industries, in particular manufacturing and other industries that have so much more potential here in Canada. As this bill passes through, I would hope that the government has some sort of strategic plan with respect to dealing with other nations around the world to ensure that Canada will continue to grow and prosper into the future, and that it starts thinking outside the box, as former prime minister Jean Chrétien did when he brought parliamentarians from across Canada into a Team Canada approach to selling Canada to the world.


    Mr. Speaker, my colleague's speech really describes the Liberal position on a lot of things. We did not really understand whether they are supporting it or not supporting it. The member used the word “focus”. I would like to see him focus on an answer to my question.
     The NDP earlier accused the Liberal Party of flip-flopping. We remember the 1988 election, when they ran against NAFTA, and now they seem to be talking in favour of free trade, but in his speech the member talked about protecting certain industries, especially manufacturing.
     There was a great editorial in the Ottawa Citizen today, talking about manufacturing output actually being up. Yes, jobs have gone down, and that is because we are becoming more productive and more competitive around the world. The member talked about the aerospace sector. Members are aware that Canada, a small country, is fifth or sixth in the world in aerospace because we have been integrating into the supply chain.
    He talked about the auto industry, an industry that is is very important to me, coming from Oshawa. He talked about something called the Auto Pact. He seems to promoting that philosophy of trade; it was one car that we bought here to one car that exported—one car in, one car out—but with free trade, we are actually exporting almost a million cars more every year, which means the jobs are here in Canada.
    My question for the member is—
    Hon. Wayne Easter: Why did we have the trade deficit for the first time in 30 years?
    Mr. Colin Carrie: I hear the member for Malpeque, who quoted statistics from the CAW economist that did not support any free trade.
    Are the Liberals going to be supporting this free trade agreement with Jordan, or are they going to be promoting more managed trade and protecting different industries? When they are talking about free trade, what are they really talking about? Could the member focus on an answer, please?


    Mr. Speaker, I am not sure to what degree the member has listened, whether to me or to the Liberal Party's critic. We have been fairly consistent for a great deal of time, and I will put it as simply as I can for the member: we are voting in favour of the bill. That said, we do have concerns and we have expressed those concerns.
    However, it is important to recognize that there has been a net deficit in trade for the first time, under the reformed Conservative government. To the degree in which it is there—
    Mr. Paul Calandra: Throw in a George Bush reference.
    Mr. Kevin Lamoureux: I know the truth hurts. Reformed Conservatives—
    Mr. Paul Calandra: No good reformed Conservative—
    Order, please.
    The hon. member for Winnipeg North has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, that is fine. I never mind the odd heckle or anything of that nature.
    The point is that the Liberal Party has been consistent throughout the years. Not only do we believe in the potential of free trade and formal free trade agreements, but we also believe that there are other ways in which we can enhance trade between nations throughout the world. We need to be thinking outside of the box about developing those trade relations so that at the end of the day we would have more manufacturing jobs and more financial and hospitality industry jobs. There is so much potential within Canada. What we need is a government that is prepared to think outside of the box and fight for those jobs and for that trade.
    Mr. Speaker, as always, I enjoyed listening to the intervention from the member for Winnipeg North and following on the Liberal critic, which is not an easy task.
    I listened very intently to some of the things the member was suggesting. I heard him say that with international trade there will be times when there are winners and losers, and that is what often happens. I heard him say that it is extremely important for the Conservatives to have a plan mapped out for understanding who is going to win and who is going to lose so that they can develop strategies to ensure that the companies and employees who do lose are properly accounted for and that there are adequate transition programs.
    Would the member confirm if that is in fact what he believes and if that is the kind of trade policy he would support?
    Mr. Speaker, not necessarily. I would like to think through his question as he has put it forward. Not all trade agreements are a formal document. Not all decisions the government makes come out in a formal trade document. The example I used was the Canadian Wheat Board. Under the Canadian Wheat Board, there is a winner and a loser. The losers, unfortunately, are going to be prairie grain farmers. There are going to be hundreds fewer prairie grain farmers as a direct result. It was a bad decision and had a serious impact on trade.
    Mr. Speaker, I have one question, but I have to make a point at the beginning. The member talked about potatoes and how important the potato market was to Manitoba. I see some Manitoba members here. I want to point out that Manitoba is still in second place. Prince Edward Island is the largest producer of potatoes in Canada.
    My question really relates to the open collective bargaining part of the agreement. One thing that is outlined by Canada and the ILO is how important it is to have collective bargaining happen in Jordan. I want my colleague's response on this. The problem is that Canada is setting a bad example, because the Minister of Labour has cut the collective bargaining process off at the knees by always coming in on the side of management. That is not free and open collective bargaining.
    Does the member think that might have an impact as we tell Jordan it should have free and open collective bargaining, when our own government is abusing that collective bargaining process in its use of government powers?


    Mr. Speaker, my colleague is right in the sense that when we are looking at free trade, labour laws and environmental laws, we want to be on a level playing field. What message do we send, as my colleague points out, when the Minister of Labour brings in back-to-work legislation or does rollbacks on Canada Post workers and intervenes far too often on the side of big