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41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 230

CONTENTS

Wednesday, March 27, 2013




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 146 
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NUMBER 230 
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1st SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 2 p.m.

Prayers


[Statements by Members]

  (1405)  

[English]

     It being Wednesday, we will now have the singing of the national anthem led by the hon. member for Ottawa—Orléans.
     [Members sang the national anthem]

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[Translation]

Right to Education in French in Saskatchewan

    Mr. Speaker, the teaching situation for students at École Boréale in Saskatchewan is deplorable. Although the school is a priority of the Conseil des écoles fransaskoises, the Government of Saskatchewan is refusing to provide the infrastructure required for the students' education.
    However, this French-language secondary school could potentially have over 400 students, but today only three students have agreed to put up with this contempt. The other students and their families have resigned themselves to attending English-language schools. In Quebec, we treat the historic anglophone minority with respect and dignity. Why this double standard?
    Samantha, Ryan and Jonathan are true heroes. These young people have persisted over time, come hell or high water, to assert their right to education in French. They are proof that Canada does not treat all its children the same way.
    I salute their courage, their determination and especially the strength of their commitment to a cause that transcends boundaries, the cause of dignity and the right to live in one's own language.
    To these young people and to all francophones outside Quebec, I say, “Your fight is our fight, brothers and sisters.”

[English]

Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, after days of widespread criticism against the opposition's attack on Canada's national interests, senior NDP officials have finally begun to speak out.
    In his first week on the job, Saskatchewan's NDP leader, Cam Broten, stood up against the Leader of the Opposition when he publicly stated:
    I support the Keystone XL pipeline because of a triple bottom line assessment looking at environmental, economic and social reasons....
    However, we all know the Leader of the Opposition is not listening to his provincial counterparts. He is too busy taking his marching orders from big union bosses who do not support high-paying unionized jobs in Saskatchewan's natural resource sector.
    The Saskatchewan people will never support his policy of paying for massive increases in government spending through carbon taxing the Saskatchewan economic boom, nor will they ever endorse an NDP leader who has trashed high-paying unionized natural resource jobs during his meetings with U.S. congressional leaders in Washington.
    Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has it right. The Leader of the Opposition has betrayed Canada's national interests.

[Translation]

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, in the riding of Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, as in the rest of Canada, people are crippled by unemployment. People who lose their jobs often find themselves with no future.
    It would have been useful to have a plan to create jobs and measures to modernize our waste water treatment infrastructure and increase public transit in the suburbs, but there is nothing, no effort whatsoever.
    What is worse, this budget attacks measures that were helping in combatting the economic downturn. It reduces credit unions' ability to support small business. The Conservatives are also attacking labour-sponsored funds, which support venture capital, and stunting regional economic growth.
    Changes to job training will once again force the provinces to do more with less—more austerity and more of the load to carry. Why sabotage something that is working?
    If you cannot help, at least do no harm. We needed this ideology-driven budget like we needed a hole in the head.

Franco-Ontarian Newspaper

    Mr. Speaker, the future belongs to those who fight. A century ago today, the first issue of the daily newspaper Le Droit rolled off the presses.
    Created by laymen and Oblates in reaction to the hated Regulation 17, the purpose of this newspaper was to support continued education in French in Ontario.
    Since then, Le Droit has become a unifying force for Canada's francophones in minority situations.

[English]

    My grandmother learned to read by perusing its pages, and so did I. I was their paper boy from 1959 to 1964 and served as a summer correspondent in 1967.

[Translation]

    Le Droit enabled Ontario's francophones to get quality information on both world wars, on linguistic minority struggles and on the decisions of the last 30 federal parliaments.
    To the people who put this newspaper together, congratulations and thank you for contributing to the French fact in Ontario.
    Certantibus Futura.

[English]

Autism

    Mr. Speaker, April 2, 2013, will be the first official World Autism Awareness Day in Canada.
    Last October, the House passed Liberal senator Jim Munson's bill to mark the day. In 2007, the United Nations declared April 2 as World Autism Awareness Day in order to bring world attention to autism, which affects tens of millions globally.
    Persons with autism have told me of the discrimination they face in society. Many of them function well but are often misunderstood. We must understand the nature of autism in its full spectrum. Those with autism always find it difficult to get jobs. They are seen as mentally challenged, when many of them have extraordinarily high IQs.
    Awareness and understanding are key to providing the necessary supports that persons with autism need, so they can, wherever possible, function autonomously in society.
    Today will be “Light It Up Blue” when landmarks will be lit up in blue, just as BC Place, Rogers Arena and Science World were last year in Vancouver Centre.
    Here is to removing the stigma of autism.

  (1410)  

Georgetown Citizen of the Year

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to be able to represent the good people of Halton Region and Wellington County in the House of Commons.
    Yesterday, the Georgetown Lions Club named Mr. Graeme Goebelle citizen of the year. For 45 years, Graeme has served his community by volunteering with countless organizations and charities. Through his professional and philanthropic endeavours, including the Georgetown Hospital, the Cancer Society, YMCA and many more, Graeme has contributed to making Georgetown the strong community it is today.
    It is people like Graeme and his wife Roslyn that make Wellington—Halton Hills one of the best places to live, and why Halton Region and Wellington County have consistently had the lowest crime rates in Canada. In fact, for the last several years Maclean's magazine has named Halton Region and Wellington County two of the three safest communities in Canada. Recently, MoneySense magazine named Halton Hills the fifth-best small community in Canada.
    It is people like Graeme Goebelle who make all the difference. Congratulations to Graeme and his wife Roslyn.

B.C. Fisheries

    Mr. Speaker, constituents in Nanaimo—Cowichan expected to see support for fisheries in this latest budget or, at the very least, some action on the 75 recommendations from the Cohen commission on salmon. Instead, the Conservatives turned their back on B.C. fisheries and fish habitat once again.
     After devastating cuts in previous budgets that reduced habitat protection and the number of enforcement officers on the water, the new cuts would reduce front-line services even more. B.C. has seen the Kitsilano Coast Guard station close and regional fisheries offices close in many communities, leaving B.C. with only five offices and the fewest staff since 1983. As well, the consolidation of marine communication traffic services raises concerns that the B.C. coast will not be adequately served.
    DFO is the federal department responsible for tsunami debris, especially large pieces that are a hazard to navigation. With the many large resource projects planned in B.C. that need input from DFO staff before proceeding, we need investments in staff, not reductions. Cutting fisheries and habitat protection is the wrong priority for British Columbians.

Pleasantdale School

    Mr. Speaker, today I congratulate teacher Sarah Driscoll and the team of grade seven and eight students at Pleasantdale School in Estevan for winning a day with the infamous Rick Mercer on Monday, March 25, and for helping spare children from the ravages of malaria by raising $5,439 in the Spread the Net student challenge.
    They did this through bake sales, penny and bottle drives and a grade seven and eight school dance. As Mercer noted, “Every now and then a school comes along and they punch way above their weight. They raise more money than anyone could ever imagine and Pleasantdale is one of those schools”. He said, and I agreed, “You...are amazing, you raised over $5,000 and that is over 500 bed nets. That is saving 500 lives, that is twice as many people that are in this school and you...did that for children on the other side of the world”.
    For those who wish to watch the program, it will be aired on April 2.
    Indeed, congratulations to Pleasantdale School in Estevan and everyone who was involved.

Aboriginal Women's Rights

    Mr. Speaker, for more than 25 years, aboriginal women on reserves have been without legal protections that all other women in Canada take for granted, protections they especially need in situations of family violence. When a relationship breaks down, a spouse can ban a woman from her home without her consent.
    Aboriginal peoples, international organizations and even the Manitoba NDP have called for this to change. We have introduced matrimonial property rights legislation to protect aboriginal women and give them the same rights as all other women in Canada. This bill would allow judges to enforce emergency protection orders for the safety of the woman and child.
    Yet shockingly, the New Democrats and the Liberals are opposing it. This is shameful. First nations women need these rights.
     I am proud to say that our Conservative government continues to stand up for aboriginal women.

[Translation]

Franco-Ontarian Newspaper

    Mr. Speaker, the newspaper Le Droit is celebrating its centennial today. Congratulations.
    Le Droit is the leading source of news for francophones in the Outaouais and Ontario. The newspaper was founded when the use of French in Ontario schools was banned, and ever since then it has been involved in all battles to defend the francophone community.
    As representatives of the region, the members for Gatineau, Hull—Aylmer and Ottawa Centre join me in thanking the newspaper for always being the standard-bearer for the francophone cause.
    Over the years, Le Droit has been able to reinvent itself and remain faithful to its readers without compromising its main mission: providing information. Thanks to the great work of the people who put the newspaper together, it has built a solid reputation for independence and rigour. Its daily coverage of political, economic and cultural news speaks for itself. The best compliment we can pay to Le Droit is to say that it has remained faithful to the people who live here, especially through its extensive coverage of local events.
    The entire NDP team joins us in congratulating the artisans, past and present, who have made Le Droit an authoritative news source for 100 years.

  (1415)  

[English]

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is proud to stand in support of Canada's natural resource sector and the thousands of Canadians it employs. Our support is in stark contrast to that of the leader of the NDP, who attacks the growth of this sector as a disease and goes to Washington and claims that Canadians are against pipeline projects.
    The fact is that my constituents in Saint John and families right across New Brunswick stand with our Conservative government in support of a west-east pipeline. This pipeline will bring jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity to New Brunswick and all of Canada. Our Conservative government supports this project and, unlike the leader of the NDP, we will be unabashed in our support in New Brunswick, Ottawa and on the world stage.

[Translation]

Women's Rights

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to draw parliamentarians' attention to Amnesty International's “I love my body, my rights” campaign on sexual and reproductive rights.
    The purpose of this campaign, which is running throughout 2013, is to raise public awareness of forced marriage and pregnancy. Many activities have been organized in order to prepare for the International Conference on Population and Development, which is scheduled for 2014 and will focus on women's rights.
    Even today, 10 million young girls under the age of 18, sometimes even as young as seven or eight, are forced into marriage without their consent, usually to much older men. They are then often forced to get pregnant, which frequently puts their health and life at risk.
    As parliamentarians and as citizens first and foremost, we cannot accept this. We must fight these manifest injustices and do everything we can to protect women's rights.

[English]

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, thanks to our government, the economic action plan has introduced the largest long-term federal commitment to infrastructure in our nation's history: $70 billion over the next 10 years. No wonder the FCM said that our budget delivered significant gains for Canada's cities and communities. Investment in Canada's public infrastructure will create jobs, economic growth and provide a high-quality of life for families across Canada.

[Translation]

    Through our investments in infrastructure, the average age of public infrastructure has dropped from 17 to 14 years.
    Over the next two years, we will invest close to $10 billion in infrastructure. That is more than the previous Liberal government spent in the 13 long years it was in office.

[English]

    The municipalities are on board with our infrastructure plan. Will the NDP do the same for Canadians?

Parliamentary Budget Officer

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to pay tribute to Kevin Page, Canada's first parliamentary budget officer. The PBO was created to expand public access to information. Mr. Page was, and remains, perfect for that role. He is a talented economist with a deep understanding of government finances. Canadians knew that they could count on him for the real numbers, whether it was on F-35s, Afghanistan, the sustainability of the OAS or by how much EI rates would actually go up.
    As the PBO, Mr. Page consistently defended the right of Canadian taxpayers to know how their money was being spent. He went to court so that the law which would give us that right to information would be enforced. He stood up to protect the vital role of Parliament and its power over the purse, a power that is the foundation of our democracy and our Constitution.
    Kevin Page is a public servant in the very best sense of the phrase: always placing the public good before any personal career ambitions. We thank Kevin Page for serving Canadians with such honour and courage.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, our government remains focused on what matters to Canadians, the economy. Last week, the Minister of Finance stood in the House and delivered Canada's economic action plan 2013, a plan for jobs, growth and long-term economic prosperity.
    Constituents in my riding were happy to hear of the support for apprentices, expanded support for small businesses, investment in world-class research and innovation and tariff relief on baby clothing and sports and athletic equipment.
     Unfortunately, the Leader of the Opposition and his party have been busy focusing their priorities elsewhere. Their plan is for $56 billion in reckless spending, a $20 billion job-killing carbon tax, trash talking Canada on the international stage and supporting cop shooters like Gary Freeman.
    While we on this side of the House have a real plan for hard-working Canadians, the Leader of the Opposition and his party seem to have their priorities mixed up. We will continue to work hard for Canadians and remain focused on the economy.

  (1420)  

[Translation]

Conservative Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, although I have received numerous compliments on my tourtière, no one has ever told me it would make me a wonderful wife. I must admit that I have never had the opportunity to cook for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, who would fit right in on Mad Men with his view of women.
    This vision unfortunately represents the Conservatives' philosophy. They are remaining silent on this issue, and meanwhile, the member for Langley is leading a backbench revolt. He is openly calling for more freedom so that he can attack a woman's right to choose.
    Canadians deserve better than a party torn between its old macho men making sexist comments and these young men trying to trample on women's rights.
    This saga makes it clear that it is the Prime Minister's Office in Ottawa that decides what will be said in Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Yukon.
    The NDP is pro-choice. We believe in a woman's right to choose and in an MP's right to freedom of expression.

[English]

World Autism Awareness Day

    Mr. Speaker, April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day and 15 years since my son Jaden was diagnosed. As I have shared many times here, life with autism really is an adventure, unique for every family living with it.
     Our world today is one in which our 13-year-old daughter babysits our 17-year-old son, a world in which I often discover my iPad YouTube viewing history filled with Barney episodes and home video clips of airplane takeoffs and landings posted by random strangers from around the globe, a world in which visitors to our home experience odd and memorable moments, like the dinner this past summer when Jaden suddenly decided to guzzle Italian salad dressing straight from the bottle.
    From time to time, when I tell someone Jaden has autism, they will mention Rain Man and ask if he has some kind of special power. The answer, of course, is yes. No matter what someone's mood is, he can bring a moment of complete joy without uttering a single word.
     I have even seen him bring members from all sides of this crazy place together on occasion, and I cannot think of a more special power than that.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[Translation]

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, despite the finance minister's claims, there are tax hikes worth billions of dollars in his latest budget.
    He should read the second annex to the budget: a tax on credit unions, a tax on safety deposit boxes and a tax on hospital parking.
    The Prime Minister promised that there would be no tax hikes.
    Why did he let his Minister of Finance contradict him?
    Mr. Speaker, the exact opposite is true.
    I know that the NDP wants to increase the GST for consumers across Canada. It wants to raise taxes for job creators and, more specifically, it advocates a carbon tax of more than $20 billion.
    Our commitment, recognized today by the OECD, is to balance the budget while keeping federal taxes low.
    Mr. Speaker, with answers like that, it is no wonder Conservative backbenchers are revolting.
    New customs tariffs will increase product prices across the board.
    The Conservatives are also looking to take $205 million from credit union customers and millions of dollars more from those who are sick and from their families who use hospital parking.
    Why did the Prime Minister not keep his promise?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, I know that the NDP is in favour of raising taxes in order to sink us deeper in debt and increase spending. However, that is not what Canadians want.
    Today the OECD indicated that Canada is keeping its taxes low. That is our commitment to the Canadian people.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I understand why the government's backbench is frustrated. Answers like that have been frustrating me for quite some time.
    The truth is clearly spelled out in black and white on pages 331 and 332. This is not a make-believe tax, unlike the kind the Conservatives love to accuse us of; these are billions in actual new taxes that will impact real people.
    With all these half truths, can the Prime Minister not understand why Canadians are angry and his backbench is frustrated?
    Mr. Speaker, we will have a vote on the budget tonight, a budget that has been very well-received by Canadians.
    I know we will have very strong support on this side of the House. I hope members on that side of the House will finally give up these attempts to convince people they would somehow be better off with higher taxes, somehow be better off at raising tax rates on employers, somehow better off by hiking the GST back up to 7%, somehow better off by making a carbon tax at $20 billion.
    The OECD and others have recognized that Canada is on the right track, balancing our budget, keeping our debt low and keeping our taxes down.

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, it is the Prime Minister who has hit Canadians with higher taxes and his caucus is in revolt.
    Speaking of rogue Conservatives, we now have yet another Conservative ethics scandal. We have the ministers of trade, aboriginal affairs and industry who all accepted calls from a former colleague. They received insider information about the joint venture between Progress Energy and the Chinese state-owned Petronas.
     There are rules around this kind of behaviour. Why did these ministers not immediately convey this information about these calls to the Ethics Commissioner?
    Mr. Speaker, in fact, that is exactly what happened. It was this caucus, this party, this government that actually created the Federal Accountability Act back in 2006. We are the ones who created the restrictions on lobbying. We wanted to ensure there was more transparency and accountability. That is exactly what we did.
    Members of our caucus reported this matter to the commissioner. We are acting by our own rules. I wish the opposition would do the same thing.
    Mr. Speaker, that is the problem. The Conservatives are following their own rules. They are not following the rules that belong to all Canadians. Being Conservatives really does mean that they never have to accept accountability.
    This is another blow to the credibility of the Minister of Industry, who is already neck deep in ethical scandals. He has two ethics violations and has two other investigations under way.
    Why is the Prime Minister not setting an ethical standard for the members of cabinet?
    Mr. Speaker, as I already explained, this matter was referred to the ethics commissioner by us. We are following the rules that were duly passed by Parliament.
    However, on the other side of the House, that party, the NDP caucus, had a $300,000 payment by the unions, contrary to our laws, contrary to the finances act. That is its record. I will put our record against its record any day of the week.
    The Speaker: The hon. member for Toronto Centre.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, they may want to wait for the question before they stand up and applaud.
    I would like to ask the Prime Minister a question, and I have a simple proposal to make to him. We have had the leader of the Democrats in the House of Representatives say that her understanding from a recent conversation with the leader of the New Democratic Party was that Canadians were opposed to the pipeline to the United States. I wonder if the Prime Minister would consider this. Instead of simply having hockey coaches talk to the President of the United States about the importance of this issue, would the Prime Minister consider leading a delegation of team Canada, members of this House who agree that this is an important question for Canada and the premiers of Canada? Would the Prime Minister consider leading that delegation?

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, I can certainly assure the leader of the Liberal Party that our government is making its views known at every level of the American government on an ongoing basis on this matter that is important, in our judgment, to trade, to jobs and to energy security on both sides of the border.
    Obviously, I would be delighted to work with all Canadians who favour these good things for our country. If the leader of the Liberal Party could point me to any, I would certainly be willing to take that list.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, sometimes tough economic times create opportunities.
    We have premiers going to Washington as private individuals, and others are as well. I think it is important that the United States is fully aware that it is in Canada's national interest to have the opportunity to export what we produce in this country to the United States and elsewhere.
    Why not have a real team Canada, one that includes members of the opposition, premiers and other people, under the leadership of the Prime Minister of Canada, of course?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the House that this government is coordinating its activities with the other governments in Canada, the vast majority of which strongly support this project. We will continue to convey that message.
    Obviously, if the members of the Liberal Party agree and are willing to join in on this effort, I am always happy to accept such an offer of assistance.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I know it is hard for the Prime Minister to believe this, but actually I think this is a good idea. There is no catch to this and no side to this. There is simply a statement that says we have an opportunity to reinforce the importance of the economics of this federation. We have an opportunity to reinforce co-operation between the provinces, between the provinces and the federal government, and dare I say it, even among those in the coalition of the willing in the House who believe that actually getting our products to market is a good idea.
    I would like to ask the Prime Minister to lead the way.
    Mr. Speaker, as I said, we are working with every level, with the private sector and with other levels of government, certainly, to communicate this message. I would be delighted, as I said, to work with any members of the Liberal Party who share our objectives.
    I think what I am saying to the leader of the Liberal Party is that I think this is a good idea. I wish he had such good ideas a bit earlier.
    While I am on my feet, I do want to thank him for his service, for bringing his intellect, his patriotism and his tenacity to the House of Commons.

Taxation

    Mr. Speaker, going-back to the budget, the Conservatives' doublespeak has reached new heights. After promising no new taxes, pages 331 and 332 of the budget have in fact a long list of tax increases. There are increases to credit unions, new taxes on safety deposit boxes and a $1.1 billion tax hike on imported consumer goods.
    Now that the minister of state has had 24 hours to reflect on yesterday's answers, would he now acknowledge that he was wrong and admit that the budget included new tax hikes?
    Mr. Speaker, I congratulate the hon. member for getting up to page 331 of the budget.
    What I would like to say are the facts, and let us let the facts answer this question. Since 2006, we have actually eliminated 1,900 different tariffs. What has that accomplished? That has provided $525 million in tax relief every year since then.
    That is what we do with taxes. We lower them.

  (1435)  

    Mr. Speaker, I guess girls can cook but they cannot read budgets.
    Canadians can check for themselves on pages 331 and 332 of the budget. All the new Conservative taxes are laid out there.
    Yesterday the minister claimed that no one would find tax increases in this; yet we have found plenty of them. Let me try a specific example. Could the Minister of State for Finance acknowledge that the budget raises taxes on life insurance?
    Mr. Speaker, as part of our low tax plan we continue to reduce taxes in every way. In fact, $65 million in tax reductions comes from the six free trade agreements we have signed since forming government. That is over and above the $525 million that I referred to in the previous answer. That is a grand total of $590 million in tax relief every year, and I believe that the NDP voted against most of that.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, when we see how the cabinet keeps its members from talking, we can understand why the minister of state is avoiding talking about tax hikes in the budget. However, the Conservatives are using these tax hikes to dip into seniors' wallets.
    Seniors are more likely to use health services, and they are the ones who will pay for the higher parking taxes when they go to the hospital. Then there is the fact that the Conservatives are raising customs tariffs on everyday products.
    Why are the Conservatives raising taxes on products and services that seniors use?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, one thing that has been overlooked by the opposition is the fact that we are supporting palliative care in the budget. We have a very good program that was initiated at the hospital here in Ottawa. That is helping with end-of-life care for seniors. That is pretty important.
    To answer specifically the hon. member's question, these are companies that are supplying parking to hospitals and they were getting a special tax reduction. We do not think that is necessary.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, unlike some of his colleagues, the minister of state can still talk about his file. Congratulations. However, could he stop changing the subject?
    Raising taxes on credit unions is bad news for seniors because many of them are members. Their dividends will be taxed, as will their life insurance premiums, most likely. If the Conservatives are wondering where I got this information, they can take a look at pages 367 and 368 of their own budget.
    Why is the minister of state not aware of the contents of his own budget? Why is he saying that taxes are not being raised?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, speaking of credit unions, I would remind the members of the official opposition that in budget 2010 they actually voted against both of those budget implementation acts. We actually approved what the credit unions had asked us for. As credit unions are growing, and we continue to support credit unions, they actually wanted to be federally regulated. We put that in the budget.
    We support credit unions, unlike the opposition.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Minister of State is skating around this issue, so it is no surprise that there is a snowstorm of opposition to the Conservatives in Quebec that is snowballing across the country.
    The Minister of Finance was clear. He said that he would not increase taxes. The Prime Minister was clear. He said that he would not increase taxes, yet this Conservative budget includes new taxes on hospital parking, labour-sponsored funds, credit unions, bicycles, safety deposit boxes and small businesses. The Conservatives and the Minister of State flat out deny what is on pages 331 and 332 of the budget.
    My question is simple. Why are the Conservatives refusing to tell Canadians the truth?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are happy to tell Canadians the truth.
    The fact is, we have reduced 150 different taxes for Canadians. The average Canadian family of four is paying $3,200 less every year.
    I will quote the OECD from today that says:
    Canada has, over the last five or six years, already decreased the tax burden on low incomes a lot, especially for families with children.

  (1440)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I was wondering how the Minister of State would be able to defend the indefensible. He does so by talking about anything but the 2013 budget.
    The Minister of State for Finance is repudiating the work done by the Minister of Finance. He is repudiating the taxes in the 2013 budget. He would rather make up stories about a future NDP government's policies than talk about the tax hikes his government put in this budget.
    The Conservatives owe it to Canadians to be honest. Will they have the courage to do so, or will they continue to deny the truth?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the opposition actually has the opportunity this evening to support the budget and support the accelerated capital cost allowance for small businesses. Why did we put that in the budget? It is because businesses asked for it. Businesses want to expand and grow their opportunities in this country.
    There is a lot in this budget that Canadians asked for. We have never had a budget with so much broad support across the country. The only people who seem to be opposed to this budget are those sitting opposite.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that is nonsense.
    Let me tell it like it is. The only real reason the Conservatives are abolishing the labour-sponsored funds tax credit is because the funds are a union initiative. They could not care less about how these funds benefit economic development or help people save. A workers' group is dangerous to them.
    Even Canada's Venture Capital and Private Equity Association is denouncing the Conservatives' decision. The association does not understand the mixed signals the Conservatives are sending.
    Like the association, the NDP wonders why the Conservatives are attacking investments in our own backyard.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not understand why my colleague is against this measure, which is good for small investors. Investors in Canada and Quebec will stop subsidizing very well-capitalized labour-sponsored funds to the tune of $140 million a year.
    Now, these labour-sponsored funds will have to be competitive and have good returns to attract their investor clients. My colleagues opposite should support this measure, which is good for entrepreneurs and small investors.

Canada Revenue Agency

    Mr. Speaker, the minister seems a bit angry and frustrated, much like one of his party's backbenchers.
    While the government is increasing taxes on hospital parking, safety deposit boxes, small businesses, credit unions and groceries, it is still not imposing sanctions on people who evade taxes. Their figures on tax evasion do not cut it.
    How can the Conservatives claim to be combatting tax evasion while they are making cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency's budget?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we are keeping tax rates low by closing tax loopholes and making the system fairer for Canadians. We will launch the stop international tax evasion program to improve identification of tax evasion to protect honest Canadians. Since 2006, our government has introduced more than 75 measures to improve the integrity of our tax system.
     If opposition members are serious about cracking down on tax evasion, then they will support our budget.
    Mr. Speaker, they are making up numbers on tax cheats, making up answers about tax increases and even their own backbenchers do not trust the Prime Minister.
    The reality is, Conservatives are raising taxes on almost everything while cutting the people who go after tax cheats. How can they expect any credibility with their claims of cracking down on enforcement when $100 million is being cut from the CRA and 3,000 staff are being eliminated?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to ensuring value for Canadian taxpayers' money, and not one audit position will be eliminated. As a matter of fact, we will add to those positions. That is why, since 2007-08, we have reduced spending on overhead activities, such as travel and office supplies, hospitality and consultants.
    Budget 2013 savings apply only to our internal operations, such as administrative costs. That is why we do expect the opposition to support our budget, because it is good value for taxpayers.

  (1445)  

[Translation]

The Budget

    Mr. Speaker, the budget is always important to Quebeckers, but this one contains two items that are going to cause them some serious problems.
    The first problem is the attack on labour-sponsored funds, which have provided an important foundation for venture capital in the province of Quebec.
    The second major problem is that the government is spending less on infrastructure this year than last year, and it will spend even less next year.
    Those are the two major problems that this budget poses for Quebeckers.
    Mr. Speaker, I have spoken with a number of municipal representatives in Quebec in the past few hours about the new infrastructure plan, and that is not how they are interpreting things. People see this as the largest plan Canada has ever seen.
    As far as investment in infrastructure is concerned, the current building Canada program will come to an end on March 31, 2014, and the new plan will be ready on April 1, 2014. We hope that every province will sign on as soon as possible.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the answer from the minister, but the fact remains that in 2013-14, that is to say the fiscal year under way, the government is actually going to be spending $1.5 billion less in the fund that last year was $1.7 billion. This year it is simply going to be $200 million.
    How can the minister stand up and say this is great news for the municipalities, when, in fact, they are going to be spending $1.5 billion less?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague knows very well that in Quebec, we cannot work directly with municipalities. We have to go through the province. Municipalities have to send their projects to the province, and the province sends the projects to the federal government. We pay when we receive the invoices, and that is that.
    If the province does not send us the invoice at the right time, we will pay it later. That is just cash management.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I will give the minister another chance to explain to people why the government will be spending $200 million under budget 2013-14, when it spent $1.7 billion last year.
    The minister must recognize that having less money in this year's budget than in last year's is a problem. In our opinion, that is what is wrong with the government's plan.
    Mr. Speaker, the building Canada fund, which was launched in 2007 and will end on March 31, 2014, provided $33 billion. The money that is being invested this year came from that program.
    Our new program is for April 1, 2014, and subsequent years. As I said, in Quebec, the federal government cannot work directly with municipalities. Municipalities in Quebec have to send their projects to the Government of Quebec, which sends the invoice to the federal government. We pay the province when we receive the invoice.

[English]

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, under the Conservative government, the situation for first nations students on reserve is only getting worse. A new report released yesterday shows that some on-reserve schools are receiving almost 50% less than the provincial schools, and yet the budget did not include any money to close this increasing funding gap.
    The government has an obligation to fund first nations students at an equitable rate. Why are Conservatives ignoring the funding needs of on-reserve schools and the students?
    In last year's budget, we invested significant resources for first nations education, and the opposition voted against it. Tonight they have a chance to redeem themselves by voting in favour of first nations education in Canada's economic action plan, version 2013.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, on the other side of the House, there is no political will to establish a respectful relationship with aboriginal peoples. The new minister's rhetoric does not compensate for the budget's silence on aboriginal affairs. The Assembly of First Nations is holding a forum on treaties right now as a follow-up to the January 11 meeting. However, we still do not know which of the Conservatives is responsible for following up.
    Who is responsible for following up on the commitments made at the January 11 meeting, and what will be the final result?

  (1450)  

    Mr. Speaker, our government's plan focuses on jobs, growth and prosperity for everyone, including aboriginal peoples. Responsible resource development should include aboriginal peoples, especially in northern Canada.
    That is why we are maintaining our shared priorities such as education and the allocation of new resources for skills training.
    Unfortunately, the NDP is more interested in increasing the cost of living for Canadians living in northern areas with its carbon tax. Treating the forestry and mining industries like a disease and going abroad—
    Order.
    The hon. member for Beauharnois—Salaberry.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, even with a new Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, we are not seeing any meaningful results.
    Muzzling scientists, refusing to combat climate change and doing away with the round table on the environment and the economy were not enough for the Conservatives. Now, they want to attack the two decades of work done by this independent research group and the findings it made.
    Will the minister get rid of all the environmental policy recommendations that he does not like before putting this research on the Internet or will he respect the integrity of this research?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, my colleague has completely mis-characterized reality. In fact, the national round table's entire e-collection has been distributed to over 20 libraries, including university libraries, across the country. As well, all national round table web holdings will be archived on the Library and Archives Canada website. As well, all official NRTEE publications have been uploaded, in both official languages, onto three online virtual libraries.
    Our government is proud of our capacity to protect both the environment and the economy.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, we know that the only time the Conservatives talk about the environment is in television ads.
    It should come as no surprise that Canadians no longer have any confidence in this Conservative government.
    The Conservatives have a tendency to make compromising information disappear. Let us not forget about the sudden disappearance of the word “environment” from the Navigable Waters Protection Act website. They are preparing to do the same thing again.
    It is time that the Conservatives stopped muzzling scientists who do not support their policies.
    Will the minister commit to protecting and releasing all the documents resulting from the 25 years of research conducted by the round table on the environment and the economy?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I think I followed my colleague through that rambling question.
    As I just said, the national round table e-collection is being distributed to over 20 libraries, including university libraries, right across the country. At the same time, all round table web holdings are quite appropriately being archived on the Library and Archives Canada website.
    I am pleased to see this body of work preserved and available, as it should be, through university libraries.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians are concerned about crime.
    The Ontario Superior Court today released a decision in the matter of R. v. Kachkar. Mr. Kachkar was found not criminally responsible by the court.
    Could the Minister of Justice please provide the government's position on cases where individuals are found not criminally responsible?
    Mr. Speaker, while we do not comment on specific cases, I can say the government is taking action with regard to accused individuals found not criminally responsible. The not criminally responsible reform act would ensure that the protection of the public is paramount, create a new designation for high-risk individuals, and ensure that victims have a greater voice in Canada's justice system. This is in addition to the 30 measures we have already passed to keep our streets and communities safe.
    Canadians can rest assured that this government will continue to stand up for the victims of crime.

[Translation]

Regional Economic Development

    Mr. Speaker, there are three unmistakeable landmarks no matter where you go in Quebec: a church, a “caisse pop” and a post office.
    We are not going to talk about churches because they are not a political issue.
    However, in the 2013 budget, the Conservatives are directly attacking caisses populaires—credit unions—and, since 2012, the post offices have been paying for the Conservatives' relentlessness. Sixteen post offices in Quebec have closed in less than a year, and the epidemic is still raging.
    What will be left of our regions once the Conservatives have finished their dirty work?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, as my colleague knows quite well, the Canada Post Corporation is an organization that operates according to the rules set by its board of directors.
    It is important to remind these people that the Canada Post Corporation is having to deal with a 20% drop in its market in recent years. In 2011, it had an operating deficit of $253 million.
    They would resolve this by devising a $21 billion carbon tax. As for us, we will let that organization make courageous decisions to secure the future of the postal service across Canada.

Canada Post

    Mr. Speaker, people in my riding are writing to me to ask why the Conservative government is shutting down their post office. Since the beginning of last year, 30 post offices across Canada have been shut down, including 16 in Quebec and no fewer than 10 in Montreal.
    We know that the Prime Minister prefers FedEx, but why does he want to prevent people from using Canada Post's countrywide service?
    Mr. Speaker, I think that it is important to tell the hon. member exactly what the situation is with the postal service and Canada Post, a crown corporation that operates independently and makes difficult business decisions.
    I said earlier that Canada Post had an operating deficit of $253 billion in 2011. If my colleague would like, I can send her the figures by Purolator.
    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government is quietly privatizing Canada Post. Canadians want to keep their post offices because this is a local service that is important to them and their businesses. Closing post offices for ideological reasons is hurting our regions' economy.
    Can the minister tell us how many more Canada Post offices the Conservatives are going to close?
    Mr. Speaker, it is hard for the NDP when we talk about the economy. Every time a difficult decision has to be made, it becomes ideological. Everything is always about ideology to them. In my opinion, an operating deficit of $253 million is not an ideological matter but an economic one.
    We are going to let the people at Canada Post make the decisions and ensure the sustainability of postal service across this country for a long time to come.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, crown corporations under the government are in a stranglehold. They are not at arm's-length from the government.
     After serving the community for 100 years, Canada Post announced the closing of the Sandwich Towne post office, a disrespectful move, considering the community has offered to work with Canada Post to find a solution, but to the tin ear of the Ottawa Conservatives, the community's concerns simply go unnoticed.
    Why is the government so callous about these service cuts? Why is it ignoring students, seniors and persons with disabilities being hurt by these reckless Conservative cuts?
    Mr. Speaker, he can say what he wants, but as a crown corporation, Canada Post operates at arm's-length from the federal government. As such, Canada Post has assured me that all permanent employees will continue to have jobs and will continue to work for the Canadian population, but as I said, they have to face very difficult times, because their market has decreased by 20% since 2007, and that is not an easy situation for them.

Elections Canada

    Mr. Speaker, I wonder if the Prime Minister has considered again the question of the power of Elections Canada with respect to the issue of Peter Penashue, the former member of the Conservative Party. I would like to ask the Prime Minister whether he would now reconsider the wisdom of calling a byelection just at the time when Mr. Penashue's investigation under Elections Canada is still going on.
    Mr. Speaker, I too would like to add my thanks to that member as he poses yet another final question as leader of the Liberal Party.
    On the question at hand, we have in Labrador a great leader in Peter Penashue, who has delivered jobs for his constituents through the Lower Churchill project. He has stood firm in his support of the abolition of the long gun registry and has defended the polar bear hunt and the seal hunt. He is a great defender of rural rights and rural values, and we are confident that he will be returned to this place to continue his good work.

  (1500)  

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, President Clinton, President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron have all indicated that over the last few years, they have had a change of heart on the subject of gay marriage. In light of the fact that there are today thousands of Canadian couples who have celebrated their relationships, and those relationships have been recognized by the provinces, by the states and by civil authorities, could the Prime Minister tell us whether he, in fact, has had a similar change of heart to his colleagues around the western world?
    Mr. Speaker, as members know, there is legislation before Parliament right now that deals with this issue.
    I would hope that the members of the opposition would get on board with us and get that thing passed through Parliament. That is what we all should be doing in that area.

[Translation]

International Trade

    Mr. Speaker, when the Minister of Finance went to South Korea to avoid talking about his budget, he claimed that Canada was close to signing a free trade agreement with that country. However, negotiations have been deteriorating for years and are far from over. With the Conservatives at the helm, Canada's trade surplus has turned into a $67 billion annual trade deficit.
    When will the Conservatives admit that they have failed to put in place a trade policy that benefits Canadians?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is pretty rich for NDP members to stand in this House and claim that they support trade.
    They send their leader down to the United States, where he ignores all of the science on the Keystone XL project, undermines our efforts to grow our economy and badmouths Canadians and our economy. In fact, he asks Americans not to do business with Canada.
    The NDP is not only anti-trade and not only anti-investment; now it is anti-science and anti-common sense. It has no credibility on trade.
    Mr. Speaker, what is hurting the Canadian economy is Conservative incompetence on trade.
    The Conservatives' ideological approach to trade is now becoming totally incoherent. The Conservatives say they want to break down barriers, but now announce in the budget that they are hiking tariffs on 72 countries, including Gabon and Botswana, which are hardly developed nations.
    Canadians need a consistent trade policy, one that actually delivers good deals for Canada and creates value-added jobs in this country.
    Why are Conservatives hurting our businesses and making Canadians pay $330 million more on thousands of everyday items?
    Mr. Speaker, it is a surprise to hear that question coming from the NDP. In fact, this is the first question the official critic for trade from the NDP has asked me about trade in four months.
    When they claim that they are in favour—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order. Order. The hon. Minister of International Trade still has the floor.
    Mr. Speaker, when the NDP talks about fair trade, it actually means no trade at all.
    Let us think about this: the member for British Columbia Southern Interior recently said that trade agreements threaten the very existence of our nation.
    What credibility—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    The hon. member for Prince Albert.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, for many years we have heard first nations say they want and deserve greater transparency and accountability for their chiefs and council.
    Our government introduced the first nations financial transparency act so that first nations members can have access to basic financial information about their elected chiefs and council, access that all other Canadians expect and deserve. Shockingly, the NDP and Liberals opposed this bill.
    Can the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development please update the House on the status of this bill?
    Despite opposition from the NDP and Liberals, I am pleased to report that we have delivered on our promise to aboriginal communities and their members from across Canada.
    The first nations financial transparency act will receive royal assent today. Passage of this legislation into law represents a milestone for first nations community members and leaders who have been calling for this kind of change. We are proud of the work that has been done with first nations to ensure that this legislation will benefit them now and for generations to come.

  (1505)  

[Translation]

Canadian Heritage

    Mr. Speaker, I have a straightforward question for the government. Today, we are hearing rumours that the board of directors plans on changing the name of CBC/Radio-Canada.
    Given the reputation of CBC/Radio-Canada, can the government tell us today if the name “CBC/Radio-Canada” will be kept for the years to come?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I really hope that is not his last question.
    No, the name of CBC/Radio-Canada is not going to change. The name is actually established in the Broadcasting Act, section 35, and we have no plans to change it.

[Translation]

Agriculture and Agri-Food

    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!

[English]

    Order, please. There will be time in a few more minutes to carry on that part of the conversation.
    The hon. member for Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, in 2008, the member for Lévis—Bellechasse came to Montmagny on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to announce $3 million in financial assistance for a company called PureCell Technologies Inc.
    The company has since changed its name to PurGenesis Technologies. The number of promised jobs has multiplied, yet the factory remains empty.
    This program was supposed to help market products that were ready to be put on the shelves. Five years later, the product is not even in production. What is more, PurGenesis Technologies has received another business start-up loan.
    Why did PurGenesis Technologies receive financial assistance for a product that was not ready? What mechanisms are in place to ensure that these jobs we have heard so much about will be created?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is a repayable loan. The member opposite did allude to that. The company is legally obligated to pay back every cent to Canadian taxpayers. It also falls under clear-cut audits that are currently under way to make sure that all of that money was spent properly. We look forward to those jobs filling that building in the near future.

Natural Resources

    Mr. Speaker, the oil sands are an absolutely incredibly important resource that creates thousands of jobs and growth right across this country. While the NDP leader attacks the growth in this sector and actually calls it a disease, the Conservative government keeps fighting for jobs in the building trades, jobs in manufacturing and jobs in the local economy.
    My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. Can he update the House on the latest development in our government's efforts to create jobs and grow the economy in Canada's resource sector?
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the U.S. defence department released a study that concluded that the oil sands would have no significant effect on the environment. This is yet more independent evidence that Keystone is environmentally sound. Unfortunately, the NDP leader rejects the science behind Keystone and instead flies to Washington to attack Canadian jobs and our national interests.
    On this side of the House, we support science, jobs and Canadian prosperity.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, confidential documents on the Giant Mine cleanup demonstrate it actually costs less to protect the environment than to just let polluters off the hook. The Treasury Board now pegs the cost of cleanup of the arsenic trioxide at double the government's previous claim, $903 million.
    Will the government admit it is wrong? Protecting the environment protects the taxpayer as well. For $1 billion, surely we can find a better way to treat this poison other than freezing it underground.
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that the need to clean up this mine is urgent. That is why we have taken immediate action to address some of the urgent needs, and we are working to ensure that a full remediation is put in place. We expect to receive the report from the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board very soon and we will continue to take the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of workers in nearby communities.

[Translation]

Air Canada

    Mr. Speaker, after being brutally thrown out on the street—in violation of the Air Canada Public Participation Act—and after being forced to go before the courts to have their rights recognized, while Ottawa defended Air Canada's untenable position, the former Aveos workers are now the victims of the federal government's dogged determination.
    The government is demanding that they repay their employment insurance benefits on the pretext that they received compensation from Air Canada eight months after the sudden closure of Aveos. That is a betrayal. How shameful.
    Will this government stop attacking workers?

  (1510)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we sympathize with those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. EI is made available to eligible individuals in a timely manner because of the amount of time that it takes to finalize bankruptcy proceedings. Individuals are made aware that any severance that they receive in a bankruptcy process will be considered earnings and, therefore, could be deducted from their EI.

Hon. Member for Toronto Centre

[Tributes]
    Pursuant to order made on Friday, March 22, the House will now proceed to tributes for the hon. member for Toronto Centre.
    I will recognize the hon. member for Wascana.
    Mr. Speaker, for the next few minutes the House will be focusing some attention on the hon. member for Toronto Centre.

[Translation]

    He certainly does not need our help to draw attention, but today, his last day in the House as leader of the Liberal Party, he deserves a tribute.

[English]

    Amid all the eulogistic things that are likely to be said today, I remind members at the outset that the MP for Toronto Centre is not dead, neither will he be retiring anytime soon. He is just changing roles.
    We are going to pay a tribute to him because, and I hate that word “interim”, his leadership over the past 22 months has been anything but interim. It has been robust and unstinting, skilful and substantive, and readily applauded by the media, the public, our caucus, the party and indeed by his opponents in the House.
    In the middle of his job as leader, we named him Canada's parliamentarian of the year. When I say “we”, I mean all of us in this House together. His peers in all parties voted him number one. God knows the Liberal Party could not have stacked that vote. We were not that organized even when we were in government. That parliamentarian of the year award, amidst all our travails as the so-called third party is a large and unique signal of the respect the member for Toronto Centre has earned across the partisan divide.
    As members can imagine, our national Liberal caucus meeting this morning was filled with many emotions as we thanked our leader for the work that he has done over the past two years or so, years that were both difficult and crucial but not without a bit of humour. Like Bette Midler, the MP for St. Paul's over there gushed this morning that the leader has been the “wind beneath [her] wings”. However, the member for Cape Breton—Canso said that maybe someone just passed a bit of gas.
    The leader himself addressed the caucus with some poetry. "You, the unwilling,” he said, “led by the all-knowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much for so long with so little, we now feel qualified to do anything with nothing”.
    He went on to say, “I know I have not answered all of your questions. The answers I have given only serve to raise big new problems. In some ways, I feel just as confused as ever, but I believe I am now confused on a higher plane and about more important things”. It was indeed quite a caucus meeting.
    As other parties in the House like to remind us, the Liberal Party has endured some difficult times since the election of May 2011, perilous times because survival was not guaranteed. More than anyone else, the member for Toronto Centre has given the Liberal Party the opportunity to have a future.

[Translation]

    More than anyone, the hon. member for Toronto Centre has given the Liberal Party hope for the future.

  (1515)  

[English]

    He was the right person in the right place at a critical time. With his deep well of experience, his storehouse of knowledge, his understanding and judgment, the vast array of Canadians and international personalities whom he knows and who know him and whose respect he has earned, his oratorical skills in both official languages, his spontaneity in question period, his easy interaction with the media, the deep respect he shows for Parliament and the institutions of our democracy, the consistent principles that guide his conduct when the cameras are rolling and equally when they are not, his kindness and decency; these are characteristics that have shaped his leadership.
    Far beyond the House, people struggling with issues such as mental illness, for example, people who have been marginalized by life's circumstances, aboriginal peoples searching for new hope and respect, and many others, have seen in this Liberal leader a reason to believe in the potential and compassion that Canada can offer. Perhaps more than any others, the member for Toronto Centre lives by what Laurier would describe as “sunny ways”, that positive instinct to see the glass always half full, not half empty.
    Yes, tough times come along in politics. One reaction is to get angry, to grow bitter, and if one does that, one will diminish and fade. The best lesson from the member for Toronto Centre is to always rise above the petty, look for the best in people, even one's opponents, be fair and always try to build a more inclusive society and a better country.

[Translation]

    It was with that attitude that he motivated our caucus and our party, kept us united and helped us to grow, while keeping us visible and relevant.

[English]

    Perhaps his greatest ally in all this work is his spouse and partner, Arlene. A soul mate, helper, adviser, comforter, confidant and pillar of strength, she and their daughters, Lisa, Judith and Eleanor, have been absolutely indispensable to what has been achieved. Today we say “thank you” to all of them.
    We have a future to fight for and hope for another day because of the member for Toronto Centre, and we are grateful.
    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to offer remarks on behalf of the Prime Minister and my colleagues in the government caucus to pay tribute to the member for Toronto Centre as he steps down as leader of the Liberal Party.
    The member for Toronto Centre will not know this, but about 20 years ago, I was thinking about running for the Ontario legislature. There were two people who especially motivated me. One was Mike Harris and the other was the member opposite. Now I affectionately refer to him as my former premier and I can also say, certainly one of the more fiscally responsible premiers in my lifetime in my province.
    His obvious intellect, capacity to think on his feet and speak extemporaneously raised the level of debate in this place. The central role he has played in debate each and every day in this place will be greatly missed. While I often do not agree with the member opposite, we call those days weekdays, I have come to respect him, to seek his counsel and to learn from his perspective. Therefore, it is a real honour for me to join in paying tribute to the member for Toronto Centre.
    A fierce partisan, a skilled debater, he is one of those rare members of the House who not only commands respect of both colleagues and opponents, but also of past generations of parliamentarians, as well as those now sitting.
    With a long political career, dating back to 1978, the hon. member has served with such elder statesmen as John Diefenbaker, Allan J. MacEachen and Stanley Knowles. He served with them and no doubt sparred with them, for as a parliamentarian, he was an ever-armed opponent.
    I must say that in part I blame that old lion of the Prairies, the Right Hon. John George Diefenbaker. The member for Toronto Centre served with Diefenbaker and he will no doubt recall this conversation. Shortly after his first election to the House, Mr. Diefenbaker, already impressed, asked to see him.
    “You're making quite a name for yourself”, he said. “Let me give you some advice”.
    If hon. members can believe this 35 years later, the member, who was then known as the member for Broadview, replied, “I need all the help I can get, sir”.
    Dief gave him some advice. He said, “Some people will tell you to take your time, to sit back and wait your turn. My advice is don't take any nonsense from anybody”.
    Unfortunately, he followed Dief's advice and it was the old Progressive Conservative Party and the other parties that faced the music.
    However, provincial politics called. These were the days of hard campaigning. From October 1978 to November 1982, the hon. member fought four elections. In the course of his long career he would fight seven more. In Ontario, he took a party with a deeply ingrained opposition mentality and brought it to power. Many people were surprised at his evolution from protest to power and, by his own account, not least the member opposite.
    When his party was unable to grasp the difference between protest and power he wisely shifted to the right, not far enough, however, but he did shift to the right. There are at least two or three members opposite who I wish he had brought to the right with him. Indeed, there are not many politicians who could start a speech like he did one night last fall. He started his speech, “My fellow red Tories, my fellow New Democrats, my fellow Liberals”.
    In a more serious vein, today allows us the opportunity to pay tribute to the hon. member's entire family. As he has often joked, he was born in a log embassy. However, what is no joke is the service to Canada performed by the hon. member's late and distinguished father, Saul.
    Saul Rae was part of Canada's delegation to the Quebec conference back in 1943. In the pictures of Mackenzie King, Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, taken in Quebec, we can see him there. The times have shown that the same spirit of public service that made Saul Rae a valuable confidant of great men has passed in abundance to his children. It is a spirit that we all may celebrate today, regardless of party or faction.

  (1520)  

    In paying tribute to the member opposite, I would be remiss is I did not single out someone who deserves at least as much credit, if not more credit than he does. I am of course referring to his wife Arlene. We can see that he is always in a better mood when she is around. That is why we see her in the halls of this place so often. The member opposite is truly blessed to have someone who has been so supportive of all his time in public service. It is fitting to recognize that the burden of public service is not borne only by those who hold office, so we pay tribute to his wife and to his three daughters, Judith, Lisa and Eleanor.
    I have been privileged in my dealings with the member for Toronto Centre. While the hon. member and I have had our differences of opinion in the House, as one would expect, I have found him at the same time to be forthright and insightful on the occasions when I have sought his private views.
    Upon this last matter, I am utterly convinced. One could argue with the hon. member for Toronto Centre, one could disagree with him, but one could, however, never question his love for Canada, for it is deep, profound and true.
    Mr. Speaker, I would first echo the comments from my colleagues, both the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the member for Wascana. They were eloquent and caring in their tribute to my friend from Toronto Centre.
    I will quite intentionally keep my comments quite short for two very important reasons. On behalf of the official opposition, I heard instructions earlier today when we were preparing this tribute that each of the speakers would adopt the general approach of about two minutes. I suppose my friend from Toronto has inspired us all to say more by demonstration of his own exercise in question period today.
    I will try to restrict myself for the second important reason. I know the Liberal caucus has a dinner planned for this evening and if we extend too far in our comments today, it will cut into that dinner. There is a rumour that the member for Beauséjour is actually paying for the dinner and I know my friend from Toronto will want to take every opportunity and every minute he can of the unique and unusual generosity from the member.

  (1525)  

[Translation]

    He is not retiring today. He is simply stepping down as leader of the Liberal Party. I will keep my memories for another day, when he truly retires, which I hope will be in the distant future.

[English]

    It is fitting to talk about the member's ability to be both sharp and pointed in his attacks and criticisms of the government of the day, as he is open and gracious in his own self-deprecation and self-awareness. I recall a debate he and I had the pleasure of sharing in at the National Arts Centre not too long ago, where he commented to the very large, gracious and happy crowd that he always wanted to be the leader of the Liberal Party in the worst way and he finally had that opportunity. He was able to show his grace and determination in sometimes difficult circumstances, using his ability and his obvious skills as an orator and a parliamentarian in the true sense of the word.
    I would personally like to extend my appreciation to him, through you, Mr. Speaker, for his consistent and determined effort to raise the issue of the plight of missing and murdered aboriginal women. I know this is an issue and a cause that affects all Canadians. As someone who comes from the northern parts of the country, to hear a member from the urban capital of Canada talking about it with such passion and such grace has been important and moving for me.
    Mr. Speaker, to Arlene and to the family, there have been sacrifices made on their behalf as well over the past number of months. They will get a little more of him back and I am sure that is a great and celebratory thing. It is not often noted enough in this place that we are often here only by the strength and efforts of our families and our friends, who make us available to live the life of public service. I want to thank Arlene for what she has offered.
    We too have differed from time to time on various issues. I will not highlight any of those, only to say that we have shared a common cause and a common purpose in our respect for this place, our further commitment to the country and our love of its people.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join my colleagues in paying tribute to the leader of the Liberal Party, who is stepping down.
    One of the hon. member for Toronto Centre's best qualities is his great eloquence. He has not been quite eloquent enough to convert a sovereignist like me into a federalist like him, but this perfect gentleman who sits in this House is actually a great orator with a wonderful sense of humour.
    His knowledge of the issues and his ability to speak about them make him a formidable opponent. With his great respect for the British parliamentary system and his political opponents, he has always behaved in a dignified manner and been appreciated by everyone.
    He put his personal interests aside to serve those of his party and, in so doing, was able to deal with the many challenges that come with acting as the interim leader. As the quiet strength behind his party, he was able to keep the ship afloat and his troops united during this long transition period.
    The hon. member for Toronto Centre dealt with the media on a daily basis, but we all know that he is in his element when facing the media.
    When we return to the House after the Easter break, he will step aside for a new leader.
    Today is therefore a good time to commend him for the outstanding job he has done in the House and to say that we hope to see him continue the good work he does for his constituents.
    Well done, Bob. Thank you for the great work you do every day to support our democracy. Thank you to the hon. member's family as well for the help and support they have given him throughout his career.

  (1530)  

    Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to join my colleagues in paying tribute to my colleague and friend, the member for Toronto Centre.

[English]

     It is a great honour for me to serve in the House with the member for Toronto Centre in his time as leader of the Liberal Party. The only thing that distinguishes his term from that of others is he has escaped attack ads.
     I took my seat here in June 2011, and I was very happy to find seat 309. There were only 308 members in the House. Seat 309 has its special characteristics. I knew it had recently been vacated by my friend from Sackville—Eastern Shore. However, my friend from Toronto Centre said to me, “See that seat where you are now, that is where I started in 1978, 33 years ago”. He gave me great advice. He said, “You play your cards right and 33 years from now, you can be where I am today”. I pictured myself at 90 as the leader of the third party.
    Our friend from Toronto Centre has changed parties over the years. I once had great hopes he would become a Green. At the point that he was arrested for blockading the logging roads in Temagami, I thought, “There stands a Green”. Then he had to go and blow it today with that whole Keystone XL joint sales job. The point is that no matter where we disagree, as other members around the House have said, we can disagree without being disagreeable.
     It is simply not possible to end this tribute without mentioning Arlene Perly Rae, whom I love like a sister. The member for Toronto Centre I love like something else, but I do love him, as I do many people in the House. His role, his contribution to Canada cannot be overstated; it can only be underestimated. We all pay tribute to a great Canadian today.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not at a loss for words, but I do want to thank members. I will not take long. I was very happy to hear the comments by my colleagues.
     My first reaction was, what took them all so long? However, my second reaction was to express thanks that I know cannot be expressed by my wife and family for the very kind comments my colleagues have said about them.
    I cannot readily find the words to express the extent to which this life of politics I have led for many years has only been possible because of the love, support and partnership that Arlene and I have had. Also, to have had it added to by three wonderful children, my mother, who I know is watching on television, my sister and brother has been very special and meaningful to me. It is not always possible to find the words to express the thanks and gratitude for that love, affection and support.
    I was also very pleased that my daughters were able to be here to hear some of what was said, because I do not think they realize what a great guy I really am.
    An hon. member: It's clear now.
    Hon. Bob Rae: It is clear now. I appreciate that. I think they all know that now.
    An hon. member: You get a transcript?
    Hon. Bob Rae: The transcript is going to be put in gold.

  (1535)  

[Translation]

    I thank all of the members who spoke today. I want to say to the member who just spoke, the leader of the Bloc Québécois, that I very much appreciated his comments. We do not agree on the fundamental question of the existence of the country—of Canada—but throughout my political career I have always tried to show that despite our differences of opinion and our profound philosophical differences, we must respect each other. We must find a way to show some dignity here, even though we do not always agree and we do not share the same views.

[English]

    For the members, from time to time I have offended people. When one says as many things as I do, some of them will seem to be inappropriate and sometimes even hurtful. For that I apologize and express, perhaps on this occasion, the fact that we do not always reach the heights to which we like to ascribe ourselves.
    I thank the Prime Minister for his words in question period today, which I appreciated.
    I thank the minister for his very kind words. Knowing something of his own political past in Ontario, I know how difficult this transition is to being a generous, kind and thoughtful person.
    Hon. Ralph Goodale: He's not there yet.
    Hon. Bob Rae: He is getting there. I know how difficult it has been for him. All I can say is on this side we are all rooting for him as he goes through this change.
    For my colleague in the New Democratic Party, I fully understand that for many New Democrats my even being here is something of a difficulty for them. It is sort of like living next door to one's first husband for one's whole life. However, I appreciate very much the thoughts that were expressed by my colleague from Skeena and his ability to say kind words. I hope some of them are true, but I really do appreciate what has been said.
    I think all of us will understand that one develops a very special relationship with the people who are here and I want to express my deep thanks to all my colleagues.
    I especially want to express my thanks to the member for Wascana. We have been together in difficult battles. He has been my deputy leader. One can imagine how challenging that can be sometimes in terms of the stuff we have to try to do. I really do appreciate the kind and thoughtful way in which he has helped me to lead and helped me to provide a sense of direction for our party and our caucus. I am very appreciative of his words today, and I am very appreciative of his friendship and of his colleagueship.
    As has been said, I feel a bit like Tom Sawyer, who as we all will recall had an opportunity to attend his own funeral and in so doing was astonished at the things that were being said about him and the emotions that were being shown. To all those who feel like they have gone through some kind of deathbed conversion in saying such things about me, I simply want to say that I am not dead yet. I am still around. I am going to be here on April 15. I am going to be back sitting somewhere in this place, although I am not quite sure where. I will be here to continue my work as a member of Parliament.
    It continues to be a great honour to serve the people of Toronto Centre, and it continues to be a great honour to serve in this Parliament. It is true, I have been a rising star now in five separate decades, and the star is still rising. I can feel it. I want to express my deep thanks to members of the House for taking such valuable time out of the Conservative Party's political agenda to express their thanks to me and to the work that I do.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

  (1540)  

Royal Assent

     Order, please. I have the honour to inform the House that a communication has been received as follows:
Government House
Ottawa
March 27th, 2013
Mr. Speaker:
    I have the honour to inform you that the Honourable Marshall Rothstein, Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Canada, in his capacity as Deputy of the Governor General, will proceed to the Senate Chamber today, the 27th day of March, 2013 at 4 p.m., for the purpose of giving royal assent to certain bills.
    Yours sincerely,
Stephen Wallace
Secretary to the Governor General

ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

41st General Election

 

    I have the honour to lay upon the table a report of the Chief Electoral Officer entitled “Preventing Deceptive Communications With Electors - Recommendations from the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada Following the 41st General Election”.

[Translation]

    This report is deemed permanently referred to the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs.

[English]

Government Response to Petitions

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

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Official Languages  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 4th report of the Standing Committee on Official Languages, entitled "Linguistic Duality During the 150th Anniversary Celebrations of Canadian Confederation in 2017".

  (1545)  

[English]

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

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I also have the honour to give a supplementary opinion on behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada.
    I invite Canadians to read the report on the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017. We are completely opposed to the government using the next Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality in its recommendation to encourage the departments and groups involved to refocus their projects and planning on preparations for the celebrations. We believe that this is detrimental to the development of minority language communities across the country. The purpose of the roadmap is to provide communities with the opportunity to develop their schools in some way.
    As for funding for the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, it is the responsibility of the Government of Canada to provide the moneys required, and it should not use moneys for the roadmap for that purpose.
    Therefore I invite Canadians to read our report.

Finance  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 16th report of the Standing Committee on Finance, in relation to Bill C-48, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, the Excise Tax Act, the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, the First Nations Goods and Services Tax Act and related legislation.

[English]

    The committee has studied the bill and has decided to report the bill back to the House without amendments.

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the eighth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to its study on the status of amateur coaching in Canada.
    Pursuant to Standing Order 109 of the House of Commons, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
    As well, Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the ninth report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to the main estimates for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014.

Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act

     (Motion agreed to and bill read the first time)

Petitions

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I stand today to present petitions from hundreds of constituents who are calling upon Parliament to condemn the worst form of discrimination against females and who are asking members of Parliament to support Motion No. 408.

Shark Finning  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present petitions in support of Bill C-380, a bill which would stop the import of shark fins into Canada once and for all. This was introduced by my colleague, the NDP deputy Fisheries and Oceans critic.
    I would also like to acknowledge the hard work of Fin Free Victoria, a group that includes students from Glenlyon Northfolk School in my riding, which has gathered thousands of signatures.
    The bill will come to a vote in the House of Commons this evening and I encourage all members of this House to vote in support of the bill.

Canada Labour Code  

    Mr. Speaker, I am also pleased to present petitions to this House in support of the bill introduced by my colleague from Verchères—Les Patriotes. Bill C-464, an act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act , would grant extended parental leave for multiple births or adoptions as a way of levelling the playing field for parents with multiple children.
    The hon. parliamentary secretary to the government House leader is rising on a point of order.
    Mr. Speaker, this is for the benefit of my colleague opposite who is relatively new to this place and probably does not understand or does not know the rules and procedures. As we know, members are certainly allowed to present petitions, but they are not allowed to endorse or support publicly the petitions that they are presenting. I would mention that for the future.

Experimental Lakes Area  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present four petitions, including hundreds of signatures from people all across the city of Regina and in the vicinity who are concerned about the budget reductions that would eliminate the experimental lakes project in northwestern Ontario.
    The petitioners indicate that this has been an absolutely crucial site for the most vital freshwater research in North America, perhaps in the world. They think the cancellation and closure of this facility would be a retrograde step. The petitioners call upon the government to provide the funding necessary to ensure the experimental lakes projects can continue.

  (1550)  

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present the fourth petition on behalf of my constituents, that the House condemn discrimination against females through sex selection pregnancy termination. They ask all members of Parliament to support Motion No. 408 and condemn sex selection.

Bank Remittance Fees  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to table petitions from Canadians concerned about the overcharging of remissions of money from Canada. This is of great concern to people who are sending money overseas in support of their families who are in distress, sometimes paying as much as 25% of the remittance.
    The petitioners are calling upon the government to follow forth with the undertakings to the G8 and to reduce these remission fees to only 5% when remitting through banks.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I have three petitions to present today, which total 150 people from mainly the Kitchener—Waterloo area and about 16 people from British Columbia.
    The petitioners ask that the House condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination. They point out that 92% of Canadians believe that such a thing should be illegal. Millions of girls have been lost through this sex-selective procedure, creating a global gender imbalance. Also, I noticed when I went through the petitions that about 60% of the petitioners are women.

Blood Donation  

    Mr. Speaker, there is a lifetime ban on blood donation from men who have sex with men. The petitioners are asking the government to reconsider that lifetime ban through Canadian Blood Services. They are asking the government to eliminate policy based on homophobia and outdated practices and to create equal deferral periods for high-risk sexual activity regardless of sexual orientation.
    I am pleased to present this petition, and both the petitioners and I look forward to the minister's response.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present to the House of Commons a petition that opposes the provisions contained in the Act to implement certain provisions of the budget that deal with the power to define “suitable employment” and “reasonable and customary efforts to obtain employment”, as well as the creation of the social security tribunal, because these provisions will impoverish entire economic sectors of our country and will not improve access to employment insurance or the matching of workers' skills with job vacancies.

[English]

Lyme Disease  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to present two petitions.
    The first petition is from residents of Caledon, Erin and Brampton, Ontario, who are in support of my private member's Bill C-442, an act respecting a national Lyme disease strategy.

Shark Finning  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is pertinent to a vote we will have this evening on Bill C-380 to ban the importation of shark fins. Upon discussing the matter with the hon. member for Oakville, he pointed out that there are now approximately 100 million sharks a year that are killed for this practice of finning.
    The petitioners in this case are from my own riding, from the islands of Pender, Galiano and Salt Spring.

[Translation]

Employment Insurance  

    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling a petition that opposes certain provisions of the 2012 budget that deal with employment insurance, including the definitions of “suitable employment” and “reasonable efforts”, as well as the creation of the social security tribunal.

[English]

Bank Remittance Fees  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition today from dozens of residents of the Ottawa area. These Canadians are very concerned about the excessive fees and gouging that is taking place when they are transferring money abroad. Many new Canadians live on low incomes, and they are being gouged up to 25% of the amount they are sending to loved ones and family members who live overseas. On their behalf, I would like to table this petition.
    They say it falls upon the government to bring in legislation that would limit the fees on remittances to 5% of funds, instead of the 25% and sometimes more that currently exists.
    I would like to thank the good volunteers of ACORN Canada who have been raising this issue for low-income Canadians.

  (1555)  

Road Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, spring has arrived and there are a lot more cyclists, and I am pleased to present a petition on their behalf.
    The petitioners ask the Government of Canada to introduce a regulation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act that would make side guards for trucks mandatory in order to prevent cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles. It would be good for the environment, as it reduces fuel usage, and also good for safety.

Parks Canada  

    Mr. Speaker, my second petition is from people in the Ottawa area.
    The petitioners point out that the Rideau Canada is a UNESCO world heritage site and a historical site. It represents a significant part of our Canadian heritage. They ask that Parks Canada return the hours of operation of this waterway to the 2011 service level.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and present a petition on behalf of dozens of Canadian citizens from southwestern Ontario and Manitoba who in particular note that millions of girls have been lost through sex-selective abortion, creating a global gender imbalance and causing girls to be trafficked into prostitution. The petitioners say that Parliament needs to condemn this worst form of discrimination against females, and they call on members of Parliament to support Motion No. 408 to condemn sex selection.

Questions Passed as Orders for Return

    Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 1166 and 1169 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 1166--
Hon. Scott Brison:
    With regard to the internal services program activity listed in the Public Accounts of Canada Volume II: (a) what was the total net expenditure on internal services for the government for each year of 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012; (b) what was the total gross expenditure on internal services for the government for each year of 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012; (c) what was the breakdown of net expenditures on internal services for each federal department and agency for each year of 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012; and (d) what was the breakdown of gross expenditures on internal services for each federal department and agency for each year of 2009-2010, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1169--
Hon. Irwin Cotler:
     With regard to C-54, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act (mental disorder): (a) in developing this legislation, on what (i) studies, (ii) case law, (iii) doctrinal sources did the government rely; (b) what statistics does the government track with respect to people found not criminally responsible (NCR) on account of mental disorder; (c) for each of the last ten years, broken down by province and territory and by type of offence, (i) how many people have been found NCR, (ii) which people found NCR have been released without conditions, (iii) which people found NCR have been released with conditions, (iv) how long has each person found NCR spent in treatment prior to release, (v) which people found NCR and released have been convicted of a subsequent offence, (vi) what was the nature of the subsequent offence, (vii) which people found NCR and released have been found NCR of a subsequent offence, (viii) what was the nature of the subsequent offence; (d) for each of the last ten years, what was the recidivism rate for all federal offenders; (e) broken down by province and territory, (i) which treatment facilities accept people found NCR, (ii) which of these facilities are privately owned, (iii) what is the capacity of each facility, (iv) how many people are currently housed in each facility; (f) what analysis has the government performed to determine whether this legislation will result in a need for increased capacity in these facilities; (g) what are the conclusions of this analysis; (h) what steps is the government taking to ensure adequate capacity in these facilities; (i) what funds are currently designated for (i) the construction of new facilities to house people found NCR, (ii) the expansion of existing such facilities; (j) what government programs exist to fund any such facilities that are privately owned; (k) what funds have been allocated to any such programs for each of the past ten years; (l) what steps is the government taking to mitigate Charter litigation with respect to people found NCR who may be unable to secure space in an appropriate facility; (m) has Bill C-54 been examined by the Department of Justice to ascertain consistency with the Charter; (n) which officials performed the examination, (i) when was the examination initiated, (ii) when was the examination completed, (iii) what were the conclusions of this examination; (o) when was the Minister of Justice presented with these conclusions; (p) was a report of inconsistency prepared; (q) was a report of inconsistency presented to Parliament; and (r) has there been an assessment of the litigation risk relative to the enactment of this legislation and, if so, what are the conclusions of this assessment?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

Motions for Papers

    Mr. Speaker, I ask that all notices of motions for the production of papers be allowed to stand.
    The Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Request for Emergency Debate

Search and Rescue  

[S. O. 52]
    The Chair has notice of a request for an emergency debate from the hon. member for Acadie—Bathurst.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I wrote to you today to ask permission pursuant to Standing Order 52(2) to hold an emergency debate on the closure of the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre by the Canadian Coast Guard, a special operating agency of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
    As of April 15, less than 19 days from now, the St. Lawrence River estuary and the northern part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which are currently served by the Quebec City marine rescue sub-centre, will become the responsibility of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Halifax.
    The reason for the emergency debate is this. The government announced the transfer last Friday at 5 p.m. From what we heard, the transfer was to take place in the fall. The Commissioner of Official Languages investigated and, sometime around April 22, he was to verify whether the recommendations he made to the government had been implemented. All of a sudden, we learn that the transfer will take place on April 15.
    The House of Commons will adjourn tomorrow until April 15. That is why an emergency debate must be held immediately. It is not just a question of official languages or someone whose rights have been violated. We are talking about the rescue sub-centre put in place for fishers, for people travelling on the St. Lawrence River. That is something else.
    The rescue sub-centre was created 32 years ago for safety reasons and because of the language spoken in the region. This is important because lives are at stake. That is why a press conference was held today, attended by the media, people from Quebec and francophones from across Canada. The only bilingual rescue sub-centre in Canada is being closed down.
    We do not want to leave any stone unturned, so that we do not have to come back one day and say, “We told you so.” That would be a disaster.
    I believe it is your responsibility, Mr. Speaker, to grant this emergency debate. You have the power, pursuant to Standing Order 52(2). This request complies with the law and with our Standing Orders.
    Mr. Speaker, I do not think you want to be the one who refused such an important debate. People's lives are at stake here. That is what the experts are saying. We personally consulted people in Quebec City. We met with experts, and they all told us that this is a ticking time bomb and a serious threat.
    I trust that you will make the smart decision to grant this emergency debate so that we leave no stone unturned. If the government decides to close the sub-centre, it will bear the responsibility. It will not be on us or on you.

  (1600)  

    I would like to thank the member for Acadie—Bathurst for raising this question.
    I have no doubt that this is a very important issue to the hon. member. However, I should point out that we have already had four days of debate on the budget, so we have had the opportunity to talk about many things that are the government's responsibility. Today, we are still debating the government's budget policy in general. I believe that the members will have the opportunity to speak to this issue today, as they have had the opportunity to do over the past few days.
    For those reasons, I do not believe it is necessary to agree to the member's request.

[English]

Privilege

Department of Justice--Speaker's Ruling  

[Speaker's Ruling]
    I am now prepared to rule on the question of privilege raised on March 6, 2013 by the member for Winnipeg Centre regarding the Minister of Justice's statutory obligation to examine government bills and regulations to determine whether they are inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights.
    I would like to thank the hon. member for Winnipeg Centre for having raised this matter, as well as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition and the members for Saanich—Gulf Islands, Winnipeg Centre, Mount Royal and Gatineau for their comments.

[Translation]

    In raising this question of privilege, the member for Winnipeg Centre explained that, pursuant to certain statutory requirements, the Minister of Justice is required to examine all government bills and regulations in order to determine whether they are actually inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Bill of Rights. He cited section 3 of the Canadian Bill of Rights, which states:
...the Minister of Justice shall…examine every regulation…and every Bill introduced in or presented to the House of Commons by a Minister of the Crown, in order to ascertain whether any of the provisions thereof are inconsistent with the purposes and provisions of this Part and he shall report any such inconsistency to the House of Commons.

[English]

    The hon. member then claimed that if the allegations contained in an action filed in the Federal Court by Mr. Edgar Schmidt, a Department of Justice official, are proven to be true, the minister has flouted these statutory requirements. He contends that the minister manages the risk of inconsistency in a cavalier fashion, and he argues that by allowing legislation to be introduced in the House that has a possibility of being inconsistent with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Bill of Rights, the minister misleads Parliament, thus leaving members with no reliable assurance that proposed legislation is not in violation of the charter and the Bill of Rights.
    The member asked that the Chair find that the minister's approach had thus effectively impeded members in performing their duty to exercise due diligence in considering government bills. I note that to do so, the Chair would first need to establish whether the Minister of Justice had acted in accordance with his statutory obligations.

  (1605)  

[Translation]

    That said, while the member for Winnipeg Centre went on to admit that there exists no evidence that the Minister of Justice deliberately, or even implicitly, gave the House inaccurate information, he claimed that there are serious deficiencies in the examination and vetting of draft government legislation by the Minister of Justice as evidenced by a number of legal challenges to legislation believed to be inconsistent with the charter and the Bill of Rights.

[English]

    The member contended that even though the matter is before the courts, the sub judice convention does not prevent the House from considering this question of privilege, as it is in no way dependent on the findings of the court, nor will the debate on the question of privilege interfere with the court in carrying out its duties. Acknowledging that questions of privilege must be raised at the earliest opportunity, the member for Winnipeg Centre assured the House that he brought this matter to the attention of the House as quickly as he could bring the research together, given the complexity of this question of privilege.

[Translation]

    In response, the Minister of Justice insisted that the matter was not raised at the first opportunity since the court action in question was filed on December 14, 2012, leaving the member many opportunities to have raised this matter in the intervening months—as many other members had done in both committees and in the House. Second, the minister argued that the Chair has no jurisdiction over questions of law, which are for the courts alone to decide. Third, the minister suggested that the sub judice convention dictates that since the matter is before the courts, the House should allow the courts to resolve the matter before undertaking any debate on the matter.

[English]

    The Minister of Justice noted that the member for Winnipeg Centre had failed to provide any evidence that the House and its members were in any way impeded in carrying out their duties. The minister stated categorically that “this government has never introduced any legislation that I believe was inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the Canadian Bill of Rights”.
    He went on to remind the House that the member for Winnipeg Centre had acknowledged that he had “no evidence” to suggest that the minister provided deliberately inaccurate information to the House about government bills.

[Translation]

    The Chair has listened attentively to members’ interventions on this matter and it seems to me that this question of privilege involves three key points: namely, the timeliness of the question of privilege; the sub judice convention; and the Speaker’s role in determining matters of law.

[English]

    Regarding timeliness, both the member for Winnipeg Centre and the opposition house leader explained that it was only after some time-consuming initial research that the member felt compelled to raise the matter in the form of a question of privilege.
    Furthermore, I was interested in the statement of the member for Gatineau, who noted that this question of privilege was raised only after efforts to consider the matter in committee had failed.
    While I might come to a different conclusion if the question at issue related directly to a specific incident in the House with regard to this particular question of privilege, I am satisfied with the explanations offered and will not rule this question out of order purely on the basis of timeliness.
    The suggestion has also been made that the sub judice convention, in and of itself, prevents the consideration of this question of privilege at this time.
    House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at page 627 states:
    The interpretation of this convention is left to the Speaker since no “rule” exists to prevent Parliament from discussing a matter which is sub judice.

[Translation]

    As Speaker, I must endeavour to find a balance between the right of the House to debate a matter and the effect that this debate might have. This is particularly important given that the purpose of the sub judice convention is to ensure that judicial decisions can be made free of undue influence. While O’Brien and Bosc states on page 628, in reference to a March 22, 1983, ruling by Speaker Sauvé,
…the sub judice convention has never stood in the way of the House considering a prima facie matter of privilege vital to the public interest or to the effective operation of the House and its Members.
    it also speaks of another aspect of this convention that is too critical to ignore when at page 100 it states:
    The sub judice convention is important in the conduct of business in the House. It protects the rights of interested parties before the courts, and preserves and maintains the separation and mutual respect between the legislature and the judiciary. The convention ensures that a balance is created between the need for a separate, impartial judiciary and free speech.

[English]

    Strictly speaking, in the case before us, while the sub judice convention does not prevent debate on the matter, the fact remains that the heart of this question of privilege is still before the courts, which have yet to make a finding. I believe that it would be prudent for the House to use caution in taking steps that could result in an investigatory process that would, in many ways, run parallel to the court proceedings, particularly given that the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada is already a party to the court proceedings and would be a central figure in any consideration the House might give this matter.
    Arguments over the timeliness of the intervention of the member for Winnipeg Centre and the extent of the restraints we might choose to impose on ourselves because of the sub judice convention are ancillary matters. It seems to me that the central element of this question of privilege asks the Speaker to determine if the government is meeting its obligations under the law, as set out in section 3 of the Canadian Bill of Rights and section 4.1 of the Department of Justice Act and their relevant regulations. The member for Mount Royal distilled this issue down to its fundamental element in stating:
    What is rightly before this House, raised as a question of privilege, is whether minister has satisfied himself of the constitutional compliance of legislation.
    This is the very matter the member for Winnipeg Centre has placed before me for my consideration in raising this question of privilege.

[Translation]

    Numerous previous Speakers’ decisions point to a very clear practice for the Chair to follow in instances such as this. In a ruling given by Speaker Fraser, on April 9, 1991, which can be found at pages 19233 and 19234 of the House of Commons Debates, he said:
    The Speaker has no role in interpreting matters of either a constitutional or legal nature.
    In a ruling given by Speaker Jerome, on June 19, 1978, which can be found at page 6525 of the House of Commons Debates, he addressed a complaint that the government of the day may have acted illegally. He stated:
    The hon. Member also alleges the Government acted illegally in the manner in which postal rates have been increased. Hon. Members will be aware that I have a duty to decide questions of order, not of law, and furthermore, I understand that this issue is now before the courts. In my opinion, therefore, it is an issue to be settled by the courts, and the Chair should not intervene.

[English]

    House of Commons Procedure and Practice, second edition, at page 261, also provides valuable insight. It states:
...while Speakers must take the Constitution and statutes into account when preparing a ruling, numerous Speakers have explained that it is not up to the Speaker to rule on the “constitutionality” or “legality” of measures before the House.
    In a ruling on a similar matter, Speaker Milliken, on April 12, 2005, at page 4953 of the Debates, did articulate the limited kinds of legal or constitutional matters the Chair could rule on.
    He stated at that time:
    What they may decide is whether the terms of a bill are in compliance with a prior resolution of this House, a ways and means motion, for example, or a royal recommendation in respect of a money bill, but beyond that, Speakers do not intervene in respect of the constitutionality or otherwise of provisions in the bills introduced in this House.

[Translation]

    More recently, I have also been called upon to make rulings which effectively asked me to interpret the law. On October 24, 2011, at page 2405 of the Debates, I stated:
…it is important to delineate clearly between interpreting legal provisions of statutes—which is not within the purview of the Chair—and ensuring the soundness of the procedures and practices of the House when considering legislation—which, of course, is the role of the Chair.

[English]

    Given the Chair's limited scope to consider legal matters, and based solely on what is within my purview to consider, I cannot comment on the adequacy of the approach taken by the government to fulfill its statutory obligations. I can therefore find no evidence that the member for Winnipeg Centre's privileges have been breached and cannot see how this rises to a matter of contempt. Accordingly, I cannot find a prima facie question of privilege.
    I thank all members for their attention.

ROYAL ASSENT

[Royal Assent]

  (1625)  

[English]

    A message was delivered by the Usher of the Black Rod as follows:
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. Deputy of His Excellency the Governor General desires the immediate attendance of this honourable House in the chamber of the honourable the Senate.
    Accordingly the Speaker with the House went up to the Senate chamber.
    And being returned:
    I have the honour to inform the House that when the House went up to the Senate chamber the hon. Deputy of His Excellency the Governor General was pleased to give, in Her Majesty's name, the royal assent to the following bills:
    Bill C-28, An Act to amend the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada Act—Chapter 1.
    Bill C-370, An Act to amend the Canada National Parks Act (St. Lawrence Islands National Park of Canada)—Chapter 2.
    Bill C-293, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act (vexatious complainants)—Chapter 3.
    Bill C-58, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2013—Chapter 4.
    Bill C-59, An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2014—Chapter 5.
    Bill C-53, An Act to assent to alterations in the law touching the Succession to the Throne—Chapter 6.
    Bill C-27, An Act to enhance the financial accountability and transparency of First Nations—Chapter 7.
    Bill C-55, An Act to amend the Criminal Code—Chapter 8.
    Pursuant to an order made on Friday, March 22, I wish to inform the House that because of the statements made earlier today, the time for government orders will be extended by 30 minutes.

[Translation]

    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 Thunder Bay—Superior North, Regional Economic Development; the hon. member for Haute-Gaspésie—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, Firearms Registry; the hon. member for LaSalle—Émard, Aerospace Industry.

[English]

Privilege

S. O. 31  

[Privilege]
    Mr. Speaker, it is really an honour for me to add a couple of comments in support of the member for Langley, who yesterday alleged that his parliamentary privilege had been breached.
    Members will appreciate that this is a unique situation and an important point of privilege, and that it deals with the collective rights of all members of the House. The member for Langley alleges that his parliamentary privilege was affected in that on March 21, he was denied what was his expected and promised slot to deliver an S. O. 31, also known as a member's statement. The reason he states that his promised slot was removed was that the topic “was not approved”.
    I am troubled by this turn of events, and I and most members believe that it is larger than what might have been the subject matter of that S. O. 31. I suggest that all members of the House should be troubled by the turn of events last Thursday. S. O. 31 reads as follows:
    A Member may be recognized, under the provisions of Standing Order 30(5), to make a statement for not more than one minute. The Speaker may order a Member to resume his or her seat if, in the opinion of the Speaker, improper use is made of this Standing Order.
    According to the rule, it is clear that the Speaker, and only the Speaker, can order a member to resume his or her seat if the member's statement is over one minute or is improper for some other reason. Denying an S. O. 31, according to the words of the Standing Order, is the exclusive prerogative of the Speaker. No other member of the House has the authority, delegated or otherwise, to deny a private member the opportunity to make a member's statement.
    When members' statements were first introduced in S. O. 31 in 1983, then Speaker Sauvé stated on January 12, 1983, that this period was intended to provide members with an opportunity “to voice serious issues of international, national or local concern”. Although the S. O. 31 came into force in 1982, its genesis is in a rule that existed in the House from Confederation until approximately 1940. The practice was that members could seek unanimous consent of the House to move a motion without notice. Unanimous consent was almost always given and was so routinely given that the House had to eventually restrict it to matters of “urgent and pressing necessity”.
    However, the matters of urgent and pressing necessity prerequisite was so routinely ignored and so many members were rising, that more formal rules were considered and adopted. Therefore in 1982, a special procedure committee concluded that the former practice requiring unanimous consent was used for purposes for which it was never intended. They opted for a new Standing Order that would become Standing Order 31, which would enable members to make statements on current issues on a daily basis during the first 15 minutes of the sitting.
    Previous Speakers have been guided by a number of well-defined prohibitions. On January 17, 1983, when introducing statements by members, then Speaker Sauvé stated that members may speak on any matter of concern, and not necessarily on urgent matters only. As well, personal attacks are not permitted and congratulatory messages, recitations of poetry and frivolous matters are all out of order. Marleau and Montpetit state at 363 that these guidelines are still in place today, although Speakers tend to turn a blind eye to the latter restrictions.
    Therefore, nowhere in the Standing Orders or in the enunciated guidelines do the members' statements need to be vetted by any other member or committee of members. Since 1983, additional restrictions have been placed on members' statements by the previous occupants of your chair. Subsequent Speakers have ordered members to retake their seats when offensive language has been used, when a Senator has been attacked, when the actions of the Senate have been criticized, when a ruling of a court has been criticized and if the character of a judge has been attacked.
    It is true that certain practices and customs have evolved to provide some order and predictability to the 15 minutes prior to question period. It is also true that it is written in the commentary:
    In according Members the opportunity to participate in this period, the Chair is guided by lists provided by the Whips of the various parties and attempts to recognize those Members supporting the government and those Members in opposition on an equitable basis.

  (1630)  

    However, the Speaker retains discretion over the acceptability of each statement and has the authority to order a member to resume his or her seat if improper use is being made of these Standing Orders.
    I have a couple of observations regarding the Chair being guided by lists provided by the whips of the various parties.
    First, it is the Speaker who has the discretion to deem a member's statement unacceptable. Nothing in the rules allows this discretion to be delegated, and there is no suggestion that the Speaker has delegated the authority to any other member of Parliament.
    Second, the wording in the usage is “guided by”, not “bound by”, so I would submit it is permissive, not mandatory. Therefore, while the Speaker may be guided by lists provided by the various whips, the Speaker is in no way bound by these lists.
    I can see that these lists are certainly convenient for the Chair in providing an orderly introduction of the 15 members who will be presenting S. O. 31s on any given day, but nothing in the Standing Orders or in practice authorizes the whip to choose the 15 speakers.
    Moreover, it is submitted that convenience for the Chair through providing an orderly rotation so that when one member sits, the next one stands can violate neither the letter nor the spirit of the standing order.
    For these reasons, I support the member for Langley in his case that his parliamentary privilege has been compromised by having to submit his proposed member's statement for vetting. This is a process that is not contemplated by the standing order and would appear to be completely contrary to the stated purpose of the member's statement, which is to allow members to address the House for up to one minute on virtually any matter of international, national, provincial or local concern.
    We do not know if the rejected statement from the member for Langley would have fitted into one of those broad categories. Since he was not allowed to deliver it, we will never know. That is a violation of not only the member's right to deliver a statement but also of the right of this House to hear his statement.
    Accordingly, I would ask that under the circumstances you find a prima facie case of breach of privilege with respect to the member for Langley.
    In a Parliament where the government and the opposition control such a large portion of the parliamentary calendar and agenda, private members' bills, motions and S. O. 31s are the very few mechanisms that members have to bring forward matters of importance for their constituents.
    I would submit that if the House does not jealously protect the rights of members to bring forward matters of concern to their constituents and if it does not strictly enforce those rules, the roles of the private member, Parliament and ultimately democracy have all been equally compromised.

  (1635)  

    I thank the hon. member for his further contribution on the question currently before the Chair.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Prince Albert.

Government Orders

[The Budget]

[English]

The Budget

Financial Statement of Minister of Finance  

    The House resumed from March 26 consideration of the motion that this House approve in general the budgetary policy of the government.
    Mr. Speaker, it is great to be here today. It has been a busy afternoon in the House of Commons, so it is nice to get on with the debate and the country's business.
    I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Nanaimo—Alberni.
    The people of B.C. are just as excited about this budget as the people of Saskatchewan, because there are so many good things in it for our constituents and Canadians right across Canada.
    Canada has been doing very well throughout the global crisis. The World Economic Forum ranked Canada's banking system as the safest in the world. We have a good, solid banking system, so our constituents can take comfort in knowing that their deposits are safe and secure. Another thing to point out is that Canada has a AAA credit rating, the best credit rating in the world. Canada has been doing very well in light of the financial crisis that has been going on around us.
    One of the other things we should talk about is job creation. While other countries are losing jobs and suffering massive unemployment, we are creating new jobs here in Canada. We have created 950,000 net new jobs since the start of the 2008 global crisis. That is amazing if we look at what is going on around the world.
    Saskatchewan is in a unique situation when it comes to jobs. The unemployment rate in Saskatchewan is sitting right at 3.7%. That is basically telling me that anybody who wants a job in Saskatchewan can get a job.
    When I go back to my riding and talk to business owners about what they require in order to see more expansion and growth, the common theme is the lack of employees. They are looking for ways to get not just new employees but skilled employees. They need plumbers and electricians. They need people with their journeyman status.
    Canada's economic action plan 2013 addresses those needs. The first action our government took was to bring in the Canada job grant. This program would allow a maximum benefit of up to $5,000. The federal government will put in $5,000, the business will put in $5,000 and the provincial government will put in $5,000 for skills training.
    When I talk to people like some of the ag machinery dealerships in my riding, they tell me that they need more heavy-duty mechanics. They can embrace a program like this and take advantage of it. With the free skills training, they can create heavy-duty mechanics out of a common employee. Those are the kinds of things that businesses require, and they are there in economic action plan 2013.
    Another thing people in Saskatchewan are looking for is a way to get their journeyman status more quickly. This has been addressed in economic action plan 2013. We need more journeymen mechanics, plumbers and electricians in Saskatchewan. I am looking at remodelling a house, and I have to wait up to four months just to get a plumber. I have to wait up to three months for someone to put in a furnace. The skills shortage in my riding of Prince Albert is extreme, and this action plan will hopefully help to alleviate some of those concerns.
    I want to point out some things that are unique to my riding of Prince Albert.
    Aboriginal youth come to Prince Alberta from northern ridings looking for work. These are the people we need to get into the skills training program, and we have set up funding to do that. We are going to see more of that going forward. More aboriginal people are going to be participating in the economy. When we talk to chiefs with James Smith Cree Nation and Muskoday First Nation, this is something that they want. They want to participate in the economic boom going on in Saskatchewan, and this plan will allow their band members to do that. This is going to be great for Canada as a whole.
    Another thing in the budget is the new building Canada plan. When I talk to my mayors, councillors and reeves, they tell me they want to see some sort of bankable method of payment from the federal government. The community improvement fund is a consistent fund of $32.2 billion over 10 years. Municipalities will be receiving funds they can bank on. They can use the money for a variety of different projects. They can use it for water or sewer, as may be done up in Nipawin, or they may want to use it for road construction in Kinistino. These are indexed funds that they can count on going into their coffers year after year. They are bankable and predictable, so municipalities can budget around them and plan on them and use them according to their needs.
    The nice thing about this fund is that it is fairly wide open with respect to utilization. Municipalities can use it for a variety of projects. As I said, it can be used for a water project or to build a road or pave a street; those options are there. That is the nice thing about this fund.
    I was talking to a couple of reeves over the weekend, who were very excited because these funds are bankable and predictable. It is something they asked for, and we actually gave it to them.

  (1640)  

    Then there is $14 billion for the new building Canada fund. One thing we have to recognize is that Canada is an exporting nation, but we need to keep building infrastructure. We need to take advantage of the resources we have, but in order to do that, we have to build infrastructure. We have to build roads. We have to put in infrastructure to get to the mines. We have to put in infrastructure to get the product to market. These are things that will be addressed by the $14 billion fund. Canadians recognize it as an important need and as something that will help our economy grow for a long time into the future.
    We have the $1.25 billion renewal of the P3 Canada fund. The Province of Saskatchewan is embracing that fund. I know other provinces have embraced it. Here is a practical way to get projects built in a way that allows both the private sector and the public sector to participate, and the benefit is for the taxpayer, without a doubt.
    Of course we have $6 billion under the current infrastructure programs for the provinces, territories and municipalities from 2014-15.
    When we look at the new building Canada plan, there is over $53 billion over 10 years for infrastructure. That is a substantial amount of money, and it is probably the longest period of time that any money has been consistently given to the provinces and municipalities for infrastructure needs. It has never been done in the history of Canada for this length of a period of time.
    Saskatchewan is an agricultural province that has gone from agriculture to mining. It has lots of resources, but it also has great world-class research. Genome Prairie is a good example, and it is nice to see core funding of $165 million going to the Genome projects that will be spread across Canada. That is groundbreaking research from which we will see benefits for years and years to come, and I am happy to see it in the budget.
    We are also supporting and helping businesses to invest in innovation, thus making them more competitive and creating more high-paying jobs here in Canada.
    Those are the items in the budget that will provide long-term growth and prosperity, not just for members sitting here but for our kids and our grandkids.
    We cannot forget families. The family structure is such an important structure. We have to look at the variety of ways we can help families.
    One of the things in the budget that is really great and unique is enhanced tax relief for families that are adopting children or those using home care services. That is important. That is actually something that families and taxpayers can use. They can look at it and say they have a government that appreciates their needs and requirements. It is in the budget, so I cannot see how members would ever vote against something like that.
    I am a hockey player, and many of us have hockey kids. If parents can get baby clothes tariff-free and get cheaper, tariff-free hockey equipment, that again is supporting the family structure and is very positive.
    We have $1.9 billion over five years going for homelessness and housing. The $1.9 billion is a substantial amount going into something that is drastically needed.
     I wish I had a lot more time, because I could go on for 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes, but I am going to speed up on some of the things I also see happening here that are important to highlight.
    Last year I did the Nijmegen march. I went to Groesbeek Cemetery in Holland. Not a blade of grass was out of place. Every tombstone was correct. The respect the people from the Netherlands give to our soldiers is amazing. With the increase and doubling of the funeral service reimbursement, we can do that here in Canada for our veterans also. That is very important. Taking it from $3,600 to $7,300 is something that our vets deserve, and it is nice to see it in the budget.
    In closing, I would highlight something that is very important to me because I come from Saskatchewan. It is the fact that we are going to get to a balanced budget. What other country in the world is going to talk about getting to a balanced budget after going through a global recession since 2008? In 2015-16, we are going to have a balanced budget.
    In Saskatchewan we have had a balanced budget. The premier has done a great job in making sure spending is kept under control--

  (1645)  

    He's a good premier.
    I thank the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He actually is a good premier, because he has balanced his books and has put a priority on where the money should be spent. If we look at the growth in the province of Saskatchewan, we see it is a province that is growing fast. Again I will repeat that the unemployment rate is 3.5%. If we could do that here federally, we can just think of what we could do and what the response would be across the country.
    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great attention to the member's speech. The member spoke of the government's increase in the gas tax and indexing, as requested for quite some time by the NDP. We appreciate that Conservatives finally listened to that, as requested by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
    However, he also spoke about the priority being to build infrastructure for Canadian exports. I wonder if the member could speak to the years of waiting by more than 100 aboriginal communities for access to safe drinking water. Given the dollars allocated in the budget, could the member speak to how many more years many of those 100 first nations will still have to wait for safe drinking water for their families?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her speech. It is unfortunate that she would not vote for what was in the budget to actually provide the GST tax dollars to the municipalities. If I look at the NDP record, when it came to putting this in place, the members actually voted against it.
    When it comes to aboriginal communities and safe drinking water, I think we all agree that it needs to be improved upon. Unfortunately, I cannot control what was done before me. I cannot control what the Liberal government did. However, we are making strides to make it better. We are working with the aboriginal communities. We are making it better and stronger. We recognize that there are needs for improvements, and we are taking steps to address those needs.
    Mr. Speaker, I notice that my hon. colleague talked about the importance of infrastructure, and I agree with him. In fact, it was Paul Martin who started to take money from the excise tax on gasoline to devote to infrastructure, which was a good thing.
    Why is it that we are going to have to wait a couple of more years? If infrastructure is so pressing, why is the amount of money put toward it so light for the next couple of years? This reminds me of when the Conservative government, in 2011, during the last election, promised that it was going to double the tax-free savings allowance from $5,000 to $10,000 once the budget was balanced, some time in the future. Conservatives did the same thing with income splitting in families for income tax purposes. Once again, that was going to be done after the budget was balanced.
    If everything is so urgent, why is it that on infrastructure, the amount of money for the next two years is so little?

  (1650)  

    Mr. Speaker, let us review what we are doing in the new building Canada plan.
    We have $32.2 billion over 10 years for the community improvement fund. It consists of an indexed gas tax fund and incremental GST rebates for municipalities to build roads, public transit, recreational facilities and other community infrastructure. We have $14 billion in the new building Canada fund. We have $1.25 billion in the renewal of the P3 Canada project fund. There is $6 billion under current infrastructure programs for provinces, territories and municipalities in 2014-15. That is a substantial amount of money going toward building infrastructure. It is amazing, because this was not done in a lot of previous governments.
    Mr. Speaker, I always enjoy hearing the revisionist history provided by the NDP and the Liberal Party, which voted against the largest investment in infrastructure in the history of this country with the stimulus program we brought in a number of years ago.
    In Huron—Bruce we have had great success with infrastructure investments. The municipalities in my riding are now planning for the future. They are talking to architects and members of the community to come up with new ideas on what their priorities are, so I think this is well timed.
    I would ask the member for Prince Albert how the Canada job grant program is going to work for him, his community and his riding. I think that is a program that will help keep their economy in high gear.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his excellent question, because it is very true.
    All members of the Conservative government did pre-budget consultations. When I did, I talked with the business community. One thing they wanted and required was more skilled workers. They asked for assistance in getting an unskilled worker to become a skilled worker. This program is one way to do that. It would provide financial assistance for both the employee and the employer to get the worker to that next level to get a higher-paid skilled job that will take him or her through to retirement.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a real pleasure to enter the debate on budget 2013, our economic action plan.
    Before I begin, I would like to congratulate the member for Prince Albert for his excellent speech. Also, since a few moments ago members paid tribute to the outgoing leader of the Liberal Party, I would like to acknowledge the member for Toronto Centre for his tremendous contributions in the House and for his affable ways. He is a great retail politician. I think we all give him credit for that.
    Speaking to this issue, I want to back up and provide some background. Budget 2013, of course, builds on the measures in the previous two budgets. We have to reflect on what happened in 2008, when we were hammered by an economic tsunami: a global economic crisis, une crise mondiale, as some would call it, beginning with the subprime mortgage meltdown and the economic collapse in the United States. The government was compelled to come up with a strategy to respond quickly to provide unprecedented economic stimulus and support for displaced workers and unemployed and underemployed Canadians and to stabilize our economic institutions. The plan worked. This economic action plan is following up on those measures. They were the right measures for the right time in a troubled period.
    Since the peak of the recession, in July 2009, these measures have created more than 950,000 net new jobs, and 90% of those are private sector jobs. Canada was late, shall I say, later than our economic partners, going into the recession, and we were the first, as predicted, to come out of the recession.
    Let me remind members that before the economic tsunami hit us in 2008, our Conservative government had paid down some $39 billion on our national debt. That was important. It was a wise and responsible decision. It prepositioned us to absorb the body slam, if I can mix my metaphors, of an economic tsunami, but it prepositioned us to take that better than many nations did. The outcome of our economic action plan has put Canada in the enviable position of doing much better than most developed western economies.
    The evidence is that Canada's economy has expanded for six consecutive quarters. Canada's unemployment rate is well below that of the United States, the strongest showing in more than three decades. The World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's banking and monetary system the most stable in the world for the fifth consecutive year. Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest in the G7 nations by far, at about, if I have the correct figures, 35.8%. The next closest would be Germany, at 58.4%.The average in the G7 is 80.4%. Our net debt-to-GDP ratio is the lowest of the G7, by far, and is the envy of most other nations. Finally, all the major rating agencies—Fitch, Moody's, Standard and Poor's—confirm our solid AAA financial rating.
    In budget 2013, our commitment is to continue to pursue jobs, employment and economic prosperity. On the job front, the Canada job grant is up to $15,000 per person. It is $5,000 federally, matched with provincial and territorial partners and with the employer. That is to match the unemployed and the underemployed with high-demand jobs in our country. It is striking that in the past year, some 250,000 job opportunities were not filled because of a lack of skilled labour in the right place at the right time. That is a real drag on our economy. It is a missed opportunity for unemployed and underemployed people, because they lack the skills training. This budget has very targeted initiatives to create opportunities for Canadians to get the skills they need to engage in high-demand jobs. This program is expected to benefit some 130,000 Canadians.

  (1655)  

    The budget is focused squarely on creating jobs, growth and economic prosperity. In broad terms, the EAP 2013 would have numerous programs to create jobs. It would renew the building Canada fund and would lay out the largest infrastructure funding program in Canadian history, at about $53 billion over 10 years. It would provide measures to promote our competitiveness, science and technology research, genome research, and innovation, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation, with some $225 million. That would benefit our university communities and our research communities.
    For forestry there would be some $92 million for innovation in forestry. That would be very important for the coastal forest industry in British Columbia.
    This budget would keep us on course for a balanced budget by 2015-2016, with diminishing deficits year by year.
    There would be opportunities for apprentices. The budget would create the opportunity for apprentices to get involved in government-funded projects. For example, we would put some $258 million per year into affordable housing, and there would be incentives to encourage the hiring of apprentices so that they could advance their skill level through the journeyman level and participate in meeting the need for those skilled trades. There would be measures to match graduates with job experience, with some $70 million for internship programs.
    There would also be training programs for aboriginal students on reserve and for post-secondary education. AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo has laid out an ambitious goal for education for first nations students. One of his targets is education and economic opportunities. We want to support him in helping first nations young people gain the skills to participate in the economy of tomorrow. It is the key to a better future. Some $240 million would be set aside to help first nations youth in B.C. and across Canada access the skills and training they need to participate in large economic projects, such as those in the resource sector, that in many cases are happening right in their own neighbourhoods.
    The commitment to long-term, stable infrastructure is extremely important to our communities. Just in the last couple of months, we have had many announcements in my own communities. Small communities have benefited from a program called the community infrastructure improvement fund. Under that program, there were projects like one in Oceanside Place in the Regional District of Nanaimo. Replacing all the lighting in that skating arena with high-intensity lights to lower electrical use and emissions and provide better lighting at the same time.
     Through the same program we had announcements in Parksville about replacing the community sports field and upgrades to improve accessibility. The Lions Club put in an outdoor adult gymnasium. Our Parksville Lions Club members are tremendous community citizens. They have run a Lions venture park there for years for children, and now they are expanding outdoor exercise opportunities for adults. I am very pleased that the infrastructure program is there to help them with that project.
    Out in Ucluelet, we had announcements for the Ucluelet Chamber of Commerce through the community infrastructure fund.
    The gas tax fund is important to our communities. We have had major water upgrades across Vancouver Island. I note many announcements in the Nanaimo and Parksville areas and at Qualicum Beach, with major water storage enhancement, over the last number of years.
    This budget would implement pooled registered pension plans. Our colleague, the minister of state, was out in my riding and did a great job introducing that. B.C. brought in legislation to advance pooled registered pension plans.
    I note that one of the members opposite talked about the previous Liberal government starting a $1 billion gas tax fund. We appreciate giving the Liberals credit for that. We raised that to $2 billion, and now we would index it to help communities come up with the infrastructure they need.
    I would be remiss if I did not draw attention to the Pacific Salmon Foundation getting the $6 Pacific salmon stamp. That is all going back into community projects for the salmon enhancement project, “bringing them back, stream by stream”, working with local volunteers. The PSF has tremendous local support. I go to fundraisers for it every year. This would give it nearly $1 million more in funding for those great projects in my community.

  (1700)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, listening to this speech is a little like reading a Sears catalogue; this item costs this much and that item costs that much. However, I do not see a coherent plan for infrastructure. It seems to me that a lot of opportunities are being missed here. There are no priorities. The government is doing a little of this and a little of that.
    There are no priorities in this so-called plan. Moreover, this plan should include a discussion with the provinces to see how we can better invest our money in infrastructure of the future all across Canada.
    Does my colleague think there is a plan behind all these infrastructure projects? Were priorities and objectives set?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this is not the first infrastructure program we have rolled out for the provinces. In fact, in 2007 we had the largest infrastructure program in Canadian history, $33 billion over seven years, which is now being replaced by a $53-billion program over 10 years.
     We are used to working with our partners, the provinces, the territories and the municipalities, in determining their priorities. From Ottawa, we cannot tell people where the best investments are.
     The gas tax fund in British Columbia, by the way, is managed by the UBCM, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. It collectively manages that fund. It gets together and talk about how that money will be invested in communities across the area, the municipalities appeal for those funds and they come up with great solutions that help in our area.
    I will read a quote for the member's benefit. I think she would be very pleased to hear this:
    The Canadian Urban Transit Association...today applauded the federal government's Building Canada Plan as a major step for planning and developing public transit in Canadian communities....We're really pleased to see this kind of commitment for public transit infrastructure...Never before has a federal government invested so much in public transit...This budget provides a solid—

  (1705)  

    Order, please. Other members still need to pose questions.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Westmount—Ville-Marie.
    Mr. Speaker, listening to my hon. colleague, everything is sweetness and light and everything is exactly what all Canadians want.
    However, there is always a price to pay for these things. Since the government came into power in 2006, by this summer it will have added close $160 billion to the debt. The debt is something that, unfortunately, we cannot hide. It is not going to go away. It is going to have to be paid back at some point.
    What does my hon. colleague think a government should do with respect to addressing the debt that will be passed on to our children and our grandchildren and that now exceeds $600 billion?
    Mr. Speaker, as I started my remarks, I talked about how we paid down $39 billion on the debt. Many of the members of the opposition have said that we squandered a surplus. We cannot pay down debt until we balance the budget.
    What we are doing through the great work of the Minister of Finance and Minister of State for Finance and consulting with Canadians across the country is moving toward balanced budgets by maintaining the transfers to the people who depend upon them, the provinces for the social programs they require, for health care, and they are being increased as promised. We are also maintaining transfers to individuals and we are moving toward a balanced budget on target for 2015 through these very prudent measures that are included in budget 2013.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with our hard-working member from Calgary Centre.
    I will start my remarks today with a great quote from our Prime Minister when he was up in the Yukon territory this summer. He said, “that great national dream—the development of northern resources—no longer sleeps. It is not down the road. It is happening now”.
    Economic action plan 2013 and this year's budget is a direct reflection of those comments and sentiments and is our government's focus on the north as a priority.
    I would like to highlight the fact that this year's budget, economic action plan 2013, has a direct line item to support Yukon College's Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining. Our government and our Prime Minister recognize that mining and responsible resource development in the north will provide that vital opportunity for people of the north. It will create Yukon jobs for Yukon people. This technical and trades facility investment will allow Yukoners to stay at home while they study. It will allow them that critical opportunity to access the kinds of jobs that will be available for them in the job market. It will give them the opportunity to come out of school and go right into the workforce. What we heard time and time again, as we did consultations across the territory, was that the jobs were there and Yukon people wanted access to those jobs. However, they needed the training where training was not available.
    My hat is off to the great folks at the Yukon College and the Yukon government, who have worked in close partnership with us to ensure this becomes a reality and to our government for recognizing those priorities of the territory by making this a specific budgetary priority.
    The other thing we heard clearly from our students who were looking forward to opportunities in the workforce was that they wanted to be able to take advantage of not just jobs in the unskilled portion of the labour market, but they wanted opportunities at the semi-skilled, skilled and highly-skilled levels of the economy, which is booming in Yukon right now.
    This is a direct opportunity to provide that for Yukon people. It is not just Yukon people for Yukon jobs. It will be highly-skilled and semi-skilled jobs for Yukon people, keeping people right in our territory to study for their career path and opportunity. This is wonderful news in the budget. I am looking forward to the future and seeing the development of Yukon College's Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining. The people in our communities will be able to take full advantage of this and they certainly look forward to it.
    I would be remiss if I did not talk about another thing our government responded quite well to, and that was what Yukon people wanted out of the exploration, mining and resource development boom of our territory. They wanted to ensure they would see some rewards out of the exploration and resource development that was going on. This past summer, our Prime Minister signed a historic resource revenue sharing agreement with the Yukon territory that would allow the people of Yukon to see greater benefits from resource extraction in the territory. Again, that is another signal that our government understands the needs of the north. It understands the benefits to the people and the reasonable requests that the great folks of the Yukon territory have when it comes to labour market opportunities.
    We are certainly seeing that through the lower than national average unemployment rate and the vitality and growth of our communities. Right now, it is a wonderful part of our country to be in. Certainly all signs are indicating, as the Prime Minister put it, that the north's time has come.

  (1710)  

    The other thing I want to highlight is we have maintained our commitment from the 2011 campaign. I remember clearly telling the great people of Yukon that we were going to focus on returning Canada to balanced budgets. We were going to do so in two key ways. First, we would not raise taxes for Canadian families. Second, we would not cut the transfer payments to the territories and balance our budgets on the backs of the provinces and territories through transfer payments.
    Once again, we have not only maintained that commitment, we have actually increased the transfer payments to the provinces and territories. Our territory has certainly benefited from that. This year's payment is $861 million, up from $809 million last year. Our social transfer payments have increased. Our health care transfer payments have increased.
    Why is that important? It is important because it allows the territory and our municipalities the ability to control their own path forward and to control their own destiny. They can make longer term plans for what they want to achieve as a territory, in partnership with their municipalities and the great communities that exist in Yukon. It also allows them to meet their education and health care targets and their social and environmental responsibilities.
    I know the people of Yukon and the Yukon government certainly appreciate our commitment to ensure that the transfer payments to the territories are not cut, as we have seen under previous Liberal governments.
     I can highlight those quickly. If we look at past transfer payments, I did highlight that the grand total this year was $861 million, of which $817 million was through the territorial formula financing program. When we reflect on that, it is an increase of $316 million from what we received under previous Liberal governments.
    The health care transfer gives $32 million to the territory. That is an increase of almost $10 million, or 43% more than what we received under Liberal governments. Our Canadian social transfer is an increase of $10 million, or 32%.
     In all areas, our government has maintained its commitment not to balance the deficit and not to bring us back to balanced budgets by slashing transfers to the territory. That is certainly a significant step forward.
    We are maintaining our commitments. We are not raising taxes on Canadian families and we are achieving a return to balanced budgets by 2015. We are working hard at that and we are well on our way. That is great news to celebrate.
    When we did consultations across the territory this summer, I was happily joined by several ministers. I did a number of consultations on my own as well. We certainly heard from community to community how popular the building Canada fund was and how important it was to ensure the territory was surviving through the global economic crisis that we saw in the 2008 recession. We heard consistently from our folks in Yukon that they wanted the return of the building Canada fund.
    We now have the building Canada fund back at record levels. It is the largest and longest infrastructure fund that the country has ever seen. I know our municipalities are going to be very happy about that. It is something for which they lobbied hard. It is something they encouraged us to keep. They encouraged us to keep the name. They liked it so much and it reflected what they were trying to achieve.
     The municipalities are all celebrating the indexing and the permanency of the gas tax fund right now because these things will allow our municipalities to make core plans and project their destiny well into the future, beyond the nose of a mandate for tomorrow and beyond a one-year budget cycle. This is allowing our municipalities, our towns and our communities to project well into the future.
    There are a whole host of other things contained in the budget from which Yukon and our nation will benefit. I obviously do not have time to get into all of those things, but I did want to highlight that. I wanted to highlight some of the key things of which we were asked.

  (1715)  

[Translation]

    The new roadmap reflects a commitment that will increase the vitality of Canada's official language minority communities. It helps strengthen linguistic duality. Canada's two official languages are an integral part of our history, our culture and our national identity. I am proud of our Franco-Yukon community.

[English]

    I am proud of the contribution that our Francophone community makes to the vibrant culture of the Yukon Territory. It is important to me that we continue that road map, which is something that was defined as extremely important to the Francophonie of the Yukon. I am glad that is contained within this budget as well.
     I look forward to celebrating all the good news in budget 2013, the economic action plan, throughout this year, as we move forward and secure Canada's and the Yukon's long-term future for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I do not know what reason we have to be proud of this government, which has been running a deficit since 2008, despite many promises to balance the budget. The Conservatives keep putting it off, and now it has been put off until it is time for the next election in 2015, which is a bit suspicious.
    In his latest budget, the Minister of Finance has once again shown us that he is abandoning the regions and economic development. My Conservative Party colleague may not agree, but the Conservatives decided to cut the budget for the Economic Development Agency for the Regions some time ago.
    They are currently cutting labour-sponsored funds. In Quebec, venture capital is derived mainly from these funds, which are essential to economic development.
    Will the hon. member admit that the minister made a big mistake and ask him to reverse his decision to eliminate these funds?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I do agree with my hon. colleague that I do not agree with him.
    The member asked what we have to be proud of, and so I will read a couple of things that we have to be proud of.
    Here is a quote from the National Association of Career Colleges:
    Thanks to the reforms proposed in this budget, including the new Canada Job Grant, an increased number of unemployed and underemployed Canadians will be able to obtain training that they need to access jobs that are in demand now, and will be in the future. [...] The 2013 budget introduced by this government will benefit Canadian job-seekers as well as employers seeking qualified and skilled employees.
    I am proud of that. I am proud of the third-party endorsement for this bill, which has been like no other.
    I did not get to touch on housing, which is obviously important to the north, and we have a record investment in that.
    Here is what Habitat for Humanity has to say:
    The Harper government's renewed investment in affordable housing comes as great news for low-income families looking to buy a safe, decent and affordable Habitat home and for young Canadians who receive apprenticeship training on Habitat build sites, developing trade skills that lead to good jobs.
    The list goes on and on. I have never seen third-party endorsement so significant for a budget, as we have for economic action plan 2013. I am certainly very proud of that.

  (1720)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to provide comment in regard to health care.
    When we think of health care in Canada, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney almost destroyed the national health care plan because he was prepared to allow tax point transfers as opposed to providing up-front cash. It was Prime Minister Chrétien who instituted guaranteed cash allotments, and yes, there was a bit of reduction. However, Paul Martin established a health care accord that guaranteed annual funding increases to health care.
    Today, because of Liberal administrations, we have the highest number of cash dollars going to individual provinces. On the other hand, the current Conservative government, in dealing with health care services, refuses to meet with the premiers across this country to come up with a new health care accord.
    The member asks for relevance. It was this member who talked about health care and now he has to answer a question regarding it. The question is: When is the Conservative government going to have a new health care accord to assure Canadians that the government is prepared to continue to have annual increases in the financing of our national health care program?
    Mr. Speaker, I always appreciate my hon. colleague's interventions.
    I do remember the Liberal government's leadership. I remember that it cut transfers to the territories. We were laying off doctors and nurses. I remember that quite well. Our government is not putting the territory in that position.
    My hon. colleague asked when our leadership is going to meet with the premiers.
     I can say first-hand that the Prime Minister of our country meets directly with the premier of my territory. I have been present when he has done that. The ministers are in and out of my territory all the time meeting with the territorial representatives and ministers there. They are meeting with the premier. The premier has been here with his ministers as recently as this year. The relationship between the territorial government and our government is tremendous. They are talking about the health care transfers.
    Again, I mentioned that the health transfer has an increase of $10 million, which is 43% more than that of the Liberal government in less than six years—
    We have reached the end of the time provided for questions and comments in this particular round.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Calgary Centre.
    Mr. Speaker, I am rising today in the House of Commons as the member of Parliament for Calgary Centre to talk about something that matters to every Canadian and every Calgarian, and that is opportunity. Our budget, economic action plan 2013, paves the way for every Canadian woman, man and child to have a bright future filled with opportunity. That is something we prize as Conservatives and something we prize in Calgary. We get it. This budget gets it. Canadians get it.
    This is a budget that has an $18.7-billion deficit on the road to being balanced in 2015. Some in my riding would like us to go even further, faster, and that is because Albertans have seen very positive benefits from balanced budgets. A balanced budget is what boosted Alberta from the economic doldrums of the 1990s to become the economic engine of Canada. It is what took Saskatchewan from being a have-not province to prosperity, with the highest growth rate in the country. Today, it is enticing kids to come home, to live, work and raise their families again in Saskatchewan. That is why our government will balance our budget in 2015.
    Ralph Klein, who is much thought of these days, started Canadians down this path by rejecting tired recipes for economic disaster. As John Maynard Keynes pontificated, when times are bad one borrows, and when times are good one pays back. However, that never works. Our Conservative government's action plan keeps Canadians firmly on the path to jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. It is a common sense budget with time-tested techniques that work, regardless of what people hear from the opposition.
    While the NDP is for carbon taxes, we are for cutting taxes. While the opposition claims to stand up for workers, we are the party that has created nearly a million jobs. While the NDP would introduce a $21 billion carbon tax, we have cut taxes 150 times since 2006. In fact, we have left the average Canadian family with $3,300 more in their pockets than when we took office. Where the Leader of the Opposition goes to Washington to, guess what, sabotage trade and attack our industry, we are taking the most ambitious approach to trade that this country has ever had, seeking 66 free trade deals around the world. It is clear that the results are in.
    I am happy to say that under the leadership of our Prime Minister, Canada has the best economy, the best growth record and the best job record in the G7. While people in Europe, Greece and Cyprus are racked with uncertainty because of the very fragile financial situation they are in, Canadians see a future that is laden with opportunity that is waiting to be seized. However, we realize that more needs to happen. There are still Canadian citizens in my riding who are without work. We get that. This budget gets that. Canadians get that.
    Let us hear what is being said about the Canadian jobs plan. Engineers Canada stated, “The steps the federal government is proposing will ensure that Canada has the talent it needs to drive our economy”. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce stated, “The measures...are a significant step forward in the federal government’s attack on Canada’s skills challenge”.
    The Canadian Taxpayers Federation applauds the government's plan to overhaul job training and to keep a lid on spending. It stated, “It's good to see Ottawa getting training money directly in the hands of young workers so they can land a good-paying job”. Finally, Christopher Smillie of the Canadian Building Trades of the AFL-CIO, who represents 200,000 workers, stated, “This budget is kind of Nirvana for a group like ours that represents these skilled workers.... It's...[a] common-sense approach”.
    Where should we look when we want trustworthy information on the budget? Do we look to the reckless attacks of the opposition or instead to the honest, non-partisan comments of people like Smillie, who stand for hard-working Canadians and are excited about the new opportunities that this budget promises? There is a simple reason the skills training has been so well received and that is because it started with Canadians. We listened to what they said.

  (1725)  

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce saw a massive skills shortage looming due to a demographic shift caused by retirements. In my own riding, during pre-budget consultations the Calgary chamber, seniors groups, corporations and even the volunteer sector made it clear that the number one issue they saw facing Canada was the skills shortage.
    We heard these warnings, and we have acted. The Canada jobs plan will offer opportunities for more carpenters, electricians, plumbers, pipefitters, welders and others. It was same story that we heard from coast to coast to coast. Calgarians' concerns are the same as Canadians' concerns.
     We get that. The budget gets it. Canadians get it. That is why our Minister of Finance has been acting so decisively. We are introducing the Canada jobs grant that provides $15,000 per person in combined federal, provincial and employer money to help as many as 130,000 Canadians get job skills that are actually in demand. What a shock. It is employers not the government who decide the skills that are needed. We are lowering barriers to get apprentices accredited, boosting apprentices on federal projects, and giving unemployed aboriginal youth a leg up to get the training they need for a brighter and better future.
    For under-represented groups in the workforce, we are introducing a $40 million-a-year opportunities fund for persons with disabilities.
    As Conservatives, we believe in creating opportunity for Canadians. Our goal is a sustainable economy, not band-aids that mask what needs to be done to keep our country moving forward. We get it. This budget gets it. Canadians get it.
    Finally, in the area of the environment, our government knows that to preserve the richness of opportunity we have now for future generations, careful stewardship of the natural environment is vital. Conservatives, like most Canadians, are environmentalists but we are not radicals. We recognize that the environment and the economy work together to produce our high standard of living and it is only with a strong economy that we can stand strong in protecting the treasure that is Canada's natural world. The environment and the economy are not at war. When one thrives, so does the other. This has been clearly in evidence for the past seven years of Conservative leadership.
    Under the Conservatives, our economy has proven itself more steady and resilient than any of the G7 nations. As it has flourished, we have protected more natural parkland than any government in Canadian history. These are areas like Sable Island, the Nahanni and the boreal forest.
    We are the first government in Canadian history to actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and we are halfway to our goal of reducing emissions 17% by 2020. Under the previous Liberal government, gas emissions actually increased by a staggering 30%.
    The economic action plan maintains our momentum. It includes commitments to supporting environmental management and green tech. Environmental funding in this budget includes: $248 million to strengthen the Meteorological Service of Canada; $20 million to conserve ecologically sensitive land; $4 million for more responsible marine management; support for community partnerships to conserve fisheries habitat; renewed funding for Sustainable Development Technology Canada; restoring bridges in national parks; protecting against invasive species; and tax support for clean energy generation through the accelerated capital cost allowance.
    Were these just empty gestures? Not according to Sustainable Development Technology Canada. Its president, Vicky Sharpe said:
    The investment announced....will continue Canada's leadership in commercializing innovative clean technologies, supporting a thriving part of Canada's economy....
    She said that the moves will help them continue innovating, bringing in as much as $62 billion and 126,000 jobs by 2020. Wow. That says it all. That is environment and economy working together.
    To conclude, it is time that the opposition myths that pit the environment against the economy are put to bed. Let us start seeing the environment and the economy as partners in making Canada a land of opportunity for future generations. Our government's recipe for success is low taxes, job creation and protection of the environment. We get it. The budget gets it. Best of all, Canadians get it.

  (1730)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for her first speech on the federal budget.
    When I hear about the commitment of the government to the environment and to a clean energy future, I practically choke. It has come to my attention just this week that even the Alberta minister of the environment had to go to the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and beg the federal government not to downgrade the standards for coal-fired power plants.
    As the member is from Calgary, she well knows that the oil and gas sector has spoken out very loudly in favour of the federal government coming on board with a Canadian energy strategy. The premier of our province has called for the support of the federal government to the Canadian energy strategy. We see nothing in this budget even recognizing the fact that Canadians want that and nothing for the program that all Canadians have asked to come back, as the member claimed that she was consulting her constituents, on the eco-energy home retrofit program.
    I am wondering if the member could again stand up and defend the great commitment of the government to the desire of Canadians for a clean energy future.
    Mr. Speaker, because the member is from Alberta, I am sure that she is all too familiar with the position of her own party that the energy industry in Alberta is a disease, when the whole sector has a very proud record of environmental achievement. We are exporting environmental technologies from Canada. We have some of the best environmental technologies on the entire planet. We are proud of that.
    It is absolutely deplorable that we hear day after day in the House from this party that our energy industry is not measuring up to high environmental standards. That includes our pipelines and our west coast tanker traffic. It is time we started getting some good information out to the public.

  (1735)  

    Mr. Speaker, in response to the remarks by my colleague, it is dishonest for the government to claim credit for the decrease in Canada's greenhouse gas emissions. The biggest credit for change in greenhouse gas emissions must go to the recession that started in 2008-09, which has decreased manufacturing across the country. Credit should go to provincial governments, such as the Government of Ontario and the Government of Alberta. The member's own province of Alberta has put a price on the emissions of fossil carbon. Credit has to go to municipal governments. The member's own city, Calgary, has taken many actions for which it could commend itself. Therefore, the economics of natural gas versus coal have changed.
    The member must, to be honest, admit that the government cannot claim credit for the decrease in greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, government does not always have to do everything. Government leads the way. Our approach is different from the Liberals and the NDP. They want high taxes, high spending and bloated government. We believe that we show the way for industry and individuals to make better quality decisions.
    This question about greenhouse gas emissions comes from the party that saw its emission levels increase by 30%. All the while, it was trying to tell the Canadian public that it adhered to the Kyoto accord. Our government has actually decreased emissions while growing the economy in a global recession and creating almost a million jobs. That speaks for itself.
    Mr. Speaker, it is always a pleasure to ask my colleague, who has a neighbouring riding, about the importance of the energy sector to our economy, as opposed to my other colleague from Alberta who fails to understand the importance of that, both to her riding and to the Canadian economy as a whole.
    I wonder what my colleague's constituents think about the Liberal government's best idea for the environment being dogging Kyoto or the fact that we are the first government to publish standards for coal-fired electricity. Also, I wonder how her constituents feel about the leader of the NDP's anti-jobs trip to the United States.
    As well, how does the budget positively impact both her constituents and mine?
    I am sorry, we are out of time.
    Resuming debate. The hon. member for LaSalle—Émard.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I was born 55 years ago today.
    I was born in a Canadian society that had made choices such as the choice to have an accessible universal health care system and a pension plan so that our seniors could live in dignity. It was a society that had chosen to have an employment insurance program to help workers who lost their jobs. It was a society in which people could still live in safety and prosperity, knowing there were social programs in place to meet their needs.
    Canada chose to have these programs for the past 55 years and even before that so that we could have a society where no one would be abandoned.
    It is now 2013. What is the government doing to this Canadian society where no one was abandoned?
    Last Thursday, the Conservative government tabled its 2013 budget, whose title, “Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity”, is misleading. In fact, this budget contains very few new measures. Instead, it is merely a government public relations exercise.
    The Conservatives chose to go with an austerity budget rather than invest to truly address Canada's current economic challenges. This insipid budget speaks of a tired government that has run out of ideas. This budget is all talk and no action.
    When I talk to people in my riding, they share their concerns. They are concerned about pension reforms, not only for themselves, but for future generations. They are concerned about the employment insurance reforms. They are seeing the social safety net that they could rely on in tough times unravel more and more. They are concerned about the cuts to health care and about this government's constant attacks against environmental protection.
    I am just as concerned about the Conservative government's decision to keep making devastating cuts to health care programs, pensions and employment insurance.
    I would like to move on to co-operatives, a subject that is very important to me. Last year we celebrated the International Year of Co-operatives. The Conservatives took the opportunity to cut the co-operative development initiative and dismantle the Rural and Co-operatives Secretariat.
    Hidden in budget 2013 is a measure that will harm caisses populaires and credit unions, and that is the elimination of the tax credit for those institutions, which are in fact the economic driver of a number of regions in Canada, even Canada as a whole.
    Again, this measure illustrates the not-so-hidden intentions of this government to undermine the co-operative movement in Canada. The shift of responsibility for co-operatives to Industry Canada, in response to the report by the Special Committee on Co-operatives, still has not produced any meaningful results.
    When will this government stop attacking the co-operative movement and when will the Minister of Industry do his job?
    I would now like to move on to the aerospace industry. Last spring and fall, in my role as the industry critic, I met a number of players in the aerospace industry and I visited a number of businesses. Their message was clear: the aerospace industry is at a crossroads and needs a clear sign from the government, namely a predictable, long-term vision of federal programs to allow Canada's aerospace industry to be competitive.

  (1740)  

    Budget 2013 responded in only a limited way to the recommendations of the Emerson report and did not give that clear sign that this government is serious and committed to recognizing the aerospace industry's strategic importance to Canada.
    When Chris Hadfield took command of the international space station, the government, after dragging its feet for more than a year and almost jeopardizing Canadian satellite expertise, finally released funding for the RADARSAT Constellation program.
    However, there are serious questions being asked about the future of the Canadian space program because the government continues to deprive the space agency of the funds it needs and the direction that would allow Canada to excel in this sector.
    I recently went to Windsor, Ontario, the heart of the auto industry. Workers are worried about the future. A number of plants have closed their doors, which has led to many job losses. Over the years, this sector has been neglected by successive governments, and it is only when confronted by a crisis that the government reacts.
    Since 2007, the NDP has been proposing a national strategy for the automotive industry in order to maintain and increase the number of well-paid jobs.
    In closing, I would like to point out once again that this budget is an empty shell that has no vision for the future of Canada. This is not a bold and innovative budget. In fact, this budget resembles the government: it is a dull, tired budget mired in an ideology that will lead Canada to a dead end.

  (1745)  

    It being 5:45 p.m., it is my duty to interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith every question necessary to dispose of Ways and Means Motion No. 15.

[English]

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

  (1825)  

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

(Division No. 649)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fast
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harper
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trost
Trottier
Tweed
Uppal
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Zimmer

Total: -- 149

NAYS

Members

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

Total: -- 133

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion adopted.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Canada Labour Code

    The House resumed from Friday, March 8 consideration of the motion that Bill C-464, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code and the Employment Insurance Act (parental leave for multiple births or adoptions), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Pursuant to an order made on Friday, March 8, 2013, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-464 under private members' business.

  (1835)  

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

(Division No. 650)

YEAS

Members

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

Total: -- 136

NAYS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Butt
Calandra
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fast
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harper
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trost
Trottier
Tweed
Uppal
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Zimmer

Total: -- 147

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion defeated.

[Translation]

Air Passengers' Bill of Rights

    The House resumed from March 22 consideration of the motion that Bill C-459, An Act respecting the rights of air passengers, be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-459 under private members' business.

  (1840)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 651)

YEAS

Members

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

Total: -- 134

NAYS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fast
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harper
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Sorenson
Stanton
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trost
Trottier
Tweed
Uppal
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Zimmer

Total: -- 149

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion defeated.

Ban on Shark Fin Importation Act

    The House resumed from March 25 consideration of the motion that Bill C-380, An Act to amend the Fish Inspection Act and the Fisheries Act (importation of shark fins), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-380.

  (1850)  

    Before the Clerk announced the results of the vote:
    I believe the hon. member for Etobicoke—Lakeshore may wish to explain which way he intended to vote.
    Mr. Speaker, in my enthusiasm, I inadvertently voted twice. My intention was to vote no.
    (The House divided on the motion, which was negatived on the following division:)
 

(Division No. 652)

YEAS

Members

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

Total: -- 138

NAYS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fast
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harper
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Payne
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rathgeber
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trost
Trottier
Tweed
Uppal
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Zimmer

Total: -- 143

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion defeated.

CBC and Public Service Disclosure and Transparency Act

    The House resumed from March 26 consideration of the motion that Bill C-461, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (disclosure of information), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-461 under private members' business.

  (1855)  

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

(Division No. 653)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Andrews
Armstrong
Ashfield
Aspin
Baird
Bateman
Bellavance
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blaney
Boughen
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Cannan
Carmichael
Carrie
Chisu
Chong
Clarke
Clement
Crockatt
Daniel
Davidson
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dreeshen
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Dykstra
Fast
Fortin
Galipeau
Gallant
Gill
Glover
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Grewal
Harper
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hiebert
Hillyer
Hoback
Holder
Hyer
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lauzon
Lebel
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leung
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Miller
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Mourani
Nicholson
Norlock
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Paradis
Patry
Payne
Plamondon
Poilievre
Preston
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Schellenberger
Seeback
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
Strahl
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Trost
Trottier
Tweed
Uppal
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Zimmer

Total: -- 155

NAYS

Members

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

Total: -- 127

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried. Accordingly, the bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics.

    (Bill read the second time and referred to a committee)


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[Translation]

Committees of the House

Justice and Human Rights  

    The House resumed from March 26 consideration of the motion.
    The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion to concur in the 19th report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding the recommendation not to proceed further with Bill C-273.

  (1910)  

[English]

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

(Division No. 654)

YEAS

Members

Ablonczy
Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Anders
Anderson
Angus
Armstrong
Ashfield
Ashton
Aspin
Atamanenko
Aubin
Ayala
Baird
Bateman
Benoit
Benskin
Bergen
Bernier
Bevington
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Boivin
Borg
Boughen
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brahmi
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Calandra
Cannan
Carmichael
Caron
Carrie
Cash
Chicoine
Chisholm
Chisu
Chong
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Clement
Comartin
Côté
Crockatt
Crowder
Cullen
Daniel
Davidson
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Day
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Fast
Freeman
Galipeau
Gallant
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goldring
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Gravelle
Grewal
Groguhé
Harper
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hassainia
Hawn
Hiebert
Hoback
Holder
Hughes
Jacob
James
Jean
Julian
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kellway
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lapointe
Larose
Latendresse
Lauzon
Laverdière
Lebel
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leef
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Leung
Liu
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacKay (Central Nova)
MacKenzie
Mai
Marston
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
Mayes
McColeman
McLeod
Menegakis
Menzies
Merrifield
Michaud
Miller
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Moore (Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam)
Moore (Fundy Royal)
Morin (Chicoutimi—Le Fjord)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Morin (Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot)
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Norlock
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Papillon
Paradis
Payne
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Poilievre
Preston
Quach
Rafferty
Raitt
Rajotte
Rankin
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Saganash
Sandhu
Schellenberger
Scott
Seeback
Sellah
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
Stewart
Stoffer
Strahl
Sullivan
Sweet
Thibeault
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Toone
Tremblay
Trost
Trottier
Turmel
Tweed
Uppal
Van Kesteren
Van Loan
Vellacott
Wallace
Warawa
Warkentin
Watson
Weston (West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country)
Weston (Saint John)
Wilks
Williamson
Wong
Woodworth
Yelich
Young (Oakville)
Zimmer

Total: -- 244

NAYS

Members

Andrews
Bélanger
Bellavance
Bennett
Brison
Byrne
Casey
Coderre
Cuzner
Dion
Easter
Eyking
Foote
Fortin
Fry
Garneau
Goodale
Hillyer
Hsu
Hyer
Lamoureux
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
MacAulay
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Mourani
Pacetti
Patry
Plamondon
Rae
Regan
Scarpaleggia
Sgro
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
St-Denis
Valeriote

Total: -- 38

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

[English]

Delay or Interruption of Private Members' Hour--Speaker's Ruling  

    On Wednesday, March 6, 2013, due to many recorded divisions taken that day, private members' hour was cancelled pursuant to Standing Order 30(7). For that reason, the second hour of debate on Motion No. 412, standing in the name of the member for Nipissing—Timiskaming, did not take place.

[Translation]

    Standing Order 30(7) states that this business “shall be added to the business of the House on a day to be fixed, after consultation, by the Speaker”. The Standing Orders then set out two conditions for the selection of the new date. First, the Speaker must attempt to “designate that day within the next ten sitting days” and, second, the Speaker must not permit “the intervention of more than one adjournment period”.

[English]

    The debate therefore has to take place tomorrow at the latest, following private members' hour. However, I would remind the House that pursuant to an order made on Monday, February 25, 2013, the House will adjourn at 2:30 p.m. I am reluctant to interfere with that schedule, as it precedes an adjournment period for which members will no doubt have already made their travel plans.
    Since we are now past 7 p.m., the House would normally be faced with having to reschedule the item, an option that is clearly not possible for the reasons I have just outlined.

[Translation]

    Last week I was informed that there were consultations and that it was agreed that the second hour of debate on Motion No. 412 would be added to today's proceedings.

[English]

    Being now faced with an unforeseen situation and bound by the provisions of Standing Order 30(7), I wish to inform the House that private members' business will indeed take place today, with the two items scheduled for debate as indicated on the notice paper. In doing so, the Chair is mindful of his obligations to “make all arrangements necessary to ensure the orderly conduct of private members' business”, as set out in Standing Order 94.
    I thank hon. members for their collaboration.
    It being 7:12 p.m, the House will now proceed to the consideration of private members' business as listed on today's order paper.

[Translation]

Discover Your Canada Act

    The House resumed from November 6, 2012, consideration of the motion that Bill C-463, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (travel expenses), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak about my private member's bill, which I call “Discover Your Canada”.
    This bill seeks to amend the Income Tax Act in order to make travel within Canada more affordable for Canadians by providing income tax deductions on the expense of purchasing tickets for taxpayers and their children, for non-business travel by airplane, train or bus, if travel covers at least three different provinces.

[English]

    During the many speeches we will be hearing on this bill, some members of Parliament will erroneously discuss the potential high cost of the bill. However, this bill is intended to be about unifying Canadians and not about finances. As an accountant and former chairman of the finance committee, I am usually the first person to want to ensure that the numbers add up. I have written Bill C-463 in order that the federal treasury would not be impacted and that this bill would be revenue neutral, while perhaps even being an economic generator.
    Therefore, the primary focus of this bill would not be financial. As is evident in the name “discover your Canada act”, I want more Canadians to have the option to travel across this country, something that is usually only an option for the more affluent. I want as many Canadians as possible to be able to visit other parts of their great country, and not as a layover to a foreign destination, not as a two-hour drive up to the cabin, and not as a business trip, where all they will see is an airport or perhaps a conference room. We want Canadians to see a part of Canada that is as distant and as different from their own little corner of this great land as possible.
    I first got this idea years ago while I was in Vancouver chairing the finance committee during its pre-budget consultations. Anyone who has been to Vancouver can tell us that there are some impressive sights to behold. As a visitor walking the streets after a long day of witnesses telling us how the government should spend its money, I looked up and was astounded by what I saw. I thought that if more Quebeckers would see what I am seeing right now, none of them would want to separate. It was every bit as beautiful as my hometown of Montreal, but it was also very different. The vastness of the Pacific Ocean was different from the charm of the St. Lawrence River. The grandeur of the Rocky Mountains was different from the soothing humility of Mount Royal. The modern architecture was different from the classic beauty of Old Montreal. Pictures can never do justice to Canadian scenery, and one can never truly appreciate and feel like it is part of his or her natural heritage until he or she can see it and touch it in person.
     In the past, even prior to being a member of Parliament, and afterwards of course, I have been to places in Canada as far east as Newfoundland, as far west as British Columbia and as far north as Yukon and the Northwest Territories. I have found in each place a newer and deeper appreciation for Canada. I am certain that all Canadians would have a better sense of their own national identity if they just had a chance to see parts of this country that are out of reach for some of them now. This is why I have chosen to refer Bill C-463 to the heritage committee instead of the finance committee. The discovery of Canada act would not be about dollars and cents; it would be about allowing Canadians to take ownership of their national heritage by providing them with a bit of assistance and incentive to see their own country.

  (1915)  

[Translation]

    Having said all this, it would be unlike me not to discuss costs at least a little bit. The deductions I propose in the Discover Your Canada Act are not extravagant. The deductions are also capped, and conditions to ensure that the deductions are not abused are written into Bill C-463.
    As a result, the upper threshold of deductions will not be reached by most eligible travellers, as was confirmed by a Parliamentary Budget Office study I requested for this bill soon after it was introduced.
    According to newspaper articles, the government says that this bill will cost money. However, even if the government is able to justify its estimate of the cost of this bill, nothing can compare to the $5.2 billion that Canadians spent in the United States in 2012.
    During the second quarter of 2012, during trips to the United States, Canadians spent $3.4 million, the most money in 20 years. In June, they spent a record $1.9 million. This increased spending is a result of the increase in duty free allowances, which went from $50 to $200 for a stay longer than 24 hours, and from $400 to $800 for a stay of 48 hours. We are talking about travel abroad.
    According to the government, this will result in the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in 2013-14. This is another gift for the American industry.
    It is easy to add tax deductions. Administering them will cost the Canada Revenue Agency nothing extra. The Parliamentary Budget Office said so as well.
    The last thing I want is for this bill to create more red tape.
    When a new income deduction is proposed, there is always a measurable cost, but it is not so easy to calculate the economic spinoffs.
    The Parliamentary Budget Office acknowledges that Bill C-463 will generate economic and financial spinoffs, but it cannot calculate those with certainty.
    Generally speaking, I can say with confidence that increased travel within Canada is bound to generate positive economic and financial spinoffs.
    Increased revenues from provincial and federal sales taxes are one such fiscal benefit.
    I know that when I travel, I need to stay somewhere, I need to eat, and I want to take in some local attractions. I like to enjoy a night out on the town, and I enjoy bringing souvenirs back to family and friends. All this costs money and all this will contribute to government revenues in the form of federal and provincial sales tax.
    Increased economic activity from more Canadians travelling domestically will also benefit the tourism industry in Canada in addition to industries that see spinoff benefits from increased tourism.
    According to Industry Canada, almost 600,000 jobs in Canada are directly generated by tourism in every province and region of the country.
    If that is not specific enough, I encourage each member in this chamber to visit the Tourism Industry Association of Canada website, where a breakdown of tourism jobs per riding is available.
    I took examples from the ridings with the largest cities in the country. Tourism represents 4,905 jobs in Elmwood—Transcona, 5,460 jobs in Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, 9,445 jobs in Vancouver South, 10,080 jobs in Calgary Centre, 11,150 jobs in Trinity—Spadina, and 11,170 jobs in Laurier—Saint-Marie in downtown Montreal. These are just a few examples. There is a list of all the ridings across Canada.
    These are real jobs for real people in each and every one of our communities. We need to be cognizant of what stimulating this industry can mean to local economies and the national economy as a whole. The possible benefits are too big to ignore in my opinion.

  (1920)  

[English]

    I could go on, but as I stated earlier, the bill is not about dollars and cents.
    Since I introduced the bill back in November, what has struck me most of all is how much Canadians have rallied around this idea. According to a Harris/Decima study released on November 7, 2012, total support for the discover your Canada act stood at 70%, and it enjoyed strong support throughout the country.
    For example, the Atlantic region registered 78% approval, Quebec registered 68% approval, Ontario registered 69% approval, Saskatchewan and Manitoba registered 66% approval, Alberta registered 76% approval and British Columbia registered 74% approval.
    The same study showed that 39% of Canadians would be more likely to consider travelling within Canada if the discover your Canada act were to become law, while only 5% would be less likely to consider travelling within Canada if the discover your Canada act were to become law, for a net gain of over 34%.
    The same study also notes that the bill has the potential to address Canada's growing international travel deficit, which grew by $91 million in the second quarter of 2012 alone.
    Beyond the numbers, I have been humbled by messages of support I have received from Canadians from all over the country who want to see the bill pass. One lady from Alberta wrote to tell me that “Despite not being one of your constituents, I am writing to tell you that I support your recent private member's bill, the discover your Canada act. I live in Alberta. However, I have strong ties to Quebec through my maternal grandparents. In such a vast country as Canada, I would welcome this initiative in assisting my travel within our own borders. Canada has so much to offer”.
    I cannot go on all day quoting letters and emails, but this is just one of several letters of support I received. They all have the same theme: a desire for us as Canadians and as parliamentarians to implement this idea.
    It is not because they want to save money or because they are looking for a handout, but simply because they love their country and like the idea of more Canadians visiting more places within Canada to strengthen their bonds to this country and to each other, especially when we have a travel deficit in this country.
    It has long been said that Canada has too much geography and not enough history. In 2017, Canada will have precisely 150 years of history behind it. Our nation's history is no longer in question, but our geography remains both a source of pride and a challenge to our nation's cohesiveness. Facts are facts: there is no inexpensive way for people to traverse such a massive country as Canada. As parliamentarians, we should recognize this reality and react accordingly.
    I have chosen 2017 for the coming into force of the bill, because I believe that for Canada's 150th birthday, we should give Canadians the greatest gift we could possibly give them: we should give them Canada.
    The government will be investing all kinds of money in celebrating Canada's 150th anniversary, so I am asking the government to think about offering Canadians a choice of where they choose to spend their money and not have the government decide for them.
    We do not know how much money the government will put towards the anniversary, but this investment is minimal. There will events across Canada, as I just stated. We should have Canadians plan today where they want to travel to get to know Canada much better so that they will not be watching the events on a TV screen because they cannot afford the trip. They will be able to watch and participate in these events, up close and in person.
    We should remove some of the financial barriers that stop them from exploring this great land and tell them to go out and discover your Canada, because one thing I have learned is that financial incentives are one way to get people to change their behaviour.
    Thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker. I am open to questions.

  (1925)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, there is something peculiar in my hon. colleague's choice not to submit this bill to the Standing Committee on Finance. Eighty per cent of the study that we received from the Parliamentary Budget Officer has to do with the bill's financial aspects. One billion dollars has been mentioned. Although it is not this entire amount that would have an impact on the public purse, I have difficulty seeing how my colleague can justify not referring a bill that could have such an impact on the public purse to the Standing Committee on Finance, first and foremost.
    Mr. Speaker, I started my speech by saying that it had nothing to do with finance. I know that it will cost money because it will be an initiative to get Canadians to travel. The more people travel, the more they will spend.
    My bill gives the example of someone who takes the bus across three provinces. This is not going to take two or three hours. It will take at least two or three days. Someone who takes the bus will stop and spend money on food and drink. That traveller might even stop during the trip to sleep in a hotel, not on the bus, or go see the sights. This bus trip might involve all kinds of expenses.
    Another example is someone who travels by airplane. People usually travel by airplane to go long distances. When you travel far, you spend money. I know that when I travel long distances, I stay in hotels for two or three nights.
    All these analyses and all these costs are not in the Parliamentary Budget Officer's figures. I find it unfortunate that the member did not read that. The numbers are not in the billions of dollars; they are in the range of $10 million to $30 million, not to mention all the revenue that would go to the government. If I have crunched the numbers properly, when it comes to revenue, the bill's impact will be neutral.
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to know why my colleague chose the rule of crossing at least three different provincial boundaries. I think that if you start out at the far end of the Northwest Territories, cross just one border and go to southern Saskatchewan, for example, you have travelled a fair distance.
    I just looked into purchasing airline tickets on the Air Canada site. It costs more to fly from Toronto to Rouyn-Noranda, which is in my riding, than it does to fly from Toronto to Vancouver. There is no logic to the three provinces rule. It is quite commendable to want to travel to far-flung parts of the country, but that does not cover the three provinces rule.
    I do not understand why the member chose three provinces. It puts some regions at a disadvantage.

  (1930)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. This bill is not perfect and will not affect air fares because we did not work with the airlines.
    The reason for the bill is to help Canadians get to know one another. What I have seen is that Canada is divided into three regions: eastern, central and western Canada. I would like Canadians to start travelling between the east and the west, passing through central Canada. That is the reason for choosing three provinces.
    I do not want someone from Rouyn-Noranda to travel in Ontario, because that is easy to do. I know that the member is absolutely right about the price of an airline ticket. However, I will leave that for another bill at another time. Canadians have to start getting to know one another and discovering Canada. The only way to do that is to get them to travel as far as possible in the regions. When I talk about the regions, I am not talking about going from an urban area to a rural area. I am talking about travelling to eastern, western and central Canada. That is how people can get to know one another. That is the reason for this bill.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to Bill C-463 brought forward by the Liberal member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel.

[Translation]

    I know that the member for Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel is a proud Canadian, and I commend his efforts to give Canadians the opportunity to get to know their country better.

[English]

    This bill is really just a novelty, a gimmicky distraction costing taxpayers over $200 million a year, without really encouraging tourism within Canada. While the member says his intent is to promote tourism, not only is his ill-considered proposal unfair, but there is absolutely no evidence it would have any effect whatsoever.
    In fact, the Tourism Industry Association of Canada has already dismissed this Liberal idea as completely out of touch with the challenges faced by the Canadian tourism sector, saying, “we don’t think this is a particularly useful mechanism because Canada’s challenge is not a lack of domestic travel”. Indeed, our challenge is finding ways to compete in the international travel market.
    In contrast, our government promotes travel in Canada by funding cost-effective programs and events proving that, unlike the Liberals, the Conservative government supports the tourism sector, while safeguarding taxpayer dollars.
    Let me start by briefly highlighting our government's role in supporting the tourism industry in Canada.
     Canada's strong economic performance during the global recession has been the envy of the world. While these initiatives may not have always been the most talked about, Canada's economic action plan provided funding to several organizations to stimulate the growth of tourism during the global economic downturn and it helped promote our country as a destination for Canadians and visitors alike.
    During this time, economic action plan funding was provided to things like the National Trails Coalition, Parks Canada and its National Historic Sites, the Canadian Tourism Commission for greater domestic and international marketing and a grand total of 79 festivals and events through the marquee tourism events program. Our economic action plan also increased tourism-related infrastructure through investments in everything from local parks to convention centres.
     Furthermore, our government already supports programs to discover Canada, programs geared to encourage Canadians to explore what is happening culturally outside their own backyards.
    In particular, the Department of Canadian Heritage invests over $105 million every year to provide almost 100,000 youth with opportunities to learn about their country and connect with one another through its youth programs. I should add that these programs can benefit all Canadians, regardless of what region they live in, a point I will return to later in my speech.
    In addition, the government supports programs to foster Canadian identity for people of all ages such as celebrate Canada, which encourages Canadians to come together in their communities to discover and appreciate the wealth and diversity of Canadian society and understand the significance of the rich heritage Canadians all share. These types of measures and programs achieve two important results: they boost our economy and they promote tourism in Canada.
    Beyond what our government already does to boost tourism in Canada, the bill before us today is fundamentally flawed. Providing an income tax deduction for travel expenses of up to $2,000 for individuals and each of their dependants under the age of 16 raises concerns about fairness.
    Let me explain.
     Under the proposal, only travel within Canada that crosses three provincial boundaries is eligible. Here is the first problem with that. This requirement may disproportionately benefit some regions and favour particular travel routes. Given the shorter distances between provinces in Atlantic Canada, less travel would be required to meet the eligibility criteria.
    Furthermore, the three provincial boundaries rule would unquestionably favour particular routes. For example, travelling from Halifax to Toronto by train or bus would cross three provincial boundaries and qualify for tax relief, whereas air travel, assuming the flight uses U.S. airspace, might not qualify.
    The list of inequities continues. The value of the deduction would depend on the mode of travel: 100% for travel by bus; 75% for travel by train; and 40% for travel by airplane. From the onset, this makes no sense.
    It bears repeating that the breakdown of how the deduction would be calculated makes no sense. Why should someone travelling by bus get a higher deduction than someone travelling by train or plane? Why does it exclude travelling by car or even by boat? There is no question this bizarre distinction is completely unfair.
    Not only that, but Bill C-463 would provide more tax relief to higher-income individuals who tend to travel more and spend more on travel than lower-income families. Not only would higher-income individuals generally claim more, but the tax relief stemming from the proposed deduction would also be higher for individuals who were in higher personal income tax brackets, which vary from 15% to 29% federally.

  (1935)  

    Our government has been very clear. We believe in tax fairness for all Canadians. This discrimination alone is reason enough to vote against the bill, but there are many other reasons to vote against this bill.
    On this side of the House, that is the government side, we believe a law that is meant to encourage interprovincial travel should, at the very least, encourage Canadians to travel. With respect to Bill C-463, there is no evidence that the proposal would encourage individuals to travel more often, over $200 million a year with no result. Not only that, but individuals who plan to travel anyway would gain significant benefits from the deduction. It would represent a windfall, again an unfair tax advantage without actually increasing tourism within Canada.
    Furthermore, the proposal only recognizes the cost of tickets for traveling by bus, train or air, not other major travel expenses, such as lodging or car rentals, that may continue to be an obstacle for people to travel.
    Finally, as I have already mentioned, the cost of the proposal would be significant. Preliminary estimates suggest that based on existing travel patterns and expenditures, the passage of Bill C-463 would cost about $215 million a year.
    In a time of a certain fiscal restraint that we have now, it is not the time for a novelty Liberal subsidy, or as National Post columnist Kelly McParland put it, “silly ways to spend even more borrowed money trying to manipulate Canadian behaviour, just like the old days”.
    Our government has been working diligently to keep taxes low and the economy strong in the face of turbulent economic challenges from across the world. Our economic action plan has delivered results for Canadian families. We will stay the course.
     I would ask every member of the House to vote against the bill. It is plainly not in the best interests of Canadians.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member has pointed out an inconsistency. Specific types of transportation were chosen. Ferries are one example.
    I would like the member to expand on how this lack of reflection causes certain problems—
    I would remind the member that he has the floor to resume debate.
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to have been recognized to speak to this subject.
    The bill before us has the best of intentions, but the result is questionable and rather inconsistent. Unfortunately, the NDP will not be able to support this bill. I will take the time to summarize the bill so that those at home will understand what we are talking about.
    This bill provides that taxpayers may deduct, from their taxable income in a given year, the cost of purchasing tickets for the taxpayer or a child or children of the taxpayer for non-business travel that involves crossing at least three different provincial boundaries. The bill is designed to encourage Canadian taxpayers to travel within the country in order to increase domestic tourism by providing a maximum deduction of $2,000 a year from taxable income.
    It is complex and yet it is not. Basically, people need to travel a lot and need to cross three borders. If they can prove that they were not travelling on business, they can get a non-refundable deduction of up to $2,000.
    The NDP has found six major flaws in this bill.
    This bill is fiscally irresponsible. It would allow for up to $1 billion in tax deductions, but this measure would directly cost $110 million. A little earlier, I heard my hon. colleague say that if people travel, they will spend more money, but that principle does not apply here, especially in light of the current situation with the tourism industry.
    Tourism within Canada is being squeezed dry. Domestic travel accounts for a majority of the travel in the country and this proportion continues to increase. There is no reason to believe that creating more travel in an industry that has already been squeezed dry would suddenly create enough economic activity to compensate for the $110 million.
    The Canadian Tourism Commission is asking for about $110 million to create a real international marketing program. The tourism industry is always lamenting the fact that we do not have enough foreign tourism. Canada's tourism industry is already struggling to stay afloat with domestic travel.
    There will surely be cases of fraud. How can someone prove that they travelled for work but stayed a few days at the destination to visit the beach or do some shopping? How do they sort that out come tax time? It does not appear as though that aspect of this bill was thought through.
    Consider the increased amount of paperwork if, for example, the government has to contact a taxpayer or a business if there is any doubt that travel or an application for a tax refund was associated with business travel instead of leisure travel. How would we manage that? The bill does not address that problem.
    The other important point is that this is a regressive policy. Only families that are well off can spend thousands of dollars on transportation costs. The study we received showed that 70% of the tax benefits associated with this bill will go to families that earn a minimum of $50,000. We want to share Canada and get Canadians to travel. However, we must help the lower-income families who will never be able to see Vancouver, not the well-off families who could afford a trip to Vancouver regardless.
    This bill does nothing to address the fact that it is not easy to travel within Canada. One of the major problems with the tourism industry is that transportation services are irregular and inadequate. For example, train service out east between Montreal and the Maritimes was recently reduced by 50%. Providing a credit on a service that is no longer available is like the chicken and the egg. This bill has it backwards. First we must ensure that our infrastructure can provide adequate service.
    Another point concerns the harmful effects of greenhouse gases. For the same reason that those who are well off will be more likely to be able to cross three borders—since that is what the bill requires—they will also be more likely to travel by plane to claim this tax credit. Once again, this bill favours the mode of transportation that causes the most pollution. It does not address this problem.

  (1940)  

    We can imagine another ridiculous scenario that the bill does not cover. Imagine that a family crosses three borders. Family members leave Quebec, go to New Brunswick and want to go to Prince Edward Island. One of the children tells his father that he wants to go to PEI by ferry. However, the tax credit does not apply to ferries. The father will have to apologize to his child and tell him that they will not be able to go to PEI because the method of transportation for getting there is not covered by the tax deductions for non-business, family travel. This bill has all sorts of problems like this one.
    The asymmetry of the provinces, which is specific to Canada, is another factor that is completely unfair to the western provinces. I can cross three provinces and get a tax credit by going to spend a weekend with my family in the Maritimes, since I live in eastern Quebec. It would be impossible for someone who lives in British Columbia to even think about getting a tax credit for making a short weekend trip by train when he has two or three days off. It is not fair to the western provinces. The bill does not address this problem. The bill does not address the tourism industry's main problem.
    The tourism industry is calling for more international tourism. Domestic tourism is being squeezed dry. Canadians are doing all they can right now. There is a lack of marketing to ensure that domestic tourism stays the same and even continues to grow and to convince hundreds of thousands of new international travellers to come to Canada.
    With the emergence of BRIC, more and more people are travelling. They have money and we are not reaching out to claim our portion of it. That is the real problem. If this bill is passed, $110 million will be invested, but it will not be invested in solving the tourism industry's real problem.
    We would like to ensure that agreements with the provinces and municipalities result in affordable infrastructure, so that low-income families can afford train tickets and go on a trip. That is our goal. We would also like to see the tourism industry finally gain increased revenues from international tourism.
    None of these solutions and priorities are part of the bill. We cannot support a bill so badly put together. It is not right to introduce a bill and expect a committee to fix it.
    What about families who travel by car? What about families who travel in two provinces by train, then take a ferry to a third province? Do they suddenly stop being eligible for the tax credit? What if a man goes on a business trip with his family tagging along, and they vacation together for seven or eight days? Should they report that they were travelling for business or for pleasure?
    Such a convoluted and unmanageable solution is not acceptable. Some people think that if a bill is flawed, it can just be sent to committee to be fixed up.
    However, when a bill creates more problems than it solves, there is no way we can support it at second reading and send it to committee.
    Sadly, that is the position New Democrats find themselves in today. The bill was poorly conceived and poorly drafted. It would be costly and difficult to implement, and it would not solve the problems facing Canada's tourism industry.

  (1945)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to Bill C-463, the discover your Canada act. I want to thank my colleague from Saint-Léonard—Saint-Michel for introducing this legislation and for giving the House an opportunity to discuss the importance of our tourism sector and to address Canada's travel deficit.
    The goal of the bill is to make it easier for Canadians to travel within their own country. It would amend the Income Tax Act and create a tax credit of up to $2,000 for Canadian taxpayers who cross at least three provincial or territorial borders on personal travel. This credit would help reduce the cost of holiday transportation by covering eligible travel expenses. Taxpayers would be able to claim the amount not only for their own expenses but also for their children. This would provide much needed support for Canada's tourism sector.
    According to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, this sector represents more of Canada's GDP than the agriculture, forestry and fisheries combined. It generates $78.8 billion of economic activity annually. It is responsible for more than $15.9 billion of export revenue despite this growing travel deficit. It generates $10 billion in federal government revenue and fosters over 600,000 jobs across the country.
    Tourism plays an important role in the economy in my riding in Nova Scotia. People come to Kings—Hants from all over the country and all over the world to marvel at the world's highest tides, to come to the beautiful Annapolis Valley, to come to Windsor, the birthplace of hockey, and also to enjoy our growing food and wine industries.
    Many of us in the House represent Canadians who make a living in the tourism sector. We know how vital this sector is to the Canadian economy. We also know how worried participants in this sector are about the future of this industry and the growing travel deficit.
    There is a gap between how much money Canadian tourists are spending abroad and how much money international tourists are spending here in Canada. This gap is growing, and the government used budget 2012 not to address it but to slash support for tourism in Canada. By cutting the Canadian Tourism Commission's budget by $14.2 million each and every year, the government is cutting the commission's ability to promote Canada abroad and to attract international tourists to Canada.
    David Goldstein, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada said:
    The travel deficit has widened dramatically since 2002.... We used to be the seventh in the world in 2007 when it came to international arrivals. We are now the 18th. We used to have 20 million international visitors in 2002 and now have 16 million....
    The fact that we are now contributing almost a third to Canada’s trade deficit is somewhat shocking....
    Last December Mr. Goldstein told The Globe and Mail the Conservative cuts are hurting the sector.
    While other countries are making tourism a priority and investing in marketing to attract international visitors, Canada lags behind. Australia, for instance, outspends Canada by three to one in terms of tourism marketing dollars, yet according to the Canadian Tourism Commission every dollar invested in direct advertising is actually earned back 37 times over.
    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has also asked the government to make tourism a priority. In a recent report on tackling the top 10 barriers to competitiveness, the chamber identified uncompetitive travel and tourism strategies as one of the most serious barriers to success in the Canadian economy. That report cited that tourism is a major industry in every reach of the country, but it is struggling.
    Instead of damaging the sector's ability to market itself abroad, the government should recognize the risks assoc