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41st PARLIAMENT, 1st SESSION

EDITED HANSARD • NUMBER 261

CONTENTS

Monday, June 3, 2013




House of Commons Debates

VOLUME 146 
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NUMBER 261 
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1st SESSION 
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41st PARLIAMENT 

OFFICIAL REPORT (HANSARD)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Speaker: The Honourable Andrew Scheer

    The House met at 11 a.m.

Prayers



PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS

[Private Members' Business]

  (1100)  

[English]

Korean War Veterans Day Act

    The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War, as reported (without amendment) from the committee.
    There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.
     moved that the bill be concurred in.
     Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

    The Speaker: When shall the bill be read the third time? By leave, now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
     moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.
    Mr. Speaker, I welcome this chance to rise in the House in support of Bill S-213. As each one of us knows, respect for Canada's veterans unites our country as few other things can. We see it in this chamber every day, regardless of where we sit in the House or where we find ourselves on the political spectrum. Each of us understands the role of Canada's veterans, that incredibly important role veterans have played in building our great nation, not only by wearing our country's uniform but by being leaders and active members of our communities.
    Canada' veterans are role models. They are men and women who have taught us the real meaning of character and courage, the real meaning of service and sacrifice.
    I have thought about what we have debated regarding Bill S-213. As we have taken turns speaking, we have heard a lot about the Korean War. We know that more than 26,000 Canadians served during the war and that approximately 7,000 continued to serve in Korea after the armistice was signed in 1953. We have discovered that some Canadian troops were still boots on the ground in Korea as late as 1957, some seven years after the war began. We also know, sadly, that 516 Canadians made the ultimate sacrifice during the war.
    From a more global perspective, we understand that the Korean War was an important early test for the fledgling United Nations. We know the course of history could have been very different if Canada and 15 other member states had not committed combat troops to the UN's multinational force. We also know that it was imperative for the free world to take action to stop the threat of tyranny and oppression and to defend the right of all peoples to live in peace and freedom.
    We all understand this. We accept the facts as they are. We recognize the significant place the Korean War holds in our history, but in doing so, we must guard against losing sight of some of the more important aspects of Bill S-213. We must not allow ourselves to be numbed by too many numbers or too many facts and figures. Most of all, we must remember that Canada's role in the Korean War was ultimately written by the more than 26,000 individual Canadians who stepped forward, all with their own reasons and all with their own stories of service and sacrifice.
    This is what I want to focus upon with the time I have left today. This is why Bill S-213 is important to me. We can recount all of the strategic details of many battles and events, and what happened between Hill 355 and Hill 277. We can talk about the dangerous skies over the Korean Peninsula and the perilous waters off its shores, but the real story rests with Canadians who served in a war so far from their home. Theirs is the story of courage, the story of being afraid but carrying on anyway, day after day.
    Most of us cannot begin to fathom what it is like to be dug into the side of a hill at nightfall, with the enemy lurking just several hundred metres away in the dark. Most of us cannot begin to imagine what it was like to serve in an extreme climate that could vary from monsoon rains to blazing heat or bitter snow, or to march over the foreign terrain of endless hills, swamps and rice fields.
    I am reminded of the words of Sergeant Denis Lapierre, of our Royal 22nd Regiment, and what he said following the battle for the icy slopes of Hill 355 in November, 1951. He said, “We were there to fight, and if need be, to die. And we did”.
    That is Canada's story in the Korean War, and it is told one person at a time. It is the story of Canadians who were cut down in the prime of their lives and families forever changed by a nation's loss, like Private Curtis Hayes, who never lived to see his twin girls, who were born after he had shipped out to Korea. His two girls grew up without knowing their father.
    Canada's story is told through those who were wounded in body or soul or both, those who were never the same and those who were better for their service. It is told through Canadians who distinguish themselves, people like Tommy Prince, one of our most decorated aboriginal warriors. Prince was an Ojibwa from Manitoba who served in Korea with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He needed only 13 words to explain his service: “As soon as I put on my uniform, I felt a better man”.

  (1105)  

    That is what Bill S-213 really represents. It honours the very best of what it means to be Canadian. It recognizes that Canada's history in the Korean War is as proud, tragic and diverse as the individual Canadians who served. It ensures we will never forget their individual service and their personal sacrifice.
    Without a doubt, we have heard at committee from veterans organizations and from veterans themselves that they are very proud of our government because we have taken action to ensure that the Korean War will never again be called the “forgotten war”. Rather, each and every Korean veteran will be forever remembered for their commitment and sacrifice.
    As I close, I would like to quote from a poem written by Pat O'Connor, a Canadian stretcher bearer who would die the next day while tending to our wounded and fallen soldiers. Pat O'Connor wrote:
    

There is blood on the hills of Korea
It's the gift of the freedom they love
May their names live in glory forever
And their souls rest in Heaven above.

[Translation]

    This is an important bill intended to designate July 27 as Korean War veterans day nationwide.
    I would further like to acknowledge the participation of my colleague from Sackville—Eastern Shore, the official opposition critic for veterans affairs, in the drafting of this bill. I also want to recognize the tremendous work he does every day with our brave Canadian veterans, as well as his sincere devotion to their cause.
    I would also like to acknowledge the considerable work done by the member for Châteauguay—Saint-Constant as the deputy critic for veteran affairs. He is also very dedicated to this cause and works very hard on this. He was an excellent critic for this bill, and I want to express my appreciation for his efforts.
    This is considered by many as the forgotten war, and to this day the great achievements and contributions of our brave Korean War veterans are still too often overlooked, yet, during this conflict, which lasted over three years, more than 26,000 Canadian soldiers joined the UN mission to help the South Korean people and stop this act of aggression by North Korea.
    In this valiant struggle to defend democracy and freedom, 516 of these soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives, and of those who came home, many still bear physical and psychological scars that will never fully heal.
     We must never forget their courage and dedication in the service of their country, as well as all the sacrifices that these men and women made to preserve peace in the world.
    By marking July 27 as Korean War veterans day, we will help commemorate their bravery and honour them as they deserve.
    I come from a military family, so Bill S-213 has a special meaning for me. My father is currently an active member of the Canadian army and my mother is a member of the Royal Canadian Navy reserve.
    When I was a child, they started teaching me about the huge sacrifices made by members of Canada's military over the course of history, and they taught me that we have a duty to remember those sacrifices every single day, not just on November 11. That is an important date, but every day should be a day of commemoration.
    My grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel Norbert LaViolette, also had a career in the armed forces and was among the Canadian veterans who participated in the UN mission in Korea.
    Now, a few days before his 90th birthday, I have the privilege of hosting him on Parliament Hill and paying tribute to him to sincerely thank him for his military service during the Korean War and throughout his career.
    Lieutenant Colonel LaViolette enrolled in the Canadian Officers' Training Corps at Université du Sacré-Coeur in Bathurst in 1941. He enrolled in the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1943 and then transferred to the supplementary reserve a few years later. When he realized that he was not particularly fond of airplanes, he enrolled in the Canadian army in 1950 and started studying mechanical engineering at the Nova Scotia Technical College.
    He was deployed to South Korea in 1953 and stayed there for one year, making him one of the 7,000 Canadian soldiers who helped keep the peace after the armistice was signed.
    When he participated in the UN mission in Korea, my grandfather was 27 years old and was a lieutenant with the Corps of Royal Canadian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. His unit's role was to provide front-line maintenance support for Canadian vehicles and weaponry.
    We all know that our soldiers are dedicated and that they honour human rights and Canadian values. Whenever possible, my grandfather and his colleagues tried to help the poorest people in the villages surrounding their base. It was hard for my grandfather to see these people suffering and to see all the destruction left behind by the North Korean soldiers, who even killed all of the male animals in the livestock herds so that the villagers could not renew their food source.
    I am very proud of my grandfather's military service and everything he accomplished in Korea. Lucky for us, the only visible scars he came back with were a fear of snakes and such a bad memory of the taste of the water that he still avoids it to this day.

  (1110)  

    Lucky for us, he came home and raised his family. He is still with us today and will celebrate his 90th birthday on Thursday. However, not all of our soldiers were so lucky. We need to remember them and all of the sacrifices they made. We need to remember all those whose names are in the Korean Book of Remembrance in the Memorial Chamber within Parliament's Peace Tower. They sacrificed themselves for their country, and we need to pay tribute to them. Dedicating July 27 in their honour would be a wonderful way of doing just that.
    However, we must also ensure that our veterans receive all the services they deserve after having given so much for their country in the service of democracy. I hope that they will get the support they need, as will Canadian Legions, which need help. They have a difficult time providing services for their members and even keeping their doors open, yet they play a key role in ensuring that members' service is not forgotten. Legions also serve as a meeting place, a place of community. They offer support and organize funerals for veterans.
    Those are the kinds of things we need in this country in order to pay just tribute to veterans and take care of them once they return. Many of them left everything behind to take up arms when Canada put out the call. When the UN asked, Canadian soldiers were there. They did not hesitate to join the Korean War. In fact, Canada sent one of the highest numbers of soldiers, per capita, to Korea. Those men and women sacrificed themselves. They went to the front lines and were ready to give their lives for the values we cherish here in Canada. They were ready to defend the ideals of freedom and democracy that we enjoy here and want to see established in every country on earth.
    I am happy that all the parties of the House made such a concerted effort to move this bill forward quickly. If everything goes smoothly and this passes through the legislative process quickly, we could be celebrating the first official day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War this year, in 2013, the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice.
    We have achieved this outcome today because all parties of the House were able to work together, thereby allowing us to honour people like my grandfather, people who truly gave their all in the service of Canada. It is a great privilege for me to have the chance to pay tribute to him today. I know that that time in his life had a tremendous impact on him.
    Earlier I was talking about some of the bad memories he brought back with him. I am sure he had others that he never shared with his family, because soldiers sometimes experience horrible atrocities when taking part in armed conflict. We know this from our veterans returning from Afghanistan, for example. I had the opportunity to welcome some of them home to CFB Valcartier. Some of them were my age, and some even younger. Their experiences overseas will mark them for life. Some of them can no longer be members of the Canadian Forces because of what they went through while they were overseas. Nevertheless, we remember their sacrifice.
    I welcome the initiative the House is taking through Bill S-213. Once again, I thank all of my colleagues in the House and those in the other place for their support. I hope this bill will pass quickly so that we can celebrate the first day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War in 2013.

  (1115)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise today to speak to what is a very important bill. The member who spoke before me talked a lot about the support for Bill S-213. It goes a long way in recognizing what many Canadians have acknowledged for years, particularly our war vets, which is the important role Canadian soldiers played in Korea a number of decades ago. I believe that all members of the House of Commons support passage of this bill and want to see it passed as quickly as possible.
    It is important for us to recognize July 27 as the signing of the armistice between South Korea and North Korea. Most people are not necessarily aware that in the neighbourhood of 26,000 members of the Canadian Forces participated in the Korean War, of which 516 lost their lives. Another 1,558 were wounded. This year, 2013, marks the 60th anniversary of the Korean armistice. The war began in 1950. Three years later, in 1953, in came to an end. Canadians continued to serve until roughly 1955 and some as late as 1957.
     It was the first time the United Nations deployed members, and Canada was part of the United Nations. July 27 is the day designated a special day to acknowledge the signing of the armistice between South Korea and North Korea.
    My colleague from Charlottetown raised the issue of the impact of that particular war. If we want a good indication of the roles the United Nations and Canada played, we should look at where South Korea is today. I will quote what he said, because he said it quite well:
    The progress South Korea has experienced in the last 60 years is nothing short of remarkable. It is now the tenth largest economy in the world. The capital, Seoul, is a world-class, vibrant city of 11 million people, with high-rises and modern infrastructure. It has hosted the Olympics as well as the FIFA World Cup. It is a world leader in electronics and manufacturing. We have all heard of Hyundai and Samsung.
    South Korea has done exceptionally well in all aspects of being a modern society. North Korea is strikingly different. That part of Korean society has not done nearly as well in terms of progress. We need to recognize that Canada and the United Nations played a significant role.
    The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when military forces from North Korea crossed into South Korea. For the first time in its early history, the United Nations became engaged, and forces were deployed under the UN flag.

  (1120)  

    Canadians, as I said, played a critical role during that war. We saw action in the battle of Kapyong and many others, beginning in April 1951. During that two-day battle, there were some 10 Canadians killed and 23 wounded. I know my colleague spoke at length, citing other battles that were fought where Canadians played a significant role.
     I had the opportunity to serve in the forces. On Remembrance Day or in parades, quite often the highlight is put on World War I or World War II at military events. Many argued that we never gave enough attention to what took place in Korea. It is really only in the last couple of decades that there has been more attention given to Canada's role in Korea and the positive impact it had in that region of the world. In time, I suspect, we will see more recognition given to Korea.
    Liberals see Bill S-213 as a step in the right direction in acknowledging those individuals who paid the supreme sacrifice and lost their lives while representing Canada and serving through the United Nations. As we move forward, I hope and anticipate that this bill will pass relatively quickly. I think there are many people watching who want this legislation to become law prior to the conclusion of this session for the simple reason that it would be wonderful to give that recognition on the 60th anniversary.
    We in the Liberal Party recognize the importance of passing this legislation. We would like the legislation to pass prior to the conclusion of this session, whenever that might be, so that communities across Canada will be able to express their appreciation on July 27, marking the armistice agreement that was signed so many years ago.

  (1125)  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak in support of Bill S-213, An Act respecting a national day of remembrance to honour Canadian veterans of the Korean War. If this bill passes, July 27 will be designated Korean War veterans day.
    Bill S-213 originated as a Senate private member's bill introduced by British Columbian senator Yonah Martin. The bill passed third reading in Senate in March and is now in the final stages of debate before the House of Commons. Canada's New Democrats support this bill and its intent to support veterans and their families.
    For too long, the contributions of Canada's Korean War veterans have been overlooked. More than 26,000 Canadian servicemen and servicewomen served in the Korean War; 516 of them made the ultimate sacrifice in what has come to be known as “Canada's forgotten war”. The role of Canadian troops in key battles, like Kapyong and Hill 355, demonstrated the courage and distinction with which our soldiers served. After the war ended in 1953, about 7,000 Canadians remained in Korea to serve as military observers until the end of 1955.
     Canadian soldiers were the recipients of numerous awards for valour, including nine distinguished service orders, thirty-three military crosses, five distinguished flying crosses, eight distinguished conduct medals and fifty-three military medals. In addition, the Second Battalion of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry was awarded the United States Presidential Unit Citation.
    The Korean people have also expressed gratitude to our veterans for their service and sacrifice. In fact, when our veterans return to visit Korea, they are treated as honoured guests. Many veterans made the trip this year, including local constituent and decorated Korean War veteran Frank Smyth from Coquitlam who travelled to Korea to visit the war memorials and see how the country has developed over the past 60 years.
     However, sadly, when soldiers returned home from Korea, their contributions were not recognized by their fellow Canadians in the same way as other veterans' contributions. It took 40 years before the Canadian government officially acknowledged the sacrifices made by our Korean War veterans who fought in a three-year-long war and watched too many of their fellow comrades die in battle. Veterans' groups like the Korea Veterans Association of Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion have been key drivers in the efforts to ensure that we do a proper job as a country of honouring the fallen soldiers of the Korean War as well as its thousands of veterans.
    Thanks to their efforts, today Canadians can visit the Korea Veterans National Wall of Remembrance in Brampton, Ontario, where a plaque bears the names of Canadians who died in service. Canadians can also visit the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower here on Parliament Hill, where the Korean War Book of Remembrance contains the names of all 516 fallen soldiers.
    I would like to recognize the efforts of Port Moody resident Guy Black who led a multi-year campaign for Canada Post to issue a commemorative stamp of the Korean War. He assembled hundreds of letters of support for the application. He enlisted my help in the campaign, and I lobbied the Minister of Veterans Affairs as well as the minister responsible for Canada Post, both of whom were supportive. Unfortunately, Canada Post rejected Mr. Black's applications. I commend Mr. Black for his many years of hard work and dedication to this cause.
    As we now look to designate July 27 as Korean War veterans day, it is important to note that the duty to remember is not only for one day, but for every day of the year. The same, of course, can be said for Remembrance Day. In fact, there is far more we can do as a society to pay tribute to veterans. Respect for soldiers can be seen in the Canadian government's treatment of our veterans through benefits and services provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Much work remains to be done to ensure all veterans are given the honour and fair treatment they deserve. Assistance for veterans of more recent missions is particularly lacking.
    Earlier this year, we heard the story of Colonel Neil Russell who, as a post-Korean War vet, was denied access to a veteran's bed in a long-term care facility. This policy is unacceptable and must change.

  (1130)  

    My mother-in-law Signe Radelet, who is 93 years young, is a veteran of the Second World War. She served three years in Kitsilano, Vancouver. She never received government support her entire life; now she does require support, such as a wheelchair and housing assistance. However, because she did not serve overseas, she is ineligible for government assistance from veterans affairs. Like so many other veterans, Signe served her country, asked little in return, raised her family, and now, near the end of her life, requires a little help. The government should be there to provide this help. It is the least it can do, given her contribution to Canada.
    The treatment of Canada's Korean War vets should be a lesson in avoiding the practice of splitting up vets into different categories that receive different levels of recognition or benefits. The government should treat all veterans fairly, regardless of where or when they served. Some of these wrongs are slowly being corrected, like expanding the eligibility criteria for the Last Post Fund and returning unfairly deducted benefits to veterans, yet many are concerned that a quarter of a billion dollars in cuts to veterans affairs will hamper progress.
    I hope the House will indulge me to take a moment to also recognize the important work of former MP and MLA Dawn Black, who drew much-needed attention to the problems of post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological injuries among soldiers returning home from Afghanistan. Dawn was an excellent representative for her constituents, and her legacy is great. I want to thank Dawn for her many years of public service, and I wish her and Peter all the best as they begin to enjoy their retirement years together.
    Bill S-213 proposes to create a Korean War veterans day. I would like to reiterate the official opposition's support for this timely initiative. The year 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War. It also marks 50 years of Canadian-Korean diplomatic relations, and Canada has designated 2013 as the Year of Korea.
    Our countries' long-standing bilateral relationship is an important one based on co-operation in key areas like arts and culture, trade, democracy, human rights and tourism. Evidence of this can be seen in the constituency I represent of New Westminster--Coquitlam and Port Moody, which is home to a large, vibrant Korean-Canadian community.
    I have also had the pleasure of being a member of the Canada Korea Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group. This has afforded me an opportunity to play a small role in strengthening the friendship between our two countries.
    I am pleased to support Bill S-213 at third reading and I look forward to its becoming law.
    Finally, I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the member for Sackville—Eastern Shore, the official opposition's veterans affairs critic, for his contributions to the early stages of this legislation and for his continued efforts on behalf of Canada's veterans.

  (1135)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all my colleagues in the House today and at previous readings of this bill for their support. We had unanimous support for this bill at a standing vote on second reading.
    I would like to thank my colleagues for their kind words. Sometimes people feel as though they might be all alone in having family affected by the Korean War. It was inspiring to hear that I am not the only member of this House with family members who served in the Korean conflict.
    I would especially like to thank my good friend Senator Yonah Martin for spearheading this. She has been a stalwart supporter of our Korean War veterans. I have nothing but respect and admiration for her as she is doing what should have been done so long ago, which is rightly paying tribute to the Canadian Korean War veterans who fought so valiantly on behalf of the people of Korea.
    I would like to thank the Korea Veterans Association of Canada, KVA Canada, for all they do in organizing all the events that are important in not only commemorating the Korean War and respecting our veterans but also in making sure our Korean veterans are well served.
     I would also like to thank the Royal Canadian Legion, all branches, for their stalwart support of veterans in the broader scope, including, of course, our Korean War veterans. I could not be more proud of an organization in our country than the Royal Canadian Legion.
    I would like to thank the men and women of our Canadian Armed Forces. They have my respect and the respect of all members of this country as they continue to do what those who fought before them have done so valiantly. They are always standing on guard for our country.
    I would also like to thank the Government of South Korea for all that they do. I mentioned this in my speech. They have never forgotten the sacrifices that have been made. While we here in Canada might call this the “forgotten war”, I can assure members that in Korea they have not forgotten the sacrifices made by United Nations countries, Canada being one of them. I thank them for all they do, including the bereavement program that brings bereaved family members or veterans back over.
    I have one little quick story. When I was in Korea last November, I had the opportunity to go to the United Nations cemetery in Busan, but due to some flight issues I missed the actual ceremony. I was over there with some veterans who had described Korea as shanty towns and bombed roads, and today it is 12-lane highways with high-rise towers everywhere.
    In the area of the UN cemetery in Busan, the buildings are quite low to the ground. It is an anomaly. People have to look at it and see that there are no high-rises. It is because the Government of Korea has decreed that no building can be built that will cast a shadow upon the grave of somebody who fought and died on behalf of the people of South Korea. That is just one example of the reverence the people of Korea have for our veterans.
    I would like to thank our Minister of Veterans Affairs, the parliamentary secretary and all members of the committee for making this the Year of Korea in Canada and also the Year of the Korean War Veteran. I would like to thank all of our ex-pats.
    In closing, we had the privilege of playing a hockey game on the Rideau Canal this year. A bunch of Canadian ex-pats, through a picture, saw that the various divisions of the Canadian Armed Forces in Korea played hockey on the Imjin River. They have reconstituted this Imjin River Cup. I would like to thank Andrew Monteith and all the Geckos over there.
     Whether it is through playing hockey or through other types of events that we commemorate, all of these things remind us of our past and past sacrifices, but also the good things that have come from those sacrifices, such as the freedom to do something simple, like engaging in a hockey game, without fear of any type of repression or oppression. It is just one little way that we can commemorate the great deeds done by the 26,000 members of the Canadian Forces who served in the Korea War.
    I hope we can pass this bill at third reading today and do what should have been done so long ago, which is to have a national day commemorating the tremendous sacrifices and the absolute heroics of the Canadians who served during the Korean War.

  (1140)  

     The question is on the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Acting Speaker (Mr. Barry Devolin): I declare the motion carried.

     (Motion agreed to, bill read the third time and passed)

Suspension of Sitting  

    The House will stand suspended until 12 o'clock.

     (The sitting of the House was suspended at 11:40 a.m.)

Sitting Resumed  

     (The House resumed at 12:00 noon)

  (1155)  

Vacancy

Bourassa  

    It is my duty to inform the House that a vacancy has occurred in the representation, namely Mr. Coderre, member for the electoral district of Bourassa, by resignation effective Sunday, June 2, 2013.
    Pursuant to subsection 25(1)(b) of the Parliament of Canada Act, I have addressed my warrant to the Chief Electoral Officer for the issue of a writ for the election of a member to fill this vacancy.

Government Orders

[ Government Orders]

[English]

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1

Bill C-60--Time Allocation Motion  

    That, in relation to Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, not more than one further sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at report stage of the Bill and one sitting day shall be allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill; and
    That, 15 minutes before the expiry of the time provided for Government Orders on the day allotted to the consideration at report stage and on the day allotted to the consideration at third reading stage of the said Bill, any proceedings before the House shall be interrupted, if required for the purpose of this Order, and in turn every question necessary for the disposal of the stage of the Bill then under consideration shall be put forthwith and successively without further debate or amendment.

  (1200)  

    Pursuant to Standing Order 67.1, there will now be a 30-minute question period. I invite hon. members who wish to ask questions to rise in their places at this point so I can get an assessment of how many members would like to participate.
    Typically, questions and comments are about a minute long each. I think that today we can probably go a minute and a half. However, I would encourage all hon. members to pay attention to the Chair for a signal when the member's time is drawing to a close.
    Questions and comments.
    The hon. member for Parkdale—High Park.
    Mr. Speaker, today we have a record in this Parliament: 39 times this government has brought time allocation in to end debate, stifle debate, on parliamentary discussion of parliamentary bills.
    Its previous own record stood at 31, which in itself is outrageous, but it has brought in time allocation now on 23 different bills since the election, for a total of 39 times.
    The bill on which it is now bringing in time allocation is the budget implementation act, another omnibus budget bill, Bill C-60. In this bill, there are changes that would affect dozens of laws. Different parliamentary committees that should have had the opportunity to debate and question and pass some of this bill as separate individual bills have not had that chance.
    This bill would affect the collective bargaining process in our crown corporations, would undermine the journalistic independence of the CBC and could undermine the independence of the Bank of Canada. We called for more study on this measure; the government shut that down.
    This is a bill that would tinker with the temporary foreign workers program and the Investment Canada Act, which should themselves have separate debates, and it would raise taxes for Canadians across this country.
    My question for the hon. minister is this: what is he and his government so afraid of that they have had to bring in time allocation 39 times?
    Mr. Speaker, in each of those cases there were very good reasons, mostly involving the fact that there had been quite considerable debate in this chamber or in various parliamentary committees before time allocation proceeded, which sets the rules for further debate in the House of Commons.
    In this case, the budget bill has been a matter of discussion, both inside and outside the House, since March, almost 70 days ago. The bill has been before the finance committee, the industry committee, the veterans affairs committee, the human resources committee, the citizenship and immigration committee and the foreign affairs committee.
    Many parliamentarians have participated in the debate, either in this chamber or in our House of Commons committees. That debate has been quite extensive and it is now time we have a motion to deal with further debate in the House and reach its logical conclusion.

  (1205)  

    Mr. Speaker, we have heard from a number of witnesses, including Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, at committee. Also members of the finance committee received a letter from Hubert Lacroix, the president of CBC, who took what was almost an unprecedented step of writing to member and essentially threatening a court case if Bill C-60 passed without amendment. He said, “this legislation threatens the independence of the CBC and Radio Canada”. He said:
    We believe that the proposed amendments to the Financial Administration Act...may conflict with key parts of the Broadcasting Act, our Corporation's governing legislation, and as a result, would reduce the independence that is critical to our operation.
     He also said, “may give rise to conflicts with the Broadcasting Act and the Charter” and could ultimately lead to significant challenges in legal challenges with the corporation. He simply said that we could avoid all of this with an amendment that would protect the independence of the CBC.
    Why is the government so hell-bent on driving this legislation through with closure? Why is the government not considering constructive amendments to avoid this kind of conflict with the CBC and this threat to the independence of public broadcasting?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for further debate that had already occurred in the House of Commons committee on this item. There is no reason why there should not be further debate on it in this chamber as well.
    However, the position of the government is that our bill does nothing of the sort in terms of journalistic integrity or independence when it comes to the journalism that is a portion of what the CBC does. Our concern, on behalf of the taxpayer, is that we have these crown corporations, not only the one the hon. member referenced, but dozens of others that go about their business in collective bargaining. At the end of the day, if their collective bargaining means massive changes in liability and in costs to that crown corporation, they turn to the bank of last resort, which is the Government of Canada.
     Surely to goodness we should have some say in those collective bargaining arrangements, not in terms of journalistic integrity but in terms of the business affairs of these crown corporations, including, but not limited to the CBC, to ensure taxpayers are protected.
    Before we continue, I want to remind all hon. members that in this question context we do not necessarily follow the normal rotation that the majority of the questions are given to opposition members as opposed to government members, but there can be government members as well.
    Questions and comments, the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.
    Mr. Speaker, it is interesting to hear the minister attempt to justify shutting down debate once again. As the member for Parkdale—High Park said, it has been 39 times that the government has limited the ability of parliamentarians to do their job. In this case, we have only had one hour of debate on the bill at this stage of its reading.
    We are talking about a bill that is 115 pages long and amends 49 different pieces of legislation. When the bill had second reading, there was time allocation on that phase. Then it was referred to committees where people were unable to amend the bill. They had very limited time to call witnesses. In some cases, some committees only had one meeting on the legislation. Therefore, I hardly think we have had adequate time to give the bill the kind of study it requires. We saw this with the budget bill and now the budget implementation act.
    As well, in this case, the government talks about how it needs to get this moving. Why did it not bring the bill forward earlier? The government controls the agenda for when a bill is called before the House for debate. It had ample opportunity to bring the bill forward so we would have the opportunity to study it in-depth and to call witnesses. Again, as the member for Parkdale—High Park pointed out, there are a number of different critical pieces of legislation that would be impacted by this, for example, the amalgamation of CIDA with foreign affairs and some changes to the way the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation would be able to operate.
    Why does the minister think parliamentarians should not have the opportunity to provide due diligence for legislation that will have impact so many other pieces of legislation?

  (1210)  

    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member's commentary and question gives me the opportunity in my reply to remind her and the House that there were six parliamentary committees, including finance, that took portions of the bill, had hearings, heard from not only government officials but from business leaders as well. They heard from academics, industry groups, labour groups and many more. Those voices were heard. They were part of the deliberations of the committees, as it should be. Parliamentarians on those committees had an opportunity to familiarize themselves, in detail, with particular portions of the bill to ensure it did get the scrutiny it deserved. Then the bill came back for report stage to this chamber.
    At this point, we are simply ensuring there is a framework for further debate on the bill. It is debate that is longer, quite frankly, than on previous budgets in the previous Liberal government. I note the 2001 Liberal budget, which was larger than today's bill, only had three days of debate. We propose to have more than that. Therefore, we are doing our due diligence as parliamentarians.
    Mr. Speaker, every time there is time allocation on bills, the government breaks all records for that. The time for debate is shortened and that means limited time for members of Parliament, such as myself. I appreciate the hon. President of the Treasury Board said that there were opportunities. I tried to get to all the various committee hearings on Bill C-60, because it is such important legislation. As I am not a member of those committees, I am not allowed to ask questions.
    However, the way in which witnesses are being treated in this current administration is an aberration compared to previous parliamentary procedures where in legislative committees witnesses would actually have sufficient time to put forward a 20-minute presentation and take lots of questions. We now have whole panels on many different topics. One panel can cover different topics. It gets five minutes and very little time for actual discussion and certainly no real deliberation, because everything is prescribed by partisan discipline.
    In this context, right now on Bill C-60, I will have no opportunity to speak whatsoever. As you know, Mr. Speaker, and I am not protesting this point, none of my amendments or deletions or suggestions for Bill C-60 were chosen. I do not think there will be any speaking opportunity, yet I represent not just my party but my constituents, who have significant concerns.
    We heard the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan speak about the changes to crown corporations, the changes to taxation of credit unions and the failure to define national security, one of the few opportunities we have had to put a definition of national security in the Investment Canada Act. None of these points will I be able to give more than the cursory 30 seconds here and there. Because with time allocation, I will have no speaking opportunity.
    I would like to ask the hon. President of the Treasury Board if he would speak to his government whip and ask that I be given one of the speaking slots for Conservative members.
    Mr. Speaker, I will take that under advisement, but some things occurred at committee that were without precedent. It was a positive development that the hon. member was invited to the various committees. She was also invited to table amendments at finance committee and was able to speak at another committee.
    As the hon. member knows, her numbers in the House do not technically warrant this. The rules are perhaps archaic, but they are the rules of this place. However, we were able, as a chamber, to come together to give her a greater opportunity.
    Sometimes the opposition parties resisted this, I am told. I hope that is not over-reading the case, but it was very positive that the hon. member was given those opportunities. This is a greater opportunity than had been the case in the past.
    I think that answers her question from the government side in terms of being fair and reasonable with respect to hearing representation on the bill.

  (1215)  

    Mr. Speaker, we are in debate about the content of the budget bill as far as its strength and scope. Perhaps my colleague could speak a bit to the functionality of a budget implementation bill as far as a requirement to change laws in order to implement the budget. Could he provide some clarity on that?
    Second, given that we are debating time allocation, could he provide some clarity for Canadians as to why the passage of the bill is so important to the economic growth of our country?
    Mr. Speaker, this gets to the gist of what this is about. Procedure is important, certainly procedural fairness is important, but it is also about content. It is also about ensuring that we can move forward as a country and as a society for more jobs, more opportunity to ensure that security. When it comes to economic security, security of the taxpayer and security of our communities, it continues to be the raison d'être in this place for government activity, particularly surrounding the economic action plan 2013 and budgetary measures. The bill would do that
    I will give a few examples. It would extend tax relief for new investments in machinery and equipment. I certainly heard in my round tables that this was important for Canadian manufacturing in particular, Canadian production more generally.
    It would index gas tax fund payments to better support job creating infrastructure in municipalities. This is something municipalities had called upon governments to do for years. We are doing it in the bill.
    Extending the mineral exploration tax credit is another example. I come from northern Ontario. This is critically important to the continued success of the economy in northern Ontario and other parts of our country.
    Those are but a few examples of why the bill is important.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let me explain the normal stages of a bill as it makes its way through the House and the committees. First, the bill, the subject matter of which is often rather complicated, passes at second reading and is studied intensively during four or five meetings in committee. Then, it comes back to the House to be debated. All that for just one bill.
    However, in the case of the budget implementation bill, Bill C-60, which amends, adds or eliminates about 50 laws, only two and a half meetings of the Standing Committee on Finance, of which I am a member, were devoted to the provisions of Bill C-60.
    I would remind hon. members that this bill includes two rather complex parts on taxation and a third part on various amendments to a number of statutes. Indeed, 18 different parts might have needed 18 separate bills.
    We were given just one day of debate at second reading and two and a half meetings at the Standing Committee on Finance. Some very superficial meetings were held at other committees, but there was never any real study in committee. The committee on investment held just one meeting with officials and that is all. We did not even get to propose amendments in the Standing Committee on Finance.
    How can the President of the Treasury Board claim that we have had ample time to debate Bill C-60, when we really only took an extremely superficial look at it?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member talked about the process. As I have already said, content is also important.
    More than six House committees had the opportunity to consider the different aspects of the bill. For example, the Standing Committee on Finance met more than five times to study this bill. The Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development and other committees of the House also met to study this bill. Therefore, there has been a great deal of discussion and debate.
    Naturally, when it comes to the process, discussions and debate are necessary and important. However, at the end of the day, it is important to have discussion here, in the House, in order to arrive at a conclusion.

  (1220)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, since there has been a Conservative majority government, we have seen a radically different attitude in terms of dealing with government business. Time allocation is now at a record high. Every time it introduces time allocation, it becomes a new record.
    The majority Conservative government sees one way of passing legislation. It does not understand or appreciate the need to have democracy inside the House of Commons. Its attitude is that it is going to be the government's way and it is going to force it through, no matter what the opposition members have to say.
    The President of the Treasury Board makes a joke of the committee structure when he says that the bill has gone to six committees. I was at one of those committees. The Liberal Party was given 10 minutes to address it at the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. This whole process is a joke in the way the majority Conservative government tries to manage its legislative agenda through the House of Commons.
    When will the government realize that time allocation is being used a record number of times? No other government in the history of Canada has used time allocation in the manner the government has used it. When are we going to see a change in attitude that demonstrates more respect for the way the House proceeds and more respect for individual members of the House of Commons? When are we going to see a change in attitude by the government?
    Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I think I have outlined already this afternoon that our government approached this bill in a way that gave it further consideration by six separate committees of the House of Commons on various aspects of this bill. That shows that we are interested in getting feedback and in making sure that parliamentarians have an opportunity to have their say and input. That should be applauded, not held in derision, as the hon. member has done.
    I find it passing strange that the hon. member, representing the party he does, says that. As I mentioned, in 2001, just to pick one example, the budget the previous Liberal government produced was longer than this budget and had 40% less debate in the House of Commons. It had bigger budgets than this one, with less debate. That was its record. For the hon. member to stand in this place and criticize us when we have gone out of our way to make sure that we have plowed new ground when it comes to discussion and debate on this particular budget does not have very much credibility.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the President of the Treasury Board is answering our questions about the debate. One part of the bill deals with his authority to intervene in the negotiations of crown corporations. Given how easily the President of the Treasury Board confuses his own personal interest with the public interest, this hardly alleviates all our concerns.
    I will reiterate what my colleague from Rimouski-Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques said. The consultations and the work done by the members of the Standing Committee on Finance—the only committee with the authority to really examine the bill—were just a facade, especially since most of the witnesses were clearly opposed to parts of the bill. Amendments were systematically rejected by the government. Everything was obviously decided beforehand. The government wants the bill to be passed in its present form. The NDP even proposed amendments that were not threatening in the least.
    How can the President of the Treasury Board justify the fact that he is completely unreceptive to any suggestions?
    Mr. Speaker, there was a process to consider the amendments and the views of organizations such as trade unions and small businesses, for example. This process took place in committee, of course. That is precisely the place where these issues should be discussed. However, as I have previously said about crown corporations, the changes are intended to protect taxpayers, the public. We want a system that will enable crown corporations and unions to hold discussions. This is necessary to protect taxpayers' interests.

  (1225)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the minister for his answers. However, as I sit on the finance committee, it is hypocritical of the other parties to come here and present things that really are not factual. In committee, we heard from a number of witnesses, and the majority supported the measures in Bill C-60.
    I also want to reply to some of the comments made by the NDP on how many pieces of legislation are in the bill. This is typical, and I would ask the minister to comment on how typical it is. The minister commented on the Liberals having a longer bill in 2001.
    It is hypocritical when the NDP government in Manitoba recently, on May 31, was criticized for its omnibus budget bill, which actually introduces a controversial new subsidy for political parties. As members know, we are eliminating political subsidies. We think it is important that donations come to parties from taxpayers. However, the NDP government in Manitoba is going to provide new political aid through taxpayer funds in its omnibus budget bill. It is also going to reduce penalties for cabinet ministers in that omnibus bill. I do not agree with that. Let us hear from the minister about how typical it is to effect change with a number of legislations. What we will not do is hide things, as we see in Manitoba, in our omnibus bills.
    Mr. Speaker, I hesitate to get into the details, as the hon. member has, of Manitoba politics. I think she is the resident expert, and I will let her comments stand. However, I think the point she was making is valid.
    We are talking about a budget bill here. Budget bills, by their very nature, indeed by their very definition, are going to change various aspects of various bills down the line. They are going to change the Income Tax Act. They are going to change, in this case, acts respecting crown corporations. They are going to change things that have to do with citizenship and immigration. In this case, we are giving more funds to veterans, so there are changes that have to do with Veterans Affairs.
    It is perfectly natural and normal that a bill that pertains to the economy and the budgeting of the government will affect various other pieces of legislation down the line. That is typical. This is not atypical in any manner of speaking in that regard. This bill is important to the future of our economy to make sure we continue to find ways to produce more jobs, more opportunity, more economic growth and more economic certainty.
    Mr. Speaker, I will start by saying how quickly they forget. There are a lot of members in the Conservative Party who came from a Reform Party background, when the slogan was “The west wants in”.
    I have to say, as a western MP, that on a lot of these debates, I would like to get in. I would like to have my say in these debates. However, once again, on the bill before us, my opportunity to speak will be this one and half minutes to ask the minister questions.
     What we see from the other side at this time is setting a very low bar. We have had a Conservative government for seven years, but it continues to refer back to what the Liberals did, which is becoming a bit of ancient history. In fact, Conservatives have their own record here, which is the repeated use in Parliament of time allocation.
    We are talking about 49 bills being amended here. However, the minister is saying that we had 10 hours of debate in committee. I hesitate to do the math out loud and on the record, but it would seem that it would amount to about five bills per hour, or a bill every 12 minutes. With three parties, that would be about four minutes each. How can the minister say that we have had adequate consultation and discussion on these bills with that kind of record?
    Mr. Speaker, I am not here to tell the opposition how to conduct its affairs. I would just say that in my experience as a parliamentarian, which goes back to 1995, quality matters as much as quantity, in a lot of cases. The hon. member might want to talk to his research department or the various staffers who work for the NDP and work on that as we move forward in this parliamentary session.
    The case was made. Various organizations from western Canada, central Canada and eastern Canada came forward saying that this bill is necessary. Probably municipalities in the hon. member's own constituency came before us and said that they need this bill to be passed and that it is important for their municipalities to attract new growth, jobs and opportunities by having the infrastructure in place. Business organizations, mostly small and medium enterprises, probably in the honourable member's own constituency, came before us and said that they need this bill passed.
    The hon. member is incorrect when he says that we did not have that kind of say, that kind of debate and that kind of discussion. The jury is back in, and it is saying that this bill is necessary. That is what these groups and organizations representing millions of Canadians are saying.

  (1230)  

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

  (1310)  

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

(Division No. 709)

YEAS

Members

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

Total: -- 148

NAYS

Members

Allen (Welland)
Andrews
Angus
Aubin
Ayala
Bélanger
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Borg
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Brison
Brosseau
Byrne
Caron
Casey
Cash
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Choquette
Cleary
Côté
Crowder
Cuzner
Davies (Vancouver East)
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dubé
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Easter
Eyking
Foote
Freeman
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Godin
Goodale
Gravelle
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Hsu
Hughes
Jacob
Kellway
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Latendresse
Laverdière
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leslie
Liu
MacAulay
Mai
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
McCallum
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
Michaud
Moore (Abitibi—Témiscamingue)
Morin (Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine)
Morin (Laurentides—Labelle)
Mourani
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nunez-Melo
Pacetti
Papillon
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Rae
Rafferty
Ravignat
Regan
Rousseau
Sandhu
Scarpaleggia
Scott
Sellah
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
St-Denis
Sullivan
Toone
Tremblay
Turmel
Valeriote

Total: -- 104

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)

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

Report Stage  

     The House resumed from May 31 consideration of Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    Order. The hon. member for Kings—Hants still has four and a half minutes left to conclude his remarks. I will give him the floor now.
    Mr. Speaker, before being so rudely interrupted by the weekend, I was saying that the Conservatives' latest budget would raise taxes by a whopping $3.3 billion over four years, and a number of these tax measures are included in this budget implementation act.
    Bill C-60 would attack Canada's rural economy, with tax increases on credit unions. It would take more money out of small communities that are already struggling, and it would make it harder for small businesses in rural and small-town Canada to get the credit they need to grow and create jobs.
    This is what David Phillips, president and CEO of Credit Union Central of Canada had to say:
    The income tax increase on credit unions...is growth limiting. It deprives credit unions of income that might otherwise be used to support the growth of the credit union by building its capital base. The credit union will...have less capacity to make loans to small business, fund community economic development, and meet member needs.
    It disregards the federal government's desire to support small business in local communities...
...it's really a tax on growth.
    It is a tax on growth in rural and small-town Canada.
     Garth Manness, the CEO of Credit Union Central of Manitoba, said:
...it is no exaggeration to say that some...may begin to question the future viability of credit unions in many communities in rural Canada. Not only could people be left without access to a nearby financial institution, [but] valuable and stable jobs at the credit unions could be lost.
    Many of Canada's smaller rural communities face persistently higher unemployment rates and a rapidly aging population as younger workers move to cities for stable jobs. It is illogical for the Conservatives to go ahead with this tax hike on credit unions and diminish an already-limited source of investment in these rural and small-town communities.
    On top of hurting small businesses that rely on credit unions, Bill C-60 would attack 750,000 Canadian small-business owners with a new tax hike on dividends. This legislation would even raise taxes on safety depot boxes. Perhaps what is most offensive is that Bill C-60 would actually punish victims of crime by adding GST or HST to health care services they need to establish their case in court.
     The Canadian Psychological Association remains concerned that Bill C-60 would add GST and HST to mental health services, including psychological assessments. This is what Karen Cohen, the CEO of the Canadian Psychological Association, said when she appeared before the finance committee: “If passed without clarification or amendment, Canadians will now have to pay taxes on certain psychological services that were once exempt”. She provided a number of examples of Canadian patients who would now have to pay GST on mental health services, and went on to say:
    It's important to note that this isn't a pocketbook issue for psychologists. It's not the psychologists who have to pay this tax. It's going to be hard-working Canadians who have a health need that is not met by Canada's publicly funded health care system.
    A psychological assessment can cost thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket fees. The amount of money at stake for Canadian patients is not trivial.
    While it may be true that the Conservatives' latest omnibus budget bill is less omni-busive than either Bill C-38 or Bill C-45, it is still deeply flawed, and we see the government now moving closure to ram this through the House of Commons without respect for Parliament and without proper scrutiny. This bill would threaten the independence of the CBC; it would raise taxes on hard-working Canadian families.
     We proposed at committee some constructive amendments to address the very legitimate objections raised by Canadians during the committee's studies, but the Conservatives would not listen to reason. They have been deaf to the concerns of Canadians on this, and I expect Canadians will return the favour to the Conservatives in the next federal election.

  (1315)  

    Mr. Speaker, the member rightly points out the fact that, first, this is a budget implementation bill that would amend 49 different pieces of legislation; and second, we just finished voting on time allocation, which will limit our ability to study the impacts of this particular piece of legislation.
     The member noted a number of ways that Canadians would be impacted by this legislation. Could he comment on the fact that, once again, we are not going to have time to deal with the matters that are before this House in a way that would allow us to determine the impact and the longer-range consequences?
    Mr. Speaker, when we were studying some of the changes to the governance of labour negotiations for crown corporations that are made in this legislation, it was raised by several witnesses that they had been called in the past to appear before House of Commons committees but never the finance committee.
    That was something we heard from a number of witnesses who noticed that instead of being called before the human resources committee to discuss issues around labour and governance around labour, which would have made sense, they were being called before the finance committee. Here we were at the House of Commons finance committee where we were supposed to be studying and focusing on fiscal questions, budget questions, and we were forced to be generalists and to opine on legislation that falls outside of the purview of either our expertise or the committee's mandate.
    It is not enough to have some studies done at other committees, they should be able to vote on the individual provisions at those committees wherein the expertise lies.

  (1320)  

    Mr. Speaker, I have remarked before that when the Conservatives lower a tariff, they claim it is a tax reduction. However, when they increase a tariff, they actually claim it is somehow protecting Canadian industry, not giving an advantage to other countries that export their products into Canada.
    Could the member for Kings—Hants expound on that a bit, and let the members and Canadians know that they would be paying more for appliances, they would be paying more for bikes, they would be paying more for school supplies, because of an increase in tariffs to the tune of almost $350 million in this budget?
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Guelph for his continued hard work on behalf of Canadians in this House.
    In the budget, the Conservatives say that cutting tariffs would help reduce cross-border shopping and help reduce the cost of living for Canadians families. The only problem is that they do not cut tariffs in this budget. In fact, they increase. The net increase is around $250 million. The Conservatives cut some tariffs, about $80 million, but they increased tariffs overall by $250 million. That is the net, the difference between the $330-million tariff increase and the $80-million tariff decrease.
    If we take into account the fact that the Conservatives would be increasing tariffs on middle-class Canadian families by $250 million, using their own words and their own logic, this would increase cross-border shopping to the detriment of Canadian small businesses in border communities, and it would increase the cost of living for Canadian families.
    The Conservatives are aware of the fact that they would be increasing tariffs and increasing taxes on just about everything the middle-class Canadian families need, but they are trying to hide it. They are trying to do it by stealth. They are being unaccountable.
    By moving forward with time allocation today in the House, Conservatives are further reducing that accountability to Canadian families, Canadian citizens and Canadian taxpayers.
    Mr. Speaker, it is certainly my pleasure and honour to stand and speak in favour of today's pro-economic and job-growth legislation, Bill C-60, economic action plan 2013 act, No. 1 at report stage. Certainly, like the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance last week, I also would like to thank the finance committee members and the great chair, the member for Edmonton—Leduc, for their comprehensive and timely study of the bill. I also would like to extend a very special thanks to every witness who appeared in front of the committee to speak to the significance of the bill and Canada's economy.
    In my time today I would like to focus on a number of specific measures contained in the legislation that received some attention during our committee study. First, members will no doubt be familiar with the important adjustments to the Canadian tariff systems that were announced as part of economic action plan 2013. In spite of what the member for Kings—Hants indicated, I would really like to talk clearly about what this is intended to do.
    This was in essence a foreign aid program and it was created in the 1970s by western countries to give companies from poor third world markets preferential access to our domestic market. Most western countries that maintained the GPT program or equivalent had modified their list of countries to reflect the fact that formerly developing countries had grown their economies in the 40 years since this program was first introduced, but unlike the EU, the United States and Japan, Canada has not reviewed the list of countries until now. This means that list is sorely outdated.
    As a consequence, Canada is giving special breaks in the form of lower tariffs to foreign companies from emerging economic powerhouses like China, South Korea, India and Brazil, companies that compete directly with Canadian businesses and their workers for global market share. Nearly 80% of these special breaks are now going to China even though China now has an economy that is over four times the size of Canada's. Specifically, China's economy is valued at $7.3 billion compared to Canada's, which is $1.7 billion.
    Without our changes, Chinese companies will continue to benefit from a one-way trade deal, receiving special breaks and offering nothing in return. This program acts as a disincentive for those growing economies to enter into free trade agreements with Canada, agreements that would increase export opportunities for Canadian businesses, would create more and better jobs for Canadians and would further reduce tariffs for Canadian consumers.
    The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters explained the changes best when it said:
    It's 39 years since we updated it. It was meant to help developing countries....we were giving them preferential tariffs while their per capita GDP is higher than Canada’s....The solution is what the government is doing: try to negotiate free trade agreements with countries around the world so that we not only drop our tariffs, but they drop their tariffs as well.
    That is exactly what we are trying to accomplish.
    This leads me to another important feature of today's legislation that responds to recent concerns of the U.S.-Canada price gap. Economic action plan 2013 proposes to eliminate all tariffs on baby clothing and select sports and athletic equipment, including everything from ice skates, hockey equipment, skis, snowboards, golf clubs and other products that promote physical fitness and healthy living.
    Targeted measures contained in Bill C-60 represent $79 million in annual tariff relief for Canadian families. I should note though, this tariff relief comes with the expectation that wholesalers, distributors and retailers will pass these savings on to consumers. Working with the Retail Council of Canada and consumer groups, our government will be monitoring the impact of these tariff reductions on Canada's retail prices.

  (1325)  

    In fact, the Retail Council of Canada has spoken out in support of this important first step in reducing outdated tariffs, which put Canadian consumers at a disadvantage, stating:
—we are very pleased to see this first step toward leveling the playing field for Canadian retailers....it is a good start and a demonstration of the government's recognition of one of the key reasons for price differences in Canada.
    Even better, listen to what Dean Lapierre, president of the Windsor Minor Hockey Association, had to say:
    This will definitely help because the cost of equipment is the main thing people cite when deciding to register.... It could cost $600 to $700 to equip one player, double that if the kid’s a goalie. And a lot of families have two or more kids who want to play, so this is great.
    I want to be clear that this initiative would allow our government and all Canadians to assess whether further tariff elimination could help to narrow the price gap for consumers in Canada. Of course, this is going to guide our future decisions.
    Before concluding, I want to take a moment to highlight one particular item contained in today's legislation related to public sector compensation, specifically the amendments to the Financial Administration Act that would enable the Governor in Council to direct a crown corporation to have its negotiating mandate, including wages and benefits, approved by Treasury Board. While this may seem highly technical to many Canadians watching at home, it really is very important for taxpayers across the country.
    As with our action in last year's budget to reform public service pensions, along with those of MPs and senators, to make them more sustainable and bring them in line with private sector pensions, the overriding objective is to protect the taxpayer's dollar. While we acknowledge that all crown corporations are independent in their operations, their financial decisions impact the government's bottom line.
    As responsible economic managers, our government must ensure that we have the right tools to protect taxpayers at the bargaining table, if necessary. This is neither new nor revolutionary. It is a common sense action on behalf of taxpayers. It is important to note on this particular measure that Quebec has had a very similar provision in place for over three decades. I hope that all members of the House will understand that both the government and crown corporations have a fundamental responsibility to spend taxpayers' dollars wisely and to help ensure that Canada's fiscal position remains sustainable over the long term.
    In the words of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation:
—[the] executives who manage government-owned companies have enjoyed, until now, special status: they are paid like business people, with none of the risk.... But the taxpayer is always there, at the end of the day, to stroke another cheque, cover the losses, and make everything better....
    Simply put, provisions in Bill C-60,... grant [the government]...the power to tell negotiators at these companies how much they can offer unions in wages, benefits.... to insert some spine into government negotiating teams--should improve the odds for taxpayers.
    Again, I would like to note that the legislation before us today is an important step in creating jobs and economic growth, while keeping taxes low and balancing the budget by 2015. I certainly urge all members to vote in favour of this jobs, growth and long-term prosperity budget bill and support this very important measure.

  (1330)  

    Mr. Speaker, one aspect that seems to be missing from this bill is any big discussion about an energy strategy for this country. We hear time and time again how the oil sands and other oil and gas activities are the economic engine of this country, yet budget bill after budget bill tabled in the House is vacuous as to how we are going to better regulate our energy industry.
    Through the last three budget bills, the government streamlined environmental legislation. Many in my province, including the premier, have called for the federal, provincial and territorial governments to work together on a clean energy strategy for all Canadians. Could the member speak to why we continue to see nothing about this in any of the government's budget bills that come forward?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out a bit of irony. Opposition members frequently say there is too much in the bill and that there should be discussions at the environment committee and with natural resources. I would say to the member that those are appropriate discussions for committees designed to deal with that. We have made some important improvements in the environmental legislation in previous budgets in order to provide balance.
    Today, we are talking about Bill C-60, the budget implementation act, and very important measures, whether it is the Nature Conservancy of Canada, which is incredibly well received, the Pacific salmon stamps, the money that is going to go directly to the organization to support the conservation of habitat. We are here to speak to Bill C-60, but I certainly believe we are having dialogues at many different levels on the important issue of energy.
    Mr. Speaker, Bill C-60 is an important tool to get our budget implemented to address, among many things, a skills mismatch in our country and getting people into open jobs. I know that is a big problem out west, particularly, as it is in Essex County, in the machine, tool, die and mould sector, which has plenty of openings.
    I wonder if the member could comment on the importance of the new Canada job grant as a tool for overcoming or bridging that skills mismatch to get people who are either unemployed or underemployed into those meaningful positions in order to keep the economy moving.

  (1335)  

    Mr. Speaker, one of the pieces in the budget that was very well received and that people are excited about is the Canada job grant. Of course, that is going to take the federal government and the provincial governments, but most importantly, the employers. We are going to try to create the right skills match for the jobs that are available in the future. This is going to be a win, win, win, win: a win for the federal government, a win for the provincial governments, a win for the employers, and of course, a win for the potential employees.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary and I are both members of the Standing Committee on Finance.
    Clearly, for a bill of this scope and importance, there was very little consultation and debate in the Standing Committee on Finance.
    Other than the meeting we had with Department of Finance officials and, of course, the clause-by-clause meeting, we had the equivalent of two and a half meetings in committee to discuss a bill that will add, eliminate or amend 50 or so pieces of legislation.
    Clearly this was not enough time to do a thorough study. Moreover, the superficial study carried out in other committees did not meet the need for careful consideration of this bill.
    However, the independence of crown corporations, in particular the Bank of Canada, was raised in committee in relation to the proposed amendments in division 17.
    I would like the parliamentary secretary to comment on this. We wanted to have a special meeting to consider the question of the independence of the Bank of Canada and its impact, but the Conservatives refused.
    I would like her to explain to the House why the Conservatives refused to study this specific issue of the independence of the Bank of Canada.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, what we have is a very important measure that is in no way going to challenge the independent ability of crown corporations to do what they are supposed to be doing. For example, CBC has protection under the Broadcasting Act.
    What we are simply saying is that there are things like the agreement with the postal workers, whereby if a post office closes down and there is no work within 40 kilometres, we maintain a responsibility to continue to pay these workers. Most Canadians would agree that this kind of negotiation does not make sense. We need some flexibility. Ultimately, we are responsible for the taxpayers' dollars.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be speaking to Bill C-60 today. I know that many of my colleagues would have liked to have the time to speak today because the bill is quite complex. It is important that our voices be heard here in the House so that we can discuss the bill and have a healthy debate.
    I want to begin my speech with a personal comment that I think is appropriate here. With this budget, the government is forcing Canadians to tighten their belts. It is asking workers, parents, youth, the unemployed, seasonal workers, seniors, middle-class families and so on to get with the program and accept a budget that is clearly not in their interest and will require an even greater effort on their part to make ends meet. I find that appalling.
    There are a number of scandals, not just one, currently plaguing the government. While Canadians work to pay their taxes, senators are spending wildly and claiming ineligible expenses. Unelected senators have no respect for Canadians. While senators are banking an extremely generous salary, taxpayers are paying for their antics. As if that were not enough, the government has lost track of $3.1 billion. Honestly, how it is possible to lose $3.1 billion? I simply cannot get over it. It is incomprehensible.
    A number of my constituents telephoned me personally, in a panic, when that hit the news. They are asking me to do something, to take action. My opposition colleagues and I are doing everything we can to get some clarification, and we want answers. Canadians deserve answers.
    The government should be ashamed of this budget. We are obviously going to vote against it. The budget should contain measures that make life more affordable and create jobs for Canadians. Instead, the government is raising taxes on a number of consumer items, such as hospital parking, safety deposit boxes, labour-sponsored investment funds, bicycles and baby strollers. These tax hikes will cost Canadians nearly $8 billion. That is far too much. People have had enough.
    One important point caught my attention: the elimination of the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds. This decision will affect the middle class and its ability to save for retirement. It will deprive Quebec SMEs of significant support for their development. Instead of creating jobs and supporting local initiatives, the Conservatives are going after the unemployed, families, seasonal workers and especially our regions.
    The Parliamentary Budget Officer analyzed the economic situation and the government's bills. She found that budget 2012, the 2012 update and budget 2013 will result in the loss of 60,000 jobs by 2017 and will cause a 0.58% decline in the GDP. Needless to say, this will have an impact on our country's economic growth.
    I would like to talk about transparency and control of the CBC. The Conservatives are trying, for the third time since the beginning of their mandate, to circumvent parliamentary and public oversight by trying to sneak this budget through. This week, they went even further by imposing a gag order to shut down debate. This is the 39th or 40th gag order we have seen in the House. Parliament should be a place where elected officials can show respect for their constituents and have a good discussion, a good debate. What are the Conservatives afraid of? Transparency is definitely not part of the government's values.
    Another change this bill makes would enable the government to compel a crown corporation to have its negotiating mandate approved by the Treasury Board so that it can reach a collective agreement with a union, particularly in the case of the CBC. Canadians do not want to see the government exercise that kind of control over our national public broadcaster. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right, and the CBC must be able to retain its independence.

  (1340)  

    On this topic, my colleague, the NDP heritage critic and member for Longueuil—Pierre-Boucher, had this to say:
    The federal government already appoints CBC’s directors and determines its annual budget. That’s already a lot of control over a public broadcaster that must remain independent in its role as watchdog of democracy...Bill C-60 is another attempt by the Conservatives to interfere in CBC’s affairs and we cannot let it pass.
    The government is flying in the face of common sense and ignoring protests by moving forward with these misguided measures. Cuts to environmental research are another weakness of the budget. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, AAFC, is one of the departments that is most affected by the budget cuts. Close to 700 workers just recently found out that they will lose their jobs and that a number of research centres will close.
    At the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food, several witnesses told me that research and development are key to the future of agriculture in Canada. When the government eliminates funding for public research, it lets the private sector—often big, multinational companies—do its own research. That is alarming.
    AAFC will eliminate 350 jobs: 144 commerce officers, 79 scientists, 76 information technology officers, 29 engineers, 14 biologists, 5 research directors and 3 procurement officers.
    This also makes me think of the decision that will affect the Montreal Biosphere, the only environmental museum in North America. This is another one of the Conservative government's attacks on science education. When most of the staff was laid off, this institution lost scientific and environmental expertise. Through this decision, the Conservatives are failing to live up to a 25-year agreement between the Government of Canada and the City of Montreal.
    Making a budget is all about making choices. I, personally, decided to keep the same car I had before the election and pay off my student loans. I make responsible choices. Presenting a budget is a choice. It is not easy. I understand that it is complicated. However, in this budget implementation bill, the Conservatives are failing families, workers, the environment, job creation and science. At the end of the day, Canadians are the ones who are going to have to pay the price.
    I hope the government will realize how inconsistent it is being. It is asking people to tighten their belts at a time when it is involved in scandals, such as the ones in the Senate. Making cuts in areas as important as science and the environment does not make sense, especially when we know that this government lost track of $3.1 billion. Instead of putting research into the hands of industry, the government should be investing in research and making more of an effort to find the missing $3.1 billion.
    Nevertheless, I am sure that the NDP will be able to turn things around. Canadians need to feel like they can trust the people they vote for. They need to be able to identify with the people that they vote for and that is where we come in. We are voting against this bill.
    I am ready for questions and comments.

  (1345)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that very thorough speech. One point she touched upon in her speech was the issue of the CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. In my riding, Nanaimo—Cowichan, on Vancouver Island, the CBC is much loved. I have received hundreds of emails expressing concern about what Bill C-60 proposes to do with regard to the CBC. In fact, a number of people have raised concerns about having far too much government control over the CBC in terms of its collective bargaining and in terms of perhaps interfering in journalistic freedom.
    The NDP proposed an amendment to the bill that would have seen us hive off the aspect dealing with the CBC as a separate piece of legislation, which would then have enabled us to debate it fully and study it fully at committee.
    I wonder if the member would comment specifically about the government's intent to limit debate and to limit scrutiny of these key pieces of legislation that would be impacted by Bill C-60.
    Mr. Speaker, I am not on the finance committee, but I know that we did have 33 amendments. I think the Liberals put up eight at one point.
    It is very important to have a full debate, but every day now we see time allocation. When we are being shut down in the House, we do not have a full debate, and we are still feeling the effects of what we saw last year.
    I said in my speech that Canadians will pay the price of these decisions. We have to do better for future generations. We have a responsibility, and I do not think we are doing enough. It is very sad to see what is going on right now in Parliament. Canadians deserve better.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Berthier—Maskinongé for her speech.
    I have the privilege of being a member of the Standing Committee on Finance. We proposed 33 amendments. The NDP often moved very reasonable amendments. We wanted to make sure that the parts of the bill we agreed with were amended so that they could be properly enforced.
    It is absolutely unbelievable that the government representatives had already decided what they were going to do. They systematically rejected all of the amendments proposed.
    How would my colleague explain the government's actions?
    The Prime Minister has been calling on the opposition to collaborate and make suggestions for years. However, we keep hitting a wall. I thank the member in advance for her comments.

  (1350)  

    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for his question and for his work on the Standing Committee on Finance. I congratulate all of my colleagues because we work hard.
    I am not talking just about the members of Parliament, but also about our research team and all of the assistants who help us every single day with our work. We truly do work hard and take our jobs seriously.
    It is very sad and disappointing to see that the Conservatives will not accept any of our amendments. We work very hard, but when we show up in committee to move our amendments, they have already decided, as my colleague indicated, that they will not accept anything. They have decided that their bill is perfect as is.
    I have a hard time understanding why they refuse to accept anything. There were witnesses who supported our values and many of our amendments. I have several testimonies, but I do not have the time to read them all. It is very sad.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, our government continues to focus on what matters to Canadians: jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity. In my riding of Calgary Northeast, I have heard time and again that one of the most important issues is jobs. I stand today to help outline how our Conservative government's economic action plan 2013 would help connect settled Canadians as well as new Canadians with available jobs.
    The hardest-working riding in the country, Calgary Northeast, is a very diverse place indeed, with 45.6% of my constituents being first-generation Canadians and 43% of the population being immigrants. We have one of the highest numbers of immigrants in Alberta, if not the highest.
    Economic action plan 2013 also promises to reopen the federal skilled worker program and update the points system over the coming years. It would give more weight to factors that are directly related to economic success. This would help ensure new immigrants, such as those in my riding, are well suited and prepared for the jobs in their adopted home of Canada.
    We are also introducing the new start-up visa, which is the first of its kind in the world. This visa will help attract innovative immigrant entrepreneurs to launch their companies in Canada to help create new jobs and spur economic growth.
    New Canadians come here wanting to work and contribute to this great country. The start-up visa, as well as the “expression of interest” immigration management system, will help them realize these goals and become productive, proud members of our society.
    The “expression of interest” immigration management system would allow Canadian employers, provinces and territories to select skilled immigrants from a pool of applicants who best meet Canada's economic needs. This will help to ensure that new Canadians go where the jobs are. It would also help to promote integration since it is much easier to integrate into our Canadian society when people are educated and able to work in their field, to contribute and have a sense of accomplishment.
    Let me say that the hard-working riding of Calgary Northeast will be welcoming these enterprising new Canadians with open arms. Voting against jobs, growth and long-term prosperity not only for Canadians but for future Canadian citizens is not a good idea. I hope the NDP and Liberals will join with me in supporting budget 2013 instead.
    In my riding of Calgary Northeast, 12.6% of my constituents have post-secondary credentials from outside of Canada, many of which are not currently recognized here. This inhibits the ability of these new Canadians to find gainful employment.
    Economic action plan 2013 recognizes that this is a very real problem not only in my riding but from coast to coast to coast. Over the next two years, our government will work with provinces, territories and stakeholders to support improvements to the foreign credential recognition process and address the demand for skilled workers in Canada in additional occupations.
    This will help individuals who were educated and trained abroad to find employment in their fields when they come to Canada. It will also help support employers by supplying them with qualified workers in occupations facing labour shortages.
    One sector that faces a major labour deficit is apprenticeship and skilled labour jobs. I have the pleasure of sitting on the human resources and skills development committee, which recently undertook a study on how to encourage apprenticeship programs in Canada. We heard time and time again from witnesses that there is a high demand for apprentices, a group our government has a proud history of supporting.
    Our government recognizes the important contributions to the Canadian economy that the skilled trades make. It was our Conservative government that introduced the apprenticeship incentive grant, which provides up to $2,000 in financial assistance for apprenticeship training in a Red Seal trade. There is also the apprenticeship completion grant of $2,000 for registered apprentices who successfully complete their apprenticeship program and receive journeyperson certification in a designated Red Seal trade. These programs have proven to be a huge success, with a projected expenditure for 2013-14 of $114.6 million.
    Our Conservative government is continuing to support apprentices in this budget by introducing measures that would support the use of apprentices through federal construction and maintenance contracts, investments in affordable housing and infrastructure projects receiving federal funding.
    The committee heard from witnesses that there are labour shortages that should be filled by young apprentices, and our government is helping to ensure that young apprentices are given those opportunities. By working on government projects, they will gain invaluable experience on their way to becoming skilled tradespeople.
    Key stakeholders representing Canadians of all walks of life endorse measures like this in economic action plan 2013.

  (1355)  

    This very measure was endorsed by average Canadians like James St. John of the Hammer Heads Program, who told the committee on February 7, 2013:
    We want to see the government tie infrastructure dollars to apprenticeship opportunities for the youth of our communities. In doing that, there is no cost to the government whatsoever. The cost is really zero to the employers, who are going to need workers to build the renovations or the new buildings that you're constructing through infrastructure dollars.
    The passing of this budget in a quick and timely manner is of the utmost importance.
    There is another important measure I have to mention. First, though, I will mention a constituent, Tom Pollon, who worked at a company for 25 years before it went bankrupt and he had to be laid off. He told my office how the targeted initiative for older workers will help him in his job search.
    The targeted initiative for older workers focuses on older workers aged 55 to 64 who are unemployed and require new or enhanced skills to successfully transition into employment. It is aimed at helping people like Mr. Pollon, who may face difficulties due to age in finding gainful employment. Since 2007, this program has provided employment assistance services to over 28,000 unemployed older workers.
    Let me share with my colleagues what Mr. Pollon told me: “In fact, I believe it would do much to negate the age concern of prospective employers if I could say I qualify for TIOW in resume and use it in my job search.”
    In economic action plan 2011, our Conservative government promised $50 million for the targeted initiative for older workers over two years and extended the program until 2013-14.
    Economic action plan 2013 is about connecting Canadians with available jobs, be they apprentices, elderly workers, or new Canadians.
    I call upon the opposition to support this budget and for once stand on the side of jobs, the economy and common sense.
    Canadians have told us what they need. We listened. We are here to help. I wish the opposition would do the same.
    The time for government orders has expired. The five minutes for questions and comments for the member will take place when this matter returns before the House.
    Statements by members. The hon. member for Kildonan—St. Paul.

Statements by Members

[Statements by Members]

[English]

The Senate

    Mr. Speaker, I share the disappointment of Canadians over the abuse of taxpayer money by some members of the Senate. There is no excuse for any politician of any political party to take advantage of public finances or public trust. I support a full investigation by independent authorities into this matter.
    It is also imperative that every cent of every dollar spent by anyone who holds public office, whether in the House of Commons, Senate or otherwise, must respect taxpayer money. Integrity and accountability are absolutely vital to the institution of Parliament.
    We made a promise to Canadians to fix Senate expense rules. We have done just that. The Senate now has adopted our government's 11 tough new rules governing Senate travel and expenses.
    Our government is focused on delivering meaningful reform to the Senate, including Senate elections, Senate term limits and tough spending oversight. Canadians understand that our Senate, as it stands today, must be accountable.

  (1400)  

Humber River

    Mr. Speaker, last year the Conservative government removed most of Canada's rivers and lakes from the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Out of our hundreds of thousands of rivers and lakes, only 62 rivers and 97 lakes remain protected. What a travesty.
    Bordering my electoral district of Parkdale—High Park in the city of Toronto is the Humber River, one of Canada's great heritage rivers, which is part of the historic Toronto Carrying Place trail used by aboriginal populations dating back over a thousand years.
     The Humber River is the only Canadian heritage river accessible by subway, in the middle of our largest city, yet people can kayak and canoe on it, and in the spring when the steelhead run it is a wildly popular fishing spot.
    Last week I seconded Bill C-502, presented by my colleague from York South—Weston, which aims to re-establish protection for the Humber River.
    In recognition of June 9, Canadian Rivers Day, I will join with my community to protect the Humber River for today and for future generations.

British Columbia General Election

    Mr. Speaker, a general election was held recently in British Columbia that introduced many new faces to the legislative assembly of British Columbia and a record amount of female MLAs will be heading to Victoria.
    In my area, I would like to congratulate first-time MLAs Linda Larson in Boundary-Similkameen and Jackie Tegart in Fraser—Nicola, along with Penticton Mayor Dan Ashton being elected to the provincial level for the first time and Ben Stewart also being successfully re-elected in Westside-Kelowna.
    I would also like to take a moment to sincerely thank former Fraser—Nicola Valley NDP MLA Harry Lali for 18 years of service to his community and retiring Penticton MLA and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Bill Barisoff, for 17 years of service to the South Okanagan.
    I greatly enjoyed working with both Harry Lali and Bill Barisoff and would like to wish both gentlemen well in their future endeavours.
    I look forward to working with our new and re-elected MLAs in the years ahead.

Ira Lewis

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize Ira Lewis, who recently passed away.
    Ira, from York, P.E.I., served his community and fellow Canadians in many capacities, but first and foremost he was a family man, proud of his heritage and so satisfied to see the family farm continue.
    His son described his principles as his God-given love, respect and responsibility. Through a number of organizations, including the PEI Federation of Agriculture and the P.E.I. Fluid Milk Association, Ira worked to benefit the total farm community. He was known for being at the cutting edge of agriculture technology.
    With his brother Claude, they were recognized internationally as a breeder of purebred Holsteins and won awards in Charlottetown, the Atlantic Winter Fair and The Royal, carrying such honours as premier exhibitor.
    In 1984, Ira was inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.
    On behalf of the House, I recognize and thank Ira Lewis for his dedication and contribution to his community and the agriculture sector as a whole.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, our Conservative government is focused on what matters to Canadians, that being jobs, growth and long-term prosperity.
     Through Canada's economic action plan, we are taking measures that would help businesses in my riding of Calgary Northeast. These include expanding the hiring tax credit for small business that would help businesses such as Best Buy Furniture owned by Karampal Sidhu, RED 106.7 FM owned by Kulwinder Sanghera and State Farm Insurance Agency owned by Romi Sidhu.
    The Canada job grant would provide federal funding to train Canadians at businesses like Fast Track Auto Service owned by Deepak Cheema and Herman Bath, AAA Windows owned by Rana Sandhu and Klair Custom Homes owned by Avtar Klair.
    I urge the opposition to support economic action plan 2013 and stop opposing our government's efforts to help Canadian businesses get the skilled workers they desperately need and provide Canadians the good paying jobs they deserve.

Turkey

    Mr. Speaker, on Friday, as demolition crews prepared to destroy one of the last green spaces at the heart of Istanbul's Taksim Square, Gezi Park, a nation awoke in peaceful protest to demonstrate for better living conditions for all Turks.
    In light of the developments since Friday, we call on all sides to exercise restraint and ensure respect for a peaceful protest. Non-violent expression and assembly, including peaceful protests, are essential democratic freedoms. The free exchange of information and opinion among citizens, both directly and through the media, is an integral element of democratic expression.
    We are deeply concerned by the escalation of the situation and the emergence of violence. We urge all sides to ensure that their actions respect the highest democratic principles and the republic's commitment to human rights.
    [Member spoke in Turkish and provided the following translation:]
    Hey Turks, don't forget Ataturk's words: “We are Turkish, we were born a democratic people”.

  (1405)  

Diabetes

    Mr. Speaker, in a few weeks, I will speak to my private member's motion, regarding the relationship between obesity and the long-term health of Canadians. As a Canadian with type 2 diabetes, I am an example of what can happen to a family member, a friend or even you, Mr. Speaker, if personal health is taken for granted.
    Poor eating habits, weight gain and a lack of exercise has led to my condition. I was lucky to be diagnosed early in the progression of this disease. It has allowed me to control my diabetes through diet and exercise.
    Recently, I had the honour to run the Blue Nose Marathon in Halifax on behalf of Team Diabetes. While I am not recommending that everyone run a marathon, the message is clear: We all have a responsibility to eat properly and exercise.
    We need to continue to support and promote organizations like the Canadian Diabetes Association and Participaction, which are all involved with the well-being of all Canadians of all ages. While it is vital to our health care system, more important, we owe it to our families, our friends and to ourselves.

Al Pettit

    Mr. Speaker, June is ALS month in Canada. In November, it was my distinct privilege to posthumously present the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal to retired fire captain Al Pettit, who lived in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon .
    Al succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis after a long fight with this deadly disease, a disease that also claimed my own father. It affects approximately 3,000 Canadians.
     Al never quit fighting, whether serving as an ambassador for an ALS online forum or participating in ALS fundraising in Orangeville and Brampton. In death, Al donated his spinal cord and a portion of his brain to assist researchers. The Diamond Jubilee Medal for Al was accepted by his wife, Lee.
    Al was recently recognized by the ALS Society of Canada with its lifetime achievement award for his tireless efforts on behalf of those who suffer with ALS.
    I encourage all members to wear a cornflower today to show their support for the fight against ALS. Together, we will find a cure.

Chris Snowball, Dustin Dagenais, Jacques Dupuy, Don Filliter

    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express the grief and shock of the people of northern Ontario over the loss of four young men in Thursday's medevac crash outside of Moosonee.
    The crew was responding to a medical call in Attawapiskat, but they never made it. Just after midnight, the Sikorsky helicopter went down in the dense bush of the James Bay coast.
    The people of Moosonee, Moose Factory and all our communities are in mourning. Our brave medevac crews are a lifeline for the northern communities and they often fly in difficult conditions, ensuring health care and emergency services. In this tragedy, we lost paramedic Chris Snowball, a father of three, Dustin Dagenais of Moose Factory, who left a wife and seven month old daughter, pilot Jacques Dupuy and captain Don Filliter.
    On behalf of the New Democratic Party and all parliamentarians, I want to pay tribute to these men and offer our condolences to their families, loved ones and colleagues. We will remember them.

Canadian Armed Forces Day

    Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise on Canadian Armed Forces Day in the House of Commons and pay tribute to the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces for the incredible work they do on behalf of our country.
    Each and every day, our Canadian Armed Forces members put duty first and carry out their responsibilities with professionalism and bravery. They protect our sovereignty, assist Canadians in distress and are involved in 16 overseas missions, helping to bring peace, security and stability around the world.
    We are proud that in many countries they are the face of Canada. I know all members in the House will join me in saluting the members of the Canadian Armed Forces, past and present, for their service and sacrifice: Bravo Zulu.

The Senate

    Mr. Speaker, British Columbians are fed up with the unelected, unaccountable Senate.
     This archaic institution costs Canadians over $92 million a year. Appointed senators, especially those who abuse their privileges, do not represent Canadians' interests or values.
     The Conservatives promised to reform the Senate, but seven years and 59 Senate appointments later, it is safe to say they have broken their promise. Now the Prime Minister and his office are embroiled in the Senate expense scandal and are refusing to answer even straightforward questions.
    The Liberal Party believes the Senate is fine as is. The Liberal leader even suggests Quebec should be glad B.C. is under-represented in the Senate.
    For too long, the Senate has been treated as a posh retirement home for partisan hacks, bagmen and failed candidates. Canada's New Democrats believe it is time the government abolished the unelected, unaccountable Senate once and for all.

  (1410)  

Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, our government is bringing forth meaningful reform to the Senate.
    Just last week, 11 tough new changes introduced by our Conservative senators were adopted in order to govern travel and expenses.
    It is, however, unfortunate that while our government is focused on delivering meaningful reform to the Senate, the leader of the Liberal Party has come out as the champion of the status quo, saying “We have 24 Senators in Quebec and there are only 6 for Alberta and British Columbia. That benefits us. To want to abolish it, that’s just demagoguery”.
    These shameful divisive comments simply prove that the leader of the Liberal Party is determined to pit one region of Canada against the other.
    When will the leader of the Liberal Party stop defending the status quo and join our government in delivering meaningful reform to the Senate? It is clear that the leader of the Liberal Party is in over his head.

Latin Women Entrepreneurs Expo

    Mr. Speaker, on May 25, I had the great pleasure of visiting the first Latin Women Entrepreneurs Expo, an event organized by Mujeres Emprendedoras de Ottawa-Gatineau, MELOG.
    This expo drew together multi-talented women entrepreneurs who immigrated to Canada from Latin America. Just as this expo did, future ones will undoubtedly inspire other Latin women entrepreneurs to join, network, support each other and showcase the level of initiative, determination and success the Latin women of the national capital region have and will continue to achieve.

[Translation]

    I would especially like to congratulate the three organizers and members of the board: Celia Soonets, a psychologist; Mercedes Valdivia, an educator; and Alejandra Ruiz, a graduate of the Guadalajara medical school in Mexico. I would also like to acknowledge the work of Carmen Chaman, who facilitated this event.
    Congratulations to all participants on this great success and best wishes for future years.

[English]

Tax Evasion

    Mr. Speaker, our party and our government are demanding real accountability, including tough new expense rules for senators and real rules to crack down on tax evasion.
    On the other hand, the Liberal leader defends a multi-million-dollar tax evader in his Senate caucus, and the NDP leader has shown little leadership in cracking down on tax evaders in his own caucus.
    It is exactly this type of poor judgment that Canadians rejected in the last election. These tax evaders only remain in the Liberal and NDP caucuses because of the poor judgment of the leaders of the NDP and the Liberals.
    It is clear that the Liberal leader is “Just-in” over his head.
    If the NDP wants to call for higher taxes, like a carbon tax on everything, it should start by making an example of the tax evaders in its own caucus.
    Canadians will not stand for tax evasion, and neither should the leaders of the NDP and the Liberal Party.

[Translation]

Prime Minister of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, when the Conservatives replaced the sponsorship scandal Liberals, they promised to do better.
    Well, it must be said that they are doing better. It may hard to believe, but the Conservatives are indeed outdoing the Liberals in terms of scandals and bad management.
    Who would have thought that a Conservative government would preside over the sad spectacle of senators defrauding taxpayers?
    When questions are asked, the Prime Minister adopts an innocent look and claims not to understand the question, yet it is simple. These questions address fraudulent spending by Conservative senators appointed by this Prime Minister, senators he defended tooth and nail until he no longer could. He still refuses to apologize. He still refuses to admit he made a mistake. He refuses to acknowledge that he is the leader of his caucus and the head of the government.
    If he does not want to assume this responsibility, I know someone who does, and that is the NDP leader. He has all the experience required to take on the job.
    Canadians deserve better than the scandals of either party. They deserve a different choice, and they will get it in 2015.

  (1415)  

New Democratic Party of Canada

    Mr. Speaker, our government is working hard to reduce the tax burden on Canadian families. We have introduced over 150 tax cuts. Canadians are proud of that record, and they know that everyone has to pay their fair share to keep the ball rolling.
    Unfortunately, the NDP does not seem to be getting the message. The member for Jeanne-Le Ber owes tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes. Worse still, the NDP has been aware of the problem for a long time but covered it up.
    If the NDP leader wants to burden Canadians with all kinds of new taxes, he should lead by example and send a clear message to his caucus: MPs must pay their taxes. That is the truth.

ORAL QUESTIONS

[Oral Questions]

[English]

Ethics

    Mr. Speaker, on what specific date did the Prime Minister first speak with Mike Duffy about his expenses?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister has always been very clear. Members of Parliaments and senators should only make expense claims they are entitled to make, and if anyone expensed things that should not have been, they should immediately refund the money.
    That is exactly the fact. That is exactly what he has done.
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians want an answer from their Prime Minister.
    However, if he will not answer, I will ask the minister a question he knows the answer to.
    Marjory LeBreton is a member of the Conservative cabinet. Did Senator Marjory LeBreton recuse herself from cabinet anytime the Senate expense scandal was discussed?
    Mr. Speaker, it was very clear. The Prime Minister only learned on Wednesday, May 15, that a cheque had been made by Mr. Wright. Mr. Wright has taken sole responsibility. He offered his resignation, and it was immediately accepted.
    What we would like is to see the leader of the NDP come clean. Why did he take 17 long years before telling the police that he had been offered a bribe by the former mayor of Laval? He should stand in his place and give Canadians a real answer.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, the Senate concluded that Senator Duffy had billed taxpayers for campaign work for and on behalf of the Conservative Party during the most recent federal election campaign.
    Did other Conservative senators do the same thing?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, any campaigning done on behalf of the Conservative Party has been paid for out of Conservative Party funds. That is something that was the case in the 2006, 2008 and 2011 elections.
    The leader of the NDP still has not come clean with Canadians. Why did it take him 17 long years before he went public with the bribe he was offered in 1994?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, that was not actually a very difficult question, but they do not seem to have understood. Let us try again.
    Can the government tell us whether the RCMP has contacted the Prime Minister's Office since last week?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, it is well known that this issue is being considered by a number of independent bodies that were set up to independently look into these types of situations. The government has said very clearly that we will co-operate with these types of bodies.
    In the spirit of co-operation, maybe of the leader of the NDP should co-operate with the Charbonneau commission and offer the information he has of bribes he was offered some 17 years ago.
    Mr. Speaker, once again the Conservatives refuse to answer simple questions.
    During question period on Friday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities revealed that Senator Duffy and the Prime Minister spoke about his expenses in February.
    Would the government tell us how long they spoke and who else was involved?
    Mr. Speaker, when the issue of Senator Duffy's expenses came up and it was problematic, the Prime Minister said, which one would expect a strong leader to say, that any expenses that were improperly billed should be immediately refunded, because that is what honest people do.
    What honest people should also do is not wait 17 long years when they were offered a bribe and should have told the police the truth right away when it initially happened.

  (1420)  

    Mr. Speaker, Mary Dawson is carrying out a private inquiry into the matter of Nigel Wright, and the Senate Ethics Officer is carrying out a private inquiry into the matter of Mike Duffy.
    Why not have one public inquiry to deal with the fact that Nigel Wright gave something to Mike Duffy? Would that not be simpler?
    Mr. Speaker, it was this House that brought in legislation giving the tools to independent watchdogs for them to be able to consider these matters. What we are simply doing is following Canadian law, as passed by this House, as passed by this Parliament, to look into these matters. This issue has been referred to at least two independent authorities. The government will completely co-operate with these authorities.
    I wish the Liberal Party would co-operate with investigations into secret trust funds and offshore tax havens, too.
    Mr. Speaker, the simple fact remains that a better way to do this would be to have a public inquiry, which would be able to call the Prime Minister, which would be able to call other members of the Prime Minister's staff, which would be able to call the relevant senators, which would be able to call Nigel Wright, which would have full powers with respect to compliance with the inquiry and which would be held in public, so in the light of day and in the light of sunshine everything would be clear. Why not do that?
    Mr. Speaker, this Parliament has spent a good number of months looking at strengthened legislation on ethics, giving new tools and new powers to parliamentary ethics watchdogs. We will fully co-operate with any of these reviews, as people would properly expect. These office holders have a significant amount of authority to conduct these investigations, and most importantly, they will report publicly on those investigations.
    What we would like to see from the Liberal Party of Canada is for its members to come clean about the offshore tax havens with millions of dollars. Why will they not come clean with Canadians on that?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, it would be much simpler and much fairer if there were just one inquiry. There are two people and two inquiries—two different ways of doing things.
    Why not have a single public inquiry that would have the authority to talk to the Prime Minister, Mr. Wright and Mr. Duffy all at the same time and as part of the same process? Why complicate things?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the first piece of legislation the Prime Minister brought forward was legislation to have a single parliamentary ethics watchdog, one person who would review both the House of Commons and the Senate. It was this House of Commons that passed that legislation and, only when it met the hands of the Liberal Senate at the time, the Liberal Senate blocked that proposal and would not pass it. Shame on the Liberal Party.
    Mr. Speaker, it is amusing to see the Liberals and Conservatives going back. Both have been supporting a whitewash of the Senate for 140 years. I do not think much is going to change now.
    Conservatives have confirmed that Mike Duffy spoke to the Prime Minister in February, but they refused to explain anything about that. Will they tell us what the Prime Minister discussed with him? Was it that Mike Duffy could not afford to pay or that Mike Duffy did not want to pay? What commitments then did the Prime Minister make to this senator?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister said that for any member of Parliament or any senator who has expensed money that was improper, the money should be immediately refunded. That is exactly what he said at this time.
    We would like to see the NDP follow the Prime Minister's lead, answer the questions and say why it took 17 long years for Canadians not to be able to learn about these frauds. How much bribery went on in those 17 long years? How much money has been wasted with the Charbonneau commission if the leader of the NDP had not stayed silent?
    Mr. Speaker, here is the thing. The minister is telling us that the Prime Minister told Mike Duffy to immediately pay the money back, so then how did Nigel Wright get involved? Who told Nigel Wright to go and meet with Mike Duffy? That is what I would like to know, because who else in the Prime Minister's Office, if it was not the Prime Minister, gave Nigel Wright the authority to begin the negotiations with Mike Duffy, if that was the answer that had been given in February?

  (1425)  

    Mr. Speaker, Nigel Wright has taken sole responsibility. He has offered his resignation, and that resignation was immediately accepted by the Prime Minister. It is a tremendous honour and a tremendous privilege for Canadians to serve in the Parliament of Canada, and they should be here each and every day advancing the public interests and not advancing their own private interests.
    Mr. Speaker, the question was not answered on what commitments Mike Duffy made to the Prime Minister when they met, so I ask again. What commitments did Mike Duffy make to the Prime Minister when they met?
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister was unaware of this deal until Wednesday, May 15. No commitments were made. What was said is that all members of Parliament are responsible to act ethically. All members of Parliament in both Houses are expected to act honourably and to expense only those expenses they incurred and are allowed to under the law. This was not done in this case. These people should pay back the money.
    All members of the House of Commons and all members of the Senate should act responsibly. It is a tremendous privilege and honour. People should be advancing the public interests and not their own interests. That is the deal with this Prime Minister. That is the deal with this government.
    Mr. Speaker, in the last six months, has the Prime Minister spoken to Pamela Wallin about her expenses?
    Mr. Speaker, the Senator's expenses have been referred to the Board of Internal Economy in the other place. They are currently being reviewed. They are currently being reviewed by an outside auditing firm, and those reviews will both properly be made public.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, last Thursday, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment said, “The Prime Minister himself has expressed deep regret for appointing Mike Duffy.”
    Can the government confirm that this is indeed the Prime Minister's point of view?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, no one is more disappointed than the Prime Minister about this conduct. Canadians expect better, and the Prime Minister of Canada expects better.
    What Canadians expect also is for the NDP to come clean and answer this question: Why did it take 17 long years for the leader of the NDP to admit being offered cash in an envelope by the then mayor of Laval?

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, question period should be renamed “deflection period”.
    Since they refuse to confirm that appointing Mike Duffy was a mistake, can they tell us why they refuse to express sincere regret in that regard?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I answered the question as directly as I could. I said, yes, the Prime Minister is disappointed with their conduct in this regard. Canadians expect better. The Prime Minister expects better. That is why we are pleased that this has gone for review by a number of independent bodies. We will completely co-operate.
    That is the type of co-operation the Charbonneau commission in Montreal needs when it is dealing with the corrupt behaviour the leader of the NDP met with some 17 years ago.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, here is another simple question that remains unanswered.
    The senators' inappropriate spending has been making headlines for months. Who in the Prime Minister's Office has been in charge of handling this issue from mid-February to now?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is that every member of Parliament, every Senator, should not be expensing expenses that were not legitimately incurred. The Prime Minister has always been very clear that if anyone does that, they should repay that money. That is the standard Canadians expect, and that is the kind of leadership the Prime Minister has given.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, let us try to go beyond the Conservatives' lip service.
    Aside from the Prime Minister's former chief of staff, who else at the PMO was aware of the discussions between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy? Who?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, this question has been answered, and I will answer it again.
    Mr. Wright has accepted sole responsibility for his personal action. The Prime Minister learned about this issue only after it became public. A few days after that, Mr. Wright offered his resignation, and the Prime Minister immediately accepted it.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government still has not committed to releasing all the documents concerning the agreement between Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy.
    Will it now commit to releasing these documents?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, we have said that we will co-operate with the relevant authorities that this House of Commons has tasked with reviewing these types of matters. We will fully co-operate with those reviews, as people would properly expect.

  (1430)  

    Mr. Speaker, did Nigel Wright resign, or was he fired? Will we find out what monetary compensation he receives, either as severance or as separation pay?
    Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. Mr. Wright has accepted full responsibility for his error in this matter. He offered his resignation. The resignation was accepted. Mr. Wright will receive only the minimum amount required by law.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, was a work contract drawn up when Nigel Wright was hired? Did that contract stipulate what would happen if he were fired? Will the government release all the documents concerning Nigel Wright's hiring, employment and firing?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, there are standard operating practices for ministerial exempt staff, and they were followed in this regard.
    Mr. Speaker, are taxpayers on the hook for the lawyer Mr. Nigel Wright has hired, the previous chief of staff to the Prime Minister, Mr. Guy Giorno?
    Mr. Speaker, it will come as no surprise to the member opposite that I am not going to speculate in terms of what Mr. Wright is or is not doing. I have no idea.
    What I do know is that the leader of the Liberal Party is standing up for the status quo. He is pitting one region of this country against the other. What Canadians want is their political leadership to accept responsibility, to seek reform of the Senate, to seek elections to the Senate and to seek real change. Only the Liberal Party is standing in the way of that. Shame on the Liberal Party for its lack of leadership and for supporting the status quo.

National Defence

    Mr. Speaker, undue political interference is not just happening at the PMO. The office of the Minister of National Defence requested that the independent national investigative service track down how a defence journalist got information on a military exercise with our allies. Of course, the information came from a U.S. Navy press release, a fact noted in the story.
    Why did the minister push the independent NIS, a branch of the military police, to go after a journalist? Does the minister have a problem with the media reporting on the facts?
    Mr. Speaker, members of the House have previously expressed concern about the unauthorized disclosure of information by National Defence. Information is shared through many avenues. Of course, access to information and proactive communication are but two examples. In a department like National Defence, security of information is critical, and there are established procedures and processes to release information and remain vigilant. However, when information is inappropriately released, we expect the department to follow through on how it happened.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service is not meant to be used by a minister who wants to investigate a journalist who is bothering him.
    The minister's office is clearly involved in this witch hunt. The Minister of National Defence is going after a journalist who used information from a press release. He is picking on a journalist for doing his job. The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service currently has five investigations under way concerning this journalist. Yes, five.
    Why is the Minister of National Defence using an independent investigation service for a witch hunt?

[English]

    Again, Mr. Speaker, in a department like National Defence, as I said, security information is critical. There are established procedures and processes.
    DND is developing a robust and comprehensive departmental security plan as part of a complete review of security policies and procedures. That is scheduled to be completed in 2014, with an interim report this fall. This is a very significant undertaking involving areas such as security screening, physical network and personnel security as well as all policies and procedures required to integrate them.

[Translation]

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, on a completely different topic, 61 countries, including some of the biggest arms exporters in the world, are prepared to sign an arms trade treaty. Canada, however, is missing in action. This treaty will prevent the arms trade from fueling conflicts in areas such as Syria, Sudan and the DRC.
    Why are the Conservatives not taking a firm stance against the illegal trade in arms by immediately signing this treaty?

  (1435)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from my friend, the member opposite. I also appreciated the same question I got from the Liberal Party last week.
    Canada already has some of the highest standards in the export and control of munitions. We believe that any treaty regarding the sale of munitions that helps move the international community closer to world-leading standards is a good thing.
    We participated actively in these discussions. I think we have an obligation to listen before we act, and that is why we will be consulting with Canadians before the government takes any decision.
    Mr. Speaker, this is about the regulation of global trade in weapons. It is not about domestic use. The minister has had two months to figure this out. Why does he not just sign? It is time to sign this accord.
    Every year, half a million people die because of the illegal trade in arms. Why is the government failing to join the rest of the world in limiting the arms that go to some of the hottest conflicts in the world? In fact, right now, when we are talking about Syria, we are talking about arms going to Syria. It is time to stop that. Sign the deal now.
    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to sending weapons and arms to Syria, many countries, including some of our allies, publicly contemplated doing that, and nothing in this treaty would stop that, I would say very directly to the member opposite. We have very strong domestic regulations with respect to the export of both arms and munitions.
    What we do not want to see is the NDP and their friends in the Liberal Party try to bring in through the back door a long gun registry that would only hurt law-abiding sportsmen and only hurt law-abiding hunters and farmers. This is what the Liberals and the NDP want to do in the next election, and I want to assure members that we will not let them get away with it.

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, in the past few years, communities across the country have been deeply affected by tragedies related to bullying, cyberbullying and intimidation. There have been far too many tragedies.
    We know that the heartbreaking headlines do not begin to tell the full story. Reports that one in three adolescent Canadian students say that they have been bullied are extremely troubling. Could the Minister of Canadian Heritage please update the House on our government's support for an important project that will help youth take action against bullying?
    Mr. Speaker, Jamie Hubley was 15 years old when, after months of torment and cruelty and bullying, he committed suicide. Amanda Todd, from my community, was 15 years old also when she committed suicide after being anonymously hounded and harassed online by some of her fellow students.
    Today I was pleased to announce a new partnership with the Canadian Red Cross to empower over 50,000 young Canadians from across the country and give them the tools they need in their own classrooms, in their own schools and in their own communities across the country to stand up against those who cruelly and viciously attack kids with cyberbullying.
    I know that members of Parliament from all parties in the House have called for the government to take action when it comes to cyberbullying and the cruelty our kids face. Today we announced a bold national plan with the Red Cross, and I want to thank all members of Parliament for supporting this effort.

Infrastructure

    Mr. Speaker, municipal leaders gathered in Vancouver this weekend to tackle the $171-billion infrastructure deficit. They wondered why Conservatives ignored the FCM's call for dedicated public transit funding and voted down the NDP's national transit strategy.
    Now the Ontario government is asking for a meeting to partner with the federal government to break traffic gridlock. Will the minister meet with Canada's largest province, or does he plan to ignore it also?
    Mr. Speaker, let me quote Michael Roschlau, president and CEO of the Canadian Urban Transit Association: “Never before has a federal government invested so much in public transit”. We have been a great partner since 2006 for public transit. We will continue to do so, and I hope they will vote for the budget.

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives' new building Canada plan simply does not do enough to tackle the $171 billion infrastructure deficit facing Canadian municipalities. We now know that the announcement of billions of dollars over 10 years actually represents a cut.
    When Montrealers have to boil their water and drivers wonder whether they are on the streets of Beirut, not those of a major city in Quebec, we have every right to wonder when the government will invest enough money so that we can upgrade all of our infrastructure.

  (1440)  

    This NDP member still does not understand. He thinks that we need to manage cities on behalf of mayors. I know that some MPs would like to become mayor, since they think that we have to manage everything from Ottawa. The city of Montreal is managed by the mayor of Montreal. We will not start deciding which streets to pave. That is what the member would like us to do.
    We make the money available, and it will be there.

[English]

Air Transportation

    Mr. Speaker, for many Arctic communities, the only viable travel option is by air, but many northern airports are so old, air carriers are having to downgrade, flying smaller and slower airplanes. This makes life in northern communities more challenging and more expensive.
    Conservatives have claimed that there is money, but a new report indicates that it is not enough for the much needed northern upgrades. When is the government going to make improving access to Arctic communities a real priority?
    Mr. Speaker, at Transport Canada, safety is the top priority in every region of the country. Since 2006, the Government of Canada has invested $38 million in 20 safety-related projects in airports in the north. Canada has one of the safest transportation systems in the world, and it gets even stronger every single year.

Search and Rescue

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard station with no consultation and without even producing a risk analysis report. Now, three of five B.C. marine communication and traffic services centres will also close.
    Similar cuts in the Arctic meant mariners went without emergency radio service for over a week. Marine safety experts are warning us that these closures are too risky.
    How can British Columbians trust that these new closures will not put more lives at risk on B.C.'s coast?
    Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated many times in the House, our first and foremost priority is the safety of mariners and people at sea.
    Our government is investing in the Coast Guard's infrastructure to take advantage of today's technology to deliver the same service at strategic locations across the country. Better-connected centres equipped with modern technology will ensure improved effectiveness and reliability of services.

41st General Election

    Mr. Speaker, a Federal Court judge has found that dirty tactics were used to try and disrupt Canadians' right to vote in the last federal election. The judge found widespread electoral fraud in many ridings. Instead of being concerned about attacks on voters, Conservative MPs are attacking the Federal Court judge. Why are Conservatives attacking judges, rather than getting to the bottom of this crime?
    Mr. Speaker, an ultra-partisan group lost the last election, and now it has lost in court. The party brought forward an ultra-partisan court effort without producing a single, solitary person who was prevented from voting by a telephone call or a robocall. It was this absence of evidence that caused the court to rule that there is no evidence linking the Conservative Party to any inappropriate or illegal calls.
    Mr. Speaker, the Federal Court confirmed that there was fraud, so the fact is there was fraud. Additionally, the court found that the most likely source of the information used to commit fraud was the Conservatives' secret database. Why would Conservative MPs object to the Federal Court's fraud findings if they were not trying to protect the criminals responsible?
    Mr. Speaker, I would encourage my hon. colleague to actually read the judgment, which found that there was no evidence linking the Conservative Party or its officials, or its candidates in fact, to any wrongful activity in this regard. In fact, the ultra-partisan group that brought forward this case failed to produce a single solitary voter in all of Canada who was prevented from voting by a robocall or a telephone call.

  (1445)  

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, violent storms in the Quebec City area this past weekend resulted in the flooding of more than 500 homes. The residents of L'Ancienne-Lorette are reliving the nightmare that rained down on them in 2005. The strong rains would not have had the same impact if the necessary infrastructure had been in place.
    Can the Minister of Public Safety confirm that he has contacted his Quebec counterpart about this matter? Can he assure us that he will work with the provincial and municipal authorities on this file?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, of course our thoughts and prayers go out to those who have lost property or even worse in some of these very serious situations.
    Under the DFAA, the federal government stands with the provinces to work together to compensate for these losses. Indeed, in some of these cases the federal government pays up to 90% of the losses under the DFAA. We respond to provincial inquiries in this respect, and we would certainly be pleased to look at the entire file.

[Translation]

Health

    First came the nickel and iron dust. Then, this weekend, coal dust from the Port of Québec settled on my region.
    Every time I have asked the minister a question about this, he has evaded it by saying that the port is an independent organization that is doing its job. However, the minister is forgetting that he is responsible for enforcing environmental legislation in the ports.
    Does the minister understand the principle of ministerial accountability? Is he waiting for all the elements of the periodic table to fall on our heads before taking action?
    On April 3, the member met with management of the port authority, but he does not seem to understand the explanations he was given.
    At the meeting with the president and CEO, Mario Girard, they told him about everything that was happening, and he said he was pleased with what he saw and with the action taken to correct the situation. He said that he was truly reassured. The member seems to go any which way the wind blows. I believe the best direction is the one the Port of Québec is going in.

[English]

Consumer Protection

    Mr. Speaker, my constituents want honest billing practices and reasonable contracts from their cellphone and wireless providers. Our government has taken concrete steps to protect consumers and today, the CRTC has unveiled a new wireless code of conduct.
    Could the President of the Treasury Board update the House on the great work that is being done to help protect Canadian consumers?
    Mr. Speaker, let me first thank the hon. member for the question because it shows how connected he is to his local community and is representing its views.
    We on the government side are happy to see this new wireless code. It puts consumers first. It addresses the key issues such as contract length and the exploding roaming charges, and some of us are aware of those, and other data charges as well. These are steps in the right direction.
    I can assure the chamber that this government will continue to foster greater competition to provide Canadians with more choices at better prices in every region of this country.

Employment

    Mr. Speaker, youth unemployment is twice the national average and hundreds of thousands of young Canadians are just not able to find work, yet the Conservative government continues to run television ads at $90,000 a crack advertising a program that does not even exist. The jobs grant program has not passed Parliament and the government has not even begun negotiations with the provinces. It has more caveats and disclaimers than a Rob Ford press conference.
    What is sad here is, where are the fiscal Conservatives who are supposed to care about tax dollars? Why do they not stand--
    The hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Human Resources.
    Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear. Economic action plan 2013 has put in place and will put forward 5,000 new internships for young Canadians. The Canada youth employment strategy employs over 36,000 young Canadians every year. In fact, since the start of this government, 2.1 million young Canadians have been newly employed.
    I look forward to the opposition member getting on board and supporting young Canadians, so they can be employed so that we can make sure they all have opportunities in the future.

  (1450)  

Health

    Mr. Speaker, desperate Canadians are heading overseas to buy organs on the black market only to see these organs fail when they come back home. They end up in hospital and tragically some have died. As we have debated in the House, unfortunately this is not a new situation.
    After seven years in power, why is the government still dragging its feet on the critical need for a national registry for organ transplants?
    Mr. Speaker, our government is absolutely playing a leadership role when it comes to establishing a registry. We are working with various organizations, like Hélène Campbell's initiatives, to establish a registry for individuals who want to make an organ donation. It will be the first of its kind in this country.

The Environment

    Mr. Speaker,

The Dippers have denied their environment roots,
Taken up with the Liberals--they're all in cahoots.
Their leader is angry, storm clouds of deceit,
A tax on everything, clothes, gas, and meat.

An inconvenient truth, they travel abroad,
Job-killing speeches akin to fraud.

Thirty per cent-GHGs did increase,
Under the Liberal watch, a gaseous feast.
Mull this over complete with care,
The Dippers and Libs would do nothing for air.

The good news for us in environment week,
Is our sector-by-sector approach that is sleek.

Could the minister update us all today?
And lift the debate above the fray.

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for London West for his rhyming couplets and a very good question.
    This government has addressed climate change. We have regulated reductions in greenhouse gases while still growing the economy. We have put forward a plan to improve air quality for all Canadians.
    In this Environment Week, I would advise all Canadians to examine our impressive record, because when it comes to our land, our water and air, people can count on this government to manage with care.

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, three years ago the Department of Fisheries and Oceans declared nearly 1,000 lighthouses surplus, including the one on Sambro Island that is the oldest in North America, built in 1758. They were hoping that non-profit community organizations were going to be able to pick up the slack, but many of these lighthouses are simply too expensive to maintain.
    I want to ask the minister a question. Will he do right thing? Will he ensure that these heritage, iconic lighthouses are maintained by supporting these community organizations?
    Mr. Speaker, this program of sponsoring out-of-use lighthouses and sponsoring working lighthouses has been very successful.
    We have received over 300 nominations. The boards are working through these applications. We have named a number just in the last couple of weeks, and we will continue with this very worthy program.

[Translation]

Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, experts and the police are confirming that Vito Rizzuto has regained influence over the Montreal Mafia. Whether we are talking about the Hells Angels or street gangs, the criminal element has hit cruising speed. Things are back to normal and business is booming. While the Mafia is renewing its allegiances and regaining power, the Conservative government is abolishing the police officer recruitment fund and jeopardizing the operations of prevention agencies, such as the Maison d'Haïti street crews.
    Does the Minister of Public Safety understand that we need resources to fight crime, to fight criminal groups, and to protect our young people?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member that the issue of policing is a provincial matter, but we do work very closely with our provincial colleagues.
    We have passed many laws involving mandatory minimum prison sentences and laws relating to organized crime. Unfortunately, members of the opposition have consistently opposed those measures.

[Translation]

Public Works and Government Services

    Mr. Speaker, again today, we learn that two ministers got mixed up in the contract awarding process for relocating federal employees. The Auditor General found irregularities in this file when the previous Liberal government was in power, and the Conservative government is no better. Everything is controlled by the Prime Minister's Office and cabinet, and the list of interferences keeps growing.
    When will the government stop politicizing public tenders and public service decisions?

  (1455)  

    Mr. Speaker, that is false. As President of the Treasury Board, I can say that the Minister of Public Safety has a responsibility to verify that due diligence has been exercised with regard to the contract. In response to the criticisms by the Auditor General's office about the contract that the Liberals awarded unfairly, our government launched a new request for proposals for the relocation contract, using a fair and transparent process.

[English]

    I would say that we have done everything according to proper procedure.

Aboriginal Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, in January, as protests occurred across Canada, the Prime Minister said he would take responsibility for progress on aboriginal issues.
    Months later, where are we? First nations, Inuit and Metis are wondering if the government agreed to change its ways while having absolutely no intention of following through. The only action we have seen from the government is pushing through its own legislative agenda that first nations object to.
    When is the government going to live up to its promises?
    Mr. Speaker, the fact is, we are following up with first nations, Metis and Inuit all across this country. In recent months, I have been travelling across the country to hear many aboriginal leaders, Metis leaders, Inuit leaders. We are making progress and we will continue in the quest for reconciliation in Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, Shawn Atleo sent a simple message this weekend. The level of unrest this summer will depend on whether the Prime Minister is willing to follow through on his commitment to aboriginal people.
    Can the Prime Minister tell us who the high-level person is in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for implementing the January 11 agreement?
    Mr. Speaker, there are in fact senior oversight committees that have been instituted following the January 11 meeting. These oversight committees are meeting regularly. They are making progress, and I hope that in due course we can make them public.

Justice

    Mr. Speaker, when Dr. Porter was chair of SIRC, he was in possession of some of Canada's most sensitive information. He is now languishing in one of Panama's most notorious prisons in the presence of pimps, drug dealers and organized crime.
    Can the government tell us what steps it has taken to get Dr. Porter out of his Panamanian jail in order to face justice and in order to be put into a secure Canadian facility?
    Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that our government has been following this issue very closely. We are very pleased that there was an arrest in this matter. We congratulate the authorities on a successful arrest.
    While I cannot comment on a specific case, I can say that anyone involved in corruption must face the full force of the law, and our government will take the steps necessary to ensure that happens.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, Canadians remain very concerned about the ongoing conflict in Syria. Hundreds of lives have been lost, thousands have been displaced and basic freedoms are denied to many.
    Can the Minister of Foreign Affairs update this House on the current situation in Syria?
    Mr. Speaker, we are deeply concerned about the violence in Syria, the tens of thousands of people who have lost their lives as well as the millions of people who have been displaced internally and have had to seek refuge outside of their borders.
    Canada is playing a leadership role with respect to humanitarian assistance. We are one of the top six or seven countries in providing and actually delivering aid to both UN organizations and bilaterally to some countries. We will continue to be actively engaged with this and continue to increase our support as it is warranted.

[Translation]

Fisheries and Oceans

    Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
    He should know that sandbars along the coast of the Acadian peninsula are blocking port access channels and endangering fishers' lives. Just last week, another four fishers were trapped on sandbars and more were stranded at sea.
    What will he do to speed up dredging so that fishers' lives are no longer in danger?

  (1500)  

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, if I understand the question, I believe it is around small craft harbours.
    Of course, we have an annual budget to invest in small craft harbours across the country, which is done on a priority basis. Everything is assessed on an annual basis to determine which ones will be fixed during a season.

Presence in Gallery

    That concludes question period for today.
    Canadian Forces Day is an opportunity for Canadians across the country to recognize the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform make on our behalf.
     It is with great pleasure that I draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of 12 members of the Canadian Forces who are taking part in Canadian Forces Day today.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!

[Translation]

Points of Order

Oral Questions  

[Points of Order]
    Mr. Speaker, I believe that it is very important for all members of the House to respect people from other countries.
    I understand that some members can get pretty excited when expressing themselves and asking questions, but I found it insulting when the member for Trois-Rivières said, “Drivers wonder whether they are on the streets of Beirut, not those of a major city in Quebec”.
    I think that we should respect all peoples, not just the people of Beirut and Lebanon, but also Canadians and Quebeckers of Lebanese origin who would not appreciate comments like that. I therefore ask the member to apologize.
    Mr. Speaker, of course I will apologize if my comments offended anyone in Quebec. That was not even remotely my intention.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Safer Witnesses Act

     The House resumed from May 30 consideration of the motion that Bill C-51, An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act, be read the third time and passed.
    Pursuant to an order made on Wednesday, May 22, 2012, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at the third reading stage of Bill C-51.
    Call in the members.

  (1510)  

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

(Division No. 710)

YEAS

Members

Adams
Adler
Aglukkaq
Albas
Albrecht
Alexander
Allen (Welland)
Allen (Tobique—Mactaquac)
Allison
Ambler
Ambrose
Anders
Anderson
Andrews
Angus
Armstrong
Ashfield
Ashton
Aspin
Aubin
Ayala
Baird
Bateman
Bélanger
Benoit
Bergen
Bernier
Bezan
Blanchette
Blanchette-Lamothe
Blaney
Block
Borg
Boughen
Boulerice
Boutin-Sweet
Braid
Breitkreuz
Brison
Brosseau
Brown (Leeds—Grenville)
Brown (Newmarket—Aurora)
Brown (Barrie)
Bruinooge
Butt
Byrne
Calandra
Calkins
Cannan
Carmichael
Caron
Carrie
Casey
Cash
Charlton
Chicoine
Chisholm
Chisu
Chong
Choquette
Chow
Christopherson
Clarke
Cleary
Clement
Comartin
Côté
Crockatt
Crowder
Cuzner
Daniel
Davidson
Davies (Vancouver Kingsway)
Davies (Vancouver East)
Day
Dechert
Del Mastro
Devolin
Dewar
Dion
Dionne Labelle
Donnelly
Doré Lefebvre
Dreeshen
Dubé
Duncan (Vancouver Island North)
Duncan (Etobicoke North)
Duncan (Edmonton—Strathcona)
Dusseault
Dykstra
Easter
Eyking
Fantino
Findlay (Delta—Richmond East)
Fletcher
Foote
Freeman
Galipeau
Gallant
Garneau
Garrison
Genest
Genest-Jourdain
Giguère
Gill
Glover
Godin
Goguen
Goodale
Goodyear
Gosal
Gourde
Gravelle
Grewal
Groguhé
Harris (Scarborough Southwest)
Harris (St. John's East)
Harris (Cariboo—Prince George)
Hawn
Hayes
Hiebert
Hillyer
Holder
Hsu
Hughes
Jacob
James
Jean
Kamp (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge—Mission)
Keddy (South Shore—St. Margaret's)
Kellway
Kenney (Calgary Southeast)
Kent
Kerr
Komarnicki
Kramp (Prince Edward—Hastings)
Lake
Lamoureux
Lapointe
Latendresse
Lauzon
Laverdière
Lebel
LeBlanc (Beauséjour)
LeBlanc (LaSalle—Émard)
Leitch
Lemieux
Leslie
Leung
Liu
Lizon
Lobb
Lukiwski
Lunney
MacAulay
MacKenzie
Mai
Martin
Masse
Mathyssen
May
Mayes
McCallum
McColeman
McGuinty
McKay (Scarborough—Guildwood)
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)
Mourani
Mulcair
Nantel
Nash
Nicholls
Nicholson
Norlock
Nunez-Melo
Obhrai
O'Connor
Oliver
O'Neill Gordon
Opitz
O'Toole
Pacetti
Papillon
Payne
Péclet
Perreault
Pilon
Plamondon
Poilievre
Preston
Quach
Rae
Rafferty
Raitt
Rajotte
Rathgeber
Ravignat
Raynault
Regan
Reid
Rempel
Richards
Rickford
Ritz
Rousseau
Sandhu
Saxton
Scarpaleggia
Schellenberger
Scott
Seeback
Sellah
Shea
Shipley
Shory
Simms (Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor)
Sims (Newton—North Delta)
Sitsabaiesan
Smith
Sopuck
Stanton
St-Denis
Stoffer
Storseth
Strahl
Sullivan
Sweet
Tilson
Toet
Toews
Toone
Tremblay
Trost
Trottier
Truppe
Turmel
Tweed
Uppal
Valcourt
Valeriote
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)
Young (Vancouver South)
Zimmer

Total: -- 268

NAYS

Nil

PAIRED

Nil

    I declare the motion carried.

    (Motion agreed to)


ROUTINE PROCEEDINGS

[Routine Proceedings]

[English]

Export Development Canada

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, a document entitled the Canada Account Annual Report, 2011-2012.

Government Response to Petitions

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

Committees of the House

Procedure and House Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the 57th, 58th and 59th reports of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs in relation to the reports of the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for the provinces of Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Quebec.

Criminal Code

     She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce my private member's bill, C-517, an act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons). Three years ago, this House unanimously passed a bill to enact a mandatory minimum sentence for those found guilty of human trafficking of minors. On that day Canada sent a clear message that human trafficking is simply abhorrent. However, our work is not done. According to the United Nations' global report on human trafficking, 73% of victims are adults.
    It is time for Parliament to take action to close this legal gap. My bill would amend the Criminal Code to put in place a mandatory minimum sentence for anyone found guilty of trafficking of a person 18 years of age or older and would send a strong message that the trafficking of humans is simply wrong, regardless of age.

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

Protecting Taxpayers and Revoking Pensions of Convicted Politicians Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, the alternative title of the bill I am putting forward today is the protecting taxpayers and revoking pensions of convicted politicians act. Should this bill become law, it would revoke the parliamentary pensions of any senator or elected member convicted of an offence under any act of Parliament for which the maximum punishment is imprisonment for more than two years.
    There are two points I would like to highlight on this bill.
    First, the way the bill is written, those people found guilty are not required to serve a sentence of more than two years. It is simply that the maximum penalty be two years or more. Therefore, there could be a member who is sentenced for a period of six months, as was the case at one point with a not so honourable member from the other place.
    Second, this bill would be made retroactive to today, June 3, 2013. In doing so, I have adopted the aim and intent of a bill from Nova Scotia, which followed the same precedent.
    Therefore, I ask that this bill be brought forward for debate in the House.

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

Excise Tax Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, a second bill I would like to move today is the ending gasoline tax on tax act. The bill aims to amend the Excise Tax Act so that GST and HST are no longer levied on any federal or provincial excise tax charged on fuel for motor vehicles.
    I believe the bill would be in line with our government's priority to balance the books by 2015 and would fit nicely into that schedule.

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

  (1515)  

Supporting Non-Partisan Agents of Parliament Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today to introduce an act supporting non-partisan agents of Parliament. The act would establish a requirement for all persons who apply for a position in the office of an agent of Parliament to make a declaration stating whether, in the 10 years before applying for that position, they occupied specified politically partisan positions. For successful candidates, these declarations would be posted online.
    The act would also require the persons who work in the office of an agent of Parliament and these agents to make a declaration if they intend to occupy a politically partisan position while continuing to occupy their positions. These declarations would also be posted online.
    As well, the act would require an agent of Parliament and the persons who work in his or her office to provide a written undertaking that they will conduct themselves in a non-partisan manner in fulfilling the official duties and responsibilities of their positions.
    Agents of Parliament are given the important mandate to perform non-partisan duties in Parliament, and the public has a right to know whether or not the agents or those who work in these offices are engaging in political activities.
    This would help protect the institution of Parliament and bring more transparency and accountability into the Canadian political process.

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

Navigable Waters Protection Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, in March, I read an article about AWARE Simcoe, which is a citizens group that is looking to protect the Nottawasaga River. AWARE Simcoe points out that this is a river of major historical importance. It has played a large part in the creation of the county, and it has been protected under the Navigable Waters Protection Act since 1882.
    As we all know, this piece of legislation was gutted by the Conservatives last fall and the Nottawasaga River is no longer protected. Despite the fact that the Conservatives will not act, I am proud to stand here today to present this bill that would actually ensure this river is protected.
    I think today is the first step in ensuring that rainbow trout and other species and ecosystems of the Nottawasaga are protected and that the people who care deeply for this river are given the tools to ensure it is enjoyed by future generations.

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

Navigable Waters Protection Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, it is my honour, today, to present a bill to reinstate Saskatchewan lakes into the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Reindeer Lake, Cree Lake, Lac la Ronge, Lac Churchill, Old Wives Lake, Last Mountain Lake, Buffalo Pound Lake, Big Quill Lake, Little Quill Lake, Katepwa Lake, Goose Lake and Redberry Lake all must come under this act.
    These lakes, if left unprotected, could mean the loss of clean drinking water for the people of Saskatchewan, including those who live in Regina and Moose Jaw. Protecting these waterways would also preserve the habitat of unique wildlife.
    Today, these waterways are the source of livelihood and quality of life for people across Saskatchewan.
    The future lies in protecting these waterways. I am proud of our NDP team standing up for the people of Saskatchewan and calling upon the government to act.

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

Petitions

Lyme Disease  

    Mr. Speaker, I am rising today to present a petition signed by a number of my constituents in Leeds—Grenville. The petitioners call on the government to support Bill C-442, An Act respecting a National Lyme Disease Strategy.

  (1520)  

Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table.
    The first petition is a call for the government to cease closure of the Sandwich Towne post office. Unfortunately, the government has chosen to go ahead with that. Councillor Ron Jones and I were actually in the building the other day, and we were mortified by the condition of the building. The petitioners would like answers, and we would like to see that it at least go to the community.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is in regard to pet coke, which is now being stored on the Detroit River. The petitioners call for the Minister of the Environment to invoke the International Joint Commission.
     This pet coke is a by-product of manufactured bitumen at a Marathon plant, and now it is stored right on the riverfront with very little regulation and oversight. There are actually other locations that are now starting to get these, including the one in Essex County that has also emerged.

Genetically Modified Alfalfa  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from a number of constituents in my riding of Dufferin—Caledon who are concerned about the issue of genetically modified alfalfa. Among a number of things, they are concerned that organic farming prohibits the use of genetic modification and that the organic sector in Canada depends on alfalfa as a high-protein feed for dairy cattle and other livestock, and as an important soil builder. The petitioners ask that the government impose a moratorium on the release of genetically modified alfalfa in order to allow a proper review of the impact on farmers in Canada.

Peace  

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I rise today to table a petition signed by hundreds of local residents who are urging the government to establish a department of peace, headed by a minister of peace as a senior cabinet position, and that this department should reinvigorate Canada's role as a global peace builder. I am pleased to table this petition and I look forward to the government's response.

[Translation]

Animal Transportation  

    Mr. Speaker, I will be presenting two petitions today.
    The first petition is from one of my constituents, who calls on the government to strengthen animal transportation regulations.

Development and Peace  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition concerns Development and Peace.
    This petition is presented by people in Saint-Noël-Chabanel and the parish of St-François-de-Sales in my riding. For the sake of international solidarity, they want the government to fully restore the $49.2 million in funding sought by Development and Peace for the next five years.

[English]

Search and Rescue  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present two petitions.
    The first is to save the Kitsilano Coast Guard station. The petitioners say that the recent decision by the federal government to close the Kitsilano station is a grave mistake that will undoubtedly cost lives of those in peril on the shores and waters near Vancouver harbour. They call on the Government of Canada to rescind this decision and reinstate funding to maintain the Kitsilano Coast Guard station.

Shark Finning  

    Mr. Speaker, I also submit a petition calling on the House to ban the import of shark fins. The petitioners say measures must be taken to stop the global practice of shark finning and ensure the responsible conservation and management of sharks. They call on the Government of Canada to immediately legislate a ban on the importation of shark fins to Canada.

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, the students and staff at David Suzuki Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario, wish to protest the Canadian government's lack of concern for the environment, including the dismantling of environmental protection through omnibus bills, the withdrawal from the Kyoto accord, the continued pollution of our waters and the continued rise of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.
    The petitioners request that the government take immediate action to protect our future and the future of the planet.

International Co-operation  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions to table from Canadians from White Rock, B.C.; from Esterhazy, Regina, North Battleford and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan; from Leduc, Calgary, Grimshaw, Pincher Creek and Red Deer in Alberta; from Brandon, Manitoba; and from Hay River, Northwest Territories.
    The petitioners call on Parliament to address its failure to deliver on Parliament's commitment in 2005 to increase development assistance to 0.7% of GDP, to end the freeze on foreign aid and to restore the NGO partnerships in aid.

  (1525)  

The Environment  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today with a happier spring in my step with a petition from residents of Sooke, Duncan and Salt Spring Island calling on the government to take a different look at the Enbridge northern gateway pipeline.
    It certainly is encouraging that the Government of British Columbia has said that the current proposal does not meet its standards because the proponent, Enbridge, has failed to provide evidence that would assure the B.C. government it has any capability to deal with spills along the pipeline route.

Lyme Disease  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is on the subject of the private member's bill I put forward, Bill C-442, calling for a national Lyme disease strategy. These petitioners from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Brampton, Ontario, join with many thousands of others across Canada hoping the House can be united in seeking help for those who are suffering from Lyme disease and in providing greater prevention and information so that we will reduce the spread of this terrible disease.

Parks Canada  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions. One is from Canadians from coast to coast to coast asking the Government of Canada to not reduce the hours of operation of the Rideau Canal and the Trent-Severn Waterway. They note that they are both national historic sites and represent a significant part of our Canadian heritage, are renowned all over the world for their natural beauty and as engineering marvels and are a vital part of the economies in their respective regions.

Motor Vehicle Safety  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is from folks in Toronto. Petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to introduce a regulation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act requiring aerodynamic side guards for trucks and trailers to prevent cyclists and pedestrians from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles. They note that side guards on trucks have been a legal requirement in the U.K. and the European Union for many years, and there has been a significant drop in pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in these countries. They point out it is in fact a key recommendation by the Chief Coroner for Ontario in his study on how to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe.

Impaired Driving  

    Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to present petitions from constituents from the Fraser Valley. The first is a petition that highlights the sad fact that last year 22-year-old Kassandra Kaulius was killed by a drunk driver. A group of people called Families for Justice, who have also lost loved ones to impaired drivers, is asking for new mandatory minimum sentencing for those people convicted of impaired driving causing death.

Sex Selection  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition relates to gendercide. Petitioners highlight that sex selection is happening in Canada. All the national parties in Parliament have condemned this practice, and 92% of Canadians condemn sex selection. They are asking Parliament to condemn discrimination against females occurring through sex-selective pregnancy termination.

Pensions  

    Mr. Speaker, I have a petition from many Canadians who are very concerned about the changes that the government has made to old age security by increasing the age of eligibility from 65 to 67. They point out that this change has a profoundly negative impact on the poorest seniors and that in fact those two extra years of waiting for OAS and GIS would take about $12,000 out of the pockets of the average senior. This creates profound instability in households where there is not enough money.
    In that regard, petitioners are asking the Government of Canada to return the age of eligibility of old age security to age 65 and increase the investment in the guaranteed income supplement in order to lift every Canadian senior out of poverty,

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 1311, 1312, 1313 and 1315.

[Text]

Question No. 1311--
Mr. Malcolm Allen:
     With regard to the horse meat contamination of imported goods: (a) what is the policy of the government in dealing with these products; (b) what percentage of imported meat is tested for horse meat contamination; (c) how many incidents of horse meat contamination have been discovered in the last 12 months, listed by product type, including all pertinent designations, port of discovery, date of discovery, total weight of contaminated goods, percentage of horse meat discovered in each case of contamination, all details about handling and packaging of each case of contamination, country of origin, shipper, receiver, distributor, intended destination, intended final product; (d) what action was taken upon discovery of each case of contamination; (e) how many cases of horse meat contaminated products were (i) sent back to the shipper, (ii) ordered destroyed, (iii) allowed to continue to their destination, (iv) made their way or were presumed to have made their way into the food system for human consumption; and (f) what are the brand names of products contaminated with horse meat sold to Canadians?
Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), unidentified mixing of meat from different species is not permitted in Canada. Under the authority of the Meat Inspection Act and Regulations, the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations, and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act and Regulations, meat cuts, organs, and other carcass parts must be identified on labels with proper common names, including species names. This applies to meat from any species, including equine. The meat import program is designed to ensure imported meat products are equivalent to Canadian standards. The competent authority of the country of origin as well as any plant within that country must be CFIA approved before Canada will permit export of meat products into Canada. CFIA approval is only granted after an in depth and lengthy review to ensure that equivalency with Canadian standards can be achieved.
    In addition, all types of imported meat products, including processed products, are subject to random testing to verify compliance with Canadian law. Random samples of all imported meat products are tested and, should a violation be identified, the shipment is rejected for entry into Canada. In such a case, the competent authority of the exporting country as well as the exporting plant must isolate the source of the problem, develop and implement a corrective plan and demonstrate that the appropriate corrective action has been taken. Once these steps have been satisfactorily completed, export of meat products to Canada may resume under intensified CFIA testing. Sampling and testing return to the normal frequency only once compliance with Canadian standards has been established through a series of consecutive acceptable test results.
    With regard to (b), species verification testing is based upon risk and varies year to year. This testing is not carried out to ensure safety. This testing is primarily aimed at the detection of fraudulent practices. As Canada does not import a significant percentage of the meat consumed domestically, the sampling and testing is carried out in a prescriptive manner when shipments are received or when CFIA inspection staff feel there is a potential issue.
     With regard to (c), (d), (e) and (f), no positive samples were identified with horsemeat in any products.
Question No. 1312--
Mr. Dennis Bevington:
    With regard to Giant Mine in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, from the time the mine entered production in 1948 until ceasing operations in 2004, what was the total amount (not adjusted for inflation) paid to Canada in royalties for the over seven million ounces of gold produced by the mine?
Hon. Bernard Valcourt (Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, based on an assessment of historical documents going back into the 1940s, the total royalties paid to the Government of Canada from all of the mines located on the Giant claim block, including Giant, Lolor and Supercrest, is approximately $4 million, based on the 4%-5% royalties in effect at the time.
Question No. 1313--
Hon. Ralph Goodale:
    With regard to the Agroforestry Development Centre: (a) have any studies been conducted, either internally within the government or by external consultants or advisors, to identify the costs or benefits of the proposed divestiture of the Agroforestry Development Centre at Indian Head, Saskatchewan, including any possible continuation of any science or research activity at the existing site or elsewhere; (b) who prepared the studies; (c) when were those studies completed; and (d) what were the detailed results of any such study?
Hon. Gerry Ritz (Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and Minister for the Canadian Wheat Board, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), the answer is yes.
     With regard to (b), the study was prepared by SEPW Architecture Inc. through a specific service agreement with Public Works and Government Services Canada on behalf of AAFC.
    With regard to (c), the study was completed December 21, 2012.
    With regard to (d), the report detailed options regarding the Agroforestry Development Centre.
    AAFC is currently considering options for the agroforestry science and research activities at the Agroforestry Development Centre in the context of future requirements for research in agroforestry at AAFC while ensuring prudent stewardship of public funds.
Question No. 1315--
Mr. Pierre-Luc Dusseault:
     With regard to the letter sent by Service Canada concerning changes to the Employment Insurance program entitled “Changes to Employment Insurance”: (a) how many letters were sent, broken down by (i) province, (ii) date sent; (b) on what date was the decision made to issue this letter; (c) on what date was the final draft of the letter approved by the office of the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development; (d) how much did it cost to write, review and mail out these letters; and (e) how many other mass mailings have been conducted over the past 15 years regarding Employment Insurance and how large were they?
Hon. Diane Finley (Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, CPC):
     Mr. Speaker, with regard to the letter entitled “Changes to Employment Insurance” sent by Service Canada concerning changes to the employment insurance program and in regard to (a)(i), in Newfoundland and Labrador, there were 212,572 addressees; in Nova Scotia, 396,159 addressees; in Prince Edward Island, 60,720 addressees; in New Brunswick, 328,564 addressees; and in Quebec, 3,552,488 addressees.
    With regard to (a)(ii), a total of 4,550,503 letters were sent. These letters were mailed on March 19, March 20 and March 25, 2013.
    With regard to (b), the final decision to move forward with this project was taken on March 7, 2013. An assessment on cost of the mailing and discussions on the letter’s content and design took place prior to a decision being taken.
    With regard to (c), the final draft was approved by the minister’s office on March 8, 2013.
     With regard to (d), the letter was drafted internally by departmental staff. Therefore, there is no cost associated to the development of the letter. The total cost of mailing out the letters was $823,493.24 which includes printing and postage costs, excluding taxes.
    With regard to (e), it is important that policy changes to our programs be communicated to Canadians as clearly as possible. While no other similar mailings have been conducted in the past six years on employment insurance, there have been mail-outs for other programs. An example is the future change in the age of eligibility for old age security last year. Financial records are only kept by the department for six years. Contracts or procurement conducted prior to the past six years require specific details for archive retrieval such as contractor name, contract number or financial codes.

  (1530)  

[English]

Questions Passed as Orders for Return

    Mr. Speaker, if Questions Nos. 1314 and 1316 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    The Deputy Speaker: Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

[Text]

Question No. 1314--
Ms. Chris Charlton:
     With regard to the Employment Insurance Stewardship Pilot program: (a) what is the rationale for this program; (b) when was the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development first made aware of this pilot program in any form (concept, draft or final); (c) did this program have Ministerial approval at any stage; (d) if yes to (c), when did the Minister provide approval in any form (concept, draft or final); (e) what is the total cost of this program, including the total cost for all travel for each employee; (f) what is the total number of Full-Time Equivalent employees required for this program; (g) what is the total number of Full-Time Equivalent employees required as investigators for this program; (h) what was the total amount of overtime to date; (i) what is the total number of reviews for Employment Insurance (El) benefits claims under this pilot program that occurred at the claimants’ residence; (j) what is the total number of reviews for El benefits claims under this pilot program broken down by (i) geographic area, (ii) province, (ii) previous employment industry, (iii) any other grouping or criteria used for processing; (k) what is the total number of reviews for EI benefits claims under this pilot program made on the self-employed, broken down by (i) geographic area, (ii) province, (iii) previous employment industry, (iv) any other grouping or criteria used for processing; (l) what is the total number of “last employer or relevant third parties” contacted for verification of reviews for EI benefits claims; (m) what is the total number of on-site visits to employers to view and verify Record of Employment information for reviews for EI benefits claims; (n) who are the members of the Program Stewardship and Analysis team; (o) how many analysis reports did the Program Stewardship and Analysis team produce, including dates and internal unique identifying or tracking numbers for each report; (p) who designed the Detailed Investigative Technique Tool; (q) who approved the Detailed Investigative Technique Tool; (r) what were the phases of approval of the Detailed Investigative Technique Tool; (s) when was the Minister first made aware of the Detailed Investigative Technique Tool in any form (concept, draft or final); (t) who are the members of the EI Stewardship Review (EISR) Working Group; (u) how were the members of the EISR Working Group chosen or appointed; (v) who selected the members of the EISR Working Group; (w) how often did the members of the EISR Working Group meet (include dates and locations for each meeting); (x) what was the total cost of the members of the EISR Working Group (broken down by travel type, accommodations, meals, and other expense categories available); (y) who did the members of the EISR Working Group report to; (z) what are the dates of the conference calls undertaken by the EISR Working Group; (aa) what was the StreetSweeper software date of utilization; (bb) who approved StreetSweeper software for this pilot program; (cc) who were the Business Expertise Consultants listed by region; (dd) as a result of the reviews under this pilot program, how many were finalized as a Case in Order; (ee) as a result of the reviews under this pilot program, how many were finalized as a prepared Report of Investigation for Processing and Payment Services Branch adjudication; (ff) why were the timelines for Planning, Pilot, Finalization of Reviews and Review/Analysis chosen; (gg) why was the March, 2013, deadline chosen for the Finalization of Reviews; (hh) why was the November, 2012, to February 2013, timeline chose for the “pilot” section of this program; (ii) who designed the EI Stewardship Review Survey list of Client Interview review points/questions; (jj) who approved the EI Stewardship Review Survey list of Client Interview review points/questions; (kk) who designed the EI Stewardship Review Survey list of Employer/Third Party review points/questions; (ll) who approved the EI Stewardship Review Survey list of Employer/Third Party review points/questions; (mm) what is the policy and recommended procedure for inspectors regarding entering the residence of a claimant for the purposes of interviewing regarding the review for El Benefits claims; (nn) what is the policy and recommended procedure of inspectors regarding verifying proof of a child’s identity and parentage for a claimant for the purposes of interviewing regarding the review for El Benefits claims; (oo) what is the policy and recommended procedure for inspectors regarding verifying proof of hospitalization of a claimant for the purposes of interviewing regarding the review for El Benefits claims; and (pp) what is the total number of times employer or third party payroll records were observed under this pilot program?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 1316--
Mr. Peter Julian:
    With regard to the Nuclear Liability Act and nuclear safety: (a) will the Department of Natural Resources Canada organize a public consultation with a variety of environmental and socio-economic stakeholders on the modernization of the Nuclear Liability Act before revisions are tabled in Parliament; (b) will the Department of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) provide the policy objectives of the Nuclear Liability Act; (c) in considering revisions to the Nuclear Liability Act, what criteria is the government currently using to determine the liability of nuclear operators; (d) will NRCan release all comments provided by industry to its May 2013 consultation document on the Nuclear Liability Act; (e) how does NRCan define “the limitation, to a reasonable level and in a manner that is consistent with Canada’s international obligations, of the risks to national security, the health and safety of persons and the environment that are associated with the development, production and use of nuclear energy” as laid out in the objectives of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act; (f) has NRCan or any agency under its authority assessed the potential consequences of a major accidental radiation release at a Canadian nuclear facility; (g) will NRCan commission a study on the consequences of a large accidental radiation release at the Darlington nuclear station, the Pickering nuclear station, the Point Lepreau nuclear station, and the Bruce nuclear station to inform a public consultation on revising the Nuclear Liability Act and publicly release the results; (h) will NRCan provide the preliminary conclusions of the Atomic Energy Control Board’s (AECB) severe accident study; (i) will NRCan provide the AECB’s rationale for abandoning the severe accident study; (j) has NRCan reviewed the frequency and magnitude of reactor accidents based on the world-wide record as recommended by the Inter-departmental Work Group on the Nuclear Liability Act in 1984, and if so, will NRCan share the conclusions of this review; (k) has Environment Canada considered the impact of a proposed Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act or the current Nuclear Liability Act on Canada’s commitment to sustainability and the polluter-pays principle, and if so, will Environment Canada provide the results of the department’s analysis; (l) has NRCan considered the impact of the Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act or the Nuclear Liability Act on Canada’s commitment to sustainability and the polluter-pays principle, and if so, will NRCan provide the results of the department’s analysis; (m) could NRCan provide the government policy objective that lead to the passage of the Nuclear Liability Act and describe how and when this policy was established; (n) could NRCan provide the government policy objective that informed the development of the proposed Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act and describe how and when this policy was established; (o) did NRCan reconsider Canada’s policy on nuclear liability protection following the Fukushima disaster; (p) under which conditions would NRCan accept an unlimited liability regime for the updated Nuclear Liability and Compensation Act in the event of a nuclear accident, and if none, why not; (q) has NRCan estimated the implicit subsidy per kilowatt that would be created by raising the liability limit to $650 million and $1 billion as opposed to an unlimited liability, and if so, will NRCan share the results; (r) does NRCan have a policy on assessing and reporting on the energy market distortions created by the implicit subsidy created by current and future caps on nuclear operator liability; (s) how often does NRCan verify the insurance capacity of the insurers in Canada; and (t) how does NRCan define the “reasonable” cost of insurance in determining the maximum level required of nuclear operators?
    (Return tabled)

[English]

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

[Translation]

    I wish to inform the House that because of the deferred recorded divisions, government orders will be extended by seven minutes.

Government Orders

[Government Orders]

[English]

Economic Action Plan 2013 Act, No. 1

    The House resumed consideration of Bill C-60, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 21, 2013 and other measures, as reported (without amendment) from the committee, and of the motions in Group No. 1.
    Mr. Speaker, I was going to say that I am pleased to rise to speak to Bill C-60, but actually I am disappointed to have to rise to speak to Bill C-60 because of the process that has been used to get the bill before the House and to ram it through.
    New Democrats object—
    There is a point of order from the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands.
    Mr. Speaker, I desperately hate to interrupt the member for Nanaimo—Cowichan. I hold her in high regard and I apologize.
    However, I thought we would have questions to the speaker who ended just before question period. We did not have a question period with the last speaker on behalf of the Conservative Party.
    With the member not being present, we do not go to questions and comments.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Nanaimo—Cowichan.
    Mr. Speaker, New Democrats oppose Bill C-60 both with regard to the process and with regard to the content. This is another example. The bill is 115 pages and will make amendments to 49 different pieces of legislation. Of course, a bill of that scope and magnitude deserves thorough examination by members of Parliament.
    Because of the time allocation imposed on the bill at both second reading and report stage and because of a very unsatisfactory process when the bill was before committees, the House has not had an opportunity to study the bill in the kind of depth it should be studied.
    Part of the concern is that this budget implementation bill would do a number of things. First of all, it would raise taxes on Canadians by introducing tax hikes on credit unions and small businesses in addition to hiking tariffs on thousands of products that were announced in the budget.
    It would give Treasury Board sweeping powers to interfere in free collective bargaining and impose employment conditions on non-union employees at crown corporations. It would amalgamate the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency with no reference to the ODA Accountability Act regarding the purpose of aid.
    It would amend the Investment Canada Act to dramatically reduce the number of takeovers subject to review and introduce new rules regarding foreign state-owned enterprises. It proposes an inadequate Band-Aid fix for the flawed approach to labour market opinion in the temporary foreign worker program and proposes to increase fees for visitor visas for friends and family coming to visit Canadians. It would push ahead with work on a national securities regulator instead of working consensually with the provinces, and it would remove the residency requirement for committees of directors for financial institutions such as banks and life insurance companies.
    People in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan pay close attention to pieces of legislation before the House, and I have had a number of concerns raised. One of them that I mentioned was the amalgamation in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
    This is an example of an email sent to me by a constituent. This person said:
    I am a constituent in your riding and a concerned citizen who cares about efforts to end global poverty and promote human dignity.
    For the past 45 years, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) has supported the work of Canadian organizations involved in international development. Thanks to this collaboration, they have made a tremendous contribution in supporting the efforts of poor communities gain access to education and healthcare, ensuring food security, and promoting human dignity.
    We have seen the results of this good work and I want Canada to remain as engaged as I am.
    I am asking you to ensure that CIDA's mandate of poverty reduction and promoting human rights remains central, and that sufficient resources will be allocated to fulfill that mandate.
    I also want to ensure that the many Canadian organizations, which have an excellent track record in responding to the needs of the poor, will remain key partners of the Government in its actions to end global poverty.
    That is just one example of the kinds of concerns that have been raised by my constituents with regard to proposed changes in the bill. That particular amalgamation of CIDA with foreign affairs is an important matter that should have an independent review and not just be rammed through in an omnibus piece of legislation.
    Another one, on which I received literally over 1,000 emails, is the CBC. On Vancouver Island, CBC is a much-loved institution. For years, islanders fought for a CBC presence on Vancouver Island. Finally, a number of years ago, we ended up with CBC Victoria. In a recent survey, CBC Victoria was one of the most-listened-to radio stations in the morning. That speaks to the way people see the CBC on Vancouver Island and in my riding.
    The bill threatens to make some changes. In this connection I want to refer to a letter of May 23 that was sent to the Prime Minister. It was signed by dozens of people, including academics and so on. They said:
Dear Prime Minister:
    We express deep concern about a proposal on pages 108/109 in Bill C-60 that would undermine the arms-length relationship between the CBC, our national public broadcaster, and the federal government.
    The Broadcasting Act states that the CBC “shall, in the pursuit of its objects and in the exercise of its powers, enjoy freedom of expression and journalistic, creative and programming independence”.
    As you know, this statement places the CBC on a par with its counterparts in other free and democratic countries. It is what makes the CBC a public broadcaster - as opposed to a state broadcaster. Independence from governmental interference is the key distinction between the two - throughout the world.

  (1535)  

    Bill C-60 proposes to amend the Financial Administration Act to permit the government to set the mandate for and audit CBC's collective bargaining as well as give the government a veto over CBC's collective agreements. This means that the government would become the effective employer of CBC's personnel, including its journalists, producers and story editors.
    Such powers would intrude into CBC's independence well beyond it employee's compensation. Conditions of work are an integral part of CBC's collective agreements with its various employee groups. Such conditions currently provide assurance of the integrity of CBC as an independent national public broadcaster, as required under the Broadcasting Act.
    For example, conditions of work in the CBC's collective agreements ensure that:
    Journalists cannot be pulled off assignments without good reason.
    Journalists do not have to fear retribution, including loss of employment, as a result of reporting the news.
     CBC is required to protect the authority of producers over the content, form and budget of a program.
    Producers cannot be removed from a program without justification, and they have the right to refuse to produce a program if they do not agree with its content or form.
    Were Bill C-60 to pass without amendment, any government could change such provisions in its own interest--at great cost to Canadian democracy.
     The federal government already has more than ample influence over CBC through appointment of its CEO and board of directors, and the allocation of its federal grant.
     We therefore urge in the strongest terms that Bill C-60 be amended to remove all references to the CBC.
    As I mentioned, that is the full text of the letter that was sent to the Prime Minister on May 23.
    The New Democrats did attempt to amend Bill C-60 by putting forward a motion that would have seen the references to CBC carved out of the bill, introduced as a separate bill in the House of Commons and then we would be able to have a full debate on it. Unfortunately, the Conservatives did not agreed to those amendments.
    As I mentioned, I have received over 1,000 emails on this matter. These are a couple of examples.
     One person wrote:
    The CBC must be independent from the government. That is why I object to the government taking control of the lion's share of the CBC's budget. The Prime Minister should not have direct control of the salaries and working conditions of CBC journalists and creative staff. I do not want any politician exercising such control over our national public broadcaster. I urge you to abandon this plan.
    Another person wrote:
    I am writing to object to the proposal to undermine the CBC's editorial independence contained in Budget Implementation Bill C-60. No public broadcaster anywhere in the free world faces the degree of political interference that is proposed for the CBC in Bill C-60. This Bill would give the government the opportunity to turn the CBC into a political propaganda machine rather than a public broadcaster. For the sake of our country and our democracy I urge you to work to have provisions concerning the CBC removed from Bill C-60.
    That is just a small sample of the emails that came in.
    I also want to touch on another aspect with regard to Bill C-60 and the importance of maintaining that journalistic independence. In a column I wrote recently, I was referencing an organization called Reporters without Borders. It is responsible for issuing the press freedom index.
    It indicated that Canada had fallen from 10th to 20th place. This report states that Canada is now behind Costa Rica, Namibia and Lichtenstein. The RWB has blamed the Conservative government's action and incessant attacks on the journalistic principles of anonymous sources for the slip in the ranking.
    This is evidence of the kinds of concerns that have been raised by my constituents and thousands of people across Canada.
    We have also seen another attack in another bill that is a private member's member before the House, Bill C-461, an act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (disclosure of information), and would put some further restrictions on CBC's abilities to operate independently.
    Sadly, with the budget implementation bill, we have seen an effort to shut down parliamentary debate. The efforts to curb CBC's journalistic independence is just another example of the lack of transparency and accountability that the government continues to demonstrate through its various pieces of legislation that it has rammed through the House.
    I encourage all members to vote against Bill C-60 and ask the government to bring back a bill and a process that allows us to fully debate such legislation that would have such far-ranging effects.

  (1540)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask my colleague about the changes in tax hikes on credit unions in rural and small town Canada. There are significant challenges faced in regions across Canada, particularly in regions that do not have either mining or energy wealth. We see a demographic trend toward smaller communities, older populations and small businesses.
    One thing that has been there for rural and small town Canada, even during these difficult times, is the co-operative movement and credit unions. We are told by the heads of credit unions across Canada that these changes will hurt credit unions significantly.
     Does the hon. member agree that these tax hikes on credit unions will reduce capital for small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural and small town Canada and, as such, should be reconsidered and reversed by the government?
    Mr. Speaker, in my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan, there are a number of credit unions. It is an area that has been hard hit at times with changes in the resource industry. For example, in a small town called Youbou, the mill closed down a number of years ago and in Lake Cowichan, a neighbouring small town, found itself at a point where the big banks were closing down their branches.
    With regard to the deductions for credit unions, it allowed them to occupy a space where big banks would love to see some of the credit unions close down so they could occupy a monopolistic space in some of the smaller towns. Therefore, it is absolutely essentially that the support we provide for credit unions stays in place so they can continue to provide the community service.
    I know credit unions in Nanaimo—Cowichan are a vital part of the community. They are the ones supporting local activities, local businesses and opening the doors for businesses that might not be able to get loans and support from the larger financial institutions. It is really disappointing to see this in Bill C-60. It is an important way for many of the communities to survive financially.

  (1545)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague from Nanaimo—Cowichan for her speech.
    She focused mainly on the interference of the President of the Treasury Board in the collective agreement negotiations of crown corporations. I fully understand her concern because it is common knowledge that, regrettably, the President of the Treasury Board tends to confuse his personal interests with the public interest. Indeed, he diverts the public interest to serve certain personal interests in a small circle in his riding. This has been obvious in recent years.
    One very big problem with this is that it pushes the limits of government interference in collective agreement negotiations. Now it is plausible that this moving line could affect other business activities within crown corporations.
    I would like to know whether my colleague shares these concerns and whether she thinks this could go beyond the issue of collective bargaining.

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question.
    We have seen an anti-labour agenda from the Conservative government. It has done it through the back door with private members' bills. Bill C-377 is a really good example of a bill that tried to impose the kinds of reporting requirements on the trade union movement to which other organizations were not subject.
     Bill C-60 is another attempt to take a run at crown corporations and the collective bargaining process that is in place. This, again, plays into the government's agenda and people need to be concerned about what is going on.
    Our country is a stronger place because of fair and free collective bargaining and we do not want processes that interfere with that.
    I want to talk about some of the things that are so important in this budget, which would really make a difference, especially to my province.
    The Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act piece of Bill C-60 is extremely important to Manitoba. As members know, 40¢ on the dollar has come from the federal government basically to keep Manitoba going.
    This new legislation would amend part I, part I.1 and part V.1 of the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act. These changes are required to implement the renewal of the equalization and territorial formula financing programs as the minister announced in December of last year at the finance ministers meeting.
     New Brunswick and Manitoba would be protected because of this legislation against a year-over-year decline in their total major transfers. It would eliminate provisions that would be no longer required for the administration of the equalization and TFF programs and would clarify the provisions setting out the escalators in TFF and the Canada health transfer. This is extremely important to Manitoba.
    In terms of part I, this legislation would extend the authority to make equalization payments to provinces to March 31, 2019, fulfilling the commitment to renew the program for an additional five-year period.
     In addition, the legislation sets out payments to New Brunswick and Manitoba that would ensure their total major transfers in 2013-14 would be no lower than what they were in the previous fiscal year. A change would also be made to clarify the alignment of the timing of calculations and the associated payments. The remaining changes would eliminate elements of the legislation no longer required for the administration of the program, including those related to amounts determined for previous fiscal years that expired provisions related to the 2005 offshore arrangements with Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador.
    This might seem insignificant to provinces that do not have these challenges. However, for Manitoba, this is very helpful to our province. When I look at Bill C-60, it is indeed an economic action plan that would build our Canada, create more jobs and pay attention to the needs of businesses across Manitoba and our nation.
    I want to talk a bit about the Canadian Youth Business Foundation.
    This measure in Bill C-60 proposes to provide funding of $18 million in multi-year support for the Canadian Youth Business Foundation to enable the foundation to continue its support for young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 34. These young entrepreneurs do not need a hand out, they need a hand up, and with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, that would happen.
    The Canadian Youth Business Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization that works with young entrepreneurs to help them become the business leaders of tomorrow. They get mentorship, expert advice, learning resources and start-up financing. Over the past 10 years, the foundation has worked with 5,600 new entrepreneurs helping to create 22,100 new jobs across Canadian communities, which is very exciting to our economy and the young business people who have their hopes and dreams of building their own futures here in our great nation.
    There are many other things that have happened to help youth, and I want to talk about Indspire, which is a measure that also centres on youth.
    Bill C-60 would provide $5 million in 2013-14 to Indspire to provide post-secondary scholarships and bursaries for students who are registered as Indians under the Indian Act and for Inuit students. A further $5 million for 2014-15 would be provided through the estimates.

  (1550)  

    Indspire has a proven record of success. It has provided scholarships to over 2,200 aboriginal students annually and has raised significant support from a range of corporate donors to help support student success. With this new investment, Indspire would be able to provide scholarships to thousands more registered first nations and Inuit youth, helping them reach their potential and strengthening aboriginal communities across the country.
    What makes Bill C-60, the economic action plan 2013 act, so important is that it goes right to the essence of what Canadians are all about. It talks about needs, as I outlined at the beginning of my speech on Manitoba and the transfer payments. It outlines the need to build youth, not only young entrepreneurs but youth who would be helped in their education with these scholarships.
    The economic action plan also looks at another vulnerable community in our country, and that is older people. We will have more senior citizens in two years than we have young people. There needs to be real attention paid to front-line health care providers.
    I want to talk about the Pallium Foundation of Canada. This is another very good initiative. This measure proposes to provide $3 million in multi-year support to the Pallium Foundation of Canada to support training in palliative care for front-line health care providers.
    With an aging demographic, when our seniors, who have built this country, come to end-of-life situations, they need to be honoured and cared for. Often they like to be cared for in their homes. The government has committed to helping ensure that Canadians receive the compassionate care they need.
    The Pallium Foundation of Canada works to improve the quality of palliative care and end-of-life care for Canadians by creating educational resources for primary care professionals. These primary care professionals are the ones who take care of these very vulnerable populations.
    Economic action plan 2013 proposes funding of $3 million over three years to the Pallium Foundation of Canada to support training in palliative care for front-line health care providers. This investment builds on the funding provided in budget 2011 that is being used to support the initiative called the way forward: moving towards community-integrated palliative care in Canada, which aims to help develop new community-integrated palliative care models across this country.
    Having said that, we know that a lot of people are not trained in end-of-life issues. Having this front-line training for these very important front-line health care workers is of paramount importance to the well-being of the elderly person and others who are coming to end-of-life situations and are receiving palliative care. It is also important to their families to put in those supports to help them see their way through this very difficult time.
    When we look at all these measures, we are cognizant of the fact that to be able to provide health care and all these things we need, we need research.
    I am just starting, and I find that I only have a minute left. I have so many good things to talk about in this particular economic action plan.
    I want to finish off with the importance of research. Genome Canada has been given a very big boost since our government came to power. It has provided $165 million for multi-year support for genomics research through Genome Canada. This research has been very important for health care.

  (1555)  

    Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for her speech on the bill.
    I would like to speak to the comment at the tail end of her speech about the importance of research. Although I have the utmost respect for the member, I am a little stunned that she would say that the bill shows support for important research, yet the government killed support to the Experimental Lakes Area, which was once one of its most important investments. It only gave it a couple of million dollars a year. It was not as though it was a huge investment. However, it was a show of support for an internationally acclaimed initiative that helped to develop the standards for controlling mercury from coal-fired power plants, for controlling phosphorous in detergents and for dealing with acid rain.
    I am wondering if the member could address the fact that while she claims the government is deeply interested in research, it would turn around and do this and deep-six one of the most important research institutions in the history of this country.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank that member, who I too have deep respect for, because I think her heart is definitely in the right place with respect to her constituents.
    When I talk about the research, I am talking about the $165 million in multi-year support for genomics research through Genome Canada.
    Having said that, there was another question asked about the Experimental Lakes Area. I know that there is a lot of opportunity for private entities to also take care of this research and take it over so that it is not shut down. It is expanding and reaching out to offer private entities the opportunity to come in and help with this kind of research.
    On the health care aspect, the funding will enable Genome Canada to launch new large-scale research competitions. As I said in my speech, with an aging population, we need more research on cancer care and on a lot of the health care initiatives and challenges we have right now in our country. There will be more of them as we progress. Therefore, it is a matter of making this very important choice of expanding on the research in health care areas that are going to be very important for Canadians.

  (1600)  

    Mr. Speaker, I want to continue with health care, because we all know that Canadians see health care as one of those issues that add to our identity. It provides a certain level of comfort in the minds of all of us. We are very proud of the health care system we have in Canada.
    There is also a great deal of concern in regard to a health care accord. A health care accord provides long-term security in terms of financing health care. We all recognize that to have a national health care program, we need to provide that commitment in terms of cash resources for the provinces.
    I am wondering if the member for Kildonan—St. Paul would provide comment in regard to her thoughts on the financing and leadership role the federal government should play in health care delivery.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague from Winnipeg for his very insightful question, because indeed, health care is of paramount importance. We are looking at so many aspects of health care right now through our government, not only in Manitoba but all across our nation.
    Looking at the funding, the health care transfer payments have been increased exponentially across our nation this year so that the provinces can make their decisions about actual health care delivery.
    Under the auspices of the federal government, we look at several aspects. The accord is one aspect. I know that the Senate has done an in-depth study on the health accord. I know that in committee, we are just about to finish a very good report on technological innovation. We are moving forward in terms of having all partners being part of the health care solution: the patient, the families, everybody.
    Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to this so-called budget bill. This Conservative omnibus bill goes far beyond any legitimate budget implementation. It contains an entirely new department of foreign affairs act and would amend nearly 50 pieces of legislation. This is the Conservatives third attempt to avoid public scrutiny and proper parliamentary consideration of their proposals.
    By tabling such an unwieldy and wide-ranging bill, with such a short timeframe for deliberations, the government is not only trying to deny both Parliament and the public the chance to study the implications of these sweeping changes but is undermining democracy.
    It is interesting to note that the Conservatives claim that this legislation would lead to growth in the Canadian economy. In fact, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimates that this last year's trifecta of budget bills and fiscal upgrades would lead to a loss of 67,000 jobs. The PBO predicts that the unemployment rate will remain stagnant at over 7%.
    In my own city of London, the unemployment rate sits at more than 9%, with little hope of improvement in the near future. Families are suffering. Small and medium businesses are suffering. The community is facing real hardship, and the Conservative government is without any meaningful remedies. We hear a great deal of high talk from the Conservatives, and we certainly see their expensive action plan commercials, but we have not seen any creative or innovative ideas when it comes to economic stimulus and relief for communities such as mine.
    Bill C-60 contains nothing to make these economic conditions more manageable for families. There are no job creation measures, yet there are tax hikes on everything from hospital parking to credit unions. Those tax hikes for individuals will cost Canadians over $8 billion. Additionally, the Conservatives are raising tariffs on over 1,200 goods by $333 million but are doing nothing to ease record levels of household debt.
    The Caledon Institute, in its budget analysis, notes that good jobs have disappeared in Canada. We know that. I am going to quote from the institute report:
    The decline of manufacturing has meant the loss in the past 10 years of more than 700,000 better-paying jobs that typically came with decent benefits and pensions. Its demise has contributed to the hollowing out of the middle class not only in Canada but throughout the developed world.
    The only government response to problems in the manufacturing sector has been austerity, cuts to programs and belt tightening. Sadly, these austerity measures have not worked. Around the world, austerity has only led to deeper recession, and here in Canada, the unnecessary focus on the deficit has resulted in a sluggish economy.
    An article in The Economist said that the government's plan, which relies on spending restraint and unusually high revenue growth, is seen by many as wishful thinking.
    Carol Goar, writing in the Toronto Star, said:
    Since he [the Minister of Finance] began chopping programs and expenditures, the economy has drooped, the job market has sagged, consumers have pulled back and the corporate sector has hunkered down, sitting on its earnings. The same formula has delivered worse results in Europe.
    The federal government has the opportunity to avoid the disastrous consequences of austerity to jump-start the economy and make a long-term investment in our social, economic and environmental future. Instead, the Conservative budget plan offers a host of proposals that will only weaken families, workers, the environment and seniors.
    Seniors are often vulnerable to even the best of economic climates. This legislation would do nothing to address the retirement security of those who face a loss of their savings.
    In a previous budget bill, the government made changes to old age security and GIS and raised the age of eligibility for OAS and GIS from 65 to 67. The receipt of GIS and OAS has a critical impact on poor seniors in this country. By raising the age of eligibility, the government is callously denying those who are struggling at hard, physically demanding jobs and those trying to manage on provincial support programs any hope of a dignified retirement at age 65.

  (1605)  

    In this budget, Conservatives offer only a vague and unexplained reference to low-cost and secure pension options. Instead of raising the GIS to ensure every senior is lifted out of poverty, or opening up the CPP/QPP to allow seniors to increase their savings, the Conservative budget would implement the kinds of policies that are of no real value to the retirees of this country. The Conservatives' pooled registered pension plan does little to help with pension savings for the vast majority of Canadians.
    Although numerous organizations, from the United Nations to Statistics Canada, have released reports emphasizing the need to address affordable housing and poverty issues for seniors, this budget makes no mention of either of those. In point of fact, the Conservative government has absolutely no interest in the lack of affordable housing in Canada, and even less interest in the fact that more than 250,000 seniors live in poverty.
     By contrast, the budget bill before us has several measures to improve the government's ability to catch CPP/QPP overpayments and ensure the government is able to recover that money. While the recovery of inappropriate payments is a good thing, we need look no further than the controversy surrounding certain senators. I am concerned that, on the other hand, the government is failing to ensure that Canadians have access to money owed to them. The Social Security Tribunal set up by the government is not only rife with partisan appointments, but many fear the reduced number of tribunal members will make it painfully slow in its decision making, leaving poor people waiting and waiting.
    The Conservatives seem to have the attitude that the taxpayers are out to cheat the government, and that must end. I believe that the government should be serving the taxpayer and that our priority should be to ensure that Canadians are receiving the benefits and services they require and have earned. It is a good thing to ensure that overpayments are recovered, but not without ensuring that those who are slipping through the cracks are caught and helped as well.
    I would also like to highlight here the pension income splitting that the Conservatives introduced in a previous budget. The Caledon Institute of Social Policy stated:
    The Budget also pats itself on the back for the pension income splitting provision, a very expensive ($920 million) and regressive tax break introduced in 2007 that favours wealthy senior couples. A senior couple with a modest private pension of $20,000 a year will realize a grand total of $310 in federal income tax savings as a result of income splitting. For a couple with $30,000 in pension income, the savings increase to $802. However, a well-to-do couple with $100,000 in pension income will see a tax reduction of $7,280 — more than nine times that of a couple with $30,000 in pension income, and more than 23 times that of a couple with $20,000 in private pension income.
    And what of single seniors? There are many single women and men who are unable to benefit at all. I would also like to highlight that seniors are still living in poverty in this country. Those particularly affected are single senior women who tend to have significantly less pension savings. We can and should do more for those living out their senior years making the tough choices between housing, food and medication. It is shameful that this budget would do nothing to address the poverty faced by seniors in Canada.
     In fact, the priorities of the Conservative government seem out of touch with the priorities of many Canadians. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives provides a good example of how exactly to remedy the lack of good public policy. It calls on the Conservatives to address poverty in a meaningful way by prioritizing improvements in the incomes of all low-income and middle-income households, better public pensions, higher minimum wages, the widespread adoption of living wage policies; and improving support for the ill, the unemployed, the young and the old.
    This is a travesty of a budget. That is the best I can say of it. It borders on neglect for those who need support the most.
    As members can see, there is a good deal more to this budget bill than just budget making. It would go far beyond anything that is legitimate, and I have to question it. I have to say that it is deceptive, it lacks transparency and I hope in 2015 Canadians will hold the Conservative government to account.

  (1610)  

    Mr. Speaker, in a way, it is not surprising to hear the negativity from the other side when we consider that opposition members go to the States and talk down our economy.
    I am very much aware of the fact that the city the member comes from is experiencing one of the highest unemployment rates in history. I would think that the member would be concerned about creating jobs, especially for young people. Yet, Liberals are saying they are going to oppose the budget when it offers all kinds of opportunity for job creation.
    I want to quote Mike Holmes with relation to Skills Canada. He stated:
    Actually, (I’m) very satisfied. I mean, to hear the $47 billion go into infrastructure which, one, we need--we need to fix the bridges, the roads--two, to help the young get into the trades, a $15,000 per person tax benefit. I mean, this is a move in the right direction. We’re going to encourage the young to get into the trades and we have jobs for them to do. In the long run they’re all going to be working for many years and the government is going to be receiving tax dollars. This is a win-win.
    My question, very simply, is this. Why would opposition members, especially this member from a high unemployment area, continue to work against the very thing our government has been trying to do: encourage youth to get into the skills trades and find meaningful employment?
    Mr. Speaker, you may have noted that when I began my speech, I spoke about talk, talk, talk, with no action. We are not seeing anything that is tangible and real.
    Yes, of course, there is unemployment in my town, thanks very much to the lack of action of the government. When Electro-Motive Diesel and Caterpillar threatened workers with a 50% reduction in pensions, wages and benefits, the government sat on its hands. Yes, there is unemployment because the government continues to sit on its hands.
    About a month ago, I visited one of the employers in my riding, Great Lakes Copper. It is managing. It does remarkable work and has a very strong workforce of about 300 people. It pays decent wages and provides benefits. However, it told me that the government allows the dumping of cheap copper into the Canadian market. There is no support or help for entities like Great Lakes Copper, and no practical training either. Within that particular manufacturing facility, multiple skills are required, and the government has provided nothing with regard to the multi-skilled levels for companies like Great Lakes Copper. Conservatives can talk, and they do talk, but I want to see some action.

  (1615)  

    Mr. Speaker, it was just over a year ago when we heard that the Conservative government was going to increase the age of retirement from 65 to 67. The member made reference to poverty and many seniors are in a poverty situation. When one looks at the budget we are talking about today, the fact that there is really—
     On a point of order, the member for Kitchener—Conestoga.
    Mr. Speaker, there is no truth to the concept that this government is increasing the age of retirement. I would ask my colleague to retract that statement.
    That is not a point of order. That is obviously a question of debate.
    Resuming questions and comments with the member for Winnipeg North.
    Mr. Speaker, if the Conservative member gets in touch with his caucus, he will find out that, in fact, the age is being increased from 65 to 67. Anyone who is 52 years of age and younger is going to feel that impact.
    Pensionable incomes are one way that people are able to afford to live after retirement. Does the member find there is anything within this budget that would provide any hope that the government is going to deal with that particular issue?
    Mr. Speaker, indeed the age of eligibility for OAS-GIS has increased to 67. This is extremely difficult for people who do jobs that require hard labour or who are dependent upon provincial programs. The government did not discuss any of that with the provinces or with pension providers.
    The truth is that this country can afford to look after its seniors. The OECD, Bernard Dussault and Kevin Page have made it very clear that the GDP will increase on a par with the number of seniors and we can indeed maintain the age of eligibility at 65.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise to speak to the budget bill.
    Let me begin by saying that the leadership provided by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance since 2006, when we formed the government, has drawn world attention. As the parliamentary secretary of foreign affairs, I travel all over the world doing my job. The question I am often asked is, “How did you guys in Canada do it? How did you avoid the serious recession?”
    As we know, countries all around the world, in the eurozone and elsewhere, are facing a serious recession. The question we are asked is how we avoided it, considering that our largest neighbour to the south also went through a very serious recession. It was through the strong leadership provided by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance during these years.
    Let me just point out one factor with respect to Governor Mark Carney. Governor Carney provided strong leadership during the period of this recession and has earned worldwide respect, so much so that the Bank of England, a country facing a very serious recession, has hired him to chart its economy through this recession. That is a great honour for Canada and speaks volumes to the leadership that was provided by the Minister of Finance and Governor Carney. I take this opportunity to wish him bon voyage and the best of luck in the U.K.
    The world has acknowledged our fiscal leadership despite the NDP's anti-growth and trade agenda. We now see that the Liberal leader is following the same agenda because I think he is now competing with the NDP for more seats in Quebec.
    However, that is not what this is about. Let me highlight what this government has done and talk about the good news since we have come in and why the world is so impressed by us.
    The first item on our action plan is to return to a balanced budget. I am pleased to say that we are on track to balance the budget by 2015 and 2016. That is quite a considerable achievement.
    How did we do that? By reducing wasteful departmental spending, reducing travel costs through the use of technology, continuing to control public service compensation and eliminating tax loopholes that benefit a select few. We are helping businesses succeed and grow in the global market. We are providing tax relief for manufacturers, helping small business expand through the small business fund, increasing the lifetime capital gains exemption and supporting mining exploration.
    Let me also say that this government is strongly supporting families and communities. We are supporting families through an enhanced new tax relief for families. We are investing in communities, nearly $1.9 billion over five years, to create more affordable housing.
    We are supporting and honouring our veterans by enhancing the funeral and burial program by simplifying it and by more than doubling the current funeral services reimbursement rate from $3,000 to $7,000.
    We are promoting strong aboriginal communities by strengthening opportunities for on-reserve economic development, improving safety for aboriginal peoples and enhancing health care services on reserves.
    Not only that, our economic action plan would also be connecting Canadians with available jobs. In my riding of Calgary East, people are looking for jobs so that they can provide for their children and growing families. This government is providing more job opportunities for people through the Canada skills grant. We are also strengthening the apprenticeship program, and supporting job opportunities by providing tools to persons with disabilities, youth, aboriginals and recent immigrants to help them find a job.
    As well, we are investing in a long-term infrastructure plan, with over $70 billion over 10 years for a new building Canada plan, including $32.2 billion over 10 years for a community improvement fund, $14 billion for a new building Canada fund, $1.25 billion for the renewal of the P3 Canada program, and $6 billion under current infrastructure programs for provinces, territories and municipalities.
    We are continuing to invest in world-class research and innovation. I am pleased to say that I have taken many trips with the Governor General, who has been promoting education links around the world. We have seen, first class, what Canada can offer to other countries, in research and innovation.

  (1620)  

    It is very important we have a strong health care system and social security network. I am happy to say that there have been record transfer supports for social and health services for my province of Alberta and it will receive significant support through the federal transfers in 2013-14.
    Let me also talk for a minute about supporting seniors. Seniors have spent their lives building our country. Therefore, it is natural that we do support them. Since 2006, over $2.7 billion in annual tax relief has been provided to seniors and pensioners.
     Not only that, we are very happy to say that we have expanded tax relief for home care services. We are better protecting seniors using financial services, by working with the banks. We are supporting palliative care services provided by the Pallium Foundation of Canada. We are encouraging a timely implementation of the pooled registered pension plan. We are assisting in construction and renovation of accessible community facilities.
    All of this is part and parcel of plan 2013, a plan that will provide hope, direction and guidance so we have a very strong foundation left in our country that will help propel us into the future. In talking about the future, we have to look past it.
    The only problem we now have with the NDP, and now these days with the Liberal Party, is they do not look beyond their noses. All they are looking at is when they are getting the next election. That is why the NDP members are opposed to the free trade agreement agenda. Every time we have a free trade agreement, the NDP opposes it. I have sat in this Parliament and time after time I have heard the NDP say that it does not want free trade agreements.
    Not only that, in the famous words used by the Leader of the Opposition on growth, it is a disease.
    All of this indicates quite clearly why the NDP's economic policies will take us nowhere. A prime example is what happened in British Columbia. The NDP lost the election in British Columbia because the people there got very scared of the economic agenda of the NDP.
    We now see that the Liberal Party is not only doing that, but is pitting one region against the other. The leader comes from Quebec, but he seems to forget all the time that he is also the leader of the Liberal Party. All we hear from him, constantly, out west is about the interests of Quebec.
     I can understand because he wants to grab a few more seats from the NDP and de-throne it as the official opposition. I wish them good luck. We do not really care, if they remain on the other side of the bench, who the official opposition is. For us, this party is the same party when it comes to the economic agenda.
    This government will remain focused on the economic agenda. This government will look to the future so our children have a bright future and will see a strong Canada, economically, socially and for all other things.
    Let us move forward. This government is providing the direction.

  (1625)  

[Translation]

    Mr. Speaker, I thank the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for his speech, but I cannot say that I agree with what he had to say.
    If we are going to talk about employment rates and economic growth, I would like to tell the House that I had a chance to talk about the 2013 federal budget with the people of my riding in Laval in April. I wanted to tell them about what was in the federal budget, both good and bad. I asked them what they thought of this budget. They talked to me primarily about their concerns, and at the top of the list was the elimination of the tax credit for labour-sponsored funds.
    My colleague across the aisle talked about how important employment, economic growth and prosperity are. Quebeckers really liked investing in our local economy using that tool. However, the Conservatives are pulling the rug out from under us, since over 85% of these labour-sponsored funds come from the province of Quebec.
    Would my colleague opposite not agree that this budget measure is a direct attack on Quebec's economy?

[English]

    Mr. Speaker, absolutely not. I do not agree with the member's assessment of labour sponsored funds in Quebec. This budget would help all of Canada, from coast to coast to coast, and would create the economic environment that provides economic benefits for Quebec as well.
    With this legislation, there would be a tax break for new manufacturing machinery and equipment that would benefit Quebec. The reduction in GST benefits Quebec. The Canada job grant benefits Quebec very much. The Canada opportunities for apprentices benefits Quebec very much. Supporting more internships for post-secondary graduates benefits Quebec very much.
    To say that Quebec will not benefit is absolutely wrong. Rather we are looking forward to having a very strong Quebec within Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to join in the debate on Bill C-60, the budget implementation act.
    I would think that anybody who speaks to me about CPAC, the House of Commons and watches the proceedings outside of question period are usually pretty dialed in to the issues facing the nation. They have a great interest in the issues of the nation and there could not be one any more important than the budget implementation act.
    My good friend and colleague has been here for the last 13 years so he should be able to answer this question on the budget.
     The budget did not have a lot of numbers in it and my good friend's speech was not really overwhelmed with a lot of numbers either. However, could the member tell us, and the people watching at home would really like to know, what the country's accrued debt now stands at? How much debt is our country currently carrying? Just the number would be fine.

  (1630)